How to start a cleaning business

February 6, 2024

If you’re thinking of starting a cleaning business, it’s a good opportunity to enter a thriving and relatively stable industry. There’s an ever-growing demand for professional cleaning services in both residential and commercial sectors.

Establishing and sustaining a successful cleaning business requires meticulous planning, a keen understanding of the market, and the ability to adapt to the dynamic needs of clients. It’s important to develop your knowledge around the essential aspects of running a business like this. From daily operational responsibilities and required skills to the financial considerations and potential rewards, there’s lots to learn.

In this guide to how to start a cleaning business in the UK, we’ll explore insights and practical advice that will help you make your business thrive.

The daily responsibilities of running a cleaning business

Running a successful cleaning business involves a range of daily responsibilities that extend beyond the act of cleaning itself. Each day begins with meticulous planning and coordination. Scheduling and organising cleaning jobs takes a lot of focus and liaising with clients, particularly if you employ a team of cleaners. Ensuring that the right personnel are deployed to the right locations, at the right time, is key to maintaining efficiency.

Effective communication is a constant necessity. From speaking with clients to understand their specific needs and expectations, to giving clear and concise instructions to the cleaning staff, communication is the linchpin of a well-operated cleaning business. Addressing client enquiries promptly and professionally is equally crucial, as this is conducive to positive relationships and customer satisfaction.

Quality control is an ongoing task, so you’ll need to conduct regular inspections of completed cleaning jobs to ensure that the established standards are consistently met. This commitment to quality not only satisfies your clients, it also contributes to the reputation and credibility of your business.

Administrative duties form another integral part of daily responsibilities. Invoicing, bookkeeping, and payroll management demand a keen eye for detail in order to maintain the financial health of the business. Additionally, anticipating and resolving any logistical or personnel issues during daily operations is vital for smooth workflow and client satisfaction.

Required skills for running a cleaning business

Running a successful cleaning business requires a varied skill set. First and foremost, organisational skills are vital. Effectively managing schedules, coordinating tasks, and ensuring timely completion of jobs require a meticulous approach to planning and execution.

Interpersonal skills play a crucial role in client interactions and employee management. Clear and empathetic communication with clients is essential for building lasting relationships. Adept communication is equally vital when leading and managing a cleaning team, ensuring that instructions are understood and collaboration is smooth.

Leadership skills will definitely need to come into play if you oversee a team of cleaning staff. The ability to motivate, delegate responsibilities, and create a positive working environment contributes to a cohesive and productive workforce. Time management skills are essential for optimising everyone’s workload and ensuring that resources are used efficiently.

Basic business management skills are necessary for financial aspects of the business, such as budgeting, invoicing, and payroll. Attention to detail in administrative tasks, including record-keeping and compliance with regulations, is crucial for long-term success.

How much money do you need to start a cleaning business?

The startup costs for a cleaning business in the UK can vary, but a rough estimate is between £5,000 to £10,000. This covers expenses such as cleaning supplies, equipment, marketing materials, insurance, and initial wages. The actual amount may vary based on the scale of your business and the services you offer. Creating a detailed business plan can help you to identify and budget for specific costs.

Advantages of starting a cleaning business

Starting a cleaning business in the UK comes with a variety of compelling advantages. Firstly, the industry’s consistent demand means you have a good chance of enjoying a steady flow of potential clients, ranging from residential properties such as houses and flats, to commercial establishments such as offices and shops. Cleaning businesses are therefore pretty recession-resistant ventures, providing stability even in economic downturns.

The accessibility of the cleaning business is another notable advantage. With relatively low startup costs compared to many other industries, you can enter the market without significant financial barriers. Flexibility in choosing target markets, such as specialising in residential or commercial cleaning, allows for strategic positioning based on your personal preferences or market opportunities.

The scalability of cleaning services also offers opportunities for expansion. You can diversify into various cleaning niches, such as carpet or window cleaning, and potentially broaden their geographic reach. The ability to adapt services to cleaning options that are kinder to the planet means you’ll be able to satisfy modern consumer needs in a more environmentally-conscious market.

Challenges of starting a cleaning business

Despite its benefits and promising opportunities, starting a cleaning business does also come with challenges. You’ll need to know how to contend with these when starting a cleaning business in the UK. Fierce competition is a notable obstacle, as the market is saturated with numerous cleaning service providers. Standing out requires strategic marketing, a unique value proposition, and a commitment to delivering exceptional service.

Managing a reliable and skilled workforce is a common sticking point in the cleaning sector. High turnover rates and the need for consistent training create ongoing personnel challenges. Ensuring that staff members maintain the desired level of professionalism and thoroughness in their work is crucial for maintaining a positive reputation.

Client expectations and satisfaction pose additional hurdles. Meeting different client needs while adhering to high cleaning standards requires constant communication and flexibility. Putting the customer first is vital to maintain a positive reputation.

