What is a Good Profit Margin for a Cleaning Business?

If you own a cleaning business or are thinking about starting one, you most likely are looking into the best profit margins achievable for your business. Here we cover what a good profit margin is for the cleaning business and ways you can reach it. 

Most cleaning businesses earn a net profit between 10% and 28%. Anywhere in that range is typical, but there are several ways to increase your profit, including expanding your services, hiring only the employees you need, and using your home as an office. The type of cleaning services you offer has a great impact on your profit margin.

There are different ways to increase profits depending on what type of cleaning service you run. The majority of cleaning businesses begin as residential cleaners who expand their business as their reputation grows. Adding multiple types of cleaning services is a great way to expand your business and increase your profits.

Types of Cleaning Services

Residential Cleaning Services

Residential Cleaning Services refer to the cleaning of a house, apartment, or any other type of building a person may live in. These can be broken down into further groups.

General Home Cleaning

General Home Cleaning can involve some or all of the following:

  • Rearranging and tidying up rooms
  • Sweeping / Vacuuming
  • Cleaning windows
  • Dusting
  • Making beds

Any of the things you’d normally do to clean your room or house can fit into this category. Some cleaners have even been charged with washing and folding clothes and sheets of the customer, though that could fall under special services and require an additional cost. Several other special services also fall under general home cleanings. For the most part, cleaners do charge an additional amount to cover any of these specialties.

Special Home Cleaning Services

Floor Cleaning Service

While some may consider this a part of general house cleaning, it usually requires specialized skills or equipment to deal with different types of flooring, and so will require an additional cost. The various types of flooring you will need knowledge of include:


Cleaning a carpet requires additional equipment, shampoos, etc.)


Cleaning hardwood floors may also require additional equipment, as some cleaners can stain or otherwise ruin hardwood flooring.

Tile and Specialty

Cleaning tiles can require specialized cleaning solutions and equipment to not damage the tile, and to be able to clean in between the tile grooves.

Drains, Dryer Vents, Etc.

Special knowledge is needed to be able to clean out drains, dryer vents, heating vents, and any other small outlets that tend to accumulate dirt.

To clean these types of outlets you will need:

Specialized equipment

Cleaning tools with a longer reach, or those designed specifically for cleaning drains or vents.

Specialized cleaning solution

Some cleaning chemicals may be too harsh for certain areas, such as porcelain sinks. You will need to make sure you have solutions that are safe for these areas.

Check out this article to get an idea how to create a cleaning schedule for your clients.

Pool Cleaning Service

Some homeowners with pools may also want you to clean their pool. This will require specialized knowledge and equipment. To clean a pool, you will need:

Telescopic pole

Unless you want to get into the pool (not recommended), you will need a pole long enough to reach the areas you need to clean. A telescopic pole can connect with other items you’ll need, which makes it perfect for the job.

Leaf skimmer

You can find leaf skimmers to fit your pole, which you’ll need to clean out any debris floating in the pool.

Pool brush

To clean the sides, ladders, and any steps the pool may have, you’ll need a pool brush. These can also be found to fit a telescopic pole.

Pool vacuum

To clean the bottom of the pool, you will need a specialized pool vacuum. These can be automatic vacuums, which you can set to work as you use the brush, or manual vacuums, which you will need to use as a regular vacuum to clean the bottom of the pool.

Managing chemicals

When cleaning a pool, the homeowner may also wish for you to monitor the pH levels of the water, and to add chlorine tablets or solution. A pH tester can be found at local supermarkets, as can certain pool cleaning solutions such as chlorine tablets or pool shock.

Pool cleaning is a specialized addition that can increase your profit greatly if you choose to add it to your menu. Once you become knowledgeable, it can be a great boon to your business!

Commercial Cleaning Services

Commercial Cleaning Services refers to the cleaning of a building used commercially, such as an office building. Due to the size of commercial real estate, cleaning them usually requires a larger staff than needed for most home cleanings. Commercial cleaning services can be broken down into the following:

Office and Building Cleaning

Cleaning offices or other commercial buildings may require some or all of the following:

Garbage Collection and Removal

Typically where you find people, you’ll find garbage. In addition to collecting garbage from the bins, you’ll probably also need to sweep the building for garbage left around on desks, floors, conference tables, etc.

Vacuuming and Dusting

Once you’ve removed the extra garbage, you’ll usually be required to vacuum the floors and dust any areas that gather dirt, such as window blinds, desktops, etc.

