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  • The typical costs to start up a cleaning business range from $685 to $10,000, with an average of $3,500.
  • The exact start-up costs for a cleaning business will depend on the type and structure of the business, the required licenses and permits, the purchase of equipment and supplies, and the cost of bonding and insurance.
  • Cleaning businesses have relatively low start-up costs, and house cleaners are in high demand. In addition, there are no set experience requirements needed to work as a house cleaner, and business owners have the potential for quick profits.

Starting a cleaning business can be exciting and nervewracking, but it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand the associated costs. Cleaning-business start-up costs can vary depending on various factors, and having a clear idea of these expenses is vital to plan the budget effectively. On average, the price range to start a cleaning business runs from $685 to $10,000, with many business owners spending about $3,500.

When it comes to starting a cleaning business, understanding the cost to start a business is an important consideration. The business owner will need to budget for cleaning-business license costs, insurance, marketing material, equipment, and supplies, among other expenses. By having a clear grasp of the cleaning-business start-up cost and a well-prepared business plan, a cleaning-business owner can embark on their journey into the world of the best cleaning services with confidence.

A team of cleaners in blue overalls and yellow gloves clean a floor.

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Factors in Calculating Cleaning-Business Start-Up Cost

Calculating the start-up cost for a cleaning business involves various factors, which include the business type and structure, licenses and permits, equipment and supplies, and bonding and insurance. Even though the national average provides a useful starting point, it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that these costs can vary significantly based on regional economic factors, competition, and the cost of living. For example, launching a cleaning business in a metropolitan area may have higher costs than in a smaller town or rural setting.

Business Type

There are various types of cleaning businesses, and whether they’re residential or commercial, individual or franchise, plays a pivotal role in determining the start-up costs. Each of these factors can significantly impact the initial costs of starting a cleaning business.

  • Residential cleaning. A residential cleaning business typically has lower start-up costs than a commercial cleaning business. Residential cleaning often requires fewer specialized tools and products, and businesses that cater to this market may not need extensive insurance coverage. For those who are willing to pay move-out cleaning costs or deep-cleaning costs, such services are usually available through residential cleaning services.
  • Commercial cleaning. Commercial cleaning, which involves office buildings, warehouses, or industrial facilities, often demands a more substantial investment. These types of businesses might need specialized equipment, larger quantities of cleaning supplies, and comprehensive insurance to meet the specific requirements of commercial clients.
  • Individual cleaning business. Launching an independent, individual cleaning business generally requires lower up-front costs. An owner can personalize their services, pricing, and branding, which may reduce marketing fees, but they will need to build their brand and reputation from scratch.
  • Franchise cleaning business. Opting for a cleaning franchise can involve higher initial costs due to franchise fees and ongoing royalties. Franchises provide established branding, operational support, and a proven business model. These benefits can help a business owner get started more quickly, but they come with additional expenses.
  • Specialized services. Offering specialized services, such as carpet cleaning, window cleaning, or eco-friendly cleaning, can increase a business owner’s start-up costs. These services often require specific equipment and supplies, and the owner may need to invest in training and certification to provide them.

Business Structure

Knowing how to start a cleaning business also means understanding business structure, which is another important factor that can significantly affect a business owner’s start-up costs. Different business structures have varying legal, financial, and operational requirements, which in turn influence the initial investment.

  • Sole proprietorship. This is the simplest and most cost-effective business structure to set up. While it typically involves lower registration fees and fewer legal formalities, it also means that an owner’s personal assets are at risk. Furthermore, cleaning-business insurance costs may be different for a sole proprietorship than for other business structures. Registering a business as a sole proprietorship typically costs between $40 and $60.
  • Limited liability company (LLC). Forming an LLC offers personal asset protection and flexibility in terms of management and taxation. While the registration fees for an LLC can range from $100 to $500, the added protection can be worth the expense.
  • Corporation. Establishing a corporation comes with more complex legal and administrative requirements, which can result in higher registration and compliance costs. A corporation provides the highest level of personal asset protection.

The type of business structure affects the licenses and permits that are needed for the business to operate legally. Compliance costs may vary depending on whether the owner is a sole proprietor and whether a business is an LLC or a corporation.

