The House Cleaning Business Startup Manual – Part I

Starting a business often requires a lot of money to get it up and running. However, service-related startups can often be started for less money than most people would expect. A house cleaning business is one of those businesses. With just a few hundred dollars, you can be up and running for business success.


In order to clean houses you will need some supplies. Wal-Mart, Costco, and Sam’s Club (or any other club membership store) are great places to buy your supplies for less money. A good rule of thumb is that most customers expect you to bring your own tools and supplies. They don’t want to go to the store and stock up on cleaning supplies before you come. What will you need? A small step stool or ladder (2-rung ladder or 4-rung ladder), industrial-grade bathroom cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner, an all-purpose cleaner, a high-grade window cleaner, a mild scouring cleaner, a carpet cleaner , a furniture polish, a hardwood floor cleaner, a set of buckets, a cleaning cart and a bag of cleaning cloths and you’re good to go. The initial set of supplies will probably cost you around $100.00 to $200.00. Try to buy sizes in bulk as it will save you money in the long run. Avoid being the cheapest because you often get what you pay for: cheap stuff. You want quality so you can do quality cleaning work. Quality work will impress your clients and keep them coming back.

Some customers prefer to use certain brands at home. This could have several reasons. Talk to each customer if you have any concerns or preferences. Some people have health problems and prefer to use only brand X as an example. Ask them to have enough supplies on hand if they want you to use their supplies. Important Marketing Tip: A special selling point might be to advertise that your service options include environmentally friendly cleaning products.

In most cases you will be able to use a customer’s vacuum. Find out in your pre-screening process if that will work for each individual customer or if they expect you to bring a vacuum cleaner. To keep the initial cost down, you can require customers to supply a vacuum cleaner.

Important: Do not use the same cleaning tools on different surfaces. As an example, it is highly recommended to use one mop for tile floors and another for hardwood floors. Different cleaners used on the same mop can have harsh effects on surfaces for which they were not developed.

Rates and prices

The prices and fees that you will be able to charge have various dependencies. The most critical dependency is your geographic location. An area with high incomes among a large part of the population will allow you to ask for higher prices. You’ll also find more customers in areas like low-income households that aren’t really your preferred target group.

Important: Cleaning jobs must be quoted per project/job and not per hour. There is a bit of psychology when looking at it from the customer’s point of view. The client knows that he has to pay $75.00 to clean the house, they don’t really care if it takes 3 hours or 5 hours. If the same job was priced by the hour, the client could look more closely at how long it takes to clean the house and eventually ask why it took him an hour just for the 2 bathrooms in his house. Both you and your client will know in advance what the price of cleaning the house is. Customers will like the fact that they don’t have to expect any surprises if it takes you 2 hours longer to get the job done.

Pricing strategies: Cleaning a house is not always the same. You must differentiate between the initial cleaning of a place and the maintenance cleaning. Imagine a dilapidated house – it will take you much longer to clean a really messy place compared to one that is cleaned regularly. If clients want to hire you on a recurring basis, the job should start with a “clean-up.” Initial cleaning should be priced at approximately 50% above your normal rate for the same job. If you charge $75.00 for 1,500 SQFT. house with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, the initial cleaning should cost the client between $100.00 and $125.00. The initial cleanup protects both sides from disappointment and also ensures that you are in a position to deliver quality work.

To find out what the going rate is for house cleaning in your area, you should check with your competition. Get pricing information from established companies like “Molly Maid” as well as sole proprietors who work alone or only with a small team. You also have to put a fair value on your own time and take that into account. Set up your own price list for houses of different sizes. Base your asking price on a standard 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home with approx. 1,500 square feet. from space. A 4 bed/3 bath home with approx. 2,200 square feet. should increase its price from $15.00 to $25.00. As a general rule of thumb, you can add $10.00 or $20.00 per 1,000 SQFT. of space in the house to cover your time and expenses (instead of working with the number of bedrooms/bathrooms).

Exclusions: Window cleaning, oven cleaning, and refrigerator cleaning are not included in standard house cleaning jobs. You should charge $15.00-$25.00 for ovens and refrigerators and about $5.00 for interior window (regular size/easy access).

Important: Do not work the market with prices that are too low. It will be difficult to raise prices later when it is more established. Getting customers is not just a question of prices. Consider how much it would cost you to hire someone to do the same job and still make some money doing the work for you after having to pay your employee’s salary. Put a fair value on your own work. House cleaning is hard work.

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