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How to start a window cleaning business: the 8-step plan

Window cleaner at work

If you want to be your own boss, starting a window cleaning business is a great option. It can be a simple venture that doesn’t need much initial investment to get going.

In this how-to guide, we talk you through what you need to start a window cleaning business, from equipment, to training, and insurance.

  1. What does a window cleaner do?
  2. Window cleaning business: pros and cons
  3. Window cleaning kit – what do I need?
  4. Water-fed pole vs traditional window cleaning
  5. How much do window cleaners make?
  6. Window cleaning training
  7. How to market your window cleaner business
  8. Window cleaning insurance

Starting a window cleaning business

If you’re thinking of starting a traditional window cleaning business, you could start (in theory) with just a bucket and a squeegee. But by starting small, you might be limiting where your business could go in the future.

You could start window cleaning with as little as £100. But keep in mind, you’ll want to put your business on a firm footing with the right equipment, training, and marketing.

With this in mind, creating a business plan will help you nail the specifics of what you want to do with your new venture.

It’ll get you thinking about how your business will grow, who your competitors are, and the size of your market.

You’ll also need a legal structure for your business, whether you choose to be a sole trader, limited company, or enter into a partnership.

Now that the basics are all in place, here’s how to get your window cleaning business up and running…

1. What does a window cleaner do?

A window cleaner is someone who cleans windows, both interior and exterior, using specialised tools and cleaning solutions. You’ll see window cleaners working on both residential homes and commercial properties – and as a window cleaner yourself, you may find you have a preference for the type of properties you care for.

A window cleaner’s main duties include removing dirt, grime, streaks, and other debris from windows. Window cleaners also often clean window frames, tracks, and screens as part of their services.

2. Window cleaning business: pros and cons

Starting a window cleaning business isn’t for everyone. Before you get started, think about your lifestyle, skills, and the things you enjoy to really understand if the career is for you.

Pros

  • low startup costs: unlike many businesses, becoming a self-employed window cleaner often comes with minimal upfront cost
  • make your own schedule: being your own boss means you can set your own hours, making it a great choice for those with existing commitments (but remember you’ll probably want to be cleaning windows with good natural light)
  • high demand: many people will be unable to clean their own windows, meaning there’s often a steady stream of potential customers
  • repeat business: if you do a good job, you’re likely to be kept on long-term, providing regular income
  • potential to grow: if you find success, you can grow your business by taking on employees or offering additional services

Cons

  • it can be seasonal: window cleaners often have a peak season in spring and summer, with less work as winter rolls around – and extreme weather conditions such as rain or snow may cause you to lose work opportunities
  • physically demanding: you’ll often have to climb ladders, carry equipment, and work in various weather conditions
  • competition: depending on your location, there may be competition from other window cleaning businesses, meaning you could have to find unique ways for your business to stand out
  • safety concerns: if you don’t enjoy working at heights, certain jobs may be off limits to you – and if you decide to work on high-rise buildings, you’ll need proper training and equipment to follow safety protocols

3. Window cleaning kit – what do I need?

Buckets, sponges, squeegees, scrapers, and blades – these are well known as the traditional window cleaning equipment.

For domestic window cleaning, you should also think about buying:

Keep in mind that the above equipment can also set you up to do commercial window cleaning for high street shops and small offices. Many commercial window cleaners will also have a base of domestic customers.

Window cleaning equipment for larger businesses

If you want to target larger commercial premises, it’s likely you’ll need more specialist window cleaning supplies. These could include:

  • cranes
  • cherry pickers
  • abseiling equipment (for specialist and trained workers)

4. Water-fed pole vs traditional window cleaning

Traditional window cleaning was the norm for many years, but now water-fed poles are also commonplace.

Despite the newer technology, it’s vital to train yourself and your employees in traditional window cleaning skills. Many businesses still use them for cleaning interior windows.

Some customers might also request that you clean windows in the traditional way. Water-fed poles can suffer from equipment failure, and might not always be able to access hard-to-reach windows.

You’ll also need to have the ability to carry your water-fed pole equipment around with you, and it’s a more costly investment.

Although using water-fed poles may take some time to master, many window cleaners say that the results achieved are better than traditional methods. You need to weigh up the pros and cons of each method and decide what’s right for you.

5. How much do window cleaners make?

As with any business, this depends on several factors. These factors include:

  • the location and size of your round
  • the type of customers you’re targeting
  • how much you receive in tips from your customers

However, it seems that investing in the right window cleaning tools now could pay off in the future.

For example, according to the British Window Cleaning Academy (BWCA), almost all window cleaners with reach and wash systems could quite comfortably turn over £25 an hour and at least £200 a day.

Water-fed poles allow you to get through more jobs, but the earning opportunity for traditional window cleaners is still substantial.

Some businesses even combine both techniques. By focusing on your customer service and working hard, you should be able to earn money whatever window cleaning set up you choose.

It’s also important to note that your window cleaning kit isn’t the only thing that could affect your prices. Self-employed business owner Richard Burle says it’s important to develop your sales skills too:

“I think the sales side is important to get new customers – it’s really beneficial because it gets me a lot of jobs.”

If this is an area you feel you need to develop, we have a whole guide on negotiation skills that could help.

