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Last Updated on October 23, 2022 by Chris Panteli
Starting a Home Cleaning Business
Do you have a knack for cleaning and always find people complimenting you on how clean your house is? Then a home cleaning business might be the right path for you.
A cleaning business is one of the easiest to get started with minimal start-up costs. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one to make successful. With massive competition and a physically demanding work schedule, a home cleaning business isn’t for everyone.
If you’re wondering how to start a home cleaning business but don’t know how to begin, this guide will give you everything you need to know.
Like the idea of setting up a Pet Grooming Business? We’ve got you covered. Check out this guide for tips on how to get started.
Is it worth starting a home cleaning business?
If you’re looking for a quick way to make extra cash – home cleaning isn’t it. It’s a tough job and something you need to be passionate about. However, if you love cleaning, helping people maintain their homes, and get a sense of satisfaction from hard work, a home cleaning business is definitely worth it.
- Starting a Home Cleaning Business
- What Does a House Cleaning Business Entail?
- Costs to Start and Run a House Cleaning Business
- Legal Requirements & Insurance
- Doing Research for a House Cleaning Business
- Pricing Your Services
- Skills You Need to Start This Business
- Marketing Your House Cleaning Business
- What a Typical Day Running a House Cleaning Business Looks Like
- Alternatives to a House Cleaning Business
- Should You Buy a Cleaning Franchise?
- Is Cleaning the Right Business for You?
- Starting a Home Cleaning Business
What Does a House Cleaning Business Entail?
Professional cleaners usually fall into one of two categories: domestic house cleaning or commercial cleaning.
Residential cleaners usually work for people while they’re at work or elderly people who struggle to do house chores for themselves.
Duties include dusting, vaccinations, mopping floors, laundry, ironing, and organizing – depending on what the client needs.
Once you’ve secured a few clients, you’ll have a regular weekly schedule for the same houses and a regular routine for each house that you’ll have planned out with each client.
You’ll need to take your own supplies to client homes unless they are happy to provide their own cleaning supplies. But it’s relatively easy to get started with just a couple hundred dollars for some decent cleaning supplies.
Pros of starting a cleaning business
If you’re looking to set up a business with minimal effort or investment, cleaning homes is a good choice.
- Low running costs – you don’t need a lot of supplies to get started and marketing can be done on a very low budget in your local area, making this an inexpensive business to get off the ground.
- Fast start-up – you can get started in a matter of days. All you need is your supplies and the relevant insurance and business registration (which we’ll talk about more later).
- Work from home – you don’t need an office to run a cleaning business, it can be done from the comfort of your home.
- Work solo – you also don’t need a team to run a cleaning business, you can start out as a one-person business.
- Flexible hours – work as much or as little as you like because you set your own schedule.
- No training needed – if you love cleaning, you can start a cleaning business without any formal training or certification.
- Make money quickly – as soon as you have your first client, you’ll start making money, which means you can turn a profit and become sustainable very quickly.
Cons of starting a cleaning business
Just like any business, there are some disadvantages of running your own cleaning company:
- High competition – no matter what area you’re in, there will be a lot of other cleaners you’re competing with so you’ll need to work hard on marketing to stand out.
- Physically tough – you’ll be on your feet doing hard physical work most of your day so you need to have a good level of physical fitness.
- Safety concerns – if you’re working alone, there is always a safety risk of entering a stranger’s home. This can be minimized by ensuring someone always knows where you are and building up your clients on a referral basis.
- Pricing competition – if you do have a lot of cleaners in your area, it’s easy to get lost in price matching. This is why it’s best to focus on an outstanding service, not rock-bottom pricing.
- It’s stressful – whether you’re running a mobile dry cleaning business or you’re cleaning homes, running your own business is stressful and requires serious dedication. Make sure you’re passionate about cleaning before you think this is an easy business to maintain.
Costs to Start and Run a House Cleaning Business
Let’s break down the start-up and running costs you can expect to pay out when you start a cleaning business so you know exactly what you need at start-up capital:
- Licenses and permits – it costs around $100 to $500 to register as a limited liability company (which you’ll need to do for tax purposes).
