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How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on January 5, 2022
Updated on February 14, 2024
$9,850 - $44,600
$80,000 - $310,000 p.a.
Time to build
0 – 3 months
$70,000 - $125,000 p.a.
There’s no way around it: carpets get dirty. At some point, a deep cleaning is a must, which is why the US carpet cleaning industry is worth nearly $5 billion. You could launch your own carpet cleaning service and grab a profitable piece of that market.
But starting a successful business requires work, preparation, and relevant knowledge. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide has all the information and insight you need to put you well on your way.
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
A carpet cleaning business has pros and cons you should consider before deciding if it’s right for you.
- Vast Market – Carpet is nearly ubiquitous
- Revenue Add-Ons – Clean upholstery and car interiors as well
- Repeat Business – Offer service plans to have recurring business
- Expensive – Van + cleaning equipment will be costly
- Stiff Competition – Many established companies to contend with
Carpet cleaning industry trends
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – Market analyst IBISWorld values the US carpet cleaning industry at nearly $5 billion, after almost 5% growth in 2021.((https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/carpet-cleaning-united-states/))
- Growth forecast – The market expands as homeownership rises, and Realtor.com projects a nearly 7% increase in home sales in 2022, which bodes well for carpet cleaners.((https://www.realtor.com/research/2022-national-housing-forecast/))
- Number of businesses – There are around 35,000 carpet cleaning businesses in the US((https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/carpet-cleaning-united-states/))
- Number of people employed – The industry employs nearly 65,000 people.((https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/employment/carpet-cleaning-united-states/))
Trends and challenges
These are the latest trends in carpet cleaning:
- Safer, greener chemicals for carpet cleaning are increasingly in demand as health-consciousness and eco-awareness rise. Many new carpet cleaning chemicals aim to be certified by Green Seal, a non-profit organization that certifies products as healthy and environmentally safe.
- Carpet cleaning tools are also becoming more effective. The latest technologically advanced carpet cleaners, called encapsulated cleaners, perform a deep clean, capture dirt and odors, and leave behind a substance that keeps odors away longer.
Challenges in the industry include:
- The growing preference for hardwood and laminate flooring limits the demand for carpet cleaning services.
- Tough competition comes from franchises and janitorial service companies that also offer carpet cleaning services.
What kind of people work in carpet cleaning?
- Gender – Over 91% of carpet cleaners are male, while nearly 9% are female.((https://www.zippia.com/carpet-cleaner-jobs/demographics/#gender-statistics))
- Average level of education – Around 54% of carpet cleaners finished high school. There’s no need to get a college education.((https://www.zippia.com/carpet-cleaner-jobs/education/))
- Average age – The average age of a carpet cleaner is over 40 years old.((https://www.zippia.com/carpet-cleaner-jobs/demographics/#age-statistics))
How much does it cost to start a carpet cleaning business?
Startup costs for a carpet cleaning business range from $10,000 to $45,000. By purchasing used equipment, including your carpet cleaning machine and a used van, you can stay at the lower end of the range.
|Setting up a business name and corportation
|$150 - $200
|Licenses and permits
|$100 - $300
|$100 - $300
|Business cards and brochures
|$200 - $300
|$1,000 - $3,000
|Van to transport equipment
|$5,000 - $10,000
|Carpet cleaning equipment
|$3,000 - $30,000
|Carpet cleaning solvents
|$300 - $500
|$9,850 - $44,600
How much can you earn from a carpet cleaning business?
The average price of carpet cleaning is $50 per room. When working by yourself, your profit margin should be high, around 90%. In your first year or two cleaning carpets, you could work from home and do 15 weekly jobs of 2 rooms each, bringing in nearly $80,000 in annual revenue. This would mean over $70,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin.
As your brand gains recognition, you would rent a commercial space, hire staff, and add more vans, reducing your profit margin to 40%. But if you’re able to do 60 2-room jobs per week, your annual revenue would be more than $310,000. As a carpet cleaning business owner, you’d make a nice profit of $125,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a carpet cleaning business. Your biggest challenges will be:
- Startup costs are high if you buy new equipment
- You’ll need a unique value proposition to attract clients
Related Business Ideas
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a carpet cleaning business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research carpet cleaning businesses in your area to examine their products and services, price points, and customer reviews. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a 24/7 carpet cleaning business, steam cleaning, or a high-end carpet cleaning company.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your services
In addition to carpets, you could offer other cleaning services as well. These might include:
- Upholstery cleaning
- Car or boat interior cleaning
- Tile and grout cleaning
- Hardwood floor cleaning
- Area rug cleaning
- Subscription cleaning services
How much should you charge for carpet cleaning?
Carpet cleaning services average about $50 per room. Working by yourself, your ongoing costs will be limited to gas and cleaning chemicals, so you should have a profit margin of around 90%. When you expand and have staff, your margin should be about 40%.
Once you know your costs, use the Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your price points.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be mainly homeowners, who tend to be more established professionals. You’re most likely to find them on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. Find commercial space to rent in your area on Loopnet, Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Carpet Cleaning Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “carpet cleaning” or “carpet cleaner”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for example “Fresh Start Carpet Cleaning” over “Commercial Carpet Care”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Discover over 250 unique carpet cleaning business name ideas here. If you want your business name to include specific keywords, you can also use our carpet cleaning business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Find a Domain
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Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Carpet Cleaning Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: A brief overview outlining the essence of your carpet cleaning business, highlighting key points and goals.
- Business Overview: Detailed information about your carpet cleaning venture, including its mission, vision, and the specific services you offer.
- Product and Services: A comprehensive description of the carpet cleaning services you provide, encompassing the methods, equipment, and any additional offerings.
