List of the supplies you’ll need to get started

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by Tom Watson on January 23, 2013

One of the nice things about starting a cleaning business is that you don’t need to purchase a lot of supplies to get started. In most cases everything you need can fit in just about any vehicle.

This is because the vast majority of jobs you will land in the beginning stages of your business will be of the smaller variety, allowing for a minimal amount of supplies that will be needed.

When I started my cleaning business I didn’t have a large car, so I had to make do with my trusty Ford Probe. For those of you who don’t know, that particular car is on the small side. It was a two door with a hatchback, and it worked just fine.

When you first start out, you may have only one set of supplies that you cart around from job to job. As you grow, and bring in more money, you can purchase more supplies. For instance I only had one set of supplies until I landed four or five accounts, and I moved them from job to job.

That works fine on the house cleaning side of the business, as you’ll generally never keep your supplies at someone’s home. In fact some homeowners want you to use their cleaning supplies, as they prefer to use their favorite solutions.

But once you start collecting commercial cleaning accounts, if you go that route, you’ll soon get tired of that setup. It will work at accounts you only clean once a week, or every two weeks for that matter. However once you start going several nights per week to the same account you might as well keep everything on location.

Getting back to what you need as far as supplies go, the list I’ll provide below will cover the majority of accounts you will run into when you first get started. Just keep in mind that you may need to adjust your supply list depending on what type of accounts you land early on.

Supplies to start cleaning business

One thing to keep in mind is that you really don’t want to purchase any supplies until you land an account. If you think about it, it makes sense. Why spend a dime BEFORE you even land an account? Generally, any money spent in the beginning of your cleaning business should be focused only on landing accounts.

As to where to purchase the supplies, that is up to you. In the beginning I either went to a local store or checked online to find what I needed. The best case scenario is for you to find a local cleaning or janitorial supplier you can actually visit. This allows you to build a relationship with someone who can help guide you as you grow your business.

If you want to go the online route, then you may want to check out Amazon as they offer a ton of discount cleaning supplies all under one roof. Just remember to stick to only what you need when first getting started, as there is no use buying supplies that will just sit un-used.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our Cleaning 4 Profit RSS feed. If you are looking for a step by step blueprint that will show you how to start your own cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Training Manuals. If you need a great website or would like to upgrade what you already have then you may want to take a look at my Cleaning Business Website Packages.

DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase any items through my links odds are I’ll earn a commission of some kind. I only recommend products and services that I have used or think may be useful to those starting or operating a cleaning business.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Francisco Blanco January 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Nice car Tom ford probe :-), also grate post

2 Tom Watson January 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Hi Francisco! Thanks for commenting.

3 Mary January 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Great information!! Thanks!

4 Tom Watson January 23, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Thanks Mary!

5 Adeboye Messach January 24, 2013 at 2:32 am

Thanks for your advice on cleaning supplies. God shall bless you also.

6 Tom Watson January 24, 2013 at 8:00 am

Hi Adeboye! I’m happy to help.

7 Eddy January 31, 2013 at 5:02 am

Nice post! Starting a cleaning business is a little bit difficult in the beginning. Your posts are very helpful Tom! I’m sure many people who want to start with this kind of business will surely benefit from this blog.

8 Tom Watson January 31, 2013 at 6:02 am

Hi Eddy! Thanks, for the nice comment (and I’m happy to help).

9 Maid Service Austin February 4, 2013 at 1:12 am

Thanks for the list Tom. A rubber carpet brush is also on my list. If your vacuum has trouble pulling off long hair (human) near the baseboards, a quick brush-over and it’s up.

10 Tom Watson February 4, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Hey, no problem and thanks for that tip!

11 Joi March 17, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi Tom! I’m having trouble finding effective cleaners to remove heavy duty grease build-up on stainless steel stove tops & heavy duty lime scale from glass shower doors that are not too toxic and require minimal elbow grease (time is money). I’ve tried several but not in love yet. Any suggestions? Thanks. BTW-Love your podcasts

12 Tom Watson March 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Hi Joi!

I made a call to my vendor to see what he thinks. I never had to deal with the stainless issue. The lime scale isn’t really an issue for us as much because we do much more commercial work nowadays. As soon as he gets back to us, I’ll touch base (he’s a wonder BUT he only is a local guy and doesn’t sell nationally).