Air Freshening

Some commercial owners will also want air fresheners to be used as a normal part of the cleaning process. If so, remember to have enough air fresheners for the job, and that the chemicals used are safe for the general public.

Special Commercial Cleaning Services

Some commercial cleaning tasks require specialized knowledge and equipment order to complete. A few of these are:

Foreclosed Homes/Rental Property

Some cleaners have contracts with realtors to clean out foreclosed homes or rental property. These jobs may require additional equipment, such as industrial-sized dumpsters to remove all of the items inside the properties. Cleaning out these properties will typically take a longer amount of time, as it includes removal as well as cleaning, and so will come at an increased price.

Window Cleaning

Cleaning windows commercially will take a lot more than a bottle of Windex and a clean cloth. Cleaning the outsides of the windows may require a pressure washer or industrial sprayer. It’s best to use unionized water for these big jobs. You’ll also need an industrial window cleaner that you can use with the sprayer to get the best results. It is a time-intensive task and so can usually be priced higher.

Pressure Cleaning

As well as pressure washing the windows, some clients may desire to have their walkways and the sides of their buildings cleaned as well. The best type of equipment for this job is typically a pressure washer, and having more than one will make the job easier. 

Any of the jobs associated with commercial cleaning will likely require a larger number of employees. Be sure to be clear with all prospective clients about the parameters of the job before agreeing to it so your staff can cover it. Taking on commercial cleaning is a big leap, but if you have the right knowledge and employees, it can increase your profits.

Check out this article to know how profitable a cleaning business.

Vehicle and Transportation Cleaning Services

Vehicle and Transportation Cleaning Services refers to the cleaning of vehicles. Not a typical function of general cleaning companies, these services may require additional employees and equipment, but can also increase your profits if done right. Types of vehicles cleaning services include:

Car Detailing

Detailing a car means, simply, cleaning it. However, it doesn’t mean simply wash the exterior. Detailing requires a thorough cleaning of both the outside and inside of the vehicle. Since cars are made differently, this means you’ll need to have the right products for the right car. You’ll need a leather cleaner for leather interiors, etc. You’ll also need a vacuum with a longer hose to reach all those places in a vehicle where dirt hides, such as under seats. The client may also want the vehicle exterior waxed after washing. The details matter when cleaning vehicles, which is probably why it’s called detailing. 

RV Cleaning Service

You’ve probably seen RV rentals before, but I bet you never thought about who cleans them after they’ve been returned. Specialty cleaning companies are hired to make every returned RV as good as new before they can be rented again. This job combines parts of a home cleaning with car detailing, and typically cleaning companies work on more than one RV at a time. They do require more time and work than a simple vehicle detailing, so higher prices come with the cleaning crew. Some cleaning companies have even made an entire career just out of cleaning RVs. If you have the staff power and the time, getting into the RV cleaning business can boost your profits.

Private Jet Cleaning Service

While a niche market, cleaning a private jet isn’t all that different than cleaning an RV. A vacuum, the right cleaning solutions, and extra attention to detail are required to clean a jet. Typically, cleaners of private jets focus more on the interior of the plane and less on the exterior, but the client may want that washed as well. A power washer will be needed for that job, and again, more than one will be beneficial. It may be hard to break into the private jet cleaning business, but once done, profits can increase dramatically.

While vehicle cleaning is not typical of many cleaning companies, it can be a way to boost your profits. A simple way to include it in your portfolio is to just ask a homeowner if they want their vehicles cleaned as well. Once you become known for cleaning vehicles, your reputation can then increase your profits.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many employees are typical for a cleaning business?

There is no typical number of employees for a cleaning business. Even commercial cleaning businesses can flourish with 1 or 2 employees. The best way to come to the number of employees you may need is to first grow your business. You can then look at how many clients you have, the rate you retain them, what percentage growth you have quarter to quarter, and how well you manage that growth while still providing excellent service. Hiring more employees as you need them, instead of from the start, will be a more cost-effective way to maintain and grow your profits.

Is a commercial cleaning service more profitable than a residential one?

While commercial cleaning services are hired for larger jobs, they typically also require extra employees and equipment. The profit margins between commercial cleaning businesses and residential cleaning businesses are comparable, but because commercial services also charge more per job, they will make more money than a residential cleaning business. It is tougher to break into the commercial cleaning world than it is for residential cleaning, which is why many cleaning businesses begin as residential cleaning services and work their way up.

To learn more on how to start your own cleaning business, check out my startup documents here.

Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.