6. Window cleaning training

Although window cleaning is perhaps safer than its reputation suggests, it’s vital to give health and safety proper consideration.

You’ll need to check all the laws and health and safety regulations that apply to window cleaning businesses. To get started, read the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance on window cleaning.

As well as reading health and safety regulations, take some time to research the training and qualifications that window cleaners need.

These courses can be both for you and your staff. Just like investing in equipment, investing in training will pay off as it cements your business’s reputation as trustworthy and reliable.

The BWCA and FWC (Federation of Window Cleaners) have accredited training days and courses.

7. How to market your window cleaner business

You can definitely think big when it comes to marketing your business. Window cleaning can be competitive, so you’ll want to stand out from the crowd.

Consider your business plan and remember that your marketing efforts will drive your business growth.

Your business plan should also make it clear what your unique selling point will be.

For example, are you going to provide a cheap service, or base your business around providing quality? Your marketing can then reflect that.

Things to think about include:

  • logo and brand – try our Business Name Generator for some inspiration
  • website – read our guide to creating a business website for everything you need to know
  • online marketing – pay-per-click, SEO, and social media marketing can help you to generate leads
  • listing your business – use sites like Google Business Profile and Yell.com to make sure you come up when people search online for window cleaners
  • traditional marketing – business cards, door-to-door canvassing, and flyering are effective ways of building your window cleaning company

Read our comprehensive guide on how to market a small business for a full overview of social media, email marketing, SEO, content marketing, reviews, networking, and traditional marketing.

Alternative marketing tips for window cleaners

Other ways to create brand recognition include getting your logo and brand applied on your window cleaning van, putting your logo onto t-shirts, and teaming up with other tradespeople to cross-market your services.

You can even buy established window cleaning rounds from other window cleaners, so if you want a ready-made solution (and have the money to make the investment) this could be something to explore.

And in terms of online marketing, satisfying cleaning videos are a popular trend on social media. If you’ve got a particularly grimy window to clean, set up your phone on a tripod and get to work. It can be a cheap and easy way to gain traction online (but don’t forget to ask permission from the property owner first).

You could also consider a humorous company name to make you stand out from the competition – our Business Name Generator (linked above) can give you a starting point to work from.

While there are rules to registering a business name, you can still have fun with it and use it to your advantage. Our data shows that the UK public appreciate a funny business name. Could you use this to your advantage?

8. Window cleaning insurance

Whether you opt for the traditional method or water-fed pole, accidents can happen, so anybody thinking about starting a window cleaner business should consider business insurance.

Having the right insurance will not only give you peace of mind, but will also help to establish your brand as trustworthy and reliable.

Your clients and staff will trust you to be an expert on health and safety, and they would expect you to have the appropriate covers in place too.

These might include:

These are some of the key covers, but there are plenty more you can add as part of a tailored policy.

Don’t know where to start? Simply Business offers tailored window cleaning insurance whether you’re cleaning commercial or residential properties.

Is window cleaning the right business for you?

If there’s one thing that puts a lot of people off a career in window cleaning, it’s the prospect of regular work at height.

But as the BWCA explains: “The reality is that modern window cleaners don’t generally use ladders at all.” In fact, the Health and Safety Executive recommends that ladders are only used for low-risk, short-duration work.

Current window cleaning technology allows people to operate from the safety of the ground, should they prefer. Lightweight extendable poles with a soft bristled brush can clean the window, while a jet of pure water rinses the glass at the same time.

This means that even those terrified of heights can become a window cleaner if they really want. And as windows always need cleaning, there’ll always be a market.

Ready to become a professional window cleaner?

Starting a window cleaning business will require time and devotion, but the opportunity to be your own boss and run a business can be very rewarding.

Make sure you’ve done all your research and identified locations where demand will be high. Come up with a great business plan, and then put it into action.

As with any self-employed business, you should start with registering as a self-employed window cleaner with HMRC. This is an important step as it’s how your taxes are properly paid.

Many people starting their own business for the first time are nervous about completing their tax return but there are plenty of online guides to help – including our tax and self-assessment resource hub.

Another alternative is to hire an accountant to help. Business owner Richard knows what it’s like to feel nervous about doing taxes for the first time, and found this helpful when he started his own business, saying:

“I truly think the thing that held me back at the start was wondering how I’m going to do my taxes. It scares a lot of people, it scares everybody who hasn’t ever done it before. If you need help with your taxes – always have an accountant rather than trying to save yourself the money by doing it yourself.”

If you do want to try your hand at doing your own accounting, using an accounting software might be a useful option.

Another way to help manage your finances is all about how you handle payments. The way you write and send your invoices can have a real impact on your customer payments. But if you’re still having trouble with customers not paying on time – here’s how to write a late payment letter.

Still interested in starting your own window cleaning business? Ultimately, starting a window cleaning business can be a rewarding venture for those willing to put in the effort. Your success will depend on customer satisfaction, marketing strategies, and, of course, how well you clean windows.

Are you looking to start your own window cleaning business? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photograph 1: Coka/stock.adobe.com

Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business specialising in side hustles – as well as all things freelance, social media, and ecommerce. She’s been writing professionally for nine years. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world.

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