Updated Ocotber 15, 2020: 

What license is needed to start a cleaning business? Before you can start your cleaning business, you will need both a vendor's license and a Doing Business As (DBA) registration. Make sure you have both of these licenses prior to offering your services.

Overview of Cleaning Business Licenses

There are a variety of reasons that you might want to start a cleaning business. Running your own cleaning business can be a very lucrative endeavor, and for many, being a small-business owner is also a great deal of fun.

When you offer commercial and residential cleaning services, you'll have the ability to complete several important tasks:

  • The ability to set your own hours.
  • Building a strong client base.
  • Expanding your company so that you can increase your earnings.

In almost every location across the country, you will need to obtain a business license before you will be able to start your cleaning company. Business licenses are important because they make sure that you are following the laws that apply to your company and allow you to correctly pay your taxes. Also, if you hire any alien workers for your cleaning business, you will need a business license so that you can fill out the required I-9 forms.

If you're considering starting a cleaning business, you will need to decide whether you will purchase a franchise or start an independent business. Starting your own cleaning business is much more affordable than opening a franchise. On the other hand, you will likely have more success early on by starting a franchise, as you will usually be provided with a ready-made marketing plan. Regardless of the option you choose, you will need a business license, as well as equipment and supplies, before you can begin offering cleaning services.

The goal of cleaning businesses is to make a profit by providing cleaning services to commercial buildings and residential homes. When you're ready to start your cleaning business, you will need to acquire a Doing Business As (DBA) registration and a vendor's license.

You can get a DBA registration application from either your county administration office or office of the county clerk. Fill out your application and then mail it back with the required fee. Once the application is processed, your business will be formally registered. Before you file your DBA registration application, you will need to come up with a name for your business. Your name should be catchy while reflecting the services that you offer. Your vendor's license will be issued when your DBA application is approved. This license allows you to collect sales taxes from your clients, which is required in the majority of states.

If you choose to open your business without first acquiring a business license, you may face stiff penalties if it is discovered that you are operating without a license. Not obtaining a business license may also increase your supply cost. Cleaning companies typically purchase their supplies from wholesalers, who generally only sell their products to licensed businesses.

Starting a Cleaning Business

The first step that you need to take when starting a commercial cleaning business is deciding exactly what size buildings you wish to clean. Although there is often more money in cleaning large commercial buildings, taking on such large jobs when you're first starting out can be difficult. Determining the size of the buildings you wish to clean will help you identify to which businesses you should advertise your services. Virtually every type of commercial building needs cleaning service.

If you decide to stick with small buildings, there are several types of business where you may be able to find work:

  • Banks.
  • Day cares.
  • Gyms.
  • Convenience stores.

In the early days of your business, you should look for cleaning jobs that you can handle yourself. Once you gain experience and your business starts to grow, you can hire employees so that you can start accepting larger cleaning projects.

After deciding whether you will clean large or small commercial buildings, you need to select a name for your business. While your business name should be memorable, you should avoid choosing a gimmicky name, as this may turn off many of your clients. Choose a name that is professional and tells your customers exactly what they can expect if you are hired.

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