How Much Does Cleaning-Business Start-Up Cost?

Starting a cleaning business can be a rewarding and lucrative venture. Cleaning-business start-up cost ranges from $685 to $10,000, with the national average at $3,500.

By Katie Flannery and Catherine Hiles | Updated Dec 22, 2023 12:10 AM

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A cleaner uses a mop to clean a floor while another person checks items off a list on a clipboard.

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Highlights

  • The typical costs to start up a cleaning business range from $685 to $10,000, with an average of $3,500.
  • The exact start-up costs for a cleaning business will depend on the type and structure of the business, the required licenses and permits, the purchase of equipment and supplies, and the cost of bonding and insurance.
  • Cleaning businesses have relatively low start-up costs, and house cleaners are in high demand. In addition, there are no set experience requirements needed to work as a house cleaner, and business owners have the potential for quick profits.

Starting a cleaning business can be exciting and nerve-wracking, but it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand the associated costs. Cleaning-business start-up costs can vary depending on a variety of factors, and having a clear idea of these expenses is vital to plan the budget effectively. On average, the price range to start a cleaning business runs from $685 to $10,000, with many business owners spending about $3,500.

When it comes to starting a cleaning business, understanding the cost to start a business is an important consideration. The business owner will need to budget for cleaning-business license costs, insurance, marketing material, equipment, and supplies, among other expenses. By having a clear grasp of the cleaning-business start-up cost and a well-prepared business plan, a cleaning-business owner can embark on their journey into the world of the best cleaning services with confidence.

A man cleans a floor with a vacuum cleaner.

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Factors in Calculating Cleaning-Business Start-Up Cost

How much does it cost to start a cleaning business? Calculating the start-up cost for a cleaning business involves various factors, which include the business type and structure, licenses and permits, equipment and supplies, and bonding and insurance. Even though the national average provides a useful starting point, it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that these costs can vary significantly based on regional economic factors, competition, and the cost of living.

Business Type

The type of cleaning business plays a pivotal role in determining its start-up costs. For example, a residential cleaning business typically has lower start-up costs than a commercial cleaning business. Residential cleaning often requires fewer specialized tools and products, and businesses that cater to this market may not need extensive insurance coverage. For those who are willing to pay move-out cleaning costs or deep-cleaning costs, such services are usually available through residential cleaning services.

Commercial cleaning services are designed for office buildings, warehouses, or industrial facilities. These types of cleaning businesses often demand a more substantial investment, such as specialized equipment, larger quantities of cleaning-business supplies, and comprehensive insurance to meet the specific requirements of commercial clients.

Entrepreneurs can also choose between launching an independent, individual cleaning business and a franchise. An independent business generally has lower up-front costs, while opening a cleaning franchise can involve higher initial costs due to franchise fees and ongoing royalties.

Business Structure

Knowing how to start a cleaning business also means understanding business structure, which is another important factor that can significantly affect a business owner’s start-up costs. Different business structures have varying legal, financial, and operational requirements, which in turn influence the initial investment.

  • Sole proprietorship. This is the simplest and most cost-effective business structure to set up. While it typically involves lower registration fees and fewer legal formalities, it also means that an owner’s personal assets are at risk. Furthermore, cleaning-business insurance costs may be different for a sole proprietorship than for other business structures. Registering a business as a sole proprietorship typically costs between $40 and $60.
  • Limited liability company (LLC). Forming an LLC offers personal asset protection and flexibility in terms of management and taxation. While the registration fees for an LLC can range from $100 to $500, the added protection can be worth the expense.
  • Corporation. Establishing a corporation comes with more complex legal and administrative requirements, which can result in higher registration and compliance costs. A corporation provides the highest level of personal asset protection.

The type of business structure affects the licenses and permits that are needed for the business to operate legally. Compliance costs may vary depending on whether the owner is a sole proprietor and whether a business is an LLC or a corporation. Entrepreneurs who need help navigating the business start-up process may want to consider hiring one of the best LLC services, such as LegalZoom or Northwest Registered Agent, to guide them through the process.