The business structure also influences the insurance and bonding requirements. LLCs and corporations often require more comprehensive insurance policies, which can translate into higher insurance costs. Sole proprietors report business income on their personal tax returns, while LLCs and corporations have their own tax structures. Compliance with these structures may lead to varying accounting and tax preparation costs.

Licenses and Permits

How much money is needed to start a business? One of the first expenses an owner will encounter when starting a cleaner business is obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. The cleaning-business license cost varies by location, so it’s essential for an entrepreneur to research the specific requirements in the area. However, it’s common for licenses and permits for a limited liability company (LLC) to cost between $100 and $500. Obtaining any necessary licenses and/or permits is an essential step in ensuring a business operates legally.

  • Legal compliance. To operate a home-cleaning business legally, an owner will typically need various licenses and permits depending on the location and the type of services offered. Neglecting to obtain the necessary licenses can result in fines, legal issues, and damage to a business’s reputation.
  • Varied requirements. Licensing and permit requirements vary by region and can be influenced by the scope of the services offered. Some areas may require a general business license, while others may have specific regulations for small-business cleaning services. Residential and commercial cleaning also have distinct licensing requirements.
  • Fees and application costs. When an owner applies for licenses and permits, they’ll encounter fees, which are part of the start-up costs. These fees can vary widely depending on the location and the type of license. Some municipalities charge a flat fee, while others have a fee based on factors such as the number of employees or the size of a business. Typically, the cost range for licenses and permits for a limited liability company (LLC) is between $100 and $500.
  • Renewal and compliance costs. Licensing and permit expenses don’t end with the initial application. Many licenses and permits require renewal (often on an annual basis), and this comes with additional costs. An owner may need to budget for compliance-related expenses, such as inspections and background checks.
  • Bonding and insurance. Certain licenses come with a bonding and insurance requirement, such as liability insurance or workers’ compensation coverage. These additional costs contribute to the overall financial investment.

Equipment and Supplies

Equipment and supplies for the cleaning business are also significant start-up costs. Depending on the type of cleaning services offered, an owner may need various cleaning tools and products. It’s a good idea for the business owner to make a checklist of the items that are required and compare prices to get a sense of the initial expenses. Cleaning equipment and supplies can run from $300 to $600, and costs can be higher for specialized equipment.

  • Essential tools. Cleaning businesses rely on a range of equipment and supplies so employees can perform their duties effectively. This can include vacuum cleaners, mops, brooms, dusters, scrub brushes, and cleaning solutions. The cost of purchasing or leasing these items is a core expense in the start-up budget.
  • Specialized equipment. Depending on the specific services offered, a business may need specialized equipment. For instance, carpet cleaning businesses need carpet cleaners and upholstery tools, while window cleaning services may need specialized squeegees and extension poles. The need for such specialized equipment can significantly increase start-up costs.
  • Quality matters. The quality of the equipment and supplies can affect both the quality of the services and the long-term operating costs. High-quality equipment may have a higher up-front cost but can be more durable and cost-effective in the long run, reducing maintenance and replacement expenses.
  • Cleaning chemicals. The choice of cleaning chemicals is another key consideration. Eco-friendly or specialized cleaning solutions may cost more than conventional options, but they can be essential for meeting client demands and industry standards. The cost of stocking up on cleaning chemicals needs to be included in a cleaning-business budget.
  • Uniforms and safety gear. Depending on the nature of the cleaning business, it may need to provide uniforms and safety gear for its employees. These items can contribute to the overall equipment and supply costs.
  • Maintenance and replacement. Over time, cleaning equipment may require maintenance or replacement. It’s a good idea for business owners to budget for these ongoing costs to ensure smooth business operations.

Bonding and Insurance

Cleaning-business insurance and bonding are other important expenses. Insurance provides protection in the event of accidents or damage that might occur during the cleaning process, and bonding protects clients against employee theft. The cost of cleaning-business insurance can fluctuate based on the coverage and the size of a business, so it’s advisable for the business owner to consult with an insurance agent to determine the most suitable plan. General liability insurance can cost from $350 to $8,000 per year, and workers’ compensation can cost another $2,000 per year. A large commercial cleaning business can see insurance and bonding rates run from $8,000 to $12,000 per year.

