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How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business: Start to Finish Guide

May 17, 2024 1 min. read
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Starting a carpet cleaning business is a profitable way to be your own boss, set your own hours, and do challenging work on your own terms.

In this post, we’ll explore the start-to-finish process of starting a carpet cleaning business. You’ll learn how to form a legal business,  what kind of supplies and investment you’ll need, and how to secure your first clients.

1. Choose a carpet cleaning business name

Your name is one of the first things people recognize about your service business brand, so it’s important to get it right. Make sure your carpet cleaning business name:

  • Describes the services you offer
  • Makes people feel positively about your business
  • Is easy to say and remember
  • Is unique in your area and stand out from competitors

READ MORE: Get inspired with these cleaning business name ideas

Here are just a few examples of carpet cleaning company names to inspire you:

  • We Scrub Your Rug
  • Capital Carpet Cleaning
  • Clear Carpets
  • Carpet Cleansers
  • Rug Rinsers
  • Refresh Your Rug

READ MORE: 8 successful cleaning business stories that’ll inspire you

Once you’ve chosen a name, you can design a branded logo to match. Then, use your name and logo on your new business plan, business cards, website, social media, and other marketing materials.

carpet cleaning business logo application

2. Write a business plan

A business plan determines how your carpet cleaning company will operate. This plan also clarifies your short and long-term goals and defines a strategy to achieve them.

Your carpet cleaning business plan should include components such as:

  • Cover page with your business name, basic branding, and date of establishment
  • Executive summary (a single-page recap) of the entire business plan
  • Business overview describing your carpet cleaning business
  • The type of carpet cleaning business you’ll run  (e.g., residential carpet cleaning service for homeowners, commercial carpet cleaning for businesses)
  • A complete services list showing your offers (e.g., carpet and rug cleaning, furniture and upholstery cleaning, curtain cleaning, steam cleaning, inspection cleaning)
  • Pricing strategy with rates for your carpet cleaning services
  • Market analysis showing what area or neighborhoods you’ll serve and who your ideal customer is
  • Competitive analysis of other local carpet cleaning businesses in a similar niche
  • Marketing plan for reaching your ideal customers and winning new contracts
  • Employee planning with any roles you’ll need (e.g., cleaning technician, team lead, office manager) and a hiring timeline
  • Financial projections and cash flow strategy for your first year of business, including your income, expenses, and salary

If you plan to secure funding from a bank or lender, a business plan sets you up for success.

Get a complete guide to writing a business plan from the Small Business Administration.

Pro Tip: Do you want to clean carpets but feel hesitant to make all the business decisions yourself? Consider buying into a carpet cleaning franchise. You’ll have support and resources from the parent company and get access to valuable brand resources from day one.

3. Get training and certification

Carpet cleaning isn’t quite as simple as buying equipment and finding customers. You’ll also need the right training to ensure you’re doing a good job—and performing work safely.

Take a carpet cleaning training course and learn the best ways to clean, including which types of products to use on which stains. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) offers a carpet cleaning certification program to help you get started.

If you want on-the-job experience, talk to a carpet cleaning business in a neighboring city. You might be able to volunteer or apprentice with another crew to see how they work.

You can also clean friends’ and neighbors’ carpets for free or at a discounted rate. That way, by the time you get your first client, you’ll already have carpet cleaning experience under your belt.

4. Open a business bank account

Before you start accepting payment on completed work, open a business bank account to keep your personal and company finances separate. This makes everything much easier when it’s time to file your taxes and deduct business expenses.

Next, set up a reserve fund that can cover at least 90 days’ worth of business expenses. It’ll be a big help if you run into any cash flow problems or unpaid invoices later on.

It’s also a good idea to get a qualified small business accountant who can help you manage your finances. You can always do it yourself, but you might find it easier to outsource the financial or bookkeeping part of your business to an expert.

I would encourage people to spend $800 over two years on bookkeeping—and not $2,000 fixing a big problem. Please get a bookkeeper now. It’s not that expensive, and it’s worth every penny.