Licenses and Permits

How much money is needed to start a business? One of the first expenses an owner will encounter when starting a cleaner business is obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. Cleaning-business license costs vary by location, so it’s essential for an entrepreneur to research the specific requirements in the area, as well as how to get a business license in their municipality.

To operate a home-cleaning business legally, an owner may need different types of business licenses and permits depending on the location and the type of services offered. Neglecting to obtain the necessary licenses can result in fines, legal issues, and damage to a business’s reputation. The licenses required to start a cleaning business vary by region and can be influenced by the scope of the services offered. Some areas may require a general business license, while others may have specific regulations for small-business cleaning services. Residential and commercial cleaning also have distinct licensing requirements.

Fees for business licenses and permits are part of the start-up costs for a cleaning business. These fees can vary widely depending on the location and the type of license. Some municipalities charge a flat fee, while others have a fee based on factors such as the number of employees or the size of a business. Typically, the cost range for licenses and permits for a limited liability company (LLC) is between $100 and $500.

Equipment and Supplies

Purchasing equipment and supplies for the cleaning business adds to the start-up costs. Depending on the type of cleaning services offered, an owner may need various cleaning tools and products. It’s a good idea for the business owner to make a checklist of the items that are required and compare prices to get a sense of the initial expenses. Cleaning equipment and supplies can run from $300 to $600, and costs can be higher for specialized equipment.

The types of equipment and supplies needed to start a cleaning business include vacuum cleaners, mops, brooms, dusters, scrub brushes, and cleaning solutions. The business may also need specialized equipment, such as carpet cleaners, upholstery tools, and squeegees. High-quality equipment may have a higher up-front cost but can be more durable and cost-effective in the long run, reducing maintenance and replacement expenses. Most cleaning businesses will need to purchase cleaning chemicals. Eco-friendly or specialized cleaning solutions may cost more than conventional options, but they can be essential for meeting client demands and industry standards.

According to Sharon Tinberg, residential cleaning industry expert and a business owner who also designs process and procedure training for the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), “Supplies and products like vacuum cleaners, towels, and cleaners [are essential]… [Other expenses include the] website and SEO of the website, recruiting expenses, [and] living expenses while waiting to make enough profit to cover personal expenses.”

Bonding and Insurance

Cleaning-business insurance and bonding are other important expenses. A policy from one of the best small-business insurance companies (such as NEXT or Thimble) provides protection in the event of accidents or damage that might occur during the cleaning process, and bonding protects clients against employee theft. The cost of cleaning-business insurance can fluctuate based on the coverage and the size of a business, so it’s advisable for the business owner to consult with an insurance agent to determine the most suitable plan. General liability insurance for a cleaning business can cost from $350 to $8,000 per year, and workers’ compensation can cost another $2,000 per year. A large commercial cleaning business can see insurance and bonding rates run from $8,000 to $12,000 per year.

Bonding, often referred to as janitorial or surety bonding, can be a requirement for some clients, especially in the commercial sector. It guarantees to a client that the business owner will reimburse the client in the case of employee theft—either alleged or proven. Bonding is a separate expense from insurance but is important for establishing trust with clients.

The cost of insurance and bonding can vary based on factors such as the coverage amount, the size of a business, and the specific services offered. For example, a cleaning business that provides specialized services such as hazardous material cleanup may face higher insurance costs.

Additional Costs and Considerations

While the national average of $3,500 is a helpful starting point, calculating cleaning-business start-up cost involves careful consideration of additional factors. These can include marketing and advertising costs, office space and utilities, software and technology, and staff wages. Understanding these factors can help business owners budget accurately for their start-up costs.

A team of cleaners mop floors.

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Marketing and Advertising

Creating a professional cleaning-business image is essential, and this includes expenses for branding and marketing. An owner may need to invest in cleaning-business cards, a cleaning- service business plan, and a cleaning-business start-up package. On average, marketing start-up costs can range from $135 to $650.

When starting a cleaning business, the owner may want to pay a professional graphic designer to create a logo and branding for their business. Additionally, they will need to purchase business cards, brochures, flyers, and promotional items. Design, printing, and distribution costs for these items will need to be factored into the budget.

