How to start your own house cleaning business

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by Tom Watson on December 22, 2011

Once you have decided that you want to start cleaning houses for a living, you need a plan of some kind.

This is because it is a lot easier if you have some kind of checklist to follow as you move forward. The more precise it is, the better!

After all, running around doing everything out of order will only bring chaos. This will also more than likely lead you to spend more money than you should have in the first place, which in turn DOOMS most new cleaning companies.

So what I will do is give you a general outline with my two cents tossed in. Keep in mind that I’m going to simplify this for the purposes of brevity.

How to start your own house cleaning business

1 – Pick a name for your cleaning business

First things first, you are not going to go anywhere fast unless you name your new cleaning business. You will want to shoot for something that is both easy to remember and memorable, as word of mouth plays a big part in your success.

I would also keep on eye on making sure you can secure the domain of the business name you settle on. It would be a huge disappointment to have a great name but not be able to build a website around it.

2 – Register the name of your cleaning business

This part of the process has a lot of variables associated with it, but here is the gist of it. Once you have chosen your name, you need to make sure no one else has registered it first. Then if the name is available, you need to protect it so to speak.

When I first started out I went down to the county clerk’s office and filed as a sole proprietor. About a year or so later I then converted my operation to an LLC (this stands for “Limited Liability Company”). You will have to decide what’s best for you as you move ahead.

If you are in need of some help with the process then check out Rocket Lawyer because they can help you file your paperwork. Currently they also offer free membership, which is a deal. Anyway…getting it right is important, so it’s a smart move to pay a small fee to insure all the details get handled correctly.

3 – Go to a bank and open a business bank account.

This is a required part of starting your own house cleaning business, but fear not, it is nothing to be worried about. You may be interested in this post on opening up a business bank account.

4 – Get business cards for the cleaning business

Business cards are one of the main ways people will be exposed to you and your new cleaning business, so you want to make a good one. We wrote a post a while back on building a better business card, so you may want to check it out.

Getting a good quality card used to cost a lot, but not anymore. Nowadays less than 20 bucks goes a long way. If you are looking to make it easy on yourself, then you may want to check out Vistaprint.

5 – Get the insurance out of the way

This part of the process scares the living daylights out of most people. I’m not sure why, because it is VERY EASY to do. I guess it freaks most folks out because it seems so complicated, but in reality it’s pretty cut and dry. If you need a starting point, go to Google and type in “Commercial Liability Insurance” PLUS your “zip code” to find companies near you.

You may want to check out this post on the irrational fear of insurance, as it should help calm you down a bit. A little education goes a long way in making you feel more comfortable.

6 – Start looking for house cleaning customers

This is where the rubber meets the road as the old saying goes. Without any money coming in the process of starting a house cleaning business comes to a sudden halt, so it’s pretty important.

Over the years we have used many different techniques to get customers for our cleaning business, which brings up an important concept. You need to utilize several different ways to get customers. In other words, don’t rely on just one method!

Your marketing efforts need to be viewed as a river. Rivers become strong and powerful because they have multiple smaller creeks and streams feeding into them which collectively makes them formidable. Your efforts need to mirror that!

Over the years we have used many different techniques to make the phone ring. Here a few of them…

A – Networking for house cleaning customers. Joining some different networking groups will super charge your marketing efforts more than just about anything you do. We have written quite a bit on this topic including…

  1. Networking For Beginners
  2. The Mini Commercial
  3. Networking Will Benefit Your Cleaning Business
  4. Networking Update

B – Handing out house cleaning flyers. This technique is as old as the pyramids, but it works! The key is to have a house cleaning flyer that actually motivates the reader to act.

If you need some help, the post we created not too long ago on building a house cleaning flyer that gets results should help you out big time. It includes an example that drives home the key parts to an effective house cleaning flyer.

C – Using Craigslist to get house cleaning customers. This technique is one of my favorites because it’s free and EASY. It’s the best of both worlds. Odds are you can learn this method in less than an hour and be making money soon after that!

I wrote a detailed post on how to get customers using Craigslist a while back. Though it’s geared to the commercial market, it’s EASY to modify what I teach then apply it to the house cleaning market. If you are interested, check out advertising your cleaning business on craigslist.

D – Marketing to Realtors to get house cleaning customers. This is a nice little secret I kept to myself for a long time. Realtors are a treasure trove of possible business for you. If interested, check out his post on marketing to Realtors.

E – The use of direct mail to acquire house cleaning customers. I’m a HUGE FAN of direct mail to get customers. Basically it boils down to creating a sales letter then mailing out to a list that you purchase or get from the City Directory at your library, make use of it.

If you are interested in learning a little more about this technique, then you may want to read the anatomy of creating an offer your customers can’t refuse.