Adam Sylvester Host of Masters of Home Service podcast

5. Secure business funding

Starting any new business costs money, and carpet cleaning requires initial investments. You can get the startup capital you need through resources like:

  • Government funding: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers funding programs like small business loans and investment capital. The Government of Canada also offers business grants and financing.
  • Business loan: Apply for a small business loan or line of credit with your local bank or credit union. You may also be able to get a startup loan from a friend or family member. Make sure that you understand any interest or repayment terms up front.
  • Credit cards: A business credit card can help with cash flow during startup. Get one with a low interest rate and rewards for every dollar spent, and pay it off every month.
  • Jobber Grants: The Jobber Grants program offers $150,000 in available funding to recognize excellence in small home services businesses.
  • Equipment financing: You may be able to get financing on your carpet cleaning equipment if you’re buying it new, or buy used equipment instead to cut costs.

6. Register and license your business

You’ll need to take care of business registration and licensing to ensure your operations are in line with legal requirements. Follow the steps below to get started.

Business registration

Head to your local registry to register your carpet cleaning business in a specific town, county, or city. The registration process varies depending on where you live:

Learn about your area’s registration process by searching “COUNTRY + business registration” on Google. You can also check with your local government’s business registration division.

Business structure

As part of the registration process, you’ll also need to choose a business structure. Options for your business’s legal entity include:

  • Sole proprietor (U.S., CA) or sole trader (UK, AU)—common for solo business owners
  • Partnership (U.S., CA, UK), joint venture, or co-operative (AU)—for 2+ owners
  • Limited liability company or LLC (U.S.), corporation (CA), limited company or limited partnership (UK), or company (AU)—an option to protect personal assets

You’ll also need an employer identification number (EIN), especially if you plan to pay employees or business partners. This number is important for taxes, so request your EIN early to avoid any trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.

Business license

A carpet cleaning business license allows you to legally work in your area. Even if it’s optional where you live, it’s still a good idea to have one. Taking this step solidifies your business and builds trust with customers.

Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration (SBA) to see if you need a license and what kind you should get.

7. Learn how to price your services

Next, it’s time to decide how much to charge for your carpet cleaning services.

Carpet cleaning typically costs 16–28¢ per square foot, but this is a ballpark estimate. Business owners can adapt this rate based on how they want to charge per project. Options include:

  • Hourly rate
  • Flat rate
  • Per room rate
  • Square footage rate
  • Specialty service rate

For example, if the average bedroom is 130 square feet, you can safely charge $20.80–$36.40 per bedroom. However, you might find that per room costs lower the amount you make per job site. In that case, consider charging a flat service rate (such as $75), for any site visit.

Factors to consider in carpet cleaning prices

You can figure out how much a job will cost by considering your expenses. This includes:

  • Calculating your labor hours
  • Adding payroll expenses, overhead, and other fees
  • Factoring in profit margin
  • Knowing how much supplies per job cost
  • Adding any required taxes

READ MORE:How much to charge for cleaning services

8. Buy carpet cleaning equipment

You’ll need professional carpet cleaning equipment to run your new business. Here’s a shopping list to get you started:

ItemWhy you need itEstimated cost
Carpet cleaning machine with attachmentsAn industrial grade carpet cleaning machine stands up to continued use for bigger jobs.$500-2,500
Backpack sprayerA wearable sprayer can speed up jobs and provide mobility.$200-350
Carpet shampoo, cleaning solution, and stain removersProfessional grade shampoos and solutions treat stains and lift dirt easily.$15-60 per solution (consider bulk or wholesale pricing)
Commercial vacuumWet and dry vacs make it easier to prep surfaces or cleanup after a job is done.$200-700
Spare hoses and reelsAdditional hoses provide more reach for larger jobs. Tackling repairs is easier and faster with spare parts.$50-350
Carpet rakeA carpet rake is an extra tool for removing pet hair or other debris.$50-75
Wet carpet signs (for commercial use)Alert pedestrians for safety while floors are wet, and preserve cleaned surfaces from foot traffic.$15-50
Corner guardsProtect walls and other corners from cleaning equipment as you work. These reduce the need for chips or paint repairs.$10-30 (buy in packs)
Furniture slidersAvailable in felt, foam, or casters, these help move heavier pieces without extra effort.$10-$50
Respirator and PPE (personal protective equipment)Professional grade respirator protects cleaners from strong fumes.$30-$50

Additional expenses include any specialized equipment you need for add-on services like upholstery cleaning, curtain cleaning, green cleaning, or vehicle interior detailing.

