How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business

how to start a carpet cleaning business - woman vacuuming carpet

Starting a carpet cleaning business is a great way to take control of your career. It’s a profitable way to be your own boss, set your own hours, and do challenging work on your own terms.

Let’s go through the process of starting a carpet cleaning business, including learning to do the job, sorting out all the legal paperwork, and getting your operations up and running.

1. Write a business plan

Your business plan helps you determine how your carpet cleaning company will operate, set goals, and create a strategy to achieve them.

Your carpet cleaning business plan should include:

  • Cover page with your business name and the date
  • Table of contents listing all the different sections of your business plan
  • Executive summary as a single-page recap of the entire business plan
  • Business overview describing your business and explaining what services you’ll provide to which customers (e.g., residential carpet cleaning service for homeowners, commercial carpet cleaning for businesses)
  • Services list showing which specific services you offer (e.g., carpet and rug cleaning, furniture and upholstery cleaning, curtain cleaning, steam cleaning, inspection cleaning)
  • Pricing strategy with rates for your carpet cleaning services
  • Market analysis showing what area or neighborhoods you’ll serve and who your ideal customer is
  • Competitive analysis of other local carpet cleaning businesses
  • Marketing plan for reaching your ideal customers and winning new work
  • Employee planning with any roles you’ll need (e.g., cleaning technician, team lead, office manager) and a hiring timeline
  • Financial projections and cash flow strategy for your first year of business, including your income, expenses, and salary

If you’re planning to get funding from a bank or lender, you’ll need a business plan for that, too. Get a more complete guide to writing a business plan from the Small Business Administration.

Pro Tip: Want to clean carpets but don’t want to make all the business decisions yourself? Consider buying into a carpet cleaning franchise. You’ll have support and resources from the parent company, as well as a trusted brand from day one.

How much money can you make with a carpet cleaning business?

Carpet cleaning can be very profitable. Your business can make $100,000+ (USD) per year, depending on how often you’re working and the size of the home or commercial property.

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2. Get training and certification

Carpet cleaning isn’t quite as simple as buying equipment and finding customers. You’ll also need the right training to ensure you’re doing a good job—and doing it safely.

Take a carpet cleaning training course and learn the best ways to clean, including which types of products to use on which stains. The IICRC offers a carpet cleaning certification program to help you get started.

Need on-the-job experience? Talk to a carpet cleaning business in a neighboring city, and volunteer for a day to see how they work.

You can also clean friends’ and neighbors’ carpets for free or at a discounted rate. That way, by the time you get your first client, you’ll already have carpet cleaning experience under your belt.

READ MORE: Unique cleaning business ideas to kickstart your company

How much to charge for carpet cleaning

Carpet cleaning typically costs 16–28¢ per square foot. You can adapt this rate if you’d rather charge an hourly rate, flat fee, or room rate.

For example, if the average bedroom is 130 square feet, you can safely charge $20.80–36.40 per bedroom.

3. Open a business bank account

Set up a business bank account to keep your personal and company finances separate. This will make everything much easier when it’s time to file your taxes.

Next, set up a reserve fund that can cover at least 90 days’ expenses. It’ll be a big help if you run into any cash flow problems or unpaid invoices later on.

It’s also a good idea to get an accountant who can help you manage your finances. You can always do it yourself, but you might find it easier to outsource the financial part of your business.

READ MORE: 8 ways to improve cash flow for your small business

4. Secure business funding

Starting any business costs money, and it’s no different for carpet cleaning. You can get the startup capital you need through:

  • Government funding: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers funding programs like small business loans and investment capital. The Government of Canada also offers business grants and financing.
  • Business loan: Apply for a small business loan or line of credit with your local bank. You may also be able to get a startup loan from a friend or family member.
  • Credit cards: A business credit card can help with cash flow during startup. Get one with a low interest rate and rewards for every dollar spent, and pay it off every month.
  • Jobber Grants: The Jobber Grants program offers $150,000 in available funding to home service businesses, distributed through 25 grants across three categories.
  • Equipment financing: You may be able to get financing on your carpet cleaning equipment if you’re buying it new, or buy used equipment instead to cut costs.

How much does it cost to start a carpet cleaning business?

Expect to spend around $1,810–3,860 in startup costs, including:

  • Business license and registration ($75–400)
  • Business insurance ($360+)
  • Carpet cleaning business software ($400)
  • Branded uniform, waterproof boots, and safety gear ($50–150+)
  • Carpet cleaning equipment and supplies ($775–2,400+)
  • DIY website and business cards ($150)

The biggest ongoing costs will be your own salary, cleaning supplies, marketing materials, fuel, and any company vehicle payments you might need to make.

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5. Choose a carpet cleaning business name

Your name is one of the first things people recognize about your service business brand, so it’s important to get it right. Make sure your carpet cleaning business name:

  • Describes the services you offer
  • Makes people feel positively about your business
  • Is easy to say and remember
  • Is unique in your area and stand out from competitors

READ MORE: Get inspired with these cleaning business name ideas

Here are just a few examples of carpet cleaning company names to inspire you:

  • We Scrub Your Rug
  • Capital Carpet Cleaning
  • Clear Carpets
  • Carpet Cleansers
  • Rug Rinsers
  • Refresh Your Rug

READ MORE: 8 successful cleaning business stories that’ll inspire you

Once you’ve chosen a name, you’ll need to design a logo to match. You can then use your name and logo on your business cards, website, and other marketing materials.

