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How To Start a Residential House Cleaning Service

This is a great business that solves a problem for many busy households. Learn how you can get started on a shoestring budget.

by Brett Krkosska
Managing Editor
If you want your own business and you don't have much money to get started, a residential house cleaning service may be just what you need - especially if you have a neat streak running through your veins.

Once established in this kind of business, you can easily make the transition to office cleaning, or even start a janitorial business serving larger commercial operations.

But for now, let's examine the business of cleaning residential homes. Is there a market for this business?

Indeed, life is more hurried and full of distractions than ever before. Many people feel they just don't have enough time in a day for housekeeping.

Oddly enough, many of us rank a clean home as very important, yet it's one of the last things on our "to do" list. Numerous surveys verify that people give cleaning a low priority in the use of their free time.

On top of that, cleaning seems to be one of those tasks that gets half done. You know...

"I'll do the dishes and vacuum, oh but that dusting and those cobwebs in the corner will just have to wait till the weekend."

Ah, but then the weekend comes, and who wants to ruin a perfectly good weekend cleaning house?

So the household dilemma is:

We want a clean home, but we don't have time to clean and we don't like to clean.

That's where you come in. Cleaning takes on a whole new meaning when you're getting paid for it.


American Demographics magazine reports that of all homes with two adults, over half of them are 2-wage-earner households. For couples with an education above the high school level the numbers run as high as 76%.

In recent years, a rising divorce rate has produced an unprecedented number of working single parent homes, and roughly 15% of the American workforce holds two or more jobs.

Top Downloads

Cleaning Business Estimation Bid Sheet

Price your cleaning services accurately with an estimate that's fair for you and your customers.

Select from these Bid Sheet formats... it's free!

Plain Text (suitable for most computers)

Word format (for PC's with Microsoft Word)

WordPerfect format (for PC's with Corel's WordPerfect)

If you do not know how to download files, please click here (a popup window will open with instructions).

These facts along with our general dislike for keeping house has made the cleaning industry one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. Residential and commercial office cleaning is a multi-million dollar business with no signs of slowing down.


A residential home cleaning business is one of those rare businesses you can start with very little start-up costs. With just a bucket of cleaning supplies and some rags you have an instant business.

As for equipment, you don't need much more than vacuum, a broom, and a long handled duster. You'll find that many people prefer you use their vacuum (If you've ever seen the carpet at my Uncle Jim's house, then you know why). If your house cleaning service includes carpet or blind cleaning, this equipment can be rented to save on costs.


Depending on the going rates in your area, you can expect to average anywhere from $10 to $25 per hour. You can clean small retail and office operations and charge an additional $5 to $15 per hour.

For bigger profits you may want to specialize. For instance, you could clean rental homes and apartments after tenants move out. Working as a husband-wife team will also make your operation more profitable.


  • Classified ads work exceptionally well. Advertise in your local newspaper or weekly shopper. Run test ads in various newspapers in your area and advertise frequently in the one that gives you the best results. Look at the ads currently running and make your ad stand out from the crowd. Offer an additional benefit such as a 20% discount on the first cleaning to entice potential customers.
  • Distribute half-page or full-page flyers to homes and businesses. In one afternoon you can canvas a neighborhood with several hundred flyers. This method will capture the customer that is not actively seeking cleaning services, but is nevertheless frustrated with cleaning chores. You can produce an attractive flyer right from home with your computer and color printer.
  • Print some business cards. This can also be done on your computer. Leave a card with everyone you meet and everywhere you go. Hand it to grocery store clerk, give it to the mail carrier, leave one at the restaurant...
  • Get listed in the yellow pages.
  • Advertise on the radio. You may be surprised how affordable this can be. Granted, the best rates are likely later time slots, but guess who's listening? That's right... the workaholic that doesn't have time to keep house.


  • Visit your local janitorial supply store. You'll find lots of free advice from experts who are more than happy to win you over as a new customer.
  • Establish relationships with other cleaning services. Offer to help them out on your slow days. You may need their help on a busy day if you get sick or have an emergency.
  • While not absolutely necessary for residential cleaning, you'll need to have a bond for commercial office cleaning. Insurance is also a good protective measure. Some customers will insist on this. Call a few insurance companies for the best rate.
  • A cell phone or pager can keep you from missing calls.
  • Put together a professional looking quote sheet to give potential customers (along with your business card) when bidding on a cleaning job.

In conclusion, starting your own cleaning business is a great way to earn a solid income and still have control over your schedule. You decide for yourself how much you want to work and how much you want to make. The demand for your services is very high, and you can grow your business as large as you want and still be home based.

And most importantly, you'll have the satisfaction that comes from creating a lifestyle of your choosing.


Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. His site,, helps small businesses reach their fullest potential. He is also the publisher of Straight Talk, a fresh and original newsletter that offers a unique perspective on today's business issues.


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