How to Start a House Cleaning Business
What does it take to start a house cleaning business?
Starting a cleaning business is simple and does not cost a lot of money. You will need cleaning supplies, a love of cleaning, and determination with a lot of heart!
The cleaning industry is a very low-entry, easy-access market. Because of the small financial start-up costs and licensing requirements, virtually anyone can start a house cleaning business. In fact, when I started grad school I started a cleaning business as a fun project and hobby. But figured out how lucrative the cleaning industry could actually be!
I have created this step-by-step guide to help you in starting your own cleaning business.
You may already have the equipment you can use in the beginning and as you get more clients you can invest more money into your house cleaning business.
The awesome thing is, you could easily start a house cleaning business in a day…that’s ONE DAY.
Who is this guide for?
This guide was created for those who want to learn how to start a house-cleaning business. It is intended for either those who plan to have a solo act or those who plan to hire employees.
It will be helpful to those who are just starting out and don’t have their first client yet, this guide will help you get started and ready to get your first clients.
This guide will help those who may already have a handful of clients but are ready to get serious about their business and make it a legal business.
Additional Blog Posts to Read:
- What to Charge for House Cleaning Services
- How to provide a house cleaning quote
- New client welcome kit guide
- Low-cost marketing idea’s for your cleaning business
- My Recommendations page
How to Start a House Cleaning Business in 9 steps
Disclosure: Some of the links below are Affiliate Links. What that means is I may earn a small commission if you click on one. This comes at no additional cost to you as the buyer. All of these products are products that I used exclusively in my Cleaning Business. I only recommend products or services which I have used, tested, and highly respect. When you order through my link it helps to provide you with free content. I greatly appreciate your support!
1. Create a Business Plan
Estimated Cost: FREE! There is no cost in you creating your own business plan.
Your business plan is like your road map. To succeed in your cleaning business, you need to have a documented focus so you know where to go. Without it, you will become lost and lose focus.
At the bare minimum, your business plan should answer the basic who, what, when, where, and how of your business functions. This will allow you to clearly define and be consistent with your services.
Because of the ever-changing markets and needs of your customers, your business plan is a living document. As your house cleaning business grows and the markets change, you will want to re-evaluate your plan.
Answer these questions about your house cleaning business:
Who will you serve?
Define who your target market will be. Will it be higher-income families or middle-class families? Will your client be a homeowner or an apartment complex manager?
What type of cleaning service will you offer?
Do you plan to offer recurring cleaning services on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis or 1-time cleans such as foreclosure, or move-out cleaning?
There are many different types of cleaning services to offer. When you first start out, it is best to pick one and then expand later.
Where will you serve clients?
Are you going to only service specific neighborhoods? A local city or metropolitan area?
When will your hours of operation be?
Most residential cleaning services clean Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4 pm. Will you include weekends or nights?
How will you run your business?
- Do you plan to clean the houses by yourself or will you hire employees?
- How many people will be cleaning at a time? 1, 2, or 3-person teams?
- What kind of equipment will you use (and subsequently need)?
- Will you use green cleaning or traditional cleaning supplies?
2. Pick a name for your house cleaning business
Estimated Cost: FREE! There is no cost for you to choose your business name.
Picking a name for your cleaning business can be fun. You get to use your creative side. But keep in mind, your business name should clearly define what your cleaning business does. When people hear your business name, they should know you’re in the business of cleaning houses!
To choose a name for your cleaning business, start with the core keywords of Maid, Cleaning & Service.
Put those words at the top of a sheet of paper and start writing as many adjectives as possible and adverbs that will describe your company and describe what makes your company stand out.
This will help you create a list of possible names for you to choose from.
Here is a quick checklist when choosing a name for your house-cleaning business:
- Run your cleaning business name by your family and friends to make sure it makes sense and doesn’t offend anyone.
- Check with your state to verify the name is not already taken.
- Type in your cleaning business name with .com at the end and make sure there are no other websites using the name. This way you will be able to purchase the domain name for your website.
3. Choose a Business Structure.
A business structure is the type of legal structure your company operates as. The type of structure you choose will determine what type of tax return forms you will need to file.
The different types of structures include sole-proprietor, partnerships, Corporations, S-Corporations, or Limited Liability Corporations.
Each has its own tax advantages based on your business type, liability, and size. It is extremely important to educate yourself on the different structures and how taxes are paid and filed with each.
