How to Set Up a Cleaning Business

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  4. How to Set Up a Cleaning Business

For many people thinking about a cleaning business, whether that’s homes or windows, they picture a sole trader with a number of regular domestic customers. When we look at how to set up a cleaning business, there can be a lot more to it. Starting a cleaning business can be one of the easiest and most lucrative ventures nowadays.

The basics of how to set up a cleaning business

Let’s say you’re starting a cleaning business on your own as a domestic cleaner with just a few properties to clean each week. Other than your equipment, a mode of transport and a penchant for perfection, you won’t need much to get going. If, on the other hand, you’re starting a cleaning business with bigger intentions there is a lot more to consider. This is especially true if you’re looking to enter a specialised area of cleaning.

The choices…

Whichever route you’re going down you do need to decide on your business set up. There are many options open to you. You can set up as a sole trader, start a business partnership or take up a franchise opportunity. Or, if you’d prefer to protect your business name and your own personal finances, you can set up your own limited company.

First things first

When you’ve decided how you’d like to set up your cleaning business there’s some groundwork involved before you can get started including:

  • Selecting your company name.
  • Working out your target audience.
  • Researching your competition.
  • Making sure you have all the necessary skills.
  • Creating your business plan.
  • Deciding where any start-up capital will come from.
  • Registering as a limited company.


You don’t need a licence for starting a cleaning business. However, if you’re specialising in a particular area it’s best to check on the  Government Licence Finder before you get going.

The regulations and law that you’ll need to comply with will vary depending on the type of cleaning you’re doing:

  • A good contact is the British Cleaning Council and the Building Futures Group (who used to be the Cleaning and Support Services Association). You can get a good deal of information on industry matters from both.
  • If you’re planning to work in schools, other educational establishments or health organisations, you and your staff will need to have been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This was previously known as CRB checking.
  • You’ll also be dealing with potentially harmful chemicals. This means you’ll need to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations. You’ll also be subject to the Chemicals Regulations 2002, Dangerous Substances and Preparations (Safety) Regulations, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and the Health and Safety at Work Act.
  • It’s worth noting that if you take on a commercial cleaning contract for an organisation that has existing cleaners on their payroll you’ll be obliged to take on those staff under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE).
  • As a business, if you use portable electrical equipment, such as a vacuum or steamer, you’ll need to have Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) carried out by an electrician every two years.
  • If you have staff on your books you’ll be subject to Health and Safety legislation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and you’ll need to have employer’s liability insurance as well.

Qualifications needed

While you don’t need a qualification for starting a cleaning business or to work as a cleaner for business owners it can be a good idea to have one under your belt. One of the more basic qualifications that you may wish to achieve is the Cleaning Operatives Proficiency Certificate. This is overseen by the British Institute of Cleaning Science and offered by many colleges.


Starting a cleaning business needn’t be expensive. You could buy a franchise for a few thousand pounds. However, if you’re buying an existing concern you could pay from under £10,000 to over £500,000. This depends on the size and success of that business.

Your business costs may include:

  • A secure and reliable mode of transport.
  • Tools, equipment and materials for your work.
  • Insurance – employer’s liability is a must and public liability is recommended.
  • The costs of employing staff.

If you’re contracting to the construction industry, this may complicate your accounts. This is because you’ll need to take the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). This involves your tax being taken at source into account.

How to set up a cleaning business as a limited company

Starting cleaning business as a limited company means that you can benefit from a protected business name, limited personal financial liability and the ability to sell your successful business at a later date. To set up as a limited company you’ll need to register your business with Companies House. Doing this through a formations agent can save you time. They’ll take you through the process from start to finish, reminding you of what you need along the way and it can save you money. With The Formations Company your formation can take as little as 24 working hours to complete and with specially designed discounts it can cost less than the price of your Companies House registration if you were to go direct.

Now that we have covered the basics and you know how to set up a cleaning business, it is up to you which route you wish you take.To find out more about setting up and running your own company check out our Help Centre.

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