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How to start a cleaning business

Thinking about becoming your own boss? What's stopping you? Our complete guide to how to start a cleaning business will explain the steps you need to take.

Demand for cleaners is rising and creating more opportunities for those looking to set up a business. That’s why now is the perfect time to go self-employed and make the most of a booming market.

As a business owner, you’ll benefit from being your own boss and choosing your hours, clients, and specialisms.

You may choose to work on residential properties or seek bigger contracts in commercial buildings. Either way, you’ll need certain skills, tools, and knowledge to get going.

Read on to find out how to set up a cleaning business and take that next step in your career. Learn how to register with HMRC, find the right insurance, and grab the best deals on equipment and workwear.

Create a business plan for your cleaning business

Every business needs a clear business plan before it is launched. This will outline your goals and how you plan to achieve them. It will also make sure you remain focused on your business activity and allow you to make informed decisions.

Your plan should include detailed financial information. It should also outline your intended services and target audience to establish a niche and build a client base. Completely unique cleaning business ideas are hard to come by, but there are some distinctions you can make to help you stand out.

For inspiration, here are several ideas you can use to get started:

  • If you’re situated in a busy neighbourhood, offer a residential cleaning service to make the most of the market on your doorstep
  • Provide a commercial cleaning service to offices and shops if you’re going to be located around a town or city centre
  • Choose a specialism such as graffiti cleaning, chemical spills, or carpet cleaning
  • Have attractive add-ons to your service, such as weekend availability or windows and wall cleaning included

When starting your own cleaning business, research competitors in your area to make sure there’s a big enough market. Scouting out rivals will also help you to set a competitive pay rate.

Be careful not to set your prices too low, or you may find your income fails to cover your outgoings.

We have a fantastic guide for how to write a business plan. And a FREE business plan template for you to use. Simply add your email below.

Cleaner insurance

How can I make my cleaning business stand out?

You don’t necessarily need qualifications to set up a cleaning company, but they can really help attract customers. With qualifications, you’ll appear more credible to potential customers.

These are the common standard industry credentials:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Cleaning Principles
  • Intermediate apprenticeship as a healthcare cleaning operative

It’s also worth having a certificate in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). This will show you’ve got a professional understanding of cleaning products and how to use them safely. It’s especially important if you work alongside vulnerable people.

Joining a trade association can also help you gain an edge over the competition and attract more business. Many require you to pass an assessment process to join, so having a membership will highlight your competence to potential clients.

Here are some of the institutions to consider:

  • The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc)
  • British Cleaning Council (BCC)
  • British Cleaners Association (BCA)
  • The Federation of Master Cleaners

Other useful skills and attributes

As a self-employed cleaner, you’ll face different challenges related to both your job and running your business.

Here are the key skills that’ll help you to run a successful business:

  • You should be able to work independently, making sure you can manage your time effectively and cope with the workload
  • You’ll need to have good attention to detail to ensure your cleaning is thorough. And work efficiently while taking great care. Sloppy mistakes can harm your reputation and also cause health risks to customers
  • Be sure to maintain a high level of customer service to keep clients satisfied
  • Health and safety knowledge will be necessary for handling potentially harmful chemicals and approaching cleaning jobs in a professional manner
  • You must have basic numeracy skills for organising your finances and taxes

How to set up a cleaning company – step by step

When setting up your own cleaning business, you’ll need to tick various boxes. In this section, we’ll guide you through what you need to do.

Choose a business name and logo

You’ll want to build your brand with a business name and logo. Try to make your name short and relevant to your service, as this will be more memorable to potential customers. Our guide on cleaning business names will set you off in the right direction.

Once you’ve decided, it’s time to make things official and register your business name.

Creating a logo will give your business a more professional look and can easily be made by a graphic designer for a small fee. If you’re familiar with editing software, you could even try to make one yourself to keep initial costs down.

Give your business the best chance of success

Get your new business on Checkatrade and start seeing customer enquiries

Tell me more

Register your business

First of all, your business will need to be registered with HMRC to trade legally.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want your business to operate as a sole trader or a limited company.

Sole trading is simple to set up, but you’ll be personally liable for any losses or debts.

On the other hand, a limited company comes with more paperwork to manage, but you won’t be personally responsible for business debts.

There are more pros and cons to weigh up when choosing your business structure, along with different taxes that apply.

It’s important you weigh up the different regulations and taxes that apply to each so you can settle on the arrangement that works best for you. If you’re unsure or need some guidance, contact a professional accountant.

Get business insurance

Insurance is crucial for protecting you and your business from costly legal issues. It’s especially important in this industry. Cleaning businesses are expected to deliver clean, safe environments without putting people at unnecessary risk.

There will also be times when you need to follow critical hygiene guidelines, particularly when working in healthcare environments.

These are the main types of insurance to consider getting:

  • Employers’ liability insurance (a legal requirement if you employ other people)
  • Public liability insurance (mandatory for all Checkatrade members)
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Contract works insurance
  • Legal expenses insurance
  • Tools in transit cover
  • Personal accident insurance
  • Legal expenses insurance

Financial information to know when setting up your cleaning business

Cashflow

Cash flow is your income versus your expenditure. It’s very important to keep an eye on all your transactions to stay profitable.

Poor cash flow management is one of the top reasons for new businesses failing. Take a look at our article, 4 simple tips for successful cash flow management to help avoid the pitfalls.

Taxes

Various taxes will apply to your business and must be filed on a regular basis. If you’re unsure which you should be documenting, take a look at our useful guide to understanding your tax liabilities.

Bookkeeping

Read our guide to bookkeeping for small businesses to help keep your books in order from day one. It’ll help to reduce the headache of filing your year-end accounts with HMRC. You’ll also become more tax-efficient as you manage your eligible business expenses.

