How to Start a Cleaning Business. A man in a living room with house cleaning equipment, and holding a mop.

How to Start a New Cleaning Business


The cleaning industry is a thriving sector with consistent demand, making it an attractive option for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Starting a cleaning business offers numerous benefits, including low startup costs, flexible hours, and the potential for steady income.

Whether you’re interested in residential, commercial, or specialized cleaning services, entering this industry can be both financially rewarding and personally satisfying.

Tip: Visit our post titled, 420 Cleaning Business Names to Consider, and for additional reading, we recommend visiting our post titled How to Search Business Name Availability.

1. Market Research and Business Plan

Before diving into your new cleaning venture, it’s crucial to conduct thorough market research and develop a comprehensive business plan.

Conducting Market Research:

  • Identify Demand: Determine the demand for cleaning services in your area. Research residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, and other potential markets.
  • Analyze Competition: Identify your competitors and analyze their strengths, weaknesses, pricing strategies, and service offerings. This will help you find gaps in the market and areas where you can differentiate your business.
  • Target Market: Define your target market. Are you focusing on residential clients, commercial properties, or niche markets such as medical facilities or post-construction cleanup? Understanding your target audience will shape your marketing and operational strategies.

Creating a Detailed Business Plan:

  • Executive Summary: Summarize your business concept, including the services you plan to offer, your target market, and your business goals.
  • Business Description: Provide an overview of your cleaning business, including its name, location, and the specific services you will provide.
  • Market Analysis: Present your market research findings, detailing the demand, competition, and target market for your services.
  • Organization and Management: Outline your business structure and management plan. Include information about ownership, the management team, and staffing needs.
  • Service Line: Describe the cleaning services you will offer, including any specialized services that set you apart from competitors.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: Explain how you will attract and retain customers. Include your pricing strategy, promotional tactics, and sales approach.
  • Financial Projections: Provide detailed financial forecasts, including startup costs, operating expenses, revenue projections, and break-even analysis.
  • Funding Request: If you are seeking financing, outline your funding requirements, potential sources of capital, and how the funds will be used.

2. Choosing a Business Structure

Selecting the appropriate business structure is a critical decision that impacts your legal and financial responsibilities, tax obligations, and ability to raise capital.

Types of Business Structures:

  • Sole Proprietorship: The simplest and most common structure for small cleaning businesses. The owner has full control but is personally liable for all debts and obligations.
  • Partnership: A business owned by two or more individuals. Partners share profits, losses, and responsibilities, and each partner is personally liable for business debts.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): Combines the benefits of a corporation and a partnership. Owners (members) are protected from personal liability, and profits and losses can be passed through to their personal income without corporate taxes.
  • Corporation: A more complex structure that offers liability protection to its owners (shareholders). Corporations are subject to more regulations and higher administrative costs but can raise capital more easily.

Pros and Cons of Each Structure:

  • Sole Proprietorship: Easy to set up and manage, but personal liability is a significant risk.
  • Partnership: Allows for shared resources and responsibilities, but disagreements between partners can arise, and personal liability remains a concern.
  • LLC: Offers liability protection and tax flexibility, making it a popular choice for small businesses. However, it may have higher startup costs and more paperwork than a sole proprietorship or partnership.
  • Corporation: Provides the strongest liability protection and can attract investors, but it involves more regulatory requirements, higher costs, and complex tax filings.

Registering Your Business:

  • Choose Your Business Name: Ensure it is unique and complies with state regulations. Check for name availability through your state’s business registration office.
  • File the Necessary Paperwork: Register your business with the appropriate state authorities. This may include filing for a DBA (Doing Business As) if you operate under a different name.
  • Obtain an EIN: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS if you plan to hire employees or form an LLC or corporation.
  • Register for State and Local Taxes: Depending on your location, you may need to register for state and local taxes, including sales tax and unemployment insurance tax.

3. Licensing and Permits

Before launching your cleaning business, it’s essential to secure the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally. This ensures compliance with local, state, and federal regulations and builds trust with your clients.

