Is Cleaning Houses a Good Job? Cleaning for a Living

3 ways to succeed in the house cleaning industry

By
Jake Perry | Updated September 5, 2022

Starting a new career path, whether going it alone or working for an established company, can be exciting yet nerve-racking.

If you take pride in a sparkling clean house, keeping things in order, or simply enjoy cleaning, then cleaning houses for a living could be the career path for you.

Whether you start it off as a little side hustle to earn some extra cash or want to jump straight into the deep end and go full-time, there are many ways to get started. 

Option 1: Starting a House Cleaning Side Hustle

Side hustles are a great way to earn some extra cash. You get to become your own boss and build something where you get to call the shots.

Want to work a few extra Saturdays? Or maybe you only work a few days and feel the need to fill some of your extra time? 

A side hustle is perfect. The great thing about side hustles – obviously apart from the extra cash in your back pocket – is that it’s on the side. You’ll still be able to do your regular salaried job, so the risk is minimal.

You’ll need to look for your own clients, so getting the business off the ground will take effort. Once the business starts to grow, however, you can think about taking things full-time or even employing people to work for you. 

Earning potential – $15-40 per hour 

Option 2: Working for a House Cleaning Company

If you decide to work for an already established company, you will be required to work the hours the company expects from you. This pathway has both positives and negatives, so we have listed both below. 

Benefits

  • All expenses covered
  • No searching for clients
  • Potential company benefits like health insurance

Drawbacks

  • Decreased flexibility
  • No control over clients you take on 
  • Pre-authorization of holidays required
  • Usually lower pay per hour worked

Earning potential – $26,000 – $38,000 (average)

Option 3: Becoming a Self-Employed House Cleaner

Becoming self-employed can be a scary step. Starting with just a side hustle is a great option because it reduces financial risk. But if you are already business savvy, full-time self-employment in house cleaning could be the best pathway.

Make sure you have a good idea of this sector and are clued up on the requirements of being self-employed. 

You’ll need to register as self-employed and choose a business name. Registering your business can vary from state to state, so check the exact requirements in your area. You’ll also need to complete tax and business filings, so getting an accountant would be something to consider. 

Earning potential – $15-40 per hour

A Day in the Life of a House Cleaner

You’ll be expected to travel to clients’ houses at the arranged time. Travel costs will usually not be covered by the client, so you’ll need to bear that in mind when taking on the job. Travel can eat up your day in terms of time and can be a massive cost if you take jobs on opposite sides of town.

Think about the locations and plan this into your schedule. You’ll be expected to bring your own equipment if you work for yourself. We have provided a list below. 

Equipment required:

  • Vacuum
  • Mop & bucket
  • Brush & dustpan 
  • Glass cleaner
  • Bleach 
  • Floor cleaner
  • Carpet cleaner 
  • Stain removed
  • Multi-surface cleaner
  • Various types of clothes 
  • Dusters

On a daily basis, you will be doing the general tasks required in cleaning houses. These tasks have been summarized below for a quick visual breakdown. 

Daily tasks:

  • Tidying
  • Scrubbing
  • Dusting 
  • Vacuuming
  • Sweeping
  • Mopping
  • Polishing
  • Cleaning appliances

Some clients may ask for added extras. For example, help with pet care or machine maintenance. You may be asked to do the laundry for clients. Specify what is included in your usual hourly rate and then charge additional for these little added extras.

This is a great way to increase your income. Another added extra could be a deep clean service. A deep cleaning may require some specialist equipment like carpet cleaners and steamers, so consider this before offering it to clients. 

If you work for yourself, you’ll also be required to give a cleaning proposal to new customers. You’ll need to learn how to price house cleaning services in a way that’s both competitive and profitable.

Finding Customers

By far, the best way to get clients for a cleaning business is through word of mouth, which is completely free. You are five times more likely to get a sale from word of mouth than any other paid ad. People like familiarity, so they are far more likely to listen to someone they already know and trust. 

Tell all of your friends about your new venture. Tell your friends to tell their friends too. And don’t forget to get some reviews on both Facebook and Google to build rapport. A good suggestion at the start would be to do a few houses for free in return for them.

Local ads can be costly, but the old-school methods still function well. Think about local radio stations, billboards, newspaper ads, writing a letter offering cleaning services, etc. 

With the dawn of the internet, targeted marketing on websites like Facebook and Google can be unbelievably cheap and much more targeted than traditional methods.

These days you don’t need to be a skilled online marketer to have a strong cleaning service marketing plan; literally, anyone can run a Facebook ad. For Facebook, you’ll need to set up a business page and then run ads through here. 

Facebook ads for cleaning can be as cheap as $0.01 per impression (a fancy word for saying that someone sees your ad). Google ads tend to be a little more expensive and slightly more complex.

For a start, you’ll need your own website. Google works off a bid system, so you’ll compete with other competitors for searches. 

Another effective free option is to post to local Facebook groups about your services. Type the name of your town on Facebook and try to find some kind of buy and sell groups. You can then post about your services in them, and customers will come to you directly. This is a great way to get cleaning contracts at no cost.

Physical Requirements

Cleaning houses can be a little labor-intensive, so good overall mobility is necessary. Using the word athletic would be a bit of an overstatement, but cleaning can and will certainly get your heart pumping.

Cleaning is a great way to stay in shape, with the average person burning 318 calories for just a few work hours.

Managing Employees

Once you’ve grown your small side hustle into a flourishing full-time business,  you’ll encounter the challenge of keeping up with demand, so the next set is hiring. 

When hiring someone, you’ll need to put up an ad with a detailed description to outline key information about the role. For example, employees’ responsibilities, prior experience, an intro to the business, and what they can expect to be paid.

When people start to apply, you will get into contact with them for a formal or informal interview. 

Generally, you’ll get a good feeling about a potential candidate when you find the right person for the job. Despite this, it’s always best to start with a trial period. Make sure to get contracts written up for both parties to agree to so you don’t get into any legal bother further down the road. 

A good introduction and training plan is vital to let your employees flourish. You don’t want your clients upset with a job that wasn’t done correctly. Make sure they have the correct equipment. It will be up to you to keep the products stocked and any appliances maintained.

You’ll need to set up a schedule for each employee and keep your employees up to date with what clients they will be visiting. An online management system will be worth considering if you start getting a few employees so you can easily update them without having to call each person individually. 

Another thing to consider is getting a GPS smartphone application. Employees can log in using GPS to their app upon arrival at a client’s house. It gives you control to see where your staff are at and how long they are working.

Try to keep good relations with your staff, give them incentives and look after them. Happy staff equals better work which in turn makes for smooth sailing. 

Payroll is a thing that you’ll need to get set up when you hire someone. Expect to pay a cleaner $15-$25 per hour depending on their experience, state, and location. You can run the payroll using online software like Xero, which can be fairly simple.

If you’re not tech-savvy, then hiring an accountant at this stage could be your best option but will be a little more costly.

Summary

You can start cleaning houses for a living by starting a side hustle, working for an established cleaning company, or starting up your own business. All of these options offer benefits and drawbacks.

Starting your own business offers the biggest earning potential but also the most risk. 

You can also consider commercial cleaning which often pays hire prices.

Whatever option you choose, you’ll benefit from the fact that house cleaning is a growing and in-demand industry.

Written by

Jake Perry is a writer from the United Kingdom. He travels the world while working from his laptop, learning about new business trends from startups around the world.