You’ll likely spend upwards of $775 USD on carpet cleaning equipment when you first start. If you’d prefer to save money, you can try leasing some of the larger equipment, buying used equipment, or renting items from a local hardware store.

Most supplies are also available at all price points. You can start out with lower-end items, then switch to quality equipment as you start getting more clients and earning more income.

9. Get carpet cleaning business insurance

Small business insurance protects your carpet cleaning company in case of any damage, accidents, or other problems. It’s a good idea to get your own insurance—and it may even be required in your area.

Here’s the minimum coverage to include in your carpet cleaning insurance policy:

  • General liability insurance in case of personal injury or property damage
  • Commercial property insurance to cover your office and carpet cleaning equipment
  • Business income insurance to keep your business running after an incident or disaster

You can get these bundled together as a business owner’s policy. You may also want extra coverage in case of situations like vehicle damage, employee injuries or complaints, lawsuits, or criminal damage.

Take time to research the right insurance plan, and interview various providers in your area to make sure that you get an affordable, competitive monthly rate.

10. Market your business and get your first customers

Most people only require carpet cleaning once or twice a year. That means you’ll need to focus on reaching new customers and building a list of repeat clients.

You can start securing new business by following these carpet cleaning marketing strategies:

  • Encourage word of mouth marketing from satisfied customers by setting up a referral program and asking for online reviews.
  • Build a carpet cleaning website where potential customers can learn about your services, see before-and-after photos of cleaned carpets, and book services online.
  • Set up social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to introduce your business to the community and show off your work. Use platforms where your ideal customers spend time online, and regularly post content and engage with followers.
  • List your business on lead generation sites and online directories where potential clients search for carpet cleaners, like Google Business, Yelp for Business, and Bing Places.
  • Print carpet cleaning flyers or leave door hangers to reach potential customers door-to-door in the areas where you’d like to work.
  • Partner with other local businesses like house cleaners or realtors to find potential customers. Carpet cleaning is a great add-on for deep cleaning services. Additionally, realtors may need your business for staging.

Setting your carpet business apart

The ultimate business marketing strategy is learning how you stand out in the market. 

For instance, aim to find a niche service that no other carpet cleaning company wants to offer. You could specialize in pet-related stains, certain types of carpet or rugs (like wool), or even just area rug cleaning exclusively. Then, promote your business as the go-to for that unique service.

Distinguishing your business from others in the area is a great way to stand out and build a loyal following of customers who are thrilled to work with you.

READ MORE: The 4 elements of a carpet cleaning marketing plan

Budgeting for new marketing

The cost for carpet cleaning marketing will depend on which platforms you choose to advertise or spread the word about your business. 

For example, creating a website and printing business cards can cost $150-$350. On the other hand, advertising on a city bus shelter sign or major billboard will cost much more.

At the beginning, choose your marketing channels wisely. Try to reach potential customers in the places where they already spend time, so that you can spread the word quickly and without much capital. Later on, you can explore more expensive strategies to reach a broader audience, like Facebook ads and Google ads.

READ MORE:How to get clients for a cleaning business with any budget

What’s next for your new carpet cleaning business

Once you know the job and you have clients—you’re ready to roll. But don’t stop at doing exceptional work. Start thinking ahead for the growth of your new, successful carpet business.

You might be able to hire cleaners to increase your workload, optimize your service routes to save on fuel costs, or automate client emails to deliver premium service to your customer base. Whatever step you take next, remember that the sky’s the limit on your business potential.

Originally published September 2022. Last updated on May 17th, 2024.

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