cleaning crew vacuuming and dusting furniture
Starting a Service Business

Self-Employed Cleaner, Cleaning Small-Business, or Cleaning Corporation: Which Is Best?

September 02, 2022

Working as a cleaner can provide a steady stream of income, but how and where should you enter the cleaning industry? What type of cleaning services should you tackle? Should you work at a company or be a self-employed cleaner? Learn the pros and cons of these different types of cleaning service jobs to help you decide where to start.

What Are the Different Ways to Enter the Cleaning Industry? 

The cleaning industry is expected to have continual growth in the coming years. According to Acumen Research and Consulting, the industry’s market size was valued at $326 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach approximately $563 billion by 2030.

Entering the cleaning industry can be extremely profitable since demand is high and cleaning services are always essential. Below, learn about different types of cleaning businesses and discover which one best suits your skills and interests. 

Residential Cleaning Company

Residential cleaning companies specialize in cleaning peoples’ homes. Cleaning tasks include vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors, washing surfaces, and sanitizing fixtures. 

To apply to and work for residential cleaning companies, search for “residential cleaning jobs near me” on Google. Job finder sites such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter will provide you with lists of companies that are hiring. 

Most residential cleaning companies look for dependable, trustworthy, and detail-oriented employees. Make sure you present yourself with those qualities to impress your potential employer. 

In the United States, the average annual salary for housekeepers is almost $30,000.


  • Most residential cleaning companies let you build your own schedule. 
  • There is room for growth as most residential cleaning companies offer additional training and movement to different roles such as training manager or inspector — enabling you to earn even more. 
  • Many residential cleaning companies provide health benefits, two weeks of paid time off, and mileage reimbursement. You can also earn tips from customers after cleaning their homes. 


  • You may need to buy your own household cleaning supplies and equipment if your company does not provide them. 
  • Some residential cleaning companies may not always have work for you to earn a stream of income, especially if there are more than enough people on the team. 
  • You’ll likely need to keep up with different clients’ preferences in products or cleaning processes, which can get challenging. 

Commercial Cleaning Company 

A commercial cleaning company employs trained cleaners who use specialized machinery and equipment to provide cleaning services to commercial buildings such as schools, offices, industrial spaces, and medical and healthcare facilities. 

Similar to residential cleaning jobs, googling “commercial cleaning jobs near me” will provide you with information about commercial cleaning companies in your area that are currently hiring. When you apply for a commercial cleaning job, be sure to show potential employers that you are reliable, efficient, and proactive. 

Some companies pay their employees a flat percentage for each cleaning project. For example, if you get to keep 40% of each cleaning job’s earnings, you’ll make $120 on a $300 assignment.


  • Commercial cleaning is a huge business and will continue to grow rapidly. According to Thimble, “the commercial cleaning industry is expected to grow at a rate of 5.4% annually through 2025.” 
  • Commercial cleaning jobs are often more reliable than residential cleaning as commercial buildings need to be cleaned more frequently and consistently. 
  • Commercial cleaning employers provide training to help you hone and develop the necessary skills to clean more effectively and efficiently. A growing trend in the commercial and industrial cleaning industry is improved training processes to ensure quality control.  


  • You may have to work at night depending on your company’s clients. If clients conduct business during the day, regular cleaning will occur in the evening or at night.
  • Also depending on your company’s clients, you may be required to work outdoors, which can be a problem when it’s extremely hot, raining, or snowing. 
  • Physical work is a big component in the cleaning industry, especially for commercial cleaning businesses. You may be required to lift heavy things on regular basis.

Self-Employed House Cleaner  

If you want to set your own schedule and choose your own clients, starting your own cleaning business may be the way to go. 

Self-employed house cleaners charge between $115 and $227, on average, depending on the size of the home being cleaned. You’ll be able to keep all of this money for your business without an employer subtracting some percentage of it. 

The estimated total income for a self-employed cleaner in the United States is $50,543, according to Glassdoor. But keep in mind that having your own cleaning business requires you to have your own transportation and cleaning equipment. 

Once you have established your cleaning business and wish to hire employees, you can register your business and apply for a vendor’s license with your local administration or city clerk. You may also choose to obtain other licenses, insurance, and bonding


  • Starting your own cleaning business can cost you as low as $3,500, according to Fit Small Business
  • You can get started with your own household equipment and cleaning products to keep your costs low in the beginning. 
  • If you plan to build a team as you scale your cleaning business, you can hire cleaners that suit your individual style and needs. Hiring people with whom you can work effectively will make it easier to manage and communicate with your team in the long run.


