Is It Worth Starting a Cleaning Business?
Do you love ending your workday knowing you’ve given it your all and made a difference in someone’s life? If that sounds like you, starting a cleaning business might be the right step.
We’ll go through the benefits and challenges of starting a profitable cleaning business from scratch, as well as what you can expect to get out of running your own business.
We also asked several successful industry experts to share their experiences. Listen to the other cleaning business owners who have been there, done that—they’ll tell you it’s worth it.
Is a cleaning business profitable?
The average cleaning business income is just under $56,000 (USD) per year for a one-person company. That amount can vary depending on:
- Whether you provide residential cleaning or commercial/industrial cleaning services
- How much you charge for your services and what your profit margins look like
- If you’re working on your own or employing other people
- If you offer specialty services, like green cleaning or carpet cleaning
Not all of that money will go directly into your pocket, though. Overhead costs for a cleaning company can be low, but they still affect your bottom line. You may also have employees to pay.
Once your expenses are dealt with, you can look at your take-home pay. A cleaning business owner salary can range from $16,500 to over $100,000 a year—although somewhere in the middle is more common.
“Starting a cleaning business is inexpensive and you can easily have clients within hours of launching. It’s also fantastic for cash flow because you get paid at each cleaning or even in advance of the appointments.”
—Katie Pearse, Glisten Academy
How much do cleaners make?
A cleaner’s hourly rate is $12.58 on average in the U.S. They can make more money if they have years of experience and if pay rates in their state are higher than the average.
How much do cleaning companies make?
If you clean five homes each week for a year, charging a flat rate of $120–150 per home, your residential cleaning business could earn $31,200–39,000 in a year before taxes, insurance, and other deductions.
This number will go up if you charge by the hour at a higher pay rate, offer special services or add-ons, squeeze more jobs into a day, or add more house cleaners to your team.
The more experienced you are and the better job you do, the more you can charge for your residential cleaning services.
So if you’re wondering, “Can a cleaning business make you rich?” With hard work and smart planning—yes, it could!
How much do commercial cleaning companies make?
Again, that depends on your rate and how much work you get. Commercial cleaning prices are often estimated per square foot, and 11¢ per square foot is the average rate.
So for a 10,000-square-foot facility, for example, your commercial cleaning business could earn $1,100 per visit.
If you use commercial cleaning software, managing your business can be a snap—giving you free time to grow your business and bring in even more money.
How much profit does a cleaning company make?
The numbers above only account for your gross income, not your profits. Typically, a profit margin that’s anywhere above 10% is considered average for a small business.
Ensure a good profit margin by estimating as accurately as you can. When you’re quoting a job, your rate (which can be hourly, flat, or based on rooms or square footage) should include:
- Your labor costs and hours
- Overhead, cleaning insurance, and supplies
- Your markup percentage for profits
Think of markup as your cleaning business’ salary—it’s what you can reinvest back into your business for advertising and growth.
FREE TOOL: Try our profit margin calculator
Let’s assume you’ve quoted a flat rate of $225 for a cleaning job. If 60% of that amount covers your labor, overhead, insurance, and cleaning equipment costs, your business’ profit margin is 40%, or $90 for that job.
So is a cleaning business profitable? Absolutely! You just need to charge the right rate for the right mix of services—and keep a sharp eye on your quotes and invoices.
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Should I start a cleaning business? 5 reasons to go for it
1️⃣ Startup costs are low
If you’re wondering how to start a cleaning business with no money, don’t worry—it’s simple and inexpensive to do.
It doesn’t cost much to get started, especially if you work from home and use your personal vehicle. You just need to create a basic business plan, purchase a few cleaning supplies, and bring out your can-do attitude.
“I started my cleaning business because I was tired of putting up with jobs that didn’t care about me. It seemed like a fairly easy market to get into with many avenues and plenty of money to be made. It is hard just like anything else in life but I can see so much potential.”
—Alicia Nicole Oconnell, Publicly Clean LLC
You can then reach potential customers in person, on social media like Facebook and Instagram, through Google ads, or on websites like Craigslist and Angi.