Necessary Licenses and Permits:

  • Business License: Most cities and counties require a general business license to operate legally.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): Required for tax purposes if you have employees or operate as an LLC or corporation.
  • Special Permits: Depending on your services, you might need additional permits, such as a health and safety permit if you’re handling hazardous materials or a specific cleaning permit for certain industries (e.g., medical or food service).

Local, State, and Federal Requirements:

  • Local Requirements: Check with your city or county clerk’s office for specific local licenses and permits. Requirements can vary widely depending on the municipality.
  • State Requirements: Some states require specific permits for businesses that provide cleaning services. Check with your state’s business licensing department for details.
  • Federal Requirements: While most cleaning businesses won’t need federal permits, you must comply with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations if you handle hazardous materials.

How to Apply for Licenses and Permits:

  • Research Requirements: Visit your local and state government websites to identify the necessary licenses and permits.
  • Prepare Documentation: Gather the required documents, such as your business plan, proof of insurance, and personal identification.
  • Submit Applications: Apply online or in person at the relevant government offices. Be prepared to pay application fees.
  • Follow Up: Track the status of your applications and ensure you receive and display your licenses and permits as required.

4. Insurance and Bonding

Insurance and bonding are critical components of protecting your cleaning business from financial risks and building credibility with clients.

Importance of Insurance and Bonding:

  • Financial Protection: Insurance protects your business from potential lawsuits, property damage, and employee injuries.
  • Client Trust: Being bonded reassures clients that they will be compensated for any losses or damages caused by your business.

Types of Insurance Needed:

  • General Liability Insurance: Covers third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Required if you have employees, it covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees injured on the job.
  • Commercial Property Insurance: Protects your business’s physical assets, such as equipment and supplies, against damage or theft.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance: Covers vehicles used for business purposes.
  • Janitorial Bond: A type of surety bond that protects clients from losses due to employee theft or dishonesty.

How to Obtain Insurance and Bonds:

  • Research Providers: Look for insurance companies that specialize in small businesses or the cleaning industry.
  • Compare Quotes: Obtain quotes from multiple providers to find the best coverage and rates.
  • Consult an Agent: Consider working with an insurance agent who can help you understand your options and ensure you get the appropriate coverage.
  • Apply for Coverage: Submit applications with the necessary documentation, such as your business details and proof of training or certifications.
  • Maintain Your Policies: Regularly review and update your insurance and bonding coverage as your business grows and changes.

5. Setting Up Your Business Operations

Efficient business operations are the backbone of a successful cleaning business. Proper organization, financial management, and administrative procedures are essential for smooth day-to-day activities.

Choosing a Business Name:

  • Memorable and Professional: Select a name that is easy to remember and reflects the professionalism of your services.
  • Check Availability: Ensure the name is not already in use by another business in your area. You can check this through your state’s business registry and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Visit our post titled, 420 Cleaning Business Names to Consider.
  • Domain Name: Verify that a suitable domain name is available for your business’s website.

Setting Up a Business Bank Account:

  • Separate Finances: Keep your personal and business finances separate by opening a dedicated business bank account.
  • Choose a Bank: Select a bank that offers favorable terms for small businesses, such as low fees and good customer service.
  • Required Documents: Prepare the necessary documentation, including your EIN, business formation documents, and personal identification.

Accounting and Bookkeeping Practices:

  • Accounting Software: Invest in reliable accounting software to track income, expenses, invoices, and payroll.
  • Hire an Accountant: Consider hiring a professional accountant or bookkeeper, especially as your business grows. They can help with tax preparation, financial planning, and compliance.
  • Regular Financial Reviews: Conduct regular financial reviews to monitor your business’s financial health, track expenses, and ensure timely billing and payments.
  • Record Keeping: Maintain organized records of all financial transactions, including receipts, invoices, and tax documents, for accurate reporting and auditing.

By carefully setting up your business operations, you’ll lay a solid foundation for your cleaning business’s growth and success.

6. Purchasing Equipment and Supplies

Equipping your cleaning business with the right tools and supplies is essential for delivering high-quality services. Investing in reliable, efficient, and durable equipment can significantly impact your business’s performance and customer satisfaction.