  • It may take time to prove your cleaning business is credible and reliable in the beginning. Once you gain a few clients who trust your work ethic and quality, you can further build your business.
  • To scale your cleaning business, you may need to work longer hours and take on more cleaning projects. 
  • Especially if your customer base is small in the beginning, you may need to lower your rate to attract more clients and build relationships with them. 

Cleaning Small-Business Employee 

Finding clients and working by yourself can be stressful for some. If you want to work with a team consisting of a few employees, you can work for a smaller company — or you can tap into your network and start a cleaning business with friends and family members. 

Another way to get started with a local cleaning business is to research companies near you as some of them may be hiring. 

Method shares that a small cleaning business can make anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000 per year, depending on how many employees there are and how many jobs they can take on. To continue, working for a small cleaning company can be a good stepping-stone to a larger cleaning organization that can offer you higher pay.


  • You won’t need to deal with filing permits, paperwork, and replenishing cleaning supplies as your employer already takes care of that.
  • Working for a local cleaning business with a few employees can be a great way to quickly find your niche in the cleaning industry. 
  • Generally, at smaller businesses, it’s common to build deep bonds with your coworkers. Collaboration opportunities can help you to increase productivity, produce higher-quality work, and improve customer satisfaction. 


  • Generally, smaller cleaning businesses offer fewer training programs or none at all. This can hinder you from learning more skills. 
  • As there tend to be limited financial resources for a local cleaning business to run its operations, you may not receive a comprehensive benefits package.
  • Smaller cleaning companies may have fewer senior or experienced managers to be role models or mentors. In some cases, this can lead to schedule conflicts or poor management within the company. 

Cleaning Corporation Employee

If you want a well-structured schedule to feel more stable and confident in your role, working for a nationwide cleaning corporation can be a great option. 

Cleaning organizations including Molly Maids, Merry Maids, and more have a large customer base, which will help you have a consistent cleaning schedule. You can make around $25,000 to $35,000 a year working for these bigger cleaning companies. 


  • Larger cleaning corporations tend to have more positions available. If you want to grow in the cleaning industry, they may also have career development programs that can help you obtain higher positions such as supervisor or manager. 
  • Some cleaning corporations offer higher salaries as they may receive financial support from stakeholders and investors. 
  • Working for a larger cleaning company may give you access to impressive benefits.


  • Larger cleaning companies have higher standards when it comes to hiring new employees. You might need some years of experience and references from previous cleaning roles to be qualified. 
  • At larger cleaning companies, employees are assigned specific cleaning tasks and responsibilities, and it can be tough to move outside of that scope. For example, if you’re hired to clean residential houses but want to start cleaning vacation rental homes, it may be difficult or unfeasible to switch to this new niche. 
  • Corporate cleaning companies generally have more resources when it comes to marketing and hiring more employees. This means there might be dozens of other people aiming for the same job, so it’s important to have the right qualifications. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Entering the Cleaning Industry

How much do self-employed house cleaners make? 

The annual income for self-employed house cleaners differs by state. According to ZipRecruiter the top 3 states with the highest self-employed housekeeper income are Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Connecticut with annual salaries of $53,054, $52,831, and $52,759, respectively. 

Can a housekeeper be self-employed? 

Absolutely! When you’re ready to start your own self-employed cleaning service, you can contact your local administrative center to get all the licensing information you need for your business. You can set your own rates and hours to boost your earning potential and customer base. 

How do I register a cleaning business? 

To get your legal paperwork in order, you’ll need to do the following three steps:

  1. Get an employer identification number, which is provided by the federal government. This is the number you will use when filing taxes, opening a bank account or obtaining a loan. 
  2. Register your cleaning business as a legal entity to protect your personal assets. To do this, visit your state’s official business registration website. 
  3. Open a business account to ensure you keep personal and business finances separate. 

How can I hire the right employees for my cleaning business?

When hiring employees, it is important to look for someone reliable, experienced, and with a strong work ethic. You’ll want to hire someone who is friendly and can make clients feel comfortable. 

Join the Cleaning Industry Today 

The cleaning industry will continue to grow, is always in demand, and even thrives during a recession as it’s always essential. Working for a cleaning company, big or small, will give you the opportunity to make a good living and achieve consistent growth. 

Starting your own cleaning business can also be a favorable option as you can earn a steady stream of income without a substantial amount of investment; it can be a lucrative full-time gig or side hustle.

Mia Sofia Pimentel Avatar

By Mia Sofia Pimentel