You should ALWAYS consult with a tax professional who is familiar with your situation.
Start with whoever prepares your taxes. They will be familiar with your personal tax situation and can lead you in the right direction for your needs.
For information on choosing a Business Structure check out the following sites.
4. Register your Cleaning Business with your State
Estimated Cost: $50 – $200, this depends on your state fees and the type of structure you choose to file.
Once you have chosen your business structure you will need to file your name with your state. This step is what will make your new house-cleaning business official
There are a few options for registering your new cleaning business with your state.
You can go it alone
If you choose to register your business on your own you will need to check with your state to carefully read through the requirements and fees.
Business registration requirements will vary by state. If you omit a form or have any errors this can delay your filing. Be sure to check with your State’s website to make sure you are compliant.
Use a 3rd party website
These types of services are less expensive than hiring a lawyer or your CPA to file your business registration with your state. It is like using Turbo Tax or H&R Block to Submit your taxes.
These sites will walk you through a step-by-step process to complete the required form for each of the 50 states. Once complete, they will then submit the form and fees on your behalf.
Some like IncFile have a basic package where they will file your documents and you only pay the state filing fee, with no additional fees unless you choose one of their services.
Hire a Professional
This will be the most expensive option. If you already have a lawyer or CPA that you work with you can pay them to file your registration forms with your state.
You will have to pay the state fees + the service fee that the lawyer or CPA will charge.
5. Apply for an EIN
Estimated Cost: FREE! It is free to file for an Employer Identification Number with the IRS
An EIN is an Employer Identification Number. It is a tax ID number to identify employers and certain businesses. If you filed as a Sole-Proprietor, you may not need an EIN. I do recommend applying for an EIN, though. You most certainly need it when you hire your first employee.
To apply for an EIN, you will need to file a SS-4 with the IRS. It is free and simple to apply, so I highly recommend doing it now.
There are a few ways to apply for your EIN. You can apply online (I highly recommend this option, you will receive your Number right away!), by fax, snail mail, or phone. The IRS has information on the options for filing here.
To apply online you only need to be a business operating in the US.
6. Get a Business License
Estimated Cost: FREE – $50. This depends on whether your local municipality.
The good news is there are no Federal Licensing requirements to start house a cleaning business, Yeah! (Another reason the cleaning industry is so easy to jump into!) But, some states and/or local municipalities may require a business or occupational license to conduct business in your area.
A business license (also called an occupational license) is basically a permit that allows you to conduct business in your local jurisdiction. When you apply and are approved, you will be authorized to conduct your business in the specified geographical area.
For instance, the city municipality in my area requires what they call a ‘Business Tax’. It is their version of an occupational license. For a residential cleaning company, the ‘tax’ is $50. Which really is not very much.
Not sure if your area requires a business license? The easiest way to know is to call your local municipality and ask. That is what I did and it was a 5-minute call between wait time and conversation.
The SBA is a world of training and information. Visit this page —–> SBA.gov to find your state and search licensing requirements.
Not all states and municipalities require this, and if they do the costs are minimal. But it is very important that you verify the information.
You could be liable for fines in the future if you do not comply with your states and local municipalities requirements.
7. Get Business Insurance and/or Bonding
Estimated Cost: Dependent on the number of employees and the size of your business
You will want to get business insurance for your cleaning business. Accidents happen, we don’t like to admit it, but they do!
In the cleaning industry, we clean many different surfaces and around lots of possible break-a-bles that you’ll want to make sure you will not be liable to repair or replace any of that damage. That is why insurance is a very important piece of your cleaning business.
Business Insurance is not as expensive as you may think.
When you first start a house cleaning business, it may seem easy to cut costs and/or corners by not obtaining insurance, but it can really cost you in the end.
I remember thinking insurance was going to be this HUGE expense…..in fact it cost very little because I was a solo cleaner in the beginning.
I was really nervous about this step, so I put it off to the very end. But once I called around for quotes, I realized it really wasn’t!
Insurance is based on your business volume and payroll amount.
If you are starting out with just yourself, you will not be spending thousands or even hundreds of dollars on insurance. My first monthly premium for my Liability Insurance to insure myself was about $30/month!
Insurance is so important for your small business, I dive into how it can help your company stand out and protect you from costly mistakes. Read all about it here —–> 5 Reasons to insure your cleaning business
How to get insurance for your cleaning business
To get insurance, always get multiple quotes. Shopping for business insurance is similar to shopping around for car insurance.