13 Joi March 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Thanks Tom. I appreciate it!

14 Steve March 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm

hi tom great info on and my wife are greatful.thank you tom!

15 Tom Watson March 27, 2013 at 7:59 pm

No problem Steve! Glad to help.

16 LAD April 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

Hi Tom, There is a lot of hype out there about micro-fiber cleaning clothes. What is your opinion on them?


17 Tom Watson April 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hi! We have some but never used them all that much (I guess that says a lot there). At the end of the day it really depends on what you are comfortable with. We use a lot of paper towels and some low lint cloth rags. With that said I see nothing wrong with them.

18 LAD April 23, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Thanks Tom. I appreciate your opinion!

19 Tom Watson April 23, 2013 at 10:46 pm

You are very welcome!

20 Deborah Dills September 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Great post. Some additions to the supply list as I worked for a house cleaning company.

* Scrubbing Bubbles works great for cleaning the bathroom-top to bottom. Also great for disinfecting countertops, wiping refrigerators,de-greasing blinds, stove overheads, etc

*Oven cleaner is a must, along with having razor blades to scrape off burnt food.

*Vinegar is a useful cleaner and is environmentally friendly. (Grandma used this often). Use for floors

*Using color-coded Micro Fiber cloths-Blue for Baths, Green for Kitchen, Orange or Yellow for dusting. Try this. Note: Do not wash these cloths with towels as they with get pills from the cotton fibers

*Goo-Gone is a fabulous way to get stuck-on labels, tags, glue, and grease residue off of anything.
*Happy cleaning

21 Tom Watson September 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hi Deborah! Thanks for adding to the list!! (the Goo Gone is a GREAT extra to have on-hand).

22 Taylor Maid September 8, 2013 at 11:29 am

Thanks Tom,
My husband and I are just starting our homebased services. What type of insurances are necessary for a small cleaning service business?

23 Tom Watson September 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm


Generally speaking you’ll need GL Insurance (General Liability Insurance). In some cases you’ll need Workman’s Comp insurance as well (you certainly will if you hire employees). My advice is just type in “general liability insurance” PLUS your ZIP CODE into Google to find agents near you.

THEN I would “interview them” (visit 2 or 3) to both educate yourself on the topic plus get a feel for who you feel comfortable with. Hire the one you feel like is serving you best. Remember, they work for YOU.

FYI… The GL insurance is tied to your business income, the less you have the less it costs (so it isn’t all that much when you start, so don’t worry). The Workman’s Comp works the same way. This way it grows (and gets more expensive) as your business gets bigger.

24 Christina Pomatto September 26, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Hi! Thank you so much for the info!! I am a single mother of three and looking to open a cleaning company and had no idea where to start! I go online and do research and they are all different. You deff helped allot 🙂 Christina

25 Tom Watson September 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Hi Christina! You are VERY welcome. I’ll be here if you need me!

26 Kim December 12, 2013 at 5:45 am

I was wondering should I get the clients first, then look for employees. If so how do I tell the client I have to Hire someone first before they can clean there house or Business? Thanks,

27 Tom Watson December 12, 2013 at 8:13 am

Hi Kim! You get customers first, THEN hire people. How? Tell them you can’t start for a week or two because of scheduling issues (which gives you time to hire someone). If they can’t wait (generally they can) then you go do the cleaning yourself until whomever you hire can take over.

28 Eddie January 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm

How you go about writing contracts or agreements. Need help with some ideas.

29 Tom Watson January 12, 2014 at 8:33 am
30 rashad April 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm

This is a great well of aid to me. I just registered my cleaning and waste management company in Ghana. I am happy for the info. Bless u

31 Tom Watson April 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Hi Rashad! I’m happy to hear that. If you need anything, just contact me!

32 Jacynthia October 22, 2014 at 4:51 am

This is great information. I appreciate you taking the time to share. I’m doing research with hopes of starting up soon. Thanks again.

33 Tom Watson October 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Hi Jacyntia! Touch base when you need us!

34 Mike November 22, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Thank you Tom, I have looked over your material along with the comments and have found them helpful… We are based out of Detroit Michigan, what way do you approach your potential clients, and with what material…

35 Tom Watson November 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Hi Mike! Direct mail was my personal favorite. We also did lots of smaller type stuff, but mailing letters to our target market was my bread and butter technique.