F – Using promotional items to secure house cleaning customers. This is a very effective method for getting the word out you are looking for house cleaning accounts, yet very few people put it to use.

We wrote a post on using goodie bags a while back. Though the post is mostly geared to the commercial market, you can make quite a bang in the residential side of the market using the same techniques.

G – Improve your sales skills. Once you start the process of getting out there and trying to get customers, you will get a feel for the sales process. Some folks are great at this right out of the gate, while others need some time to get their feet under them.

At the end of the day potential customers just want the first normal looking, normal acting cleaning business owner to present a bid that makes sense for their home. So work hard at making them feel comfortable with you. Here are some posts that help you do that…

  1. What Your Customers Are Really Buying
  2. 7 Sure Fire Ways To Keep Your Customers Satisfied
  3. 5 Tips On Overcoming Objections

H – Create a website. Having a website is not an option anymore, it’s a “must-have”. Why? Because it allows you to market your house cleaning business 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The key to building a site is to build one that DOES YOU JUSTICE. This means you need a professional one! Creating one with free software found online does not count, as the customer is looking for a real cleaning company with a real website. If you need some assistance click here.

7 – Perform the work for those who hired you.

At the end of the day this means either you or someone you hire will be performing the cleaning. If you plan on getting some employees, then you may want to check out these past articles we wrote…

  1. My Theory On Hiring
  2. Hiring In Pairs
  3. Effective Employee Training
  4. 7 Reasons To Part With A Marginal Employee

8 – Create invoice for the work performed

This is the fun part in my humble opinion. Nothing like making those magic invoices that the customer needs to pay. Anyway, you would do this through the use of a simple accounting program. QuickBooks Pro is my personal favorite as it’s very easy to use.

9 – Seek out referrals whenever possible

Referrals are like free money falling off the back of a truck in front of your home, so you should actively be looking for them. Of course they usually find you when you EXCEED the customers expectations. This post on how to get more referrals should help you big time.

10 – Collect money!

The only thing better than creating the invoices is collecting the money. Just remember to not go hog wild with all those checks you just collected. We wrote a post on spending your money wisely that may interest you.


Once you know how the process works, you need to repeat it as often as possible. The better you get at it, the faster your cleaning empire will grow. So pay attention to what works and what doesn’t along the way, as that knowledge will pay big dividends which you can cash in on whatever you like. ♦

If you are looking to start your own house cleaning business and need a “step by step” blueprint on how to do it, then check out my House Cleaning For Beginners start up guides. They teach you the business inside and out saving you tons of time and money along the way PLUS they come with my no strings attached One Year Guarantee. This means you risk nothing to get started!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ken Idskou December 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Great post!

2 Tom Watson December 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Thanks Ken!

3 Ken January 15, 2012 at 10:53 am

Do you recall how long it took you to get your first cleaning job?

4 Tom Watson January 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hi Ken!

At the end of the day it took about three weeks from the time I started to advertise. Keep in mind I laid the groundwork for a couple weeks before that (getting business cards made, sales letters printed, scouting out what areas near me were going to be my starting point etc…). Once I got one under my belt, I pounded that area for more (which I got).

5 Conteh McGee June 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Mr. Watson,

First, let me say this is an AWESOME site! I’ve been entertaining the idea of starting a commercial cleaning service and this site has been very helpful. I plan to order your book this weekend (I have just about read everything you’ve given us free on this site.

Question. It may be in the book or maybe I over looked it on this website but, I was needing to know what are some essential cleaning supplies/equipment I should start with? My guess is I want to have what I need before promoting my business…right?

Thanks in advance for your help!

6 Tom Watson June 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Hi Conteh!

Thanks for the kind words! Ok…to your question…don’t buy anything. Most folks think you need everything from day one, and that’s not the best way. The reason why is because you ONLY want to spend money on “the task at hand” when you start.

In other words don’t tie up any cash on items that you can get later (quickly and easily I might add). As the course will speak to…your #1 focus after starting is “GETTING ACCOUNTS”. When you get that first account, then go buy what you need “for that account”.

This way your customers “foot the bill” for your expansion. So many people do the opposite and spend tons of money then have no cash for marketing (dooming their prospects). After you get the course and go through it, touch base with any questions (and let me know what you think).


7 Conteh McGee June 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Make sense. Can’t wait to start the course…Thanks!

8 Angela Gatewood October 4, 2016 at 10:53 pm

So ready to start my dream! I’ve been at my current job for 10 years this September and never before have I felt so unappreciated. I can’t wait to get focused and start being the success I know I can be!

9 Tom Watson October 9, 2016 at 10:03 am

If I can do it… YOU CAN DO IT.

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