Articles, Starting a Business

How to Start a Cleaning Business in College

Written By: Adam Marshall
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated November 2, 2022

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a millennial looking at starting a cleaning business in college

Many famous entrepreneurs got their start during their college years. It’s possible to start a cleaning business in college, especially for those who have the means and the determination. One business a college student can create is a cleaning business.

Here we outline how to start a cleaning business in college.

Establish a Budget

Most college students start their companies with minimal funding. Typically, the funds to start a business often come from their savings, parents, or friends. 

Keep in mind, it takes between $2,000 to $6,000 to start a cleaning business. A good chunk of those costs covers setting up the business entity, obtaining business insurance, and marketing.

While you shouldn’t skip on quality, it’s okay to purchase only the supplies that you can afford when starting a cleaning business. The bells and whistles can come after you make a profit. 

First things first, you must establish an operating budget from the beginning. A budget is a set of imaginary numbers that you can alter as circumstances change. It’s still a helpful tool that forces you to spend within your means. 

The budget helps you calculate your costs and maximize your spending. 

First, calculate how much it costs to clean a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. Then, set aside the appropriate amount for cleaning supplies based on upcoming jobs.

As you get this venture off the ground, avoid going into debt. Instead, start by continually reinvest your company’s earnings into the cleaning business. Use it to purchase supplies, gain new clients, and expand your staff.

When your company begins to expand, the budget becomes more vital. It keeps your finances organized so you can grow effortlessly.  

Related read: 30 Top Side Hustles – Make An Extra $1000 a Month

Even college businesses require a legal business structure, cleaning or not. If you do not establish the legal entity, the company default’s into a sole proprietorship. 

Under that framework, you claim profits realized by the company on your tax returns and pay taxes accordingly. You can remain a sole proprietorship for the time being, but it gets dicey when your staff and profits increase. 

Your profits fall into the higher rate bracket, and you assume all liability. If you or one of your staff members damages a client’s property, you become the responsible party and defendant instead of your company.

Your state’s revenue and treasury website can explain how you set the legal structure of your college cleaning business. 

Understand the legal requirements for establishing a business, the fees, and the forms you need to fill out. The legal structure determines how the state and IRS tax your company.

The United States Tax Code sees slight changes annually. In 2020, if you were under the age of 65 and earned less than $12,400, filing a federal tax return was unnecessary. State tax returns are a different story.

If you engage in business activities in most states, you must file a tax return. It’s also best to consult with a tax accountant too.

Buy an Insurance Policy

You’re a college student establishing a cleaning business. At this point, you might see it as a side gig that earns you some extra cash. 

However, if you plan to scale your company and hire staff, you’re going beyond gig status and walking into the legitimate business territory.

Even if you plan to remain a solopreneur, obtaining an insurance policy is a good idea. Cleaning the homes or offices of family members, acquaintances, and long-time friends is one thing. Cleaning for a client that you’ve never met before is another.

If something at the site breaks or the cleaning supplies cause damage, the aftermath is your responsibility. Business and liability insurance protect against financial losses. Without it, you could face losses that force you to close your business.

An insurance policy isn’t a green light to become irresponsible. Practice good business sense and remain vigilant in your cleaning practices.  

Determine Your Fee Structure

To determine your fee structure, research your competitors. Take into account your business costs and time. Based on these factors, you’ll arrive at fees that you’re comfortable advertising.

As a college student, your overhead should be far lower than an established business. Coming under the fees of your competitors earns you your first few clients. 

Once you expand, you can raise your fees for newly acquired customers.

Market Your Services

When you’re ready to advertise your college cleaning business, market your services. 

The nice thing is that in 2024, there are several free advertising channels at your disposal. Social media, video platforms, and business listings are among your options. 

Provide your contact phone number, business hours, and a brief overview of your services in various digital outlets.

Build Your Roster of Clients

As your company gains momentum, you’re going to accrue a roster of clients. Some clients will only need your services one time. Others have the potential to become regulars. 

To create a reliable stream of income, build your roster of clients and stay in contact with them.

Reach out to them during the holiday season and find out if they require your services before hosting their family members for dinner. 

When you’re on break from school, you can make your cleaning services available to customers, so make sure that they’re aware of your availability. 

Your goal is to nurture business relationships with clients who already gave you a shot.

Scale Your Business

After going through the above steps, you’ll gauge your commitment to your college cleaning business. 

If things are going well, consider scaling your business. You can position yourself to manage the staff, new client acquisition, and growth. 

It’s a great place to reach because you end up working smarter, not harder.


Once you gain a few loyal clients, it’s up to you to decide if you want to scale the business. 

Plenty of college students search for ways to make extra cash, so hiring staff is doable. 

After building your company’s reputation, you’ll experience what it’s like to run a business and more.

Author bio:

Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Cheney to help them with their online marketing.

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