Setting up your own cleaning business can be a good extra revenue source, but with hard work, high standards and a bit of luck you could see it become a full-time business. It’s an industry that’s worth about £10bn to the British economy, and one third of all cleaning businesses are owned and run by a single person.
There are three types of cleaning business:
- Domestic cleaning
- Commercial cleaning
- Specialised cleaning
Becoming a domestic cleaner is the simplest of the three. And, it requires very little investment. For somebody to hand over their house keys and let a perfect stranger into their homes in their absence, a degree of trust is clearly required. To immediately gain such trust, get a Criminal Register Check (CRB).
In the beginning, ask family and friends if they need a cleaner. This way, you’ll get a feel for the job and the standards people generally expect. Overall, customers will usually have much higher standards of cleanliness, if they are paying for it. You will also get recommendations from friends, which is helpful for advertising to the public.
Before getting started with new clients, you should take out Public Liability insurance to protect yourself against any claim that might be brought against you. You can also get specialist cleaning insurance that will cover you and your staff, should you hire help.
Start advertising, word of mouth is by far the most effective means of finding work in any job. However, this will only go so far. Supermarkets and newsagents are the usual ways to advertise locally. You should also check out CleaningPlace, as this will be a good way to price up your competition and advertise your service.
- Ask or ring around small local businesses to see if they need a cleaner
- Enquire at estate agents – there is high demand for cleaning property on the rental market – you could make up to £200 for cleaning a house
Most services range from £6–£10 per hour for domestic and office cleaning, as well as window cleaning services. While domestic households have cleaning products, some cleaners and cleaning agencies provide their own, and it’s essential to have a supply of dusters, clothes and mops – at the bare minimum.
If you are looking for cleaning work but are not not sure where to start you could register with an agency. This will remove the issue of having to find work regularly and negotiating rates of pay, and you get trained to an industry standard.
How much can you make?
- £5 – £10 an hour depending on your location. Office cleaning is similar.
- For total cleaning (where you clean a house after people have moved out), you can charge £100–£200 depending on size and complexity of job.
- One typical quote for a team of four people taking half a day is £140 + VAT.
- Carpet cleaning is similar – £120 for a two-bed house for half a day.
Running a company, even if you are a sole trader, involves a greater outlay than domestic cleaning. In order to secure work, it’s necessary to invest in a training course.
First, it’s a good idea to decide on an area of speciality. Cleaning graffiti, office cleaning, window cleaning and even cleaning police crime scenes are possibilities. By doing specialist training you can offer a bespoke service and premium rates, for instance upholstery cleaning and maintenance.
Offer an international accreditation on all of their courses, which covers a range of techniques for cleaning in different environments. Courses also include essential Health and Safety procedures.
There are a variety of courses that cover upholstery, carpet and hard-floor cleaning techniques. These courses typically run for one day and are approximately £120 + VAT.
As an idea of further costs for equipment you can expect to pay for the following:
Industrial wet & dry vacuum cleaner – £300
Rotary floor machine – £400–£800
Pressure Washer – £1,700 +
Ladders – From £70
Cleaning chemicals – £7–12 per litre
You’ll also need a van to transport your equipment, which will incur road costs.
There are also marketing costs for promoting your business. These include printing costs for leaflets, business cards and advertisements in the local press or online.
If your business is doing well, then you’ll need to hire staff. In order to do this, you’ll need to get a standard contract drafted and set up a payroll for them, as well keeping a file for all necessary legal documentation.
If setting up from scratch doesn’t appeal, then a franchise may be more appealing. According to UK Commercial Cleaning, you can set up in business for £10,000 + VAT, which includes a deposit on a van, all the cleaning kit and a three week induction into the business as well as one month’s franchise fee. The full package will cost £20,000 but includes advice and help with the business launch and marketing.
- Emergency cleaning. Armed with a mobile phone, and cleaning equipment in your car, you could offer an emergency cleaning service. This is where you will rush over to a house that has had a plumbing disaster or similar and needs the place to be spotless in a hurry. This is something you could charge a premium for too!
- Cleaning up after builders. Get friendly with some local building companies, painters and decorators and offer a cleaning service that makes their work look tidy and clean when they’ve finished. In order to do this, you should offer an hourly rate or a total price per job.
- Curtain and upholstery cleaning. You can offer general cleaning once a year or so for houses with a lot of soft furnishings and also specific cleaning of stains. For such a service, you will need steam cleaners, special fluids and, possibly, a good relationship with a local dry-cleaner. Next, advertise in areas with large, expensive houses that are likely to have a lot of curtains and sofas that will need attention.
Something a little more…risqué
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could earn up to £45 an hour cleaning people’s homes.
There is a catch, however…you need to do the cleaning in the nude.
Yes, it does sound a bit perverse on first hearing, but there is a real naturist market out there, people who just prefer being in the nude and want other people in their company to be naked as well.
If you think this is something you might be interested in, then read our full article on making £45 an hour cleaning in the nude!