Essential Cleaning Equipment and Supplies:

  • Basic Cleaning Tools: Mops, brooms, dusters, vacuum cleaners, and scrub brushes.
  • Specialized Equipment: Carpet cleaners, floor buffers, and pressure washers for more extensive or specialized cleaning tasks.
  • Cleaning Solutions: Eco-friendly and effective cleaning products for various surfaces and tasks, including disinfectants, glass cleaners, and degreasers.
  • Protective Gear: Gloves, masks, and safety goggles to protect yourself and your employees from chemicals and hazards.
  • Storage and Organization: Caddies, utility belts, and carts to keep your supplies organized and easily accessible.

Budgeting for Equipment and Supplies:

  • Initial Investment: Estimate the cost of purchasing the necessary equipment and supplies to start your business. Consider both high-quality essentials and any specialized tools required for your services.
  • Ongoing Costs: Plan for regular expenses, such as replenishing cleaning products, maintenance of equipment, and replacing worn-out tools.
  • Financing Options: Explore financing options if needed, such as small business loans, credit lines, or leasing equipment.

Where to Purchase Quality Equipment and Supplies:

  • Local Suppliers: Visit local janitorial supply stores or home improvement stores to purchase essential items and get personalized advice.
  • Online Retailers: Shop from reputable online retailers and wholesalers that offer a wide range of cleaning products at competitive prices.
  • Industry Trade Shows: Attend trade shows and industry events to discover the latest equipment and supplies and network with suppliers.

7. Hiring and Training Employees

Hiring skilled and reliable employees is crucial for delivering consistent and high-quality cleaning services. Providing thorough training ensures your team is equipped to meet your standards and deliver excellent customer service.

Determining Staffing Needs:

  • Scope of Services: Assess the types of services you offer and the volume of work to determine the number of employees needed.
  • Business Growth: Consider your business’s growth trajectory and plan for future staffing needs as your client base expands.

Hiring Process and Legal Considerations:

  • Job Descriptions: Write clear and detailed job descriptions outlining the roles, responsibilities, and qualifications required for each position.
  • Recruitment: Advertise job openings on job boards, social media, and local community boards. Network within the industry to find potential candidates.
  • Screening and Interviews: Conduct thorough background checks, interviews, and reference checks to ensure you hire trustworthy and competent employees.
  • Legal Requirements: Comply with employment laws, including obtaining workers’ compensation insurance, adhering to wage and hour laws, and reporting new hires to state agencies.

Training Programs and Ongoing Education:

  • Initial Training: Provide comprehensive training for new hires, covering cleaning techniques, safety protocols, equipment use, and customer service skills.
  • Ongoing Education: Offer regular training sessions and workshops to keep employees updated on industry best practices, new equipment, and product knowledge.
  • Performance Reviews: Conduct periodic performance reviews to assess employee performance, provide feedback, and identify areas for improvement and additional training.

8. Marketing and Advertising

Effective marketing and advertising are essential for attracting and retaining clients. Developing a strong marketing strategy will help you build brand awareness and grow your cleaning business.

Developing a Marketing Strategy:

  • Target Audience: Identify your target market and tailor your marketing efforts to reach them effectively. Consider demographics, location, and specific needs.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Highlight what sets your cleaning business apart from competitors, such as eco-friendly products, specialized services, or exceptional customer service.

Effective Advertising Methods:

  • Online Advertising: Use digital marketing tactics, such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to reach potential clients online.
  • Local Advertising: Distribute flyers, brochures, and business cards in your local community. Advertise in local newspapers, magazines, and community boards.
  • Networking: Join local business associations, attend networking events, and participate in community activities to build relationships and promote your business.

Building a Website and Online Presence:

  • Professional Website: Create a professional, user-friendly website that showcases your services, pricing, contact information, and client testimonials.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website with relevant keywords and content to improve its visibility on search engines and attract organic traffic.
  • Social Media: Establish a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to engage with potential clients, share updates, and promote your services.

