How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business

Whether it be for homeowners or commercial real estate operators, starting commercial carpet cleaning is a big business. It is one of the most profitable cleaning businesses you should consider if you have what it takes.

However, we won’t be discussing any other thing than showing you how it is done. This is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow.

Reading on, you will find the basic steps to take to realize your dream. We’ve also stripped it of all unproductive strategies and only included those which will be of help in letting you attain your goal.

Here is a startup package to kickstart your venture seamlessly.

Starting a Carpet Cleaning Business: New Venture or Buy Franchise?

This question is very crucial to achieving your objective. Finding the right answer requires an inward assessment of what works best for you. We have dwelt more on starting a cleaning business from scratch due to its challenging nature.

Buying a cleaning franchise, on the other hand, is a much easier route when working with a reputable brand.

Certain carpet cleaning franchises have shown themselves to be market leaders. These have thousands of franchises working under their brand name and earning good profits.

Some of the most popular carpet cleaning franchises include Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery and Cleaning, Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning, Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaner, and milliCare.

Others are Zerorez, The Cleaning Authority, Heaven’s Best Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning, and Corvus Janitorial Systems among many. If you prefer a carpet cleaning franchise, you will be choosing the easy way out.

However, you might not be as profitable as someone who has to build a carpet cleaning business from scratch.

Develop a Business Plan! It’s Important

This point can never be overstressed enough. An entrepreneur having a plan for his carpet cleaning business will perform or do much better than another without a plan. Your plan is your blueprint and helps guide the business.

The good part of having a plan is that it has been planned ahead of time. This has taken into consideration different contingencies or future scenarios.

The result is a well-run business with the capacity to navigate through challenges successfully. Writing a plan isn’t a difficult process. Nevertheless, it needs all the attention it can get. You can use the services of an expert in putting together a solid cleaning business plan.

Get Trained And Certified

Have no carpet cleaning skills removing dirt and red wine stains? No problem! There’s always a way around things. One way is to find someone who’s into carpet cleaning. Ask if he can allow you to assist him on the job (of course you shouldn’t expect to get paid).

This allows you to get crucial on-the-job training.

Another way to get trained is by actually enrolling in an online training program. The TMF Academy provides such training. This is an online program that has all the materials you’ll need to become a successful carpet cleaner.

Work Out Your Budget

Your operational budget is the lifeline of your carpet cleaning business. Getting this worked out in detail will help in no small measure to avoid having money problems. The money at hand may or may not be enough to get started.

If it won’t be enough, you’ll need to find out how much will be sufficient.

Carpet cleaning equipment might take a good chunk of your budget in addition to registration and licensing fees. You also need to apply for insurance and this costs money.

What more? Running costs! This is an essential part of doing business.

Your truck or project vehicle will need to be fueled and maintained among other things. Working out your budget lets you cover all areas of your operations.

  • Buy or Lease A Project Vehicle

One of the most essential requirements for carpet cleaning is a vehicle for easy movement. These help out a lot in conveying supplies and equipment.

Nevertheless, their costs can be quite substantial. You’d be lucky to have one. If you don’t, you can either buy one or lease it.

Leasing a vehicle for your carpet cleaning business will be less expensive. You should consider this option as it drops your overhead costs significantly.

Choose a Legal Structure

However, you choose to run your carpet business, it must have a legal structure. These are broadly classified as the sole proprietorship, partnership, and limited liability company.

Under the sole proprietorship structure, there is no distinction whatsoever between personal assets and those belonging to the carpet cleaning business.

As a result, your assets will be at risk of being confiscated or sold should there be a lawsuit instituted. Partnerships are preferable for 2 or more individuals. This could be your spouse, friends, or business partners, etc. This type of business structure is great.

However, the problem lies in its makeup. Disagreements may arise which might tear down or cripple the business.

LLCs have become the ideal legal structure for lots of carpet cleaning businesses. This is because liabilities are limited to the business alone. In other words, your assets aren’t exposed. The business itself takes the form of an entity that can be sued.

Before you make up your mind, consider asking for the opinion of a legal expert. Their advice will depend on what you want to achieve with your carpet cleaning business.

Business Registration

All businesses operating within a state must be registered. Except of course sole proprietorship. The registration process includes searching for name availability. It is expected that you must have chosen a name for your carpet cleaning business.