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6. Register and license your business

You’ll need to take care of business registration and licensing to ensure your operations are legal. Here’s how to do it:

📑 Business registration

Head over to your local registry or use an online tool like Ownr to register your carpet cleaning business. The registration process varies depending on where you live:

Learn about your area’s registration process by googling “COUNTRY + business registration.” You can also check with your local government’s business registration division.

🗄 Business structure

As part of the registration process, you’ll need to choose a business structure. Options for your business’s legal entity include:

  • Sole proprietor (U.S., CA) or sole trader (UK, AU)—common for solo business owners
  • Partnership (U.S., CA, UK), joint venture, or co-operative (AU)—for 2+ owners
  • Limited liability company or LLC (U.S.), corporation (CA), limited company or limited partnership (UK), or company (AU)—an option to protect personal assets

You’ll also need an employer identification number if you have employees or business partners. This is important for taxes, so get your EIN early to avoid any trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.

🪪 Business license

A carpet cleaning business license allows you to legally work in your area. Even if it’s optional where you live, it’s still a good idea to have one.

Get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration (SBA) to see if you need a license and what kind you should get.

Register your carpet cleaning business easily with Ownr

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7. Buy carpet cleaning equipment

You’ll need professional carpet cleaning equipment to run your new business. Here’s a shopping list to get you started:

  • Carpet cleaning machine with attachments
  • Backpack sprayer
  • Carpet shampoo, cleaning solution, and stain removers
  • Commercial vacuum
  • Hoses and reel
  • Carpet rake
  • Wet carpet signs (for commercial use)
  • Corner guards
  • Furniture sliders
  • Respirator and PPE

You may also need specialized equipment if you also offer services like upholstery cleaning, curtain cleaning, green cleaning, or vehicle interior detailing.

You’ll likely spend upwards of $775 USD on your carpet cleaning equipment alone. If that doesn’t feel affordable, you can lease new equipment, buy used equipment, or rent items from your local hardware store.

Equipment also comes at all price levels. You can start out with lower-end items, then switch to quality equipment as you start getting more clients and bringing in more money.

READ MORE: The 12 best apps for cleaning services

8. Get carpet cleaning business insurance

Small business insurance protects your carpet cleaning company in case of any damage, accidents, or other problems. It’s a good idea to get your own insurance—and it may even be required in your area.

Here’s the minimum coverage to include in your carpet cleaning insurance policy:

  • General liability insurance in case of personal injury or property damage
  • Commercial property insurance to cover your office and carpet cleaning equipment
  • Business income insurance to keep your business running after an incident or disaster

You can get these bundled together as a business owner’s policy. You may also want extra coverage in case of situations like vehicle damage, employee injuries or complaints, lawsuits, or criminal damage.

9. Market your carpet cleaning business

Most people will only get their carpets cleaned once or twice a year. That means you’ll need to focus on reaching new customers and building a list of repeat clients to stay afloat.

Start getting customers with these carpet cleaning marketing strategies:

  • Encourage word of mouth marketing from satisfied customers by setting up a referral program and asking for online reviews.
  • Build a carpet cleaning website where potential customers can learn about your services, see before-and-after photos of cleaned carpets, and book services online.
  • Set up social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to introduce your business to the community and show off your work. Use platforms where your ideal customers spend time online, and regularly post content and engage with followers.
  • List your business on lead generation sites and online directories where potential clients search for carpet cleaners, like Google Business, Yelp for Business, and Bing Places.
  • Print carpet cleaning flyers, use postcard marketing, or leave door hangers to reach potential customers door-to-door in the areas where you’d like to work.
  • Partner with local businesses like house cleaners or realtors to find more potential customers. Carpet cleaning is a great add-on for deep cleaning services, and realtors want to make their listings shine.
  • Find a niche service that no other carpet cleaning company wants to offer. For example, you can specialize in pet-related stains, certain types of carpet, or even just area rug cleaning. Then promote that service in all of your marketing material.

READ MORE: The 4 elements of a carpet cleaning marketing plan

The cost for carpet cleaning marketing will depend on the platforms you choose. Creating a website and business cards can cost around $150, while a bus shelter sign or billboard will cost much more.

You likely won’t have too much funding when you’re just getting started. Choose your marketing channels wisely and try to reach potential customers in the places where they spend time.

Later on, you can look into more expensive advertising strategies to reach a broader audience, like Facebook ads and Google ads.

READ MORE: How to get clients for a cleaning business with any budget

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10. Run and grow your carpet cleaning business

You know the job and you’ve got the clients—you’re ready to roll. But don’t just stop at doing good work. To build a successful carpet cleaning business, you need to plan its growth, too.

Try these ideas for growing your carpet cleaning company:

  • Give customers a client hub where they can approve estimates, book services, and pay invoices—freeing up time for you to focus on other work.
  • Hire cleaners to help with cleaning carpets. Over time, this will allow you to step back and work on your small business, not in it.
  • Expand your service area and start offering professional cleaning service to new clients in new markets.
  • Add more items to your service list, like duct and dryer vent cleaning, to earn more revenue from current clients.
  • Send estimates with optional line items like carpet protector or deodorizer, and allow clients to pay over time for bigger jobs with consumer financing.
  • Fit more carpet cleaning jobs into one day by optimizing your routes and using GPS directions to reach each job site faster.
  • When the job’s done, send a customer service follow-up email asking for a review and offering the chance to book a future visit.
  • Automate client emails to help you stay in touch with your customers for quoting, invoicing, and payment—zero extra effort required.

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Originally published July 2019. Last updated on September 9, 2022.

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