READ MORE: Get clients for your cleaning business
You also don’t need any education or previous experience. That said, training is a good idea to make sure you offer great service and run your business effectively!
Things won’t be smooth right out of the gate, but if you work to build client relationships, you’ll keep clients close and happy while you iron out any wrinkles in your business processes.
“I started Revive Washing to create freedom and impact by washing homes locally to help bring clean water globally. I’d recommend starting a cleaning business if you are prepared to work super hard and want to be rewarded from your hard work.”
—David Moerman, Revive Washing
2️⃣ Be your own boss
You can start your cleaning business with just one person: you! You get to run the day-to-day on your own terms and make the big decisions that help move your business forward.
Here are just a few of the choices you get to be in charge of:
- What will your cleaning business name and logo be?
- Will you work from home or out of an office?
- What will your hours look like?
- What types of cleaning services to offer?
“I needed a change that met the needs of our growing family. Now, I couldn’t be happier with the move. I would recommend it for anyone looking for that bit of freedom—but only if you’re a self starter and motivated. It’s hard work, every day!”
—Paula Schneider Cornell, Paula’s Housekeeping
At this point, you can decide if you still want to be out in the field, or if you want to put away the mop and bucket and run operations from an office.
Your business can be as big or small as you want it to be. You make the decisions, boss!
“It was challenging at the beginning but you learn as you grow. I have grown into a company with well over 100 recurring residential clients and some office accounts and have a superb GM who handles a lot of the day to day.”
—Karen Conchie, The Cleaning Ladies
3️⃣ Set your own quality standards
If you’ve had past experience with local cleaning businesses, you might have been frustrated by the poor service you received—or maybe you were inspired to reach the same high level!
Running your own cleaning business allows you to set your own standards for service. Start by identifying gaps where your competitors don’t quite get it right, and focus on those areas.
And if you use cleaning business software, you can offer an even better experience for your clients. It can also save you time every day and spare you from a ton of paperwork.
“I love that feeling when you stand at the door and you look back and think, ‘Man, I worked hard. This house looks amazing. Some happy customers will come home tonight and can enjoy their evening.’”
—Judith Virag, Clean Club Calgary
4️⃣ High demand for cleaning services
Cleaning is a job that will never go away. As long as we have homes, offices, and other buildings where we spend our time, there will always be a demand for cleaners.
Many people will always be willing to pay someone else to clean for them—even when the economy takes a dive and the homeowner or business owner has to cut costs in other areas.
It’s true that you’ll be entering a competitive market filled with other already-successful cleaning businesses. But there’s room for you, too, so don’t let yourself be intimidated.
READ MORE: How to promote your cleaning business
“For years, professional cleaning companies have misunderstood the trade and skill of professional cleaning as a ‘luxury service.’ Cleaning is not a luxury—cleaning is a necessity and an essential service.”
—Kevin and Grace Reynolds, American House Cleaners Association
5️⃣ Do work that makes a difference
Your cleaning business gives you meaningful work and transforms the lives of your clients, giving them back their time and reducing the number of things they have to worry about.
But your cleaning services don’t just benefit your clients—they actually benefit your community, too.
You’re creating work for yourself and maybe even for other people, and you’re redistributing your clients’ money back into the community where you all live. That helps everyone.
“I started my cleaning business to grow beyond what I could do working for someone else. I have big ideas and dreams to create a great workplace where my team can help make lives better for our clients and people in our community.”
—Jeannie Homrich Henderson, Jeannie Cleaning
Should I start a cleaning business?
Both residential and commercial cleaning can be incredibly rewarding in terms of the money you earn, the relationships you form, the confidence you build, and the lives you change.
Join the successful cleaning business owners who shared their experiences in this article. You might just become an inspiration one day, too!
“Your clients live busy lives. They cherish their downtime. If you can give them more of it, you’ll be a dream come true that they’ll never want to be without.”
—Katie Pearse, Glisten Academy
READ MORE: Successful cleaning business stories
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Originally published June 2016. Last updated on January 6, 2022.