In addition to this, other registration and licensing requirements will be provided by the state’s commerce department.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is meant for those businesses having employees. Registration for state taxes is yet another. This covers all businesses operating within a state.

Licenses and permits are obtained to enable you to operate freely within your location.

Open A Bank Account

This is necessary for easy bookkeeping. Your carpet cleaning business bank account opening should be considered a priority. The benefits are immense when you make one available. Apart from being beneficial for bookkeeping, having a bank account won’t complicate issues when there’s a lawsuit. It also enables you to keep track of cash flow.

Apply For An Insurance Cover

No serious carpet cleaning business will operate without insurance. Getting this is so vital to your business operations as it not only protects your business but also protects your clients.

Risks are commonplace, especially when operating a carpet cleaning business. Damage is likely to result.

If it does happen, your insurance should cover such damage. This saves the client from having to pay or cover such costs. This type of insurance coverage is known as general liability insurance. It will cover bodily harm or injuries to either your workers, clients, or yourself among other things.

Also, consider extending your insurance plan to cover your vehicles. These are used to transport equipment and cleaning supplies. If there’s an accident, you shouldn’t be left to foot the cost. Your commercial auto insurance should suffice.

Discuss with your insurance agent to find out the right type of plan that provides comprehensive coverage.


The role of marketing to the growth and patronage of a carpet cleaning business can’t be overstressed. Without putting the word out no one will know if such a business exists or not. To attract patronage, you need to go out.

Going out means trying out multiple marketing techniques.

Word of mouth marketing is an age-old technique that continues to be very relevant and effective to this day. The place to begin spreading the word will be to your circle of friends, family, acquaintances, and local businesses. These are likely to be the first group of individuals and businesses to patronize your carpet cleaning business.

Word of mouth doesn’t end with you. You can ask your friends and families to further spread the word. Create a website for your carpet cleaning business.

In addition to that, open social media accounts for such business. Paid ads can be localized to your targeted market. This way, lots of people within your target area get to hear about your service.

You can list your cleaning business in Yellow Pages. That is a useful directory were tons of people check to find useful services. Never limit your marketing efforts or overlook any tool. You never know where your next lead could come from.

Consider distributing or sharing your business cards and flyers with potential clients and be as polite as you can. A marketing expert can be of immense help in developing an effective marketing plan.

Also, ensure that your carpet cleaning prices are competitive enough to attract clients.

Initial Carpet Cleaning Equipment

To start, carpet cleaning business equipment will consist of several large and small items. These include:

  • Industrial vacuums
  • Deep carpet cleaning machines
  • Carpet brushes
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Storage tanks for wastewater.

Additional accessories that you may consider should include stair tools, crevice tools, upholstery wands, restoration chemicals, cleaning solutions, and a carpet rake.

The more equipment you have, the more services you will be able to offer to your clients.

Typically, all of the equipment that you need can be purchased at a janitorial equipment company.

You may also consider leasing some of the larger equipment instead of buying it. Likewise, you will need to purchase or lease a vehicle in which to carry all of your equipment from one location to another.

Other Services You Could Offer

In addition to just carpet cleaning, you could expand your business – and ultimately, your profits – by offering additional services. Some of these services could include:

Upholstery cleaning

Upholstery cleaning could include the cleaning of furniture such as couches and chairs. Oftentimes, customers will pay to have these items cleaned instead of purchasing new furniture.

This service can remove dirt and dust from upholstery fabric.

These particular particles act as allergens to many people, and they can also hurt the indoor air quality in people’s homes.

By cleaning upholstery, you can help to minimize allergic reactions. This is one way to market these services to your customers.

By cleaning upholstery, you can also make upholstered surfaces look better and in many cases, newer.

This service can also include adding a fabric protector to the surface after it is cleaned that will create an invisible barrier around the upholstered fibers.

This barrier provides resistance to additional dirt and other allergens. Just some of the upholstered surfaces that you can provide cleaning include leather chairs and couches, armchairs, dining chairs, recliners, and love seats.

Wall cleaning

Wall cleaning may be necessary when tenants move in or out of a property. This is especially the case if the tenant moving out was a smoker, as nicotine can leave a bad residue on walls.

This service can help to remove various discoloration and odors. It can also be helpful before repainting.

Wall cleaning is an effective way to both clean the surface and make the entire home smell fresh.

Drapery cleaning

Likewise, drapery cleaning is also a great service to offer.