It’s also important for the business to have a visible online presence. This includes setting up a website, purchasing a domain, and potentially hiring a web developer to ensure a professional, user-friendly site. Online expenses can include hosting, domain registration, and potentially e-commerce functionality for online bookings and payments. Many businesses also invest in paid digital marketing campaigns, as well as more traditional advertising methods (such as listing in local directories, sponsoring community events, or running ads in local newspapers) to reach a broader audience. Marketing and advertising add to the start-up costs, but they’re essential for those who want to get more clients for their cleaning business.

Office Space and Utilities

Office space and utilities can be significant components of a cleaning-business start-up cost, particularly if an owner decides to maintain a physical office location. Office space, website costs, and software expenses can range from $200 to $14,000.

The cost of renting or leasing office space depends on factors such as location, size, and the condition of the space. Business owners will want to consider whether they need a dedicated office for administrative tasks, client meetings, or equipment storage. Office space expenses can include rent, security deposits, utilities, furniture and equipment, and phone and internet connections.

Software and Technology

Software and technology play an important role in optimizing business operations, managing clients, and enhancing overall efficiency. Implementing scheduling and booking software is essential for managing appointments, client requests, and staff assignments. This type of software allows for online bookings, which can attract more clients and improve overall efficiency.

Accounting and invoicing software streamlines financial management. It helps track income and expenses, generate invoices, and manage payroll. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is valuable for managing client relationships, tracking communication, and retaining customers.

Protecting client data and business information is also important. Expenses related to cybersecurity software, data backup systems, and measures to secure client information are necessary. Over time, software and technology may require updates or upgrades. Budgeting for these ongoing costs ensures that the business’s systems remain efficient and secure.

Staff Wages

Before employees start working, a business may incur hiring expenses, including the cost of job advertisements, background checks, and interviewing. These costs all need to be part of the start-up budget. The most substantial cost is the house cleaner salaries. An owner needs to budget for regular payroll expenses, which can include wages, salaries, and overtime pay.

If a business offers benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or retirement plans, these expenses also add to the overall staffing costs. Benefits can be a significant portion of the compensation package and need to be factored into the budget. An owner may also need to provide training for the cleaning staff to ensure they meet industry standards and can effectively deliver services. Training expenses can include materials, instructor fees, and the cost of staff time dedicated to training.

When pricing their services, the business owner may want to consider researching cleaning- business hourly rates in their area as well as staff payroll costs. The average cost to start a cleaning business can differ based on pricing strategy, market demand, and competition. Setting competitive yet profitable rates is crucial for long-term success.

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Cleaning-Business Start-Up Cost by Type of Equipment

The type of equipment an owner chooses for their cleaning business has a significant impact on the start-up cost. Prices can range from budget-friendly to substantial investments, depending on the type and quality of equipment required for the specific services and business goals. Careful consideration of the equipment needs and budget planning are essential to ensure a business owner’s cleaning business has a successful start.

Machinery

Machinery can significantly increase the start-up cost for a cleaning business due to the expense of purchasing, maintaining, and operating the necessary equipment. Machinery such as floor buffers, carpet cleaners, pressure washers, and industrial vacuum cleaners can be expensive to acquire. Prices for commercial-grade machinery can range from hundreds to several thousand dollars per unit, and the cost varies based on the type and quality of the equipment.

To keep the machinery in good working condition, budgeting is necessary to account for ongoing maintenance, repairs, and replacement parts. Neglecting maintenance can lead to breakdowns and costly repairs, so it’s important for a business owner to put aside money for this purpose. Operating specialized machinery often requires training and certification for all employees. These training programs come with associated costs, including fees for courses, materials, and certification exams.

Other costs for business owners to consider are transportation to and from jobsites, rental or storage fees for storing equipment when not in use, insurance coverage to protect against damage and theft, and utility expenses.

Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies are a significant portion of the initial investment required to start a cleaning business. This is because of the wide range of products required, and the ongoing costs associated with replenishment and waste disposal. When starting a cleaning business, an owner will need a cleaning-business start-up checklist, which includes initial inventory. An extensive inventory of cleaning supplies, including cleaning chemicals, disinfectants, detergents, sanitizers, and various cleaning tools such as brooms, mops, vacuum cleaners, and microfiber cloths are needed.

It’s essential for business owners to invest in high-quality cleaning products to ensure effective and safe cleaning. Quality products may cost more, but they provide better results and can positively impact a business’s reputation. Safety supplies (such as gloves, masks, goggles) and storage equipment, such as cleaning carts and containers, are important but will add to the overall cost of starting a business.

If a business offers specialized services, such as carpet cleaning or window washing, an owner will need to invest in specialized equipment and tools, which are more expensive than general cleaning supplies.

Business Vehicles

The cost of purchasing business vehicles, whether they are vans, trucks, or cars, is a significant expense. Prices can vary widely depending on the type of vehicle, its size, and whether it’s a new or used model. Commercial vehicles can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Outfitting business vehicles with the necessary equipment, such as custom shelving, storage systems, and cleaning equipment mounts, can also add to the cost. These modifications are essential to optimize vehicle storage and organization for cleaning supplies and equipment. Other costs include maintenance, fuel and operating expenses, insurance costs, parking and storage, and vehicle wraps and branding.

Benefits of Starting a Cleaning Business

Starting a cleaning business can be incredibly rewarding. The cleaning industry is known for its steady demand, low start-up costs, and potential for recurring revenue. This type of business provides flexibility in terms of working hours and the services offered. It typically has low barriers to entry, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals interested in becoming business owners. With efficient operations, strong client relationships, and a focus on quality service, starting a cleaning business can be a path to financial stability and success.

Relatively Low Start-Up Costs

The relatively low start-up costs of a cleaning business are a substantial benefit for a few reasons. Low start-up costs make it easier for individuals with limited capital to enter the entrepreneurial world. It’s an accessible business option for those who may not have significant financial resources.

With lower initial investments, the financial risk associated with starting a cleaning business is minimized. This allows entrepreneurs to test the waters, learn the ropes, and make adjustments without having a substantial financial burden. The lower the initial investment, the quicker an owner can recoup the costs and start generating profits.

Increasing Demand

The increasing demand for cleaning services is a significant benefit for those who want to become a successful house cleaner or start a cleaning business. It ensures a steady revenue stream, client retention, and a resilient market. As the demand grows, a business can thrive, providing opportunities for growth, specialization, and a positive impact on the community. In 2022, the cleaning services industry had more than 3 million employees and a market size of almost $90 billion.

Limited Experience Requirements

The limited experience requirements in the cleaning business offer accessibility, low entry barriers, and the opportunity for quick start-up. This flexibility enables owners to learn and grow on the job, customize the business, and adapt to changing market conditions. As owners gain experience, they can enhance their service quality and gradually invest in further development and growth.

Potential for Quick Profits

The potential for quick profits in a cleaning business is a notable advantage, thanks to low overhead, rapid start-up, recurring revenue, affordable start-up costs, and the flexibility to control pricing and costs. The combination of these factors positions cleaning businesses for rapid profitability, making them an appealing option for entrepreneurs seeking a quick return on their investment.

A team of cleaners clean office surfaces.

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How to Save Money on Cleaning-Business Start-Up Cost

Saving money on cleaning-business start-up costs is a practical way to boost a business’s financial health. Experts such as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency have several money-saving tips to help entrepreneurs start a successful business on a budget.