- Market Analysis: A thorough examination of the carpet cleaning market, identifying target demographics, trends, and potential opportunities for growth.
- Competitive Analysis: An assessment of competitors in the carpet cleaning industry, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, and how your business differentiates itself.
- Sales and Marketing: A strategic plan for promoting and selling your carpet cleaning services, encompassing advertising, pricing, and customer acquisition strategies.
- Management Team: Introductions and brief bios of the key individuals managing and leading your carpet cleaning business, emphasizing their relevant skills and experience.
- Operations Plan: An outline of the day-to-day processes involved in running your carpet cleaning business, covering logistics, equipment maintenance, and employee roles.
- Financial Plan: A detailed financial projection for your carpet cleaning business, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, and profit margins.
- Appendix: Supplementary information, such as additional market research, detailed financial data, or any supporting documents relevant to your carpet cleaning business plan.
If you’ve never created a business plan yourself before, it can be an intimidating task. Consider hiring an experienced business plan writer to create a professional business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to carpet cleaning businesses.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your carpet cleaning business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a carpet cleaning business.
Step 8: Apply for Carpet Cleaning Business Licenses and Permits
Starting a carpet cleaning business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments. Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level licenses and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
For peace of mind and to save time, we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state, and provide them to you to make sure you’re fully compliant.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account. Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your carpet cleaning business as a sole proprietorship.
Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
For your carpet cleaning business, the marketing strategy should emphasize the effectiveness of your cleaning methods, the quality of your services, and the difference a professional cleaner can make to the appearance and lifespan of carpets. Highlighting your commitment to customer satisfaction and the use of environmentally friendly products can also be key selling points. Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:
- Professional Branding: Your branding should convey cleanliness, efficiency, and trustworthiness, reflected in everything from your logo to your uniforms.
- Direct Outreach: Network with local businesses, real estate agents, and property managers to establish recurring contracts and referrals.
Digital Presence and Online Marketing
- Professional Website and SEO: Develop a website that showcases your services, before-and-after photos, and customer testimonials. Implement SEO best practices to optimize your site for relevant search terms related to carpet cleaning and local services.
- Social Media Engagement: Utilize platforms like Facebook and Instagram to post about your services, share cleaning tips, and engage with the local community.
Content Marketing and Engagement
- Carpet Care Blog: Share blog posts about carpet maintenance, stain removal tips, and the benefits of professional carpet cleaning.
- Customer Success Stories: Highlight testimonials and case studies from satisfied customers, showing the transformation of their carpets after your service.
- Educational Videos: Create video content that demonstrates your cleaning process, offers quick cleaning tips, or explains the advantages of professional carpet care.
Experiential and In-Person Engagements
- Local Demonstrations and Events: Participate in local events or fairs, offering live cleaning demonstrations or free spot cleaning to showcase the effectiveness of your services.
- Partnerships with Local Businesses: Collaborate with local businesses for special offers or joint promotions, such as a cleaning discount for customers of a partnering furniture store.
Collaborations and Community
- Partnerships with Eco-Friendly Brands: If you use green cleaning products, partner with eco-friendly brands to reinforce your commitment to environmental responsibility.
- Community Involvement: Sponsor local sports teams, school events, or charity drives to enhance your community presence and brand recognition.
Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs
- Referral Incentives: Offer discounts or additional services to customers who refer new clients to your business.
- Loyalty Programs: Create a loyalty program offering discounts or free services after a certain number of cleaning sessions.
Promotions and Advertising
- Targeted Local Advertising: Utilize local online platforms, community boards, and direct mail to reach potential residential and commercial clients in your area.
- Email Campaigns: Send newsletters with special offers, seasonal cleaning tips, and updates about your services to keep your audience engaged.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your carpet cleaning business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your carpet cleaning business could be:
- Green cleaning for your health, and the health of the Earth
- Restore your carpets to look like new!
- Urgent carpet care, available 24/7
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a carpet cleaning business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in carpets for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in carpet cleaning. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a carpet cleaning business would include:
- Cleaners – perform cleaning services
- General Manager – Scheduling, staff management, accounting
- Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Run a Carpet Cleaning Business – Start Making Money!
Opportunity abounds in the $5 billion carpet cleaning industry. You can clean more than just carpets and grow your revenue by cleaning upholstery and other kinds of flooring.
Even working by yourself you can make a healthy profit and then add more vans and staff later to grow your business into a carpet cleaning empire! You’re armed with all the knowledge that you need, so you’re now ready to start your entrepreneurial journey and build a successful carpet cleaning business.
Carpet Cleaning Business FAQs
Yes! Working by yourself you can make as much as a 90% profit margin. You can charge $50 – $75 per room, so if you stay busy, you’re going to make good money.
Starting a carpet cleaning business can be a worthwhile endeavor, because there’s a demand for carpet cleaners in every community throughout the country.
Hourly rates for carpet cleaners range from $12 to $17 per hour. You should see what carpet cleaning companies in your area are paying to make sure that the wages you offer are competitive.
The frequency of people using carpet cleaners can vary based on factors such as personal preference, lifestyle, and carpet conditions. Some individuals may opt for professional carpet cleaning once or twice a year as part of regular maintenance, while others may choose more frequent cleanings, especially in high-traffic areas or homes with pets or allergies.
Build a professional website that showcases your services, expertise, and customer testimonials. Utilize search engine optimization techniques to improve your online visibility. Engage with potential customers through social media platforms, sharing informative content and engaging posts. Targeted online advertising through platforms like Google Ads or social media ads can help reach a specific local audience.
How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business
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