Drapery cleaning can remove dust, pollen, odors, smoke, and other types of smells from drapes. Ideally, your service should be able to clean all types of drapes, including vertical and horizontal blinds (both aluminum and wood), convertible shades, roller shades, honeycomb shades, plantation shutters, and cellular shades.

Besides, some customers may also inquire about specialty types of window coverings such as swags, cornices, tie-backs, balloons, valances, sheers, scarves, and lambrequins. (Some of these may require special training and/or special equipment to clean).

Carpet dying

Because some customers may want to change the look of a room without purchasing a brand new carpet, you could offer them a carpet dying service.

This will require that you first steam clean the original carpet to remove any dirt or debris.

You can then either scrub or spray the dye into the carpet and use a stiff-bristled brush to work the new color into the fabric.

Alternatively, you may also be able to use a steam machine to work the new color in. This can be a great service to offer to new or existing clients.

Restoration services

In the case of fire, flood, or other major catastrophes, you can offer carpet and flooring restoration services through your cleaning company.

While this may require that you invest in specialized equipment, it may be well worth it, as offering this service alone could raise your revenue significantly.

Carpet repair

On a smaller scale from restoration services is carpet repair.

Whether it is the repair of a seam or getting out a stain, you can also provide carpet repair services through your company.

There are several reasons why carpet will need to be repaired, such as faulty padding, flaws from stretching, water damage, tough stains, or rotted tack strips.

Sometimes a simple patch is all that is needed, while other instances will require a more intensive repair job.

Pet odor control

As many of your customers may own pets, offering an odor control service will likely be a top seller.

Any time one has a pet, there is a likelihood of certain messes taking place. Therefore, this is sure to be a popular service.

Additional Equipment That You May Need

When you move from being just a carpet cleaning company into more of a full-fledged cleaning company, you will likely need to purchase additional cleaning equipment.

Additional items that you should ideally purchase will include the following:

  • Mop and bucket
  • Day mop
  • Paper towels and rags
  • Toilet bowl cleaner and toilet brush
  • Broom
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Window cleaner
  • Disinfectant cleaner
  • Furniture polish
  • Soft scrub for sinks
  • SOS pads
  • Feather duster

Besides, you will also want to keep a large supply of rubber or latex gloves with you at all times.

This will help to provide your hands with a shield from dirt or germs that may be present in your jobs.

For carrying and transporting your equipment from job to job, it is likely that you already have a large vehicle such as a truck, cleaning van, or SUV for transporting your carpet cleaning materials.

Should You Hire Employees?

As you increase the number of services that your company provides, you may need to start hiring additional help.

There are a couple of ways that you can go about this – although there are advantages and drawbacks to each.

One way is to simply hire independent contractors on an as-needed basis. Because these contractors will only work when you have specific jobs for them, you will not be required to pay them for “down-time” or non-billable hours.

This can save your company a great deal of money.

On the downside, however, because independent contractors typically don’t have the same amount of training as a regular full-time employee would have, they may not be able to complete the jobs as completely or as thoroughly.

The other option is to hire full-time or part-time employees. While you will need to pay these employees for the hours they have worked, they may turn out to be better trained, as they will be with your company on a more consistent basis than an independent contractor.

How Should You Market Your Additional Services?

Although your carpet cleaning business may be successful already, you might still want to expand into other areas to obtain additional profit opportunities.

There are several ways in which to market additional services.

First, because you are marketing your new services to your existing customers, you have some distinct advantages.

These existing clients will already be familiar with your company. Therefore, in many ways, they will already be “sold” on your company, too.

This is especially the case if you’ve done a good job for them and they are happy with your services.

For these existing customers, you may even want to offer them a “special” type of promotion that is only valid for current clients. Likewise, you might also consider offering your current clients a “referral” bonus.

This means that if they refer a new customer to you, they will get a discount on their next job. This is a true win-win scenario because it ensures that you will obtain a new customer, as well as another job from an existing customer.

As the referrals start to stack up, you can start to build up your client base.

By offering any or all of these new services, your advantage can work in another way as well – you may bring in new carpet cleaning clients through one of your new services.

For example, a new customer may call you for a job in carpet dying, and then decide to have other carpets in their house cleaned too.

Setting Yourself Apart

In marketing your company, there are numerous ways that you can set yourself apart – and a great way to start is by highlighting all of the additional services that you offer.

