How to Start a House Cleaning Business for Less Than $200

by Patti Page

Article Summary: How to start and run a successful house cleaning business on a limited budget.

I started a successful house cleaning business in 1998. I am going to share some tips that I think will be helpful to you when starting your own cleaning business. I would like share what I have learned over the years about the cleaning service business and hope that it will help others that are thinking about starting a house cleaning business.


Advertise in Local Paper: Start by running a text ad in your local newspaper. Running the ad by the month is usually less expensive. Make it short and simple. Something like " Professional, affordable house cleaning services. Call for a free estimate"

Magnetic Signs or Lettering for your Vehicle: Having your business name and contact information on your vehicle is a great way to advertise. Magnetic signs can be purchased for as little as 60.00. We use the vinyl lettering. The lettering looks much more professional.

Flyers: You can print nice flyers on your home computer. Hang flyers at Hair Dressers, Laundromats, Restaurants, Bakeries, Grocery Stores, etc. Put flyers on car windows at local groceries stores and businesses. You can even go door to door in neighborhoods you would like to work in. You cannot put them in mailboxes. but you can put them in the front door.

Door Hangers: Door hangers are a great way to get new clients. Pick the neighborhood you would like to work in and hang the door hangers on the doors. Door hangers are very professional looking and they really get noticed. You can purchase 200 door hangers for as little as 64.00.

Business Cards: A great way to start getting your name out to the public. Have some nice business cards printed and start passing them out to friends and family members. You can also ask your local businesses if you can leave some cards on their counters.

Referral Program: A great way to obtain new clients is through a referral program. Offer existing clients a free house cleaning or discount when they refer a friend. We offer a free house cleaning when a client refers a friend and the friend uses our services three times.

Website: These days people live very busy lives so they use the convenience of the internet to shop for the services they need. We obtain 90% of our new clients from our website. You can purchase a complete website for only $450.00.


You can purchase all the cleaning supplies you need to start your cleaning business for about $100.00. Home Depot or Sam's Club is a great place to buy cleaning supplies . Remember most customers prefer that you bring your own cleaning supplies. That way they don’t have to worry about going to the store for cleaning supplies before you clean. Some customers have special cleaners for certain appliances or floors in their houses. These customers usually will have these cleaners on hand for you to use. I almost always use the customers vacuum cleaner. That way you don’t have to carry a heavy vacuum from house to house. I usually use one mop for tile and linoleum and another just for wood floors. Some cleaning services use a mixture of water, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 3 drops of lemon oil. We use Zep Wood and Laminate Floor Cleaner. We also use Holloway House Cleaners (floor wash, lemon oil and Hexol cleaner and deodorizer.)

Supplies you will need:

window cleaner,
furniture polish,
clorox soft scrub with bleach,
anti-bacterial cleaner,
sos pads,
stainless steel cleaner,
wood floor cleaner,
bathroom cleaner,
dust mop,
wood floor mop,
supply caddy,
grout brush,
small toothbrush,
cleaning cloths (terry and microfiber cloths),
step ladder

What to Charge

This all depends on the area you live in. Always charge by the job, not by the hour. If a client knows they have to pay 85.00, they don’t care if you take 2 hours or 5 hours. Also your clients will know what they are paying upfront and won’t have to worry about added expenses. Normally, for a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath you can expect to make 80.00 to 90.00 for each maintenance cleaning. You should charge between $150 and $200.00 for the initial cleaning since the initial cleaning should be a thorough cleaning to get the home cleaned well the first visit. For the larger houses you can add 10.00 to 20.00 for maintenance cleanings if they have 4 bedrooms and 4 baths. For spring/fall cleanings the starting rate is 200.00 to 300.00. For move-in/move-out cleanings the starting rate is 200.00 and up depending on if the client wants windows, refrigerator and oven cleaned. You can add 20.00 to 25.00 each for refrigerators and ovens. Window cleaning depends on the amount of windows in a house. A word of advise: Make sure when you start your company that you charge what you would charge if you had employees. Some people make the mistake of under charging when they start out just to get customers and then later on when they grow and need to hire help they find they are not making enough money on their houses to pay help. Also if you are too cheap, customers will think you are not experienced. Don’t under price your work. Cleaning homes is very hard physical work.