Funding

At first, your business may be operating at a loss due to the start-up costs of equipment and supplies. This is completely normal, but if this is cause for concern, you could take out a business loan to cover your expenses. Always take the time to compare interest rates and make sure you can afford the repayments if you’re borrowing.

Tools and equipment

It’s important to invest in the right tools so you can carry out jobs efficiently and safely. Make sure your equipment is high quality too as this will make life easier and reduce the likelihood of costly replacements. Of course, if you’re offering a specialist service, you might need extra equipment, but these are the basic essentials for any cleaning start-up:

  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Mops
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Sponges and scrubbers
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Vacuum

Keep in mind that you’ll need a vehicle and a valid driving licence to transport your equipment between jobs. Here are the best vans for a cleaning company.

Nervous about the investment into a van for your cleaning business?

We can help you save money on your company van. All Checkatrade members get an exclusive rate with both Fiat and Mercedes.

Our tradespeople save on business essentials

And you can too, if you pass our checks

Try to pass our checks

Marketing your cleaning business

Of course, a key part of starting a cleaning business is making sure your potential customers know about you! But what’s the best way to market your new cleaning business?

From print marketing to traditional word-of-mouth recommendations, knowing how to market your cleaning business is crucial.

Checkatrade directory

Save money and time marketing your business

Marketing costs time and money, so it’s important to be discerning if you’re short on either.

With our digital marketing strategy and strong online presence, becoming a Checkatrade member makes it easier for customers to find you.

First, you’ll get a business profile on the UK’s leading trade directory. You’ll also have an online listing on Google – something that can take months to achieve otherwise.

As a Checkatrade member, you can display customer reviews, testimonials, and examples of your work on your profile page. You can also manage customer enquiries on-the-go, directly from the Checkatrade app, keeping everything in one handy place.

And with the Checkatrade tick by your name, it makes your marketing just that little bit easier. Some 8/10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade, compared to one which isn’t*.

We’ll also help you with free marketing materials and exclusive discounts on business essentials. Find great savings on workwear, tools, equipment, insurance, van leasing, fuel, and more.

Our tradespeople save on business essentials

And you can too, if you pass our checks

Try to pass our checks

Check out this post for further advice on setting up your business.

Quick action: Sign up for our ‘Become the boss’ series

You could get your cleaning business started right away with the help of our ‘Become the Boss’ series.




You’ll receive a series of 8 emails containing actionable tips and top advice from fellow tradespeople who were once in your position. And at the end of it, you could be the founder of your new business.

To get trade business insider secrets sent to your pocket, put your email address in the form below so we can help you get started.

See how Checkatrade helped Elaine grow her cleaning business

Want to see someone who’s been there, done it, and set up a successful cleaning business? Be sure to read all about our member Elaine’s success story.

Elaine Cleaning Services team

How to start a cleaning company in the UK checklist

To summarise, here’s a useful checklist of everything to think about when setting up your own cleaning business:

  • Save up enough to cover your start-up costs
  • Make sure you have the right tools and equipment
  • Register and choose a business structure that suits you
  • Understand your finances and taxes
  • Get the right insurance to protect your business
  • Set out a business plan
  • Take advantage of a Checkatrade membership and the benefits it provides

Give your business the best chance of success

Get your new business on Checkatrade and start seeing customer enquiries

Tell me more

Grow your cleaning business with Checkatrade

Checkatrade is the UK’s leading trade directory. Here are just a few reasons to join the best trades with a Checkatrade membership:

Get more leads

Checkatrade members receive more than 100,000 leads each week. 3 million homeowners used our trades last year. A third of all trade work comes through Checkatrade**.

Help to secure more work

8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade compared to one that isn’t endorsed***. The tick that homeowners trust, helping you to win more business.

Save money

Get exclusive access to trade deals, saving money on business essentials to help keep your profit margins sharp. Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year each**** on everything from tools, equipment, van leasing, insurance, workwear, and more.

Read our free guide all about marketing for trade businesses – it’s for founders like you!

Starting a cleaning business FAQs

How much does a cleaning business make a year in the UK?

A cleaning business can make a great profit. Finding a profitable niche lets you charge premium rates and marketing your business well will result in a steady stream of work. These factors together can generate a lot of profit and more for you to take home.

How much does it cost to start a cleaner’s business?

The cost to start a cleaning business can vary anywhere from £4,500 to £14,000. It will ultimately depend on the supplies and equipment you’ll need to invest in.

If you’re looking to offer a niche service, like cleaning in healthcare, you’ll face higher costs due to the specialist tools required. Cleaning businesses need colleagues to grow – this is another expense you’ll need to consider and time when revenue is steady. Check the average house cleaner salary to set your budget. Specialist roles may require more investment, for example the average office cleaner salary may be slightly higher.

Is cleaning a profitable business?

Cleaning services are in high demand, so you’ll get plenty of opportunities to build a large client base. Plus, the expenses are generally quite low, meaning you’ll have a fairly good profit margin if you’re efficient going from job to job.

What hours should I work?

Cleaners usually work a 40-hour week, but as a business owner, you have the freedom to scale this around other commitments. Your working pattern can also vary depending on the flexibility you’re willing to offer.

For example, you could choose to provide your cleaning service on evenings and weekends to pull in extra business.

Our tradespeople save on business essentials

And you can too, if you pass our checks

Try to pass our checks

*Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.

**Checkatrade brand tracking survey April 2021

***Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.

****Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Saving calculation based on average spend across 12,505 members in 2020/2021/2022. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Some exclusions will apply on products.

 

 

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