Economic fluctuations may also impact the demand for cleaning services. This may only apply to certain clients, such as residential ones rather than big businesses. There are no certainties around this, as it will depend on the financial stability of the people you work for.

What licence do I need to start a cleaning business?

In the UK, there’s no specific licence required to start a cleaning business. However, it’s important to register your business with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for tax purposes. If you plan to use a business name, you should register it with the appropriate authorities. Depending on the services you offer, there may be additional regulations or certifications that you need to adhere to, such as waste disposal licences or health and safety certifications.

Registering your cleaning business with HMRC

Registering your cleaning business with HMRC is a crucial step in making it compliant. The process involves several key stages.

Firstly, determine your business structure, whether you’re a sole trader, in a partnership, or operating as a limited company. Each structure has specific tax implications, and your choice will influence the registration process.

Next, you’ll need to obtain a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) from HMRC. This personalised reference number will be required for tax administration; you should acquire it before commencing your cleaning services.

As a registered business, you’ll be required to keep accurate financial records. Implementing a robust accounting system is highly important for tracking income, expenses, and taxes owed. Regularly updating these records ensures compliance with HMRC regulations and helps you file accurate tax returns. You may wish to employ an accountant to support your business with this.

HMRC provides various resources, including online portals and helplines, to support businesses during the registration process and beyond. Additionally, staying informed about changes in tax regulations and deadlines is crucial for remaining compliant and avoiding penalties.

Different types of cleaning businesses

The cleaning industry in the UK offers different specialised services catering to various client needs. Understanding these diverse niches allows entrepreneurs to tailor their services to specific markets, providing a competitive edge.

Residential cleaning services:

Focused on private homes, residential cleaning businesses take on projects including regular house cleaning, deep cleaning, and other specialised services based on individual client requirements.

Commercial cleaning services:

These businesses cater to the corporate sector, providing cleaning solutions for offices, retail spaces, and industrial complexes. Commercial cleaners often operate outside regular business hours to minimise disruptions.

Carpet cleaning services:

Specialising in the maintenance and restoration of carpets, these businesses use specialised equipment to deep clean and remove stains, enhancing the longevity and appearance of carpets.

Window cleaning services:

This niche involves the cleaning of windows in residential and commercial properties. Techniques may include traditional hand washing or modern methods, such as water-fed pole systems.

Industrial cleaning services:

Targeting manufacturing plants and industrial facilities, these businesses handle the cleaning of large machinery, equipment, and industrial spaces. They place a focus on safety and compliance with industry standards.

Specialised cleaning services:

This category includes businesses offering unique services such as post-construction cleaning, biohazard cleanup, and hoarding support, requiring specialised skills and equipment.

How much can cleaners earn?

The earnings of cleaners vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and the type of services provided. On average, cleaners can earn between £8 to £15 per hour. Offering certain services or targeting higher-end markets may enable you to charge higher rates. Building a strong reputation for quality work and reliability can lead to repeat business and referrals, ultimately increasing your earning potential.

How to start your own cleaning business

While starting a cleaning business is fairly straightforward, there are a variety of steps you can take to make it a success. There are also numerous legal obligations you’ll need to be aware of.

When looking at how to start your own cleaning business, it will help you enormously to be knowledgeable about the following areas.

Research and planning

Understand the cleaning market in your area, identify your target audience, and create a detailed business plan. This should outline your services, pricing, future goals and marketing strategy.

Legal considerations

Register your business with HMRC, choose a legal structure (sole trader, partnership, or limited company), and ensure compliance with any local regulations or certifications.


Estimate startup costs, secure funding if needed, and set up a business bank account. Implement a system for invoicing, bookkeeping, and tax management.

Marketing and branding

Develop a strong brand identity and create marketing materials, such as flyers and a website. Use a mix of online platforms, social media, and traditional advertising to promote your services.

Supplies and equipment

Purchase the necessary cleaning supplies and equipment. Establish relationships with suppliers to ensure a steady and cost-effective inventory.

Hire and train staff

Recruit reliable and skilled cleaning staff. Provide thorough training on cleaning techniques, customer service, and safety protocols.

Client contracts

Develop clear and comprehensive contracts outlining services, terms, and expectations. Regularly communicate with clients to make sure they’re satisfied with what they’re receiving.


Build relationships within the community and with other local businesses. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the cleaning industry.

Keep learning

Stay informed about your industry and invest in a range of training for yourself and your staff. Regularly assess and improve your services based on client feedback.

Get cleaning insurance with Protectivity

The only thing left to do to secure the future of your business is obtain liability insurance, to protect you and your employees in case of unexpected incidents.

Protectivity’s cleaning insurance is designed to help self-employed cleaners and limited companies protect themselves against the risks of the occupation. It includes public liability up to the value of £5 million, should a client suffer an injury or damage to their property. It also includes employers’ liability, with up to £10 million of cover if one of your employees becomes injured or ill while working. You also get £250 worth of business equipment cover as standard.

Find out more and get an online quote today.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.