I recommend that you start with your car insurance company. You already have a relationship with them, and in most cases, you may be able to get a discount by bundling it with your car insurance.
Other good sources to shop for liability insurance is through a local insurance broker. I ended up using a local broker when I started my company.
I gave them the coverage I wanted, and they shopped around for the best deal. And so, they ended up coming in lower than my car insurance provider did.
8. Get cleaning supplies and equipment
Many people start a house cleaning business using products they use at home. If you are on a low budget and just starting out, this is ok.
As you start cleaning more houses and getting more clients, you will want to get separate equipment and supplies to use for your business.
Here is a complete supplies and equipment checklist you can download.
A few things to keep in mind when choosing cleaning supplies for your business.
1. Keep your supplies consistent.
Don’t just purchase cleaners because they are on sale for one week.
The more you use the same products, the better expert you will become. You will also, clean more efficiently since you will know your products.
Your customers will expect consistent service and that you use the same supplies. You will not be able to clean consistently if you are not using the same products.
2. Choose quality over cheap.
This will keep your cleaners effective AND keep your client’s homes safe. I recommend using a quality All Purpose cleaner that can be used in both the bathroom and kitchen.
To see what products I used in my Business, and where to get them, check out my Recommendations Page.
3. Buy in bulk when you can.
Buying in bulk will save you money with shipping and product costs. It will also save on packaging waste, meaning less in landfills.
If your cleaners are sold in concentrate, this is the best way to buy them. The store-bought cleaners at department stores are diluted with water.
Don’t pay the extra cost for water, buy reusable spray bottles and dilute the cleaners yourself.
We ordered a lot of our cleaning products on Amazon Prime when we could. If you have a Prime account you can get FREE 2-day shipping. If you use my Affiliate link here, you will get a 30-day FREE trial to Amazon.
If you are disciplined in paying credit cards you can use the Amazon Prime card to receive 5% back on your purchases. You can then use the rewards on future purchases to save even more money.
But don’t purchase supplies on a credit card and not pay them off at the end of the billing cycle. The interest will cost you WAY more than any rewards you could earn.
Create a consistent cleaning system you will use for each house clean. Even though all homes are different, you can still create a consistent cleaning system for your business. This allows you and your cleaners to clean faster but maintain high quality.
Your cleaning system should look as follows:
- Wear an Apron to hold your cleaning supplies. Cleaning from top to bottom and left to right.
- Don’t clean an area more than once.
- Use both hands by wiping with your dominant hand (right or left) and pick up items with the other.
- You should be cleaning in a constant flow and never retrace your steps.
- It is helpful to start in the back of a home and finish by mopping your way out the front door.
This eBook takes you through a professional cleaning system for an efficient deep clean. It is best for cleaning businesses that focus on recurring cleaning clients.
Having a consistent cleaning system will save you time and money and will allow you and your cleaners to clean more homes while maintaining a high level of cleanliness and customer service.
This truly is the key to keeping your clients happy and getting the most referrals.
Next steps after you start a house cleaning business …
How to get more clients
Getting your first clients can be intimidating. But it does not have to cost you a lot of money.
The key will be to create a diverse marketing plan. Your marketing plan should consist of multiple streams so that you can put your name in front of a larger population.
A big mistake new Business owners make with marketing is they will hyper-focus on one marketing stream. They end up getting frustrated and burned out because their business is not growing as fast as they would like.
The best way to get more clients for your house cleaning business is to develop multiple marketing streams and then track what is working best for your business.
Create a Simple Website
1. Sign up for web hosting. Web hosting is what holds your website. If you use my Affiliate link for Blue Host you’ll get web hosting for $2.95/ month and a Free Domain Name for the first year.
2. Create your Domain name. You’ll want to use your business name as your domain name. (When choosing a name for your business, you should have checked to make sure it was available.)
3. Build your website. I recommend first using a free template. Many website providers offer free templates that you can use.
4. Include the following pages: Services Offered, About me page, a Contact page (include your phone number and email address), and a Reviews Page (As you collect reviews from clients update this page. This helps to build trust with your potential clients.)
5. If you have the budget, you can add a booking form to your website. If you don’t at the beginning that is ok! It will be a great goal to reach for.