  • Liability protection. Liability insurance, specifically general liability insurance, is crucial for covering potential accidents or damages that may occur during cleaning procedures. It protects a business from liability claims, which can be costly to defend and settle. This coverage is especially important for commercial cleaning businesses, since incidents can result in substantial claims.
  • Workers’ compensation. If an owner plans to hire employees, workers’ compensation insurance is essential. It covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. The cost of workers’ compensation insurance needs to be factored into the start-up budget, and it varies depending on location and the nature of the cleaning business.
  • Bonding. Bonding, often referred to as janitorial or surety bonding, can be a requirement for some clients, especially in the commercial sector. It guarantees to a client that the business owner will reimburse the client in the case of employee theft—either alleged or proven. Bonding is a separate expense from insurance but is important for establishing trust with clients.
  • Cost variability. The cost of insurance and bonding can vary based on factors such as the coverage amount, the size of a business, and the specific services offered. For example, a cleaning business that provides specialized services such as hazardous material cleanup may face higher insurance costs.
  • State and local regulations. Insurance and bonding requirements are often subject to state and local regulations. These regulations can impact the cost and type of coverage that’s needed. Researching the local laws is essential for business owners so they can accurately budget.
  • Renewal costs. Insurance and bonding are recurring expenses. They require annual or periodic renewal, so the start-up costs will not only need to include the initial premiums but also account for these ongoing charges.

Additional Costs and Considerations

While the national average of $3,500 is a helpful starting point, calculating cleaning-business start-up cost involves careful consideration of additional factors. These can include marketing and advertising costs, office space and utilities, software and technology, and staff wages. Understanding these factors can help business owners budget accurately for their start-up costs.

Marketing and Advertising

Creating a professional cleaning-business image is essential, and this includes expenses for branding and marketing. An owner may need to invest in cleaning-business cards, a cleaning- service business plan, and a cleaning-business start-up package. On average, marketing start-up costs can range from $135 to $650.

  • Branding and identity. Creating a professional and appealing brand image is key to making a cleaning business stand out. This process can involve expenses for designing a logo, choosing brand colors, and creating a brand identity that resonates with the target audience.
  • Marketing materials. To promote services effectively, an owner will need materials such as business cards, brochures, flyers, and promotional items. Design, printing, and distribution costs will need to be factored into the budget.
  • Online presence. In today’s digital age, an online presence is vital. This includes setting up a website, purchasing a domain, and potentially hiring a web developer to ensure a professional, user-friendly site. Online expenses can include hosting, domain registration, and potentially e-commerce functionality for online bookings and payments.
  • Social media and digital marketing. Many businesses invest in paid digital marketing campaigns to reach a broader audience. These campaigns can be cost-effective, but they require a budget for advertising. High-quality content, such as blog posts, articles, or videos related to cleaning and maintenance, can enhance a business’s online presence and engage potential customers. Content creation involves costs for writing, editing, and graphic design.
  • Local advertising. Cleaning-business owners will want to consider local advertising options, such as listing in local directories, sponsoring community events, or running ads in local newspapers. These efforts can help target potential clients in the service area.
  • Promotions and special offers. Offering promotions or special deals to attract initial clients can be part of a business owner’s marketing strategy. These discounts or incentives are marketing expenses.
  • Networking and events. Attending industry events, trade shows, or networking events can help an owner connect with potential clients and partners. It’s recommended they budget for registration fees, travel, and promotional materials for such occasions.

Office Space and Utilities

Office space and utilities can be significant components of a cleaning-business start-up cost, particularly if an owner decides to maintain a physical office location. Office space, website costs, and software expenses can range from $200 to $14,000.

