How toStudent Guide

Proven Strategy For Starting a Carpet Cleaning Business

If you have ever dreamed of owning your own business then you should strongly consider starting a carpet cleaning business opportunity. In this article, we’ll guide your how to start a carpet cleaning business smartly.

What’s In This Article?

Carpet cleaning is an industry that enjoys great repeat business. There are many homeowners that will clean their carpets quite frequently to enjoy better indoor air quality. In addition, many homeowners will clean often to extend the life of their carpets. When starting a carpet cleaning business there are many facets that need to be considered before jumping blindly into a venture such as this.

Why Carpet Cleaning Business?

Starting a carpet cleaning business of your own is one of the easiest of all small businesses to start. And the carpet cleaning industry is a “billion dollar business”! The initial start-up costs are well within your reach, and the margin of profit ratio very high!

Carpet Cleaning is an easy business to operate, and yet one that will always be necessary, as long as home owners and businesses have carpet in them. It has a very high rating on all business stability charts, and once started your carpet cleaning business will grow quickly and begin making a considerable amount of money.

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Prepare for Starting A Carpet Cleaning Business

  1. Writing a Carpet Cleaning Business Plan

Before beginning any business it is wise to write a comprehensive business plan. A business plan will allow you to form your goals and in turn, provides you with the means to reach them. You should determine your vision for the business you’re starting in order to formulate the business plan around that vision.

Whether it is building a company that you will run for 20 years and then retire or building something that you can grow for four years and sell. Your business plan will contain your financial statements and breakeven analysis. In addition, one of the most important parts of the business plan is the marketing plan. In this section you will determine your ideal customer and formulate a plan to acquire these customers. A carpet cleaning business plan should be something that you follow closely. This will be your roadmap to help you reach your destination.

  1. Finding a NICHE in Carpet Cleaning Business

When you start a carpet cleaning business it is wise to focus on a niche. There are thousands of steam cleaners out there all claiming to be the best. However, most of these cleaners are merely competing on price. In this scenario everyone loses including the customer.

A cleaner that is willing to charge rock-bottom prices will sacrifice something in return to make money on the job whether it is inferior solutions or rushing through the job. That is why the smart cleaners focus on one area. That is not to say that you will not accept all types of jobs; it only means that you will focus on one area and become an expert.

When picking a niche you will need to do some market research to find a segment that is underserved. Some examples of niches in carpet cleaning that you could specialize in would be:

  • Commercial cleaning
  • Green carpet cleaning
  • Steam Carpet Cleaning
  • High-end residential, or low moisture cleaning to name a few.

When a customer is searching for this specific type of cleaning and your marketing message is focused on that specific segment it will in turn give you a large advantage over the competition.

  1. Learn Different Methods of Carpet Cleaning

Certain carpet cleaning methods will have advantages over other types in certain situations.

Steam cleaning or hot water extraction is the most common form of carpet cleaning.

Typically, even low moisture cleaning methods are still a form of hot water extraction. Low moisture cleaning will still use a small amount of moisture; however, the cleaning power is boosted in other ways such as more