  • Home-based start. Consider starting a cleaning business from home. This eliminates the need for an office or storefront, reducing rent, utilities, and other associated costs.
  • Buy used equipment. Many used machines are in excellent condition and can be significantly cheaper than new ones.
  • Equipment rentals. Instead of buying all the equipment up front, consider renting certain items, especially if you’re not sure about the long-term demand for specific services.
  • Limit specialized services. Initially, focus on providing general cleaning services and limit specialized services that require expensive equipment.
  • Smart purchasing. Buy cleaning supplies in bulk to benefit from volume discounts.
  • Eco-friendly options. Consider offering eco-friendly cleaning products. While they may cost slightly more, they can be a selling point for clients.
  • Part-time staff. Start with part-time staff or subcontractors rather than full-time employees. This reduces payroll expenses, especially when a business is in its early stages.
  • Local marketing. Use cost-effective local marketing strategies such as social media, flyers, and local online directories.
  • Sole proprietorship. Operate as a sole proprietor to save on legal and registration fees. As time goes on, you can consider forming a more complex business structure as the business grows.

Questions to Ask About Cleaning-Business Start-Up

When seeking advice or consulting with a professional about cleaning-business start-up costs examples, it’s essential for a business owner to ask the right questions to ensure they receive the best guidance. Experts from Harvard Business School and SCORE list several important questions for aspiring business owners to consider before making the plunge to start a cleaning business.

  • What are the typical start-up costs for a cleaning business in my local area?
  • How can I determine the specific costs associated with licensing and permits for my cleaning business?
  • What are the primary types of cleaning businesses (residential, commercial, specialized), and how do start-up costs vary among them?
  • What business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation) would be most cost-effective for my cleaning business, and how does it impact start-up costs?
  • How much should I budget for insurance and bonding, and how does the type of coverage affect costs?
  • Can you provide examples of typical start-up costs, such as equipment, supplies, and transportation, for a cleaning business like mine?
  • What are the cost considerations when it comes to hiring and training staff for a cleaning business?
  • How can I minimize start-up costs while still providing quality cleaning services?
  • What are the key expenses related to marketing and advertising for a cleaning business, and what strategies can help me save money in this area?
  • How much should I budget for office space and utilities, and are there cost-effective alternatives to renting a physical location?
  • How can I leverage software and technology to streamline operations and manage start-up costs effectively?
  • What are the potential ways to save money on cleaning supplies without compromising quality?
  • What cost-saving strategies can I employ when purchasing vehicles for my cleaning business?
  • How can I ensure that my start-up costs align with my business plan and financial projections?
  • Are there local or industry-specific resources that offer financial assistance or grants to help cover cleaning-business start-up costs?
  • What financial best practices should I consider when launching my cleaning business to ensure long-term success?
  • Can you help me create a detailed budget and financial plan tailored to my specific cleaning-business start-up needs?

FAQs

Starting a cleaning business can be a lucrative venture, but understanding the financial aspects is crucial for a successful launch. There are several common questions regarding initial expenses, financial considerations, and cost-saving strategies for aspiring cleaning-business owners.

Q. What are the risks of starting a cleaning company?

Starting a cleaning company can be rewarding, but like any business, it comes with its share of risks and challenges. According to the International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association (IJCSA), the cleaning industry is highly competitive, with many established and new businesses vying for clients. Standing out and securing a client base can be challenging. The demand for services can be influenced by economic fluctuations. During economic downturns, clients may reduce or eliminate cleaning services, affecting the going rate for house cleaning.

Clients may come and go, impacting the stability of the overall income. Client turnover can happen as a result of budget restraints or dissatisfaction with services. Relying heavily on a small number of major clients can also pose risks. If you lose a key client, it can have a detrimental impact on the stability of a business.

Q. How big is the cleaning industry?

In 2022, the commercial cleaning services sector in the United States was a key source of employment and boasted a workforce exceeding 3 million individuals. Janitors and cleaners (excluding maids and housekeeping cleaners) constituted the most significant part of the workforce.

Q. What type of cleaning business makes the most money?

The profitability of a cleaning business can vary depending on various factors, including location, target market, services offered, and business strategies. While it’s difficult to definitively say which type of cleaning business consistently makes the most money, the sectors within the cleaning industry that tend to be more lucrative are residential cleaning, commercial cleaning, carpet cleaning, window washing, pressure washing, pool cleaning, chimney cleaning, and trash bin cleaning.

Sources: International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association, Jobber, ZenBusiness, The Janitorial Store, Cleaning Business Boss, Cleaners Talk, Statista