What do I need to start my own cleaning business?

Updated April 17, 2017

Starting your own business is exciting and rewarding. Unlike other businesses, a cleaning service does not require a lot of start-up capital or supplies. It is possible to start a promotional flyer and a promise to do good work. However, if you want to have a professional edge, then consider some basic equipment and a strong business model to jump start your success.

Basic Equipment

A quality vacuum should be at the top of your purchasing list. Choose one that is light enough to easily carry to and from your vehicle. Whether it is an upright or canister model, it should have a beater bar which enhances the vacuums power, as well as the ability to hook up a hose with tools to vacuum upholstery and in tight places.

Towels or cloths will be needed in great supply. To offer a "green" cleaning experience, consider using microfiber or terry cloth towels which can be laundered and reused; versus paper towels. Other supplies include brooms, dust pans, dust cloths, feather duster to reach cob webs and high ledges, toilet brush and a mop.


You will need an all-purpose surface cleaner for cabinets and counter tops; glass cleaner for mirrors, shower doors and other surfaces that are prone to streak marks; furniture polish for wood furnishings and disinfectants for sinks, toilets and other wash area surfaces.

Speciality Cleaning Supplies

To distinguish yourself as a professional, have on hand a few cleaning items that the average homeowner does not have. Window cleaning equipment, squeegees and sponges, will allow you to offer basic window cleaning, such as for customers who have tilt-in windows. A supply of carpet spotters will allow you to remove annoying spots and spills.

A trip down the cleaning aisle of your local home improvement store will reveal a potpourri of brooms and gadgets. Having a selection of tools that allow you to dust extra high ledges or pickup trash with out bending over will reduce your fatigue on the job while allowing you to complete tasks that the homeowner could not do.

Marketing Plan

Having the equipment to clean will be useless with out customers to serve. To start your cleaning business, you will need to have a marketing plan in place. Advertising in your local newspaper or coupon mailer will help to get the word out about your service. Business cards and flyers are a must; plan on handing one of each to everyone you know to facilitate finding those first, critical clients. Magnetic signs for your vehicle gives you a professional image while promoting your services.

Business Registration

You will need to register your business with state and federal agencies. Check with your state's department of taxation and the Internal Revenue Service for details that will affect your specific situation. You will need to open a separate current account for your business, even if operating under your own name as an independent contractor, to track expenses and facilitate tax filing.

Whether or not your state requires business insurance, it is prudent to purchase even the most basic of policy. You will want protection in case something is broken or damaged on your watch; if you hire employees, you will need a worker's compensation policy to avoid a lawsuit in case your worker is injured while working.

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About the Author

Thomas Ferraioli began writing in 1993. His work has been featured in national publications like "Parents" and "U.S. Catholic." Ferraioli owns a cleaning service and is a Catholic youth minister. He holds a bachelor's degree in communications and business from Seton Hall University and was a recipient of the Pope John Paul II Award from the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. for his work with youth.