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Published 15 February 2024
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11 minutes

How to Start a Cleaning Business

Starting a cleaning business in the UK is a multi-step process with several legal and financial requirements, such as registering and funding your company. This five-point guide will outline each important stepping stone to setting up from scratch.

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Starting a cleaning business could be your opportunity to be your own boss and provide a service with strong demand in a growing industry that has low start-up costs.  

Creating a budget and business plan, acquiring equipment and registering your new cleaning business can all seem daunting, but using our step-by-step guide will make the process simple enough for any budding entrepreneur. 

Why start a cleaning business?

Here are some key reasons a cleaning business might suit you:

Start a cleaning business in 5 steps

Here is our quick guide to all the preparation and considerations that should go into starting your cleaning business in the UK, as well as measures that are legally required.

1. Research and choose your market

Before getting down to cleaning work, market research is an essential step. The objective of this is to find out more about your potential customer base and competitors, a process which will leave you better prepared to set up your business.

You can manage this research in several ways, including conducting online research, talking to potential customers and checking out the competition. 

The two most important questions are:

  1. Is there demand for my product or service?
  2. Who is my target market?

When it comes to the UK cleaning sector, there is plenty of research to do before you decide what type of cleaning business you want to run. That’s because it’s an industry that employs a huge amount of people, with nearly 1.5 million workers in the cleaning, hygiene and waste sector, according to figures from the British Cleaning Council. With so much competition, it’s important to understand where your business will fit in.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want to specialise. Different types of cleaning companies include:

Once you have done your market research and decided what type of cleaning business to run, it’s time to dig into the details with a business plan and budget. 

2. Create a budget for your cleaning business

Creating a business plan and budget will give you a better idea of exactly how much money you need, as well as helping you to work out if your ideas can realistically be turned into a business. A business plan will normally also be required if you apply for a start-up loan or business loan.

For a detailed guide read our article on how to write a business plan.

A budget will also be a key part of planning your new cleaning business. It’s important to account for every potential expense, whether one-off or recurring. For a cleaning business, key costs to consider are:

For further information on budgeting, explore our five-step guide to creating a small business budget.

As you start launching your new cleaning business, you may also want to think about how you’ll  separate your personal budget from your professional one – a business bank account could help here, providing you with a separate platform to track your incoming versus outgoing costs and your income, without interfering with your living expenses.

3. Register your cleaning business

One of the first official steps you will take when starting up is choosing a business structure and then registering your cleaning business. You should take your time and research which business structure will best suit your needs:

 If you are starting a general partnership, you will need to inform HM Revenue & Customs. To set up a limited company, limited partnership or limited liability partnership, you will need to register it at Companies House.

» MORE: Should I register as a sole trader or limited company?

4. Fund your cleaning business

Of course, most businesses need money to get started. Once you have created a budget and registered your business, you are ready to seek funding. You may need to combine the various funding options below in order to get your start up off the ground.

5. Find your first customers to clean for

Finding your first customers can be one of the most rewarding steps in starting a new business. There are several ways to promote your cleaning business and get your name out there:

How much do cleaning businesses charge?

A key consideration is how much to charge your customers. Costs vary across the UK, but rough average figures are:

Does a cleaning business need insurance?

While you are not legally required to have insurance, it could be wise even if you are running a small cleaning business. Getting public liability insurance will protect you against claims of property damage from customers, something that is all too possible when working with spillable chemicals in people’s homes and businesses. 

Commercial cleaners may even be required to prove they have public liability insurance before being allowed to work on a customer’s premises. 

You will also need to acquire employer’s liability insurance if you hire any staff. This insurance, which protects you from employees’ compensation claims, is a legal requirement and business owners can be fined for failing to obtain it.

You may also wish to insure expensive tools and equipment that are required for your business. Specialised portable equipment insurance will cover important and valuable tools, such as vacuum cleaners, floor buffers and even company smartphones against theft, loss or damage.  

Finally, it is worth considering insurance against sickness or injury, particularly if you are self-employed and lacking the safety net of sick pay. This will protect you in periods where you cannot work due to ill health, either by offering a regular benefit throughout your time off work or by giving you a one-time lump sum.

Image source: Getty Images

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