What is the cost and how do I start a cleaning business?

Starting a Cleaning Business

Related Articles

How to Start a Home Business

Starting a Small Business

Starting a House Cleaning Service

How to Start a Cleaning Business

I wanted to know the cost of starting a cleaning business. Also, does anyone have advice on the best way to get started?

Homework Before Starting a Cleaning Business

Starting a cleaning business is an interesting idea! If you are going brick and mortar, you're going to need a loan. You are also going to need to do your homework. Start with the Small Business Administration. They will give you tips and tutoring on how to get started.

If you are going to start small, with just a few clients and maybe one or two people (count yourself), get Small Business For Dummies and start your homework there. No one can tell you how much you are going to need. Only you can estimate that figure.

My Experience With a Cleaning Business

From past experience from having my own cleaning business, I have a few things to share. I put myself through college, and in my later years, put food on my table with my cleaning business.

Give an estimate before accepting a job. Figure out how long it could take and don't underestimate yourself. I used to say the first few times was a trial period in case it did not work out for either party.

At the first meeting, write down what the people are looking for and the type of cleaning they want or need. Make a general list of household rooms and place columns for dusting, garbage pick up, vacuuming, and areas that need special care. Add a note area for things to remember like not letting the cat out. For example, does cleaning the kitchen mean cleaning the counters and their dirty dishes? Or just the floors and general wiping up? Write it all down to protect yourself and them. It makes everything clear.

Make up an agreement/contract. It should have the tasks to be done and payment arrangements. Is payment due at each visit? What forms of payment are accepted? I suggest that you stick with cash.

Use the cleaning products that the person provides as everyone has preferences and possible allergies. If you agree to pick items up, save the receipts to get reimbursed. Also, keep in mind that the products you choose better be right for the job. You don't want problems with ruining their furniture!

Depending where you live, you may have to be insured. Check it out before you start up.

Be sure to wear protective clothing, such as gloves. Also, read up on what type of products are best in various areas (kitchen, bath etc.) to kill germs and bacteria. Organic cleaners work great if you use the proper cleaner.
Judy M. in Hudson Valley, NY

"Clean Up" with Allergy Specific Cleaning Business

Green cleaning is good, but if you can do allergy cleaning in a population center, you can "clean up." This will require completely unscented products, being a nonsmoker, undyed natural cotton uniform, wet dusting with water, emissions-free vacuum, possibly dust-precipitation sprays if your clients can handle them, and tailoring the cleaning job to the individual. Allergists and health-food stores can give you referrals, you can charge premium prices, and maybe even be reimbursed by Medicare/Medicaid (you'll need to check this).

If Using Your Own Cleaning Tools

You probably don't need much more than you have already, but I would make plans for replacing your vacuum, unless you expect your clients to supply their own. The heavy use might decrease its lifecycle. Actually, it's probably a good idea to set aside some of your cleaning income for replacements since you'll eventually have to replace cleaning solutions, mop heads, etc.

Consider Going "Green"

One thing I don't see much of is "green" cleaners. I would love to see someone who advertises as cleaning "green" as much as possible. Vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are cheap!

Also I would call around to some companies and find out what they charge. If they charge $50 for one hour of cleaning and that includes floors, dusting, and a bathroom, see if you can get by just slightly undercutting them (say $45). Or throw in a free hour of cleaning for each nine hours of booked and paid time. Lots of businesses do that where I am (central Indiana) and seem to have success with it. Right now I do it with both my car company for oil changes (every 5th one is free) and my hairdresser (every 6th cut is free).

I agree that you need to have a plan written out, and that you need to be bonded, etc., but your supply inventory should be mostly from stuff at home and try to use things that you can use over and over again, like rags. In the long run, it'll be cheaper to wash those (especially if you hang them to dry) than to go through scads of paper towels.

calculator iconCalculator: How much income will my retirement savings provide?

My parents are self-employed and they've found the best way to grow is through word-of-mouth, so be honest, do a good job, and ask your clients to recommend you when they feel comfortable doing so. Lots of smaller, local newspapers have cheaper want ad space and you can post your services for free on websites like CraigsList.com, but use caution! There are some scary people out there, so use common sense to keep yourself safe.

Take the Next Step:

  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor

Stay Connected with TDS


Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book