A few years ago, more than six million people in the UK employed a cleaner at the cost of £3 billion for domestic cleaning alone. So there is certainly opportunity and customer demand for cleaning services. But is it worth starting a business in this industry? This article will answer that question by looking at the following areas:

  • What opportunities are there for cleaning businesses in the UK?
  • Pros of starting a cleaning business
  • Cons of starting a cleaning business?

What opportunities are there for cleaning businesses in the UK?

First, you need to decide what kind of cleaning business is right for you, your experience, and your budget. Here are some of the approaches to cleaning businesses that you could consider:

Domestic cleaning

Domestic cleaning is where you’ll clean customer homes. You’ll usually carry out work while the customer is at work, evenings when they aren’t home, or potentially in the homes of older people who need additional help. 

Your activities will likely include dusting, hoovering, disinfecting floors, polishing surfaces and decor/ornaments, or laundry and ironing. 

You might have the option of providing your cleaning products or using the customers own products, making it a low-cost way to start a cleaning business.

Commercial cleaning

Commercial cleaning is where your customers will be businesses —ranging from cleaning offices, schools, supermarkets or retail shops, or other public spaces such as hospitals or council buildings.

You’ll usually work unsociable hours as you’ll go into the building when it is not in use. However, this type of work may also require more specialist equipment, or even a team of people, depending on the size of the place you’re cleaning.

Specialised cleaning

This cleaning means you specialise in one particular area of cleaning or offer specific services. For example, you might provide oven cleaning, carpet cleaning, window washing or even specialist silver/ornament polishing services.

You could work with both businesses and domestic customers, and as a result, you may work a variety of hours. The business you’ll bring in may not be as regular as household or commercial cleaning; it will likely be more ad-hoc as you’ll offer something that people don’t need weekly or monthly. You’ll probably require more specialist equipment or chemical products to provide these kinds of services.

Though the start-up costs for equipment may be higher, you’ll have a USP (unique selling point) and be able to stand out from the competition since you offer something specific.

Now you have some options to consider about the type of cleaning business you’ll run. Let’s look at the pros and cons and consider whether it is worth starting a cleaning business in the UK.

Pros of starting a cleaning business

Easy to get started

First, cleaning requires no training or experience other than what you already know or can learn quickly. 

You can operate as a sole trader business, which is fast to set up and requires only a few steps:

  • Register as self-employed with HMRC
  • Choose a business name to use
  • Open a business bank account

Then it’s simply a case of getting some business cards or flyers to begin getting your business name out there.

Low start-up costs

As mentioned, you may be able to use your customers’ existing cleaning products, and you’ll only need to bring sponges, scrubbing brushes, or cloths to use. These simple items make your start-up costs very low, and you can even use your equipment from home, like your vacuum, if you don’t have the cash to invest in one for the business yet.

You won’t be working from an office or have to pay utilities to run your business, so your overhead costs will be very low if you only pay for cleaning tools.

Flexible working

The benefit of being your boss is choosing the hours, the location and who you work for. This way you can keep your petrol costs low by selecting the areas you travel to, and the hours you’ll work can perfectly suit your other commitments.

Cons of starting a cleaning business

Costs of equipment could affect profit

If you’ve chosen to open a commercial or specialist cleaning business, then the equipment you need might be slightly more expensive. For example, you may need trolleys to carry your cleaning items, a carpet cleaner, or industrial chemicals for thorough cleaning. These can mean higher upfront costs but may be necessary for you to start trading. 

Competitive market

The cleaning industry is highly competitive, so it can be helpful to do some research before starting your business. Take a look at answering these questions:

  • Are there other cleaning companies in your area? 
  • How will you stand out from them?
  • Will your prices set you apart from your competitors
  • What services do you offer that are different?
  • Where will you find customers?

Takes time to build a customer base

You don’t need any experience to be a cleaner, but you will have to build a reputation to bring in clients regularly. 

You could start with a couple of clients and not be making much money. But after some time, they may spread your business to their social circle through word of mouth, or you could use reviews on Google or an online directory. Of course, this won’t happen overnight, so patience and hard work to build your customer base is essential.

Make accounting simple, with Countingup

When running your own business you’ll have to manage your cash, as well as paying your own taxes. It’s a good idea to have a basic knowledge of the fundamentals of running a business so you can find efficient ways to manage your finances. Using software like Countingup can support you with your finances.

The Countingup business current account makes it easy to manage all your business money in one simple app. The app comes with free built-in accounting software that does the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping and taxes for you. 

You’ll receive real-time insights into your cash flow, profit and loss reports, tax estimates, and the ability to create invoices in seconds. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward.
Find out more here.