New Construction Cleaning

If you decide to do this type of work you will need more equipment. You will need ladders, window cleaning kits with long extensions, a shop vac, etc. These types of jobs are usually 2 to 3 person jobs. New construction cleaning requires a lot more cleaning. You may have to remove stickers and labels from windows and bathroom showers, sinks and toilets. Some require that you clean the vents to remove dust from construction work. There will be ceiling fans to clean, scrubbing floors, and cleaning woodwork to remove dust. New construction cleaning rates depend on the area you live in. Normally they run from .12 cents per sq.ft. to .23 cents per sq.ft.

Insurance and Bonding

You need to be an honest person and somewhat personable. People will need to trust you to be in their homes. Most clients are concerned about having someone new in their house, with good reason. You should be bonded and fully insured. Liability insurance runs between 350.00 to 700.00 per year. For cleaning residential homes you should have a minimum of 300,000 in liability insurance. Bonding runs around 100.00 per year. Note that this price is for one employee only. Each person you hire will increase your liability insurance. It’s well worth the cost. You can pay quarterly or yearly. You can purchase your bond through your local insurance company. You will need to renew the bond every year. *Note: if you hire employees and cover them under your insurance, they must be an employee on payroll and not a sub-contractor. If you employ them as a sub-contractor your insurance will not cover them. If they are a sub-contractor they are required to carry their own insurance.

Credit Cards
The easiest way to accept credit cards is through your website. PayPal offers credit card services with no set up and only 2.9 percent per transaction. Some clients will prefer to pay with a credit card. They simply sign on to your website and make the payment. The payment goes into your account immediately.

Gift Certificates
House cleaning gift certificates make great gifts for any occasion. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Housewarmings, Weddings, Baby Showers, Christmas and Valentines Day. I have a lot of requests for gift certificates around Christmas. If you have a website you can email the gift certificates to the recipient. Always remember to keep a record of gift certificate sales. Some clients who receive gift certificates wait several months to use them.

Hiring Help
If you start out cleaning the homes by yourself, you will eventually get to the point where you need to expand your business. Start out with one part time employee. Train her and let her take your place one day a week. Then have her take your place 2 days a week and so on. This will give you the free time that you need to market your business and obtain more clients. After you get more clients you will be able to hire more part time help. Eventually you will be able to stop doing the cleaning yourself and just run the business end, which is the only way you will be able to grow your business. When training new employees, always either train them yourself or have a lead person train them.

Remember one of the most important qualifications for a cleaning service is TRUST. A client has to know they can trust you alone in their home. To succeed in the cleaning service business you need to be honest, dependable and trustworthy. After you acquire a few cleaning positions ask the clients if you can use them for a reference. Most of the time they are more than willing to let you use them for a reference. This is how you build your business and acquire new clients is through referrals. Be dependable. Most clients will want to be set up on an every week or every other week schedule on the same day of the week. Try to always keep this same schedule unless the client asks you to switch to another day. If you have to cancel a cleaning date, make sure you try to reschedule at the earliest possible date to make up the cleaning.

Below is a quote that I read from someone in the cleaning service business and I really believe this to be true.

"If you use Emotion and Love to drive your sales and your business, you will create Loyalty Beyond Reason. And I promise you, you will build relationships and enjoy a business that exceeds beyond your wildest expectations".
About the author:
Patti Page is the owner of Page's Personal Cleaning in Cincinnati OH.

More Resources:

How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Cleaning Service: With Companion CD - ROM
How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Cleaning Service: With Companion CD - ROM

Start & Run a Home Cleaning Business (Start & Run a)
Start & Run a Home Cleaning Business

Start and Run a Successful Cleaning Business: The Essential Guide to Building a Profitable Company (How to)
Start and Run a Successful Cleaning Business: The Essential Guide to Building a Profitable Company (How to)