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.
Updated on October 1, 2023
$21,550 - $211,100
$30,000 - $200,000 p.a
Time to build
3 - 6 months
$10,000 - $30,000 p.a
How to Start a Laundry Business
Decide if the Business is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Laundry Business Name
Create a Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Licenses and Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Run a Laundry Business - Start Making Money!
Laundry Business FAQs
Laundry is one of those necessary household chores. People rarely want to do it themselves, but they always need clean clothes, which is what makes starting a laundry business a good option. They tend to have high success rates and solid profit margins.
But starting a business is never easy. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to know to develop and launch a successful laundry business.
Let’s get washing!
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
Shift toward technologically advanced machines that accept all forms of payment (credit, debit, cash, coins, loyalty cards, and mobile payments) and offer easy-to-use digital interfaces
Growing demand for laundry pickup and delivery services
The industry faces some challenges such as:
High startup cost
Long operating hours
Risk of accidents
How much does it cost to start a laundry business?
Costs vary, but if you’re starting a small wash-and-fold operation, you’d need as little as $20,000, while larger operations could cost $200,000 or more. The average startup investment for a laundry is $40,000.
Laundromats and dry cleaners, on the other hand, can cost $500,000 or more due to the significant equipment requirements. Here’s a cost breakdown for a basic wash-and-fold laundry, excluding the cost of the commercial space or building:
Setting up a business name and corporation
$150 - $200
Business licenses and permits
$100 - $300
$100 - $300
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$5,000 - $100,000
$10,000 - $100,000
Other machines and supplies
$5,000 - $7,000
$1,000 - $3,000
$21,550 - $211,100
How much can you earn from a laundry business?
Laundromats generate revenue anywhere between $30,000 to $1 million each year, with profit margins running from 15% to 35%. Industry analyst AmericanDryCleaner.com estimates that most small dry cleaners generate about $200,000 a year in revenue.
The potential earnings vary widely, so it’s up to you to make your business a success.
In your first year or two, you could set up a basic wash and fold laundry with five washers and five dryers. If you could serve 20 clients a day and each spends $2 to wash and dry a load of laundry, you’ll be earning nearly $30,000 in annual revenue and more than $10,000 in profit assuming a 35% margin.
As you gain more clients and add more machines, your annual revenue could climb to $200,000 a year. At this stage, you’d rent a bigger commercial space and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to 15% and a profit of $30,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
While laundry businesses are simple to operate, there are a few barriers to entry to be aware of:
Mature, competitive market
Startup costs are high
Bureaucratic hoops to jump through, licensing
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you’re up to date with the laundry industry let’s start refining your business idea.
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
A great part about laundry businesses is that your main competition will likely only be in your local area. This makes it easy to assess what your competitors are doing and keep a close eye on any changes to their business.
Before you create your offering, though, you should do some research to scope out the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. This will help you to create a better experience for your customers.
Here are some questions to ask about your competition:
What do they offer?
Why do people use their services?
Who are they targeting?
Do they have a unique selling point?
What? Determine your products or services
Choosing a niche is important in the beginning. It will help you streamline your business processes, create effective marketing campaigns and start the process of finding who your target market should be.
While it’s possible to offer all the niche services under one roof, it’s a good idea to specialize in one service before branching out. This will save you money and help you make your first dollar faster. So now’s the time to do some deeper research into which niche will best fit your current situation and market needs.
There are three main types of laundry businesses — wash and fold, laundromat, and dry cleaner.
Wash-and-fold laundries offer busy customers a convenient drop-off service, accepting dirty clothes and having them cleaned and folded the next day and ready for pick-up.
A laundromat is a storefront offering washing machines and dryers for customers to use by paying coins, cash, debit, credit or mobile pay. Requires minimal oversight as customers do their laundry themselves, and is cheaper than other options. Some laundromats also offer wash-and-fold services.
Dry cleaning is a specialized way of cleaning clothes without water so as to avoid shrinkage. Most people use dry cleaners for delicate garments such as suits or fancy dresses, but dry cleaning is suitable for any garment. It’s also more expensive than a traditional wash.
How much should you charge for laundry services?
How much you charge will depend on what your costs are and the type of services you offer. To find a starting point, you can look at what your competitors charge for their various services.
