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How to become a cleaner: a simple guide for 2021

4-minute read

Lucy England

Lucy England

15 July 2021

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Becoming a cleaner in the UK can be a great way to tap into a growing market.

As we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, demand for cleaning services has seen a significant rise – so much so that it featured as one of the new business trends, according to Simply Business research.

Still want to know how to set up a cleaning business? We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to get you started with this low cost business idea. Read more about cleaning insurance.

How to start a cleaning business step by step

1. Identify your market

First, you need to decide what kind of cleaner you’re going to be, and what market you’re going to serve. There are three main cleaning markets: domestic, commercial, and specialist.

Your choice of market will likely depend on your existing experience and expertise, but you should also make sure that you do some research. A key question to ask is what are the relative sizes of those markets in your local area?

If you’re looking to start your own domestic cleaning business, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the government’s safety guidelines to help keep you and your clients as safe as possible.

2. Check qualifications

Domestic cleaners don’t generally require any qualifications. However, you might well need a qualification and commercial cleaning equipment for specialist cleaning jobs.

For more information on cleaning qualifications, contact the British Institute of Cleaning Science.

3. Set a budget

If you’re planning on running a domestic cleaning service, you may only need to invest in a few essential items such as cleaning chemicals, mops, and microfibre cloths.

On the other hand, commercial and specialist cleaners will need to consider buying important items such as professional vacuum cleaners or carpet cleaners which can cost thousands of pounds. Think about what you’ll need and make sure you’ve got enough to cover the basics.

Read our guide on business start-up costs to learn more. And download our free budget template to help you keep on top of your personal and business finances.

4. Decide how much to charge

How much will you charge for your services? Will you charge by the hour or a flat fee? An hourly rate could be a good idea if you’re unsure of how long you’ll be cleaning for, while a flat fee is often preferred by clients as they’ll know exactly how much they need to pay you in advance. It’s also a good idea to research prices in your area first to get an idea of what the going rate is.

You should also consider setting up an online payment system so you can easily take payment from your clients.

You may also want to consider setting up a business bank account so you can keep your personal finances separate.

5. Write a plan

Before you go any further, you should consider writing a business plan. This document helps you to build a sound foundation for your venture as you start and grow it. Within your plan you’ll conduct market research, build financial plans, and work out your marketing channels.

Read a comprehensive guide to this step in our step-by-step guide to writing a business plan.

6. Look for clients

Now it’s time to pitch. The ways you’ll attract clients will depend on the market you’ve chosen. For example, if you’re a domestic cleaner, it might be as simple as knocking on doors.

However, you might also consider more advanced marketing techniques, which you can read about in our guide to marketing and growing your cleaning business.

7. Plan for growth

It might be that you want to stay small, particularly if you’re a one-man-band domestic cleaner. However, cleaning businesses have the potential to grow from single-person operations into small companies employing several people. As your business grows, you might look to take on additional cleaning staff to help you spread the workload.

If you do this, make sure you're aware of national minimum wage legislation and your obligation to take out employers’ liability insurance, which we cover below.

As with any other self-employed profession, self-employed cleaners have a few legal obligations, particularly with regard to tax.

You need to register as self-employed with HMRC, and you’ll need to complete an annual Self Assessment tax return. You’ll also need to pay your tax bill by 31 January each year, and make a payment on account every 31 July.

You can read more about completing your tax return in our comprehensive small business guide to Self Assessment tax returns.

It’s also important to think about insurance. Consider taking out a public liability insurance policy to protect yourself against claims arising from injury or loss suffered by a member of public as a result of your work. If you employ anyone in your cleaning business, you’ll also be legally obliged to take out employers’ liability insurance.

Top tips from a cleaning pro

Simply Business has teamed up with Harriet Thomas of Calm Oasis Cleaners to give you some top tips for starting a cleaning business. Watch Harriet guide you through the process in this video, or read the tips below.

1. Be prepared for a challenge

Starting a business from scratch can be tough, but it can also be hugely rewarding. Think about ways to manage variations in your income and, as your business grows, get ready to take on the responsibility of managing staff. And above all, don't get disheartened when the going is tough – as Harriet says, "stay true to your vision!"

2. Take advice

Talk to as many people as possible – by canvassing opinion you can help to make sure that you're on the right track. And crucially, look into speaking to a range of financial advisors.

3. Get ready for unusual requests

Cleaning is an incredibly personal business, and your clients will each have their own needs. It'll keep you on your toes.

4. Think about catering to landlords

By making yourself an end-of-tenancy pro, you can serve a large and growing market. Many landlords simply don't have the time to conduct thorough cleans between tenants, so this can be a great niche for a cleaning business.

5. Don't forget insurance

Your customers will want to be confident that you're covered if something goes wrong while you're working in their property. And don't forget, if you're employing people, you're legally obliged to take out employers' liability insurance.

Still deciding whether to start your own cleaning business?

If you’re still making your mind up, take a look at some of our other guides on setting up your own business.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about setting up a cleaning company? Let us know in the comments.

Looking for sole trader insurance?

With Simply Business you can build a single sole trader insurance policy combining the covers that are relevant to you. We'll run you a quick, tailored quote right now online, and let you decide if we're a good fit.

Start your quote
Lucy England

Written by

Lucy England

Lucy England has been writing for and about small businesses for around ten years. Initially working as a journalist covering tech startups, Lucy has extensive experience writing about insurance, fintech, tax and financial services for brands including Moneycorp and Muse Finance. Lucy has also supported a number of small businesses with their marketing, across industries as diverse as engineering and management consulting.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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