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 a 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
The simplest of the three to start is being a domestic cleaner. And 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. Get a Criminal Register Check (CRB) to prove you are trustworthy.
Do ask family and friends if they need a cleaner first. This way, you’ll get a feel for the job and the standards people generally expect – people usually have much higher standards of cleanliness if they are paying for it. It will also help you with a recommendation or reference when advertise 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 by clients. 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 – but it only goes so far. Supermarkets and newsagents are the usual ways to advertise locally, but also check 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 a big demand for cleaning property that is on the rental market – you could make to £200 for cleaning a house
Most services range from £6 – £10 per hour both in London and elsewhere 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 is 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 like Mrs Hunt’s Staffing who will give you work around your availability or needs – it will also removes the issue of having to find work regularly and negotiating rates of pay, and you get trained to standard.
How much can you make?
- £5.00 – £10.00 an hour depending where you are in the country. 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 taking 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 is necessary to invest in a training course for commercial work, but 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.
- British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICS)
Offer an international accreditation course on all of their courses, which cover a range of techniques for cleaning different environments and includes essential Health and Safety procedures.
Prochem offer a variety of courses covering upholstery, carpet and hard-floor cleaning techniques that run for one day and are approximately £99+VAT
- Keep Britain Tidy
Have a one day graffiti removal course for £2,000+VAT – the only one of its kind in the UK.
As an idea of further costs for equipment you can expect to pay for the following:
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 further road costs and there is also marketing costs too for promoting your business – including printing costs for leafleting, business cards and advertising in the local press or online. If your business is doing well then you’ll need to hire staff – you need to get a standard contract drafted and set up payroll for them as well keeping a files for all necessary legal documentation.
This involves a great deal more work but you can get a Smarta Business Builder, for £20 per month gives you all the legal documentation, a website builder and accounting software.
If setting up from scratch doesn’t appeal and you have a larger sum that could be invested you could invest in a franchise – UK Commercial Cleaning can set you 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 and 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 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.
- Cleaning up after builders. Get friendly with some local building companies or painters and decorators and offer a cleaning service that makes their work look tidy and clean when they’ve finished. 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. You will need steam cleaners, special fluids and, possibly, a good relationship with a local dry-cleaner to do this. Advertise in areas with large, expensive houses that are likely to have a lot of curtains and sofas that will need attention.
For more ways to make money from working in other people’s houses check out our pages on house-sitting and ironing.
- Mrs Hunt’s Staffing