Booking forms are becoming more readily used and allow cleaning services to book clients at any time.
Claim your Google Business Page
Google business page is a listing on Google. It is completely free to set up and is a great way to show up in local Google search results.
When setting up your Google Business page, you will want to make sure to thoroughly complete all sections, add bright photos of you and sample work, keep your contact information up to date, and link to your website.
Create Social Media Accounts for your business.
Set up a FaceBook business page and participate in local social and business FaceBook groups.
Add professional photos and always use professional language when posting and communicating.
Instagram is another good platform for marketing your cleaning business.
Set up Email Marketing
Email marketing is a way to stay in touch with clients anyone who shows an interest in house cleaning services.
Every time you give a quote for cleaning services and they don’t sign up ask if they would like to receive offers in the future.
Have a raffle drawing and collect email addresses to enter for a drawing for a free cleaning service.
Use email to stay connected with your regularly scheduled clients by sending reminder emails, following up after cleaning service, and asking for a referral or review on your Google Business page.
Marketing can be expensive, but when you are first starting out you will have limited resources. Therefore taking advantage of as many low-cost marketing will help to keep costs low, but grow your cleaning business at the same time
An area many small business owners seem to neglect is finances. It is easy to get wrapped up in how to clean houses and how to get more clients, however, it is just as important to know where your money is going.
Whether you clean by yourself and have no employees or you have several employees cleaning daily for you, having organized books and knowing where your money is going is crucial to your profitability.
There are several options for recording business transactions.
For smaller businesses (1 Cleaner) using an Excel spreadsheet will do the trick. But as your company grows you should look into other online accounting programs.
Quickbooks is a popular choice which also has the ability to run Payroll, tax statements, and other financial statements.
What you should be tracking:
1. Track Revenue:
Keep a daily/weekly income log. You will need to know how much revenue you are making. Each time you clean a customer’s home, log how much revenue was collected and log how long it took to clean the home.
2. Track Payments:
Record payments from clients, and follow up on those that may be late in paying. Most residential cleaning services require payment upfront, but it is important to know who is not paying you on time.
3. Track Expenses:
Record ALL expenses. This includes labor costs, cleaning supplies, small tools, mileage, insurance, and more.
4. Don’t forget to Track Mileage when driving between client’s homes:
Mileage is an expense new business owners either forget about or think is too difficult to track. GPS and smartphones have made it easy to do this with apps like Mileage IQ.
Make sure you keep a log that includes the date, mileage, places driven, and for what purpose. Each time you drive to a client’s home record the date, number of miles, and the client’s name.
At the end of the year, provide this information to your CPA and he will use it as a deduction when filing your income taxes.
Read More about Bookkeeping for your Cleaning Business
Here are my tips for moving forward with a successful Residential Cleaning Business. For a more extensive list visit Pro Tips to Running a Successful Residential Cleaning Business
Keep a professional image.
Inviting a business into your home is personal. Homeowners want to know they can trust you. Presenting yourself in a professional manner 100% of the time will help build that trust.
Have a consistent cleaning process.
A consistent cleaning process allows you to provide a quality service in the least amount of time. You will achieve this by cleaning with the same cleaning process for every home you go into.
NEVER BID FOR A JOB.
There is this saying in the cleaning industry if you MUST bid for a cleaning job set your price 2.5 times more than your normal. The reason being is, you do not want that job!
Have the right tools.
Make sure you have the tools to complete the job. Don’t show up to a house without a vacuum and mop! Trust me it happens 🙂
Don’t undercut yourself.
Make sure the prices you are charging will result in profit. NEVER work for less than what you are worth. In the beginning, it takes time, but make sure you know how much you need to charge to make a profit. Otherwise, you will never make money with your business.
Don’t overspend with fancy tools and marketing.
If you cannot afford it, don’t make the purchase. In my first year, I spent $225 a month on an ad in a community. I was promised huge exposure and I never got ONE call from that ad!!! Most of my clients came from free or low-cost marketing efforts. If you are first starting out, $225 a month on an ad is WAY out of your price range.
Well, that’s it! Now you can market your services and get your first client…which you can learn how to here —–> Growing your Cleaning Business …. and you will be on your way to success.
You are never alone and I am here to help. If you ever have any questions drop me an email and I will be glad to help guide you in the right direction. I have been there and I have lived through it! I know what you are going through 🙂