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How to set up your own cleaning business

Jasmine Birtles 22nd Aug 2023 8 Comments

Reading Time: 5 minutes
People always need things cleaning and it can be a good way of making money in your spare time, if you have flexible working hours or can give up weekends. Generally, people tend to want their houses cleaned while they are working, so being available during office hours is the most effective way to get lots of work.
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.
Read on to find out more, or click on a link below to go straight to that section…


Make money as a domestic cleaner

How to set up your own cleaning business

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 – and you could make up to £200 for cleaning a house

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. You could also get trained to an industry standard by registering with an agency.

How much can you make?

  • A lot of cleaners earn the minimum wage, but you can charge £15+ 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.
  • Carpet cleaning is similar – £120 for a two-bed house for half a day.


    Make money as a commercial or specialist cleaner

    How to set up your own cleaning business

    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.

    BICS offers 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 and 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.

    Useful contacts

    Recruitment and Employment Confederation – many cleaning agencies are members.
    Fish4jobs – jobs of all kinds here.
    Jobcentreplus – many office cleaning jobs are advertised at your local job centre.
    Supply2Gov – free local cleaning tender alerts.

    Also consider…

    • 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.

    For more ways to make money from working in other people’s houses check out our pages on house-sitting and ironing.


    Something a little more…risqué

    How to set up your own cleaning business

    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. Many are 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!


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    1 year ago

    The initial years of a cleaning business are difficult, but once you have established working hard and remarkable results that is aligned to customer’s demands they will flock in no time, so don’t be discouraged and keep trying! cleaning is important to all especially we’re still under Covid pandemic

    Angel Falls
    Angel Falls
    1 year ago

    cleaning is very important to stay healthy. I have a own cleaning business

    3 years ago

    Cleaning businesses are key now to most businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every business up and down the country will want some deep cleaning in their establishment. It’s a great space to get into that’s for sure.

    5 years ago

    Good idea if you don’t mind cleaning, it’s certainly not one of my favourite things!

    5 years ago

    I believe that if you are good in cleaning, cleaning business is very perfect for you. I experience to become a cleaner during weekend back when I was in college. It really is a great part time job. I got to earn money to support my studying. I am now saving enough money to start a cleaning business and this article you shared is very helpful for me. Thanks for sharing this article.

    5 years ago

    According to the Cleaning Industry National Training Organisation (CINTO), the UK cleaning industry is now worth around £10bn and employs approximately 820,000 people. It is mostly made up of small organisations, with 72% of UK cleaning staff working in companies that employ no more than nine employees, and a third of all cleaning businesses are owned, and run, by a single person. The cleaning industry is extremely competitive, and it can take a while to break even on your investment. On the plus side, it’s generally recession/ downturn-resistant sign up to aclena in less than 4 mins and help us… Read more »

    Livia James
    Livia James
    6 years ago

    Well, this article helps to understand that how to start own cleaning business, as a cleaning business mentor I found this very informative for those who are trying to start their business. Keep it up


    Louise Smith
    Louise Smith
    11 years ago

    Running a cleaning business offers flexibility with work tailored around other commitments such as family requirements.
    What’s more, running a cleaning business via a franchise is often regarded as a robust method, offering a balance between running your own business alongside the support of an established brand.
    Office, commercial and industrial cleaning franchise, Ecocleen, is just one of the many businesses at The British & International Franchise Exhibition taking place next week where budding entrepreneurs can meet face to face with franchisors and discuss business opportunities.
    The event is on 15 & 16 March at Olympia, London.

    Jasmine Birtles

    Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

    Jasmine Birtles

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