But at the end of the day, your prices are up to you. As long as your margin is acceptable to you, that’s a good place to start. You can always adjust based on demand. Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Once you’ve got your niche, you should decide who your target market will be within that niche. For example, if you notice that local university dormitories lack laundry services—or have subpar services—you can make students your target market.
Once you know who your target market is, you’ll be able to craft an experience that’s exactly what they’re looking for. This is what will differentiate you from your competition.
Where? Choose your laundry location
When it comes to opening a laundry business, your location will be determined by your target market. If you want to target university students, then you’ll need to have your store near university dormitories or places that they frequent. For example, you could choose a location that is close to many student apartments, or you could open a store in the local shopping village.
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 Laundry 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 “laundry” or “wash”, boosts SEO
Choose a name that allows for expansion: “SpinCycle Laundry Solutions” over “Commercial Laundry Solutions”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
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.
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 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: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
Product and Services: Describe your laundry services in detail.
Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
Appendix: Additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch 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 offer real advantages when it comes to a laundry business.
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 laundry 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.
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.
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.
Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
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, the sale of property or other assets, and support from family and friends.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a laundry business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits 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 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.
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 laundry 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.
Your software needs will change depending on the type of laundry company you decide to run. But you may use industry-specific software, such as iLaundry, CleanCloud, and Starchup.
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 services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. 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.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Visit Us Now”. This can sharply increase the number of clients.
Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as a 20% discount on the 5th visit.
Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
Post a video – Post a video about your laundry business. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
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 laundry shop 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 laundry business could be:
Vending machines for snacks, drinks, laundry supplies
Add arcade games and TVs
Use top-quality cleaning supplies, be a premium laundry.
Partner with local businesses to do their laundry at a discount.
Offer services for delicate garments.
Loyalty rewards program.
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 laundry business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in laundry 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 laundry. 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 with a home-based wash and fold business, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a laundry include:
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 Laundry Business – Start Making Money!
A laundry shop can be a great source of steady income if you can build a solid customer base and earn your customers’ loyalty. One way to do this is to offer amenities, such as free wifi and free coffee. You can also provide a lounge where customers can engage in great conversations while doing their laundry.
There are many other creative ways to attract and retain customers. You did the right thing by seeking guidance first. Now that you have the knowledge to start a business, you’re ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey and make money with your laundry business!
Laundry Business FAQs
Are laundromats good investments?
Laundromats certainly are! They offer high rates of success and a straightforward business model. It’s estimated that 95% of laundromats succeed based on a five-year evaluation window. The business is also recession-resistant as everybody needs clean clothes no matter what’s happening in the economy.
Do dry cleaners make money?
While profits will vary depending on your location, costs, and your prices, the median revenue for a dry cleaning business is $80,000 per year. So yes, dry cleaners make money, but it’s up to you to turn that money into profit.
How do you finance a laundry business?
There is a range of options for financing a laundry business. You can ask friends and family or apply for a traditional loan through a bank. Another option is through SBA guaranteed loans such as 7(a) loans and microloans.
How can I maintain a clean and hygienic environment in my laundry business?
Implement proper waste management practices, ensuring trash bins are emptied regularly and disposed of properly. Keep the floors and surfaces clean by sweeping, mopping, and wiping them down regularly. Regularly inspect and clean the washing machines, dryers, and other equipment to remove lint, debris, and detergent residue. Use appropriate cleaning agents and disinfectants to sanitize surfaces and maintain a hygienic environment.
How profitable is a laundry business?
While laundry businesses can be profitable, it’s important to conduct thorough market research, assess the local demand, and carefully manage expenses to maximize profitability.
Can I start a laundry business at home?
Starting a laundry business at home is possible, but it may have limitations and considerations. Check local regulations and zoning laws to ensure operating a business from home is permitted in your area. Consider the space available and whether it can accommodate the necessary laundry equipment and supplies.
Who uses laundry services the most?
Some common customer segments include busy professionals, college students, apartment dwellers, and households without access to laundry facilities. Additionally, hotels, hospitals, and restaurants often rely on commercial laundry services due to the large volume of linens and uniforms they handle.
What can I sell in a laundry shop?
In a laundry shop, you can sell various products and services to complement your core laundry offerings. This can include detergent and laundry supplies for customers to purchase, vending machines for snacks or beverages, laundry bags or baskets, fabric softeners, stain removers, and ironing services.