One of the biggest factors to highlight is the convenience that you can provide by having all of a customer’s cleaning needs taken care of at one time.

You could also work your way from the residential carpet cleaning business to the commercial industry.

For example, as your company makes a name for itself in the residential cleaning field, business owners may ask you to start cleaning their offices, medical buildings, or retail establishments also.

As you start cleaning business venues, you will begin to build a reputation in this area as well.

Other Marketing Considerations

There are other ways to set yourself and your company apart when marketing. For example, today, many customers are becoming more environmentally conscious.

These individuals are seeking out companies that practice “green” methods of doing business.

If your company works in an environmentally friendly manner, you can focus on marketing your services to these types of customers.

Therefore, find ways in which your company differs from other cleaning companies and capitalize on those differences in your promotions.

Should You Buy Into a Cleaning Franchise?

When considering a cleaning business, many individuals ponder whether they should buy into a franchise or open their business from scratch.

The truth is that there are advantages and drawbacks to each of these options.

If you go with a franchise, many of the details are taken care of for you. For example, you will likely be provided with a ready-made outline for your business plan.

This plan will typically outline exactly how the business should be set up, how it should operate, and how the employees (if you have any) should ideally be trained.

In fact, in many instances, a representative from the home office of the franchisor may even come to your location and provide employee training.

If your cleaning company works out of a retail location, then it is not uncommon for the franchisor to choose the site for you.

Oftentimes, franchised companies will have a team of real estate experts who study traffic patterns in various locations to determine in detail the very best spot for their retail stores.

When first starting your cleaning business operations typically are run from the owner’s home. If this is the case, you will not need to worry about choosing a location.

Your franchisor will, however, recommend the type of equipment that you purchase and use, as well as how you promote and market the business.

Another big benefit of buying into a franchise is the name recognition that you will get. Many franchises have well-known names that are easily recognized by potential customers.

This helps a great deal when you run promotions, as you don’t have to “sell” your customers on the company as much as you would a “no-name” company.

Yet, while there are several nice benefits to working with a franchise, there are also a few drawbacks – starting with the cost.

Oftentimes, you will be required to come up with a sizeable down payment. A part of this is for the privilege of using the company’s brand name, while another part is for the training and support that is provided.

Also, you lose a fair amount of control and autonomy when you are part of a franchise.

So, although you are technically running your own business, you still must run many things the way that the franchise deems that you do.

Therefore, before deciding whether a franchise is best for you, it will be essential to weigh all of the pros and cons of this model against running your own business, and then determine which option will ultimately be the best one for you and your business goals.

Taking the Next Step to Profit with Your Carpet Cleaning Business

Starting a carpet cleaning business can take some work – but it can be well worth the effort when the profits start coming in.

If you want to start your own cleaning business, it is good to ensure that you have all of the proper tools in place before moving forward.

This means creating a thorough business plan, obtaining the necessary equipment, proper forms, and having an idea of your ideal target customer.

If you’re unsure of how to start a carpet cleaning business, several good resources are available to you.

First, your local Chamber of Commerce can assist you with any questions that you may have about starting a business in your local area.

The information they provide can help you with the licenses and permits that you need, as well as the tax rate that you must charge customers in your specific jurisdiction.

You can also turn to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Here you can obtain a great deal of information about starting a business in general, along with resources on any type of financing that your company may need for obtaining equipment and supplies.

When starting your own cleaning business, there are several ways that you can profit. While many businesses focus on just one or two specific areas, it can be quite beneficial to branch out into other areas that are related to your core service.

This can help you to expand your customer base, while at the same time, increase your net profit from your existing clients.

While today’s economy may be volatile, there are still several highly lucrative business opportunities available – and starting a cleaning service can certainly be placed at the top of the list for being one of those.

Bottom Line

Is carpet cleaning a good business to start? Yes. Running costs can be as low as 10% of job revenue, translating into significant profit for the individual or team in charge.

Starting any cleaning business involves a lot of work. This can be overwhelming for some entrepreneurs. However, we advise you to stay the course and see it through.

In the end, the rewards can be deeply satisfying. You should love what you do to as only this will keep you inspired during difficult times.

These are vital steps on how to start a carpet cleaning business. They aren’t complex but practicable steps to implement when starting new.

Although we have talked extensively about starting from scratch, you have the freedom to choose the franchise option. This is less challenging and can be rewarding too.

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