- Insurance – expect to pay around $500 annually if you’re starting your business solo. This can increase to a few thousand dollars a month if you have employees.
- Cleaning equipment and products – you’ll need around $300 for cleaning solutions, a broom, mop, dusting supplies, etc.
- Advertising and marketing – to get started, you’ll need around $100 to $200 for print and online marketing (local papers, leaflets, etc.).
All in all, you’ll need around $1000 to get your cleaning business off the ground. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start with just almost zero funds and work your way up.
Many local cleaners start by getting free referrals from friends and family, using supplies they already have at home, and then building up their business as the money starts coming in.
Just remember, there are legal requirements and insurance you will need to go to other people’s homes and work.
Legal Requirements & Insurance
You need to register your business as a legal entity with your state. The cost to do this depends on your state and can be anywhere from $40 to $500.
You may need a cleaning license in the city where you work, but check your local regulations to see what the requirements are.
But no matter what state you’re in, you’ll need a minimum of general liability insurance to cover any damages in a client’s home.
If you’re unsure what permits or licenses you need, check your local government’s website where all the regulations will be listed. There are usually pretty hefty fines if you fail to get the right permits so make sure you get this right.
Doing Research for a House Cleaning Business
The best way to make your business a success quickly is to offer services locals are looking for. To do that, you need to conduct some market research.
To start, look up local cleaning companies already operating in your area. You’ll be able to find their websites and reviews online which will give you tons of valuable information including:
- What services they offer
- What price they charge
- What costumes loved about their service (positive reviews)
- What customers didn’t like (negative reviews)
- What sort of customers they are targeting
As well as researching other cleaning companies, don’t be afraid to reach out to potential clients and ask what they’d love to see from you.
Find local groups on Facebook to join and post a quick survey to gauge what kind of cleaning services your area really needs.
Once you have all this information, you’ll find it much easier to create a brand that people love and offer services that are snapped up quickly.
Pricing Your Services
How much you charge for your cleaning services will heavily depend on the area you live in. But it will also depend on the condition of the house you’re cleaning, the type of service you provide, and the level of cleaning you offer.
Most cleaning companies charge an hourly rate, flat rate, or square footage rate, to make pricing easier for clients. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Hourly rate – this should be from $30 to $90 per hour, depending on your area and level of service. Look at what competitors are charging for a guide price on where to begin.
- Flat rate – this is usually $120 to $150 for a single-family home. Many customers prefer this rate because they know what they’re getting, but make sure you know exactly how big the job is before giving a flat rate.
- Square footage rate – this is anywhere from $0.05 to $0.20 per square foot, but is less common in domestic cleaning. Commercial cleaners often use this billing method because they work on large warehouses and office buildings.
Skills You Need to Start This Business
You don’t need any formal training or certifications to run a cleaning business. In fact, some of the best cleaners around got to where they are on experience alone.
Having said that, there are some key skills you’ll need to make a cleaning business work long-term:
- Time-management skills – you’ll be working to client schedules and will lose clients quickly if you turn up late or miss an appointment.
- Honesty – people are trusting you to clean their homes without going through their belongings or stealing, so you need to be honest and open.
- Discretion – you never know what you’ll encounter when cleaning someone’s house, the easiest way to lose clients is to gossip about someone’s belongings.
- Attention to detail – cutting corners won’t suffice when offering a professional cleaning service, you’ll need to be detail-oriented to give the best service.
- Friendliness – dealing with clients on a regular basis is tough if you’re not a people person. You’ll need to be friendly and welcoming whenever you’re dealing with homeowners.
- A strong stomach – some houses might need a deep clean, so if you’re not a fan of scrubbing toilets or cleaning up stains, this isn’t the business for you.
Marketing Your House Cleaning Business
Your focus should be on local marketing as a solo cleaning company. Figure out how far you’re willing to travel for clients, and then target your marketing to those specific areas. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Physical Marketing Materials
Physical marketing is key with a cleaning business. If you have the budget, invest in quality business cards, flyers, and leaflets you can hand out to locals.
Start out with some door-to-door flyering to start out to get your business out there. Make sure the marketing materials look professional, are very easy to understand, and have an easy way to contact you (as well as a promotional offer if that’s in your marketing plan).