  • Office space. The cost of renting or leasing office space depends on factors such as location, size, and the condition of the space. Business owners will want to consider whether they need a dedicated office for administrative tasks, client meetings, or equipment storage. Office space expenses can include rent, security deposits, and any lease-related costs.
  • Utilities. Office space comes with utility expenses, such as electricity, water, heating, and cooling. The utility costs can fluctuate based on the size and condition of the office space, as well as local utility rates.
  • Furnishings and equipment. Setting up an office requires purchasing office furniture and equipment, such as computers, printers, phones, and more. These items are one-time expenses that need to be considered in the start-up budget.
  • Internet and communication. A cleaning business will likely rely on internet access and phone lines for communication.

It’s important to note that many cleaning businesses start from home, which can significantly reduce the need for separate office space. Even in such cases, an owner may still need to budget for utility costs related to a home office, such as increased electricity and internet usage.

Software and Technology

Software and technology play an important role in optimizing business operations, managing clients, and enhancing overall efficiency. Implementing scheduling and booking software is essential for managing appointments, client requests, and staff assignments. This type of software allows for online bookings, which can attract more clients and improve overall efficiency. Licensing and subscription fees for software will add to start-up costs.

Accounting and invoicing software streamlines financial management. It helps track income and expenses, generate invoices, and manage payroll. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is valuable for managing client relationships, tracking communication, and retaining customers. A professional website is essential for marketing a cleaning business and attracting clients, and related costs can include domain registration, hosting, website development or design services, and e-commerce functionality.

Many cleaning-business owners equip their cleaning staff with smartphones or tablets to manage appointments, access checklists and video cleaning content, and communicate with clients and the office. To promote a cleaning business, owners can invest in marketing technology such as email marketing platforms, social media management tools, or customer review management software.

Protecting client data and business information is also important. Expenses related to cybersecurity software, data backup systems, and measures to secure client information are necessary. Over time, software and technology may require updates or upgrades. Budgeting for these ongoing costs ensures that the business’s systems remain efficient and secure.

Staff Wages

Before employees start working, a business may incur hiring expenses, including the cost of job advertisements, background checks, and interviewing. These costs all need to be part of the start-up budget. The most substantial cost is the salaries of the cleaning staff. An owner needs to budget for regular payroll expenses, which can include wages, salaries, and overtime pay.

If a business offers benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or retirement plans, these expenses also add to the overall staffing costs. Benefits can be a significant portion of the compensation package and need to be factored into the budget. An owner may also need to provide training for the cleaning staff to ensure they meet industry standards and can effectively deliver services. Training expenses can include materials, instructor fees, and the cost of staff time dedicated to training.

When pricing their services, the business owner may want to consider researching cleaning- business hourly rates in their area as well as staff payroll costs. The average cost to start a cleaning business can differ based on pricing strategy, market demand, and competition. Setting competitive yet profitable rates is crucial for long-term success.

A team of cleaners wipe down surfaces in a computer room.

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Cleaning-Business Start-Up Cost by Type of Equipment

The type of equipment an owner chooses for their cleaning business has a significant impact on the start-up cost. Prices can range from budget-friendly to substantial investments, depending on the type and quality of equipment required for the specific services and business goals. Careful consideration of the equipment needs and budget planning are essential to ensure a business owner’s cleaning business has a successful start.


Machinery can significantly increase the start-up cost for a cleaning business due to the expense of purchasing, maintaining, and operating the necessary equipment. Machinery such as floor buffers, carpet cleaners, pressure washers, and industrial vacuum cleaners can be expensive to acquire. Prices for commercial-grade machinery can range from hundreds to several thousand dollars per unit, and the cost varies based on the type and quality of the equipment.

To keep the machinery in good working condition, budgeting is necessary to account for ongoing maintenance, repairs, and replacement parts. Neglecting maintenance can lead to breakdowns and costly repairs, so it’s important for a business owner to put aside money for this purpose. Operating specialized machinery often requires training and certification for all employees. These training programs come with associated costs, including fees for courses, materials, and certification exams.

Other costs for business owners to consider are transportation to and from jobsites, rental or storage fees for storing equipment when not in use, insurance coverage to protect against damage and theft, and utility expenses.

Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies are a significant portion of the initial investment required to start a cleaning business. This is because of the wide range of products required, and the ongoing costs associated with replenishment and waste disposal. When starting a cleaning business, an owner will need a cleaning-business start-up checklist, which includes initial inventory. An extensive inventory of cleaning supplies, including cleaning chemicals, disinfectants, detergents, sanitizers, and various cleaning tools such as brooms, mops, vacuum cleaners, and microfiber cloths are needed.

It’s essential for business owners to invest in high-quality cleaning products to ensure effective and safe cleaning. Quality products may cost more, but they provide better results and can positively impact a business’s reputation. Safety supplies (such as gloves, masks, goggles) and storage equipment, such as cleaning carts and containers, are important but will add to the overall cost of starting a business.

If a business offers specialized services, such as carpet cleaning or window washing, an owner will need to invest in specialized equipment and tools, which are more expensive than general cleaning supplies.

Business Vehicles

The cost of purchasing business vehicles, whether they are vans, trucks, or cars, is a significant expense. Prices can vary widely depending on the type of vehicle, its size, and whether it’s a new or used model. Commercial vehicles can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Outfitting business vehicles with the necessary equipment, such as custom shelving, storage systems, and cleaning equipment mounts, can also add to the cost. These modifications are essential to optimize vehicle storage and organization for cleaning supplies and equipment. Other costs include maintenance, fuel and operating expenses, insurance costs, parking and storage, and vehicle wraps and branding.

Benefits of Starting a Cleaning Business

Starting a cleaning business can be incredibly rewarding. The cleaning industry is known for its steady demand, low start-up costs, and potential for recurring revenue. This type of business provides flexibility in terms of working hours and the services offered. It typically has low barriers to entry, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals interested in becoming business owners. With efficient operations, strong client relationships, and a focus on quality service, starting a cleaning business can be a path to financial stability and success.

Relatively Low Start-Up Costs

The relatively low start-up costs of a cleaning business are a substantial benefit for a few reasons.

  • Accessibility. Low start-up costs make it easier for individuals with limited capital to enter the entrepreneurial world. It’s an accessible business option for those who may not have significant financial resources.
  • Reduced financial risk. With lower initial investments, the financial risk associated with starting a cleaning business is minimized. This allows entrepreneurs to test the waters, learn the ropes, and make adjustments without having a substantial financial burden.
  • Faster return on investment (ROI). The lower the initial investment, the quicker an owner can recoup the costs and start generating profits.

Increasing Demand

The increasing demand for cleaning services is a significant benefit for business owners who are starting a cleaning business. It ensures a steady revenue stream, client retention, and a resilient market. As the demand grows, a business can thrive, providing opportunities for growth, specialization, and a positive impact on the community. In 2022, the cleaning services industry had more than 3 million employees and a market size of almost $90 billion.

Limited Experience Requirements

The limited experience requirements in the cleaning business offer accessibility, low entry barriers, and the opportunity for quick start-up. This flexibility enables owners to learn and grow on the job, customize the business, and adapt to changing market conditions. As owners gain experience, they can enhance their service quality and gradually invest in further development and growth.

Potential for Quick Profits

The potential for quick profits in a cleaning business is a notable advantage, thanks to low overhead, rapid start-up, recurring revenue, affordable start-up costs, and the flexibility to control pricing and costs. The combination of these factors positions cleaning businesses for rapid profitability, making them an appealing option for entrepreneurs seeking a quick return on their investment.

How to Save Money on Cleaning-Business Start-Up Cost

Saving money on cleaning-business start-up costs is a practical way to boost a business’s financial health. Experts such as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency have several money-saving tips to help entrepreneurs start a successful business on a budget.