9. Setting Pricing and Service Offerings

Determining competitive pricing and defining your service offerings are key to attracting clients and generating revenue. Clearly communicating your services and prices helps set client expectations and build trust.

Determining Pricing Strategy:

  • Market Rates: Research local competitors to understand the market rates for various cleaning services.
  • Cost Analysis: Calculate your costs, including labor, supplies, and overhead, to ensure your pricing covers expenses and generates profit.
  • Value-Based Pricing: Consider the value your services provide to clients and set prices that reflect the quality and benefits of your work.

Types of Cleaning Services to Offer:

  • Basic Cleaning: General cleaning tasks such as dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and sanitizing surfaces.
  • Deep Cleaning: More intensive cleaning services that include scrubbing, detailed cleaning, and addressing hard-to-reach areas.
  • Specialized Services: Niche services such as carpet cleaning, window washing, pressure washing, and post-construction cleanup.

Creating Service Packages:

  • Standard Packages: Offer tiered service packages (e.g., basic, standard, premium) that cater to different client needs and budgets.
  • Custom Packages: Provide customizable packages that allow clients to choose specific services based on their requirements.
  • Bundled Services: Offer bundled services at a discounted rate to encourage clients to book multiple services simultaneously.

10. Building a Client Base

Building a strong client base is essential for the sustainability and growth of your cleaning business. Effective networking, promotions, and excellent customer service will help you attract and retain clients.

Networking and Building Relationships:

  • Local Networking: Join local business associations, attend community events, and network with other business owners to build relationships and generate referrals.
  • Partnerships: Partner with local real estate agents, property managers, and businesses to gain referrals and expand your client base.

Offering Promotions and Discounts:

  • Introductory Offers: Provide special discounts or promotions for first-time clients to encourage them to try your services.
  • Referral Programs: Implement a referral program that rewards existing clients for referring new clients to your business.
  • Seasonal Promotions: Offer seasonal promotions and discounts to attract clients during peak times or slower periods.

Providing Excellent Customer Service:

  • Consistent Quality: Ensure consistent, high-quality service to build trust and maintain client satisfaction.
  • Responsive Communication: Respond promptly to client inquiries, requests, and feedback to demonstrate your commitment to excellent customer service.
  • Client Feedback: Regularly seek and act on client feedback to improve your services and address any concerns or issues.

11. Managing and Growing Your Business

Effective management and strategic growth planning are crucial for the long-term success of your cleaning business. Continuously improving your operations and expanding your services can help you achieve sustained growth.

Tracking Business Performance:

  • Key Metrics: Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) such as client retention rates, revenue growth, and profitability to assess your business’s performance.
  • Regular Reviews: Conduct regular reviews of your financial statements, client feedback, and operational processes to identify areas for improvement.

Customer Feedback and Improvement:

  • Feedback Channels: Provide multiple channels for clients to provide feedback, such as surveys, online reviews, and direct communication.
  • Continuous Improvement: Use client feedback to make improvements to your services, processes, and customer interactions to enhance client satisfaction.

Expanding Services and Scaling Your Business:

  • New Services: Introduce new cleaning services or expand into new markets to attract a broader client base.
  • Franchising: Consider franchising your business model to expand your brand and reach new markets.
  • Technology: Invest in technology and automation to improve efficiency, streamline operations, and scale your business effectively.


ISSA Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association

International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association


Starting a cleaning business involves careful planning, dedication, and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can establish a successful and thriving cleaning business.

From conducting market research and developing a business plan to hiring employees and building a client base, each step is crucial in laying the foundation for your business’s growth.

With commitment and a focus on quality and customer satisfaction, you can achieve long-term success in the cleaning industry.

author avatar
Brian Wilson Writer and Editor
Brian Wilson is the content manager and founder of LLC Radar. Brian grew up in North Texas, just outside of Dallas, and has a bachelor's degree in business from Southern Methodist University. Since graduating from SMU, Brian has gained over 10 years of experience in business writing for several online publications. Brian resides in Plano, Texas and he can be reached by email: Phone: 972-776-4050

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