You could also invest in an ad in any local newspapers or magazines if your budget allows.
Whenever you do clean a home, make sure they have your business card and ask them to pass your name on to friends who might be interested in your services.
When you do a good job cleaning homes, referrals will soon make up the bulk of your business.
When someone is looking for a new cleaner, they’ll head to Google and type in something like “professional cleaner near me”.
You want to make sure your business shows up on the first page of Google to get the most calls.
To do this, there are a few simple steps you need to take:
- Step up a Google My Business (GMB) page – these are free to set up and mean your business will appear on local maps whenever someone is going a local search in your area.
- Create a Google My Business website – this is a free, one-page website where you can list your services, prices, and post pictures of your cleaning jobs so people can see what you offer.
- Set up social media profiles – share pictures of your cleaning jobs, offers, and daily updates so people can see you are a professional business when they search using Facebook.
- Use local directories – get listed on your local Yelp and Yellow Pages to boost the chances of showing up in local searches.
When you do get clients, make sure to ask them to leave you a review on your Google page to boost your rankings and get that all-important social proof.
People love seeing positive reviews before hiring a new service, so this will help you get more clients quickly.
What a Typical Day Running a House Cleaning Business Looks Like
Once you have a couple of clients on your schedule, you can expect to be fairly busy as a cleaning company owner. Here’s what a typical day will look like:
- Wake up early, check emails and schedule in new clients
- Have a good breakfast before heading out to an early client appointment
- Your client has left a list of tasks they need done, so you spend extra time at this regular appointment and make a note to add extra charges to their invoice
- Head home for lunch and check your emails again
- Update your social media pages and check your DMs for new clients requests
- Make sure your supplies are clean and ready for the next client
- Head out to your next appointment
- Go to your next cleaning appointment
- Head to a new client’s home to give them a quote for your services
- Check your cleaning supplies and make a list to restock
- Clean all of your equipment ready for the next day
Alternatives to a House Cleaning Business
If you’re not sure about starting a general home cleaning business but like the industry, there are some niche options available you might be more interested in:
- Air Duct Cleaning Business – make anywhere from $12 to $22 an hour cleaning out the dust build-up in air ducts.
- Pressure Washing Business – earn around $12 to $17 an hour pressure washing driveways, patios, and more (but beware the start-up cost of purchasing a high-end pressure washer).
- Window Cleaning Business – make $10 to $15 per window you clean (but again, you’ll need equipment for cleaning windows professionally).
- Steam Cleaning Business – one of the highest rates of return, you can make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 steam cleaning carpets and furniture.
- Boat cleaning business – this is a real specialty business that requires living near a coast, but can be incredibly lucrative if you have the right equipment and resources.
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Should You Buy a Cleaning Franchise?
There are around 15 established cleaning franchises in the US you can buy into to help get your cleaning business off the ground right from the start.
However, this does come with a steep start-up cost and often requires advanced equipment.
Even so, most franchises come with training to help you get started, not just with the actual cleaning, but with the business side of running your own company, too.
For example, Maid Pro is one of the most popular cleaning franchises in the industry. They offer seven weeks of business training, two days of culture training, six days of admin training, and four days of on-site training at your location.
They call this their cleaning business bootcamp and it is highly effective at getting franchisees ready to run their own business.
Of course, these franchises come at a price:
- Maid Pro: $58,000 – $222,000
- The Maids: $63,000 – $141,000
- Merry Maids: $90,000 – $125,000
- Molly Maid: $112,000 – $156,000
If you have the money to invest in a franchise and could use the training, it’s a good option.
But there is nothing stopping you from building a highly successful cleaning business from the ground up with nothing but some determination and passion for helping people keep their homes clean.
Is Cleaning the Right Business for You?
Just like any business you start for yourself, there needs to be a passion for what you do. If you want to start a cleaning business just because it seems like an easy way to make money, you’ll soon fail.
You need to have a passion for cleaning and find joy in offering cleaning services day in and day out.
If that’s not you, we’ve got some in-depth guides on different businesses you can start that might suit you better. Make sure to check out our complete guide on starting your own dog grooming business next!