7 key purchases for starting your own residential cleaning business

One of the great things about the cleaning industry is you can get started for very little money. After several years of meeting with hundreds of cleaning business owners, I have noticed that those that start with the least money are usually more successful in the long run. Those with access to a lot of funds often go about things all wrong. They spend excessive time and money on things that do not generate any revenue, like designing a logo and getting business cards. These are artificial confidence boosters, things people think they need to be a “real business.” Do you know when you become a real business? When someone pays you for a good or service. Until then, you are just a wantrepreneur playing air guitar. Being hungry and needing to make a sale bring clarity to what really matters.

$100 – Vacuum

You will need a good vacuum to get started. It does not need to be top of the line. Yes, eventually you will want to invest in a high quality vacuum, like the ProTeam Sierra®. But for those of you starting out on a shoestring budget, you can get a decent upright canister vacuum at your local big box retailer for less than $100.

$100 – Cleaning Supplies

You can cut corners on some products. There is very little difference between the top of the line and cheaper glass cleaners. Toilet Bowl cleaners are much the same. You can save a lot of money using a products like Bar Keepers Friend in toilets. One can of BKF will clean hundreds of toilets and can also be used in the kitchen.

$50 – Hiqh Quality Cleaning Cloths

Microfiber is the way to go in cleaning. It makes your products more effective, makes you look more professional, and over time will save you a ton of money on paper towels and other less durable cleaning cloths. Do not cut corners on bathroom cleaners, floor cleaners, stainless steel cleaner, and your all-purpose cleaner. These are the products that will get you most of your results.  You normally can avoid polish. Very few clients request it anymore. A damp cloth and all-purpose spray will get the job done. $50 should be enough for 25-50 cloths.

$50 – Tools

Microfiber mop and pads. Bucket. Cleaning supply caddy. Microfiber high duster.  

$100 – Marketing

Order some business cards from an online place such as Vista print. Pin 5 to 10 of them everywhere you can. Give them to your friends and family. Post free advertisements on Craigslist. Use door hangers which you can print at home or a local copier store. There is a great one you can down load from my company, Cleaning Business Builders. Finally set up your Google Local Listing and ask your friends for reviews until you get at least 5.

$100 – Miscellaneous

Laws vary by location but this should be enough to get your business licenses and have some money left for transportation expenses like gas. Normally there is no need to spend a lot on legal fees and everything you will need can be found on the Secretary of State website. 

$0 – Get an Education on How to Clean

It is not as obvious as it seems like first. Your local library should have multiples books that are a great place to start. Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campell is a great place to start.

Congratulations. You are cleaning and generating revenue. Save 20% of every dollar you make to re-invest in your business. You will need some money to buy more supplies. Your vacuum will eventually break and need repaired and replaced, and you can build some savings to invest more and more in marketing over time.​


Derek Christian has been involved in the cleaning industry for more than 20 years and is an owner or investor in several cleaning companies including My Maid Service Dayton and Real World Services Columbus, and now he works as a sales and marketing consultant for Castle Keepers