  • Home-based start. Consider starting a cleaning business from home. This eliminates the need for an office or storefront, reducing rent, utilities, and other associated costs.
  • Buy used equipment. Many used machines are in excellent condition and can be significantly cheaper than new ones.
  • Equipment rentals. Instead of buying all the equipment up front, consider renting certain items, especially if you’re not sure about the long-term demand for specific services.
  • Limit specialized services. Initially, focus on providing general cleaning services and limit specialized services that require expensive equipment.
  • Smart purchasing. Buy cleaning supplies in bulk to benefit from volume discounts.
  • Eco-friendly options. Consider offering eco-friendly cleaning products. While they may cost slightly more, they can be a selling point for clients.
  • Part-time staff. Start with part-time staff or subcontractors rather than full-time employees. This reduces payroll expenses, especially when a business is in its early stages.
  • Local marketing. Use cost-effective local marketing strategies such as social media, flyers, and local online directories.
  • Sole proprietorship. Operate as a sole proprietor to save on legal and registration fees. As time goes on, you can consider forming a more complex business structure as the business grows.
A person in blue overalls vacuums a floor.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Questions to Ask About Cleaning-Business Start-Up

When seeking advice or consulting with a professional about cleaning-business start-up costs examples, it’s essential for a business owner to ask the right questions to ensure they receive the best guidance. Experts from Harvard Business School and SCORE list several important questions for aspiring business owners to consider before making the plunge to start a cleaning business.

  • What are the typical start-up costs for a cleaning business in my local area?
  • How can I determine the specific costs associated with licensing and permits for my cleaning business?
  • What are the primary types of cleaning businesses (residential, commercial, specialized), and how do start-up costs vary among them?
  • What business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation) would be most cost-effective for my cleaning business, and how does it impact start-up costs?
  • How much should I budget for insurance and bonding, and how does the type of coverage affect costs?
  • Can you provide examples of typical start-up costs, such as equipment, supplies, and transportation, for a cleaning business like mine?
  • What are the cost considerations when it comes to hiring and training staff for a cleaning business?
  • How can I minimize start-up costs while still providing quality cleaning services?
  • What are the key expenses related to marketing and advertising for a cleaning business, and what strategies can help me save money in this area?
  • How much should I budget for office space and utilities, and are there cost-effective alternatives to renting a physical location?
  • How can I leverage software and technology to streamline operations and manage start-up costs effectively?
  • What are the potential ways to save money on cleaning supplies without compromising quality?
  • What cost-saving strategies can I employ when purchasing vehicles for my cleaning business?
  • How can I ensure that my start-up costs align with my business plan and financial projections?
  • Are there local or industry-specific resources that offer financial assistance or grants to help cover cleaning-business start-up costs?
  • What financial best practices should I consider when launching my cleaning business to ensure long-term success?
  • Can you help me create a detailed budget and financial plan tailored to my specific cleaning-business start-up needs?


Starting a cleaning business can be a lucrative venture, but understanding the financial aspects is crucial for a successful launch. There are several common questions regarding initial expenses, financial considerations, and cost-saving strategies for aspiring cleaning-business owners.

Q. What are the risks of starting a cleaning company?

Starting a cleaning company can be rewarding, but like any business, it comes with its share of risks and challenges. According to the International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association (IJCSA), the cleaning industry is highly competitive, with many established and new businesses vying for clients. Standing out and securing a client base can be challenging. The demand for services can be influenced by economic fluctuations. During economic downturns, clients may reduce or eliminate cleaning services, affecting the going rate for house cleaning.

Clients may come and go, impacting the stability of the overall income. Client turnover can happen as a result of budget restraints or dissatisfaction with services. Relying heavily on a small number of major clients can also pose risks. If you lose a key client, it can have a detrimental impact on the stability of a business.

Q. How big is the cleaning industry?

In 2022, the commercial cleaning services sector in the United States was a key source of employment and boasted a workforce exceeding 3 million individuals. Janitors and cleaners (excluding maids and housekeeping cleaners) constituted the most significant part of the workforce.

Q. What type of cleaning business makes the most money?

The profitability of a cleaning business can vary depending on various factors, including location, target market, services offered, and business strategies. While it’s difficult to definitively say which type of cleaning business consistently makes the most money, the sectors within the cleaning industry that tend to be more lucrative are residential cleaning, commercial cleaning, carpet cleaning, window washing, pressure washing, pool cleaning, chimney cleaning, and trash bin cleaning.

Sources: International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association, Jobber, ZenBusiness, The Janitorial Store, Cleaning Business Boss, Cleaners Talk, Statista