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ow is an excellent time for starting a cleaning business. Statista Research Department expects the residential cleaning industry to be worth up to $40.4 billion by 2025. The Department of Commerce further supports this outlook, predicting that as many as 80% of households will use a house cleaning service by 2024.

If you’re interested in getting a share of this foreseen revenue, this guide will fill you in on what licenses are needed to start a cleaning business.

The basics of starting a cleaning business

In addition to being in high demand, cleaning businesses have a low barrier to entry. You don’t have to invest significant amounts in an office building, employees, or inventory. You can get started with little more than yourself and some cleaning supplies, although you do need to make it legal to protect your business and your clients. Here’s how:

  • Create a business plan: It doesn’t have to be a big production, but you should outline your services—residential, commercial, specialized cleaning—target market, pricing, and how you plan to stand out. Maybe you’re all about eco-friendly products or super speedy service. Whatever it is, make it clear.
  • Register your business: Make it official by picking a business name, deciding on a structure, such as sole proprietorship or LLC, and getting the necessary licenses and permits—more on that later.
  • Get insurance and bonding: Insurance protects you in case of damage or accidents. A bond guarantees that you’ll perform the work you agreed to do. Both will help customers feel more comfortable hiring you.
  • Buy supplies: You’ll need the right tools for the job. This could be as simple as cleaning products and a vacuum cleaner or more specialized equipment if you’re doing things like carpet cleaning or pressure washing. Start with the basics and expand as you grow.
  • Set your prices: Figure out how you’ll charge—by the hour, by the room, or by a flat rate. Research what others in your area are charging so you can be competitive but also fair to yourself.
  • Market your business: Get your name out there. Set up a website, create some eye-catching business cards, and maybe even get some uniforms to look professional. Social media is a great way to connect with potential clients. Share before-and-after photos, cleaning tips, or special offers.

What licenses are needed to start a cleaning business?

Professionals register businesses by state, and cleaning business license costs and requirements are different from one state to another. However, you may need the following licenses to start a cleaning business:

  • Business license: Most states require you to have a general business license to operate. This is the basic license that registers your business with your state government.
  • Specialized cleaning licenses: If you offer specialized services like handling hazardous materials or medical waste, you might need additional licensing in some states.
  • Sales tax permit: If your state or locality charges sales tax on services, you might need a permit to collect and pay these taxes.
  • Home occupation permit: If you're running your business from home, this permit ensures your business activities are compatible with your city's zoning regulations.

What are the license options for a cleaning business?

For some types of cleaning, you may need specific types of licenses, certifications, or permits. Some of these are required, while others will equip you with needed skills and make you more marketable.

Medical and health facility cleaning

Cleaners who work in medical and healthcare facilities may get exposed to biohazards as well as sensitive patient information. Here are some permits, certifications, and licenses you may need in this specialty:

  • Health department permits for handling biohazardous materials and medical waste
  • OSHA compliance training
  • Certification in infection control
  • Bloodborne pathogen training
  • Hazardous waste management training and certification
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations compliance

Industrial cleaning

Industrial cleaning is another specialized area that often requires specific licenses, certifications, and permits due to the nature of the work and the environments involved. These facilities include factories, warehouses, power plants, and other industrial sites, where cleaning requires handling hazardous materials and heavy machinery and adhering to strict safety protocols. These might include:

  • OSHA Compliance
  • Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Certification
  • EPA compliance
  • Local permits related to waste disposal, water usage, emissions, and other environmental concerns
  • Training in specific cleaning techniques
  • Contractor's license if your industrial cleaning services verge into more extensive work, such as major restorations or construction site cleanups

Mold removal and remediation

Mold remediation requires specific licenses, certifications, and permits due to the potential health risks associated with mold exposure and the technical knowledge needed to remove and prevent mold effectively. Here's an overview of the typical requirements:

  • Mold remediation license that proves your knowledge and experience
  • Certification for mold inspection and remediation such as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) or the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI)
  • Contractor's license for larger projects or extensive restoration
  • Environmental and health safety permits related to the use of certain chemicals or disposal of hazardous materials
  • OSHA and EPA compliance

What are the benefits of obtaining a cleaning license?

Obtaining licenses and certifications related to your field of cleaning benefits you and your clients in the following ways:

  • Credibility and trust: A professional license demonstrates to potential clients that your business is credible, knowledgeable, and adheres to industry standards.
  • Compliance with legal requirements: Many jurisdictions require specific licenses for certain types of cleaning services to operate legally.
  • Competitive advantage: A cleaning license can set you apart from competitors who may not have the same qualifications.
  • Access to specialized markets: Certain cleaning niches, like medical or industrial cleaning, are only accessible to licensed professionals. These markets can be more lucrative and offer more long-term contracts than general residential or commercial cleaning services.
  • Improved safety standards: Getting a license involves training and education, which can enhance your and your team's understanding of best practices in cleaning, sanitation, and safety.
  • Networking and resources: Obtaining a license connects you with professional organizations and networks, providing access to resources, industry updates, and potential business opportunities.

What insurance options are available for a cleaning business?

The right insurance coverage will protect your cleaning business, employees, and clients. Here are the common types of insurance options available for cleaning businesses:

  • General liability insurance: This is the most basic and essential type of insurance for any cleaning business. It protects against claims of property damage or bodily injury that your business activities might cause to third parties.
  • Workers' compensation insurance: If you have employees, most states in the U.S. require you to have workers' compensation insurance. This covers medical costs and lost wages if an employee gets injured or sick because of their job.
  • Commercial property insurance: If your cleaning business owns or leases a physical space or has valuable equipment (like specialized cleaning machines), commercial property insurance will protect it.
  • Commercial auto insurance: If your business uses vehicles for transportation, you'll need commercial auto insurance.
  • Janitorial bonds: While not strictly insurance, janitorial bonds are a type of fidelity bond that protects against theft by employees.
  • Umbrella insurance: This liability insurance extends the limits of your existing liability policies.


Getting the right licenses and insurance is the first step to protecting your starting cleaning business and helping it grow. Since requirements vary by industry and state, check with your secretary of state’s website to find out what specific conditions you need to fulfill.

Another vital step in launching your new business is establishing a business checking account. Visit us at Novo and see how our banking platform can help your business keep financial records in order.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

Novo is a fintech, not a bank. Banking services provided by Middlesex Federal Savings, F.A.: Member FDIC.

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