36 Niki January 29, 2015 at 9:06 am

I have owned my cleaning business and been actively working it for 1 year. How do I know how much taxes to calculate in? Let me go backwards a minute I clean apartments properties 1,2,3,4 bedrooms how do I suppose to charge I think that I maybe cheating myself the units are empty you know I’m cleaning pre rental.

37 Tom Watson January 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Hi Niki! I’m not sure I’m getting that question. You may be better calling me.

38 Noliwe Mabhula April 1, 2015 at 8:46 am


I am planning on starting a cleaning company. Busy registering it. How do I price my services for office cleaning and private homes. For example
if I get a contract with a mall how do a price my service.

39 Tom Watson April 8, 2015 at 11:17 am

Hi Noliwe! That is a very hard one to answer in a comment. I did a post on pricing here…

To clean commercial properties, the formula is similar. My course would be a HUGE help as it explains all that in detail.

40 chris July 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Thanx for the info on starting a cleaning company. It realy helped a lot

41 Tom Watson July 27, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Hi Chris! I’m happy to help!

42 Vincent Fox August 5, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Thinking of starting a cleaning service business here in the city of New York. I don’t drive. I use mass transit at the moment. My question is how would be the best way to transport supplies using mass transit? I thought of hiring a driver through Uber. My next concerns is the cost of buying supplies to start. What would you think my start up cost will be?

43 Tom Watson August 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Hi Vincent! I am guessing you are starting a commercial cleaning business, if not, correct me. Anyway, on that assumption, you could (in most cases) keep supplies at the jobsite. This would mean you would have to buy a set of supplies for each job. But if you landed jobs that were maybe $500 to $1,000 per month (which should be pretty easy given your expensive market) that would be OK in all reality (that would just be the cost of doing business that way). In many instances, keeping the supplies at the jobsite is BEST (unless the job is infrequent (once per month or something like that).

Also… don’t buy ANYTHING as far as supplies goes until you have a paying customer (why risk money, only spend WHEN REQUIRED on supplies). Now… The basic set up would be less than $200 for supplies with the vacuum eating up most of that cost (all the other items are minor expenses). Now the other cost is REGISTERING the business. Call city hall and ask them about the cheapest way to do it (IE: Sole proprietor). You can always upgrade to better options down the road (LLC etc…).

I don’t know what that would cost as I’m a NJ resident, when I registered in NJ (way back) it was only like $25. Then you need a business bank account. That technically doesn’t cost you anything, but you need to put some money in to open it (NOTE: get the CHEAPEST amount of checks they provide, and be careful, they want to sell you ones that cost hundreds in some cases… totally crazy at some banks). But you should be able to get away with maybe $35 for buying checks). After that… INSURANCE. Call three places that offer General Liability Insurance. Ask them what a base package would cost. For me, it was like $700 (but you pay in installments, not all at once).

To wrap this up… REGISTER FIRST. Minimal cost there. Supplies don’t need to be had until you land a job. Bank account is minimal. Insurance may require $200 or so for that first payment. So that should give you an idea. Your goal is to SPEND AS LIITLE AS POSSIBLE and focus on getting an account (you need to get one or two somehow). Then USE THAT MONEY to grow and expand.

44 Annie November 7, 2015 at 10:31 pm

I am a newly small business owner, I find it hard to get up and running, is there any place that will help and donate cleaning supplies for someone who would like to get up on their feet for the first time.

45 Tom Watson November 8, 2015 at 10:59 am

Hi Annie! I’ve never heard of that, so I would doubt it. All you can do is ask around for someone willing to lend a helping hand.

46 Annie November 8, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Thanks all I got to do is trust.

47 Henry Derx January 20, 2016 at 6:50 am

I like every thing out said and have been thinking of a business in that line but how to start is a problem I have no capital to start up but I have moving from house to house cleaning. Thanks for your advice

48 Tom Watson January 21, 2016 at 10:31 am

Hi Henry! You will need some money to get started, so it’s best if you save some first then jump in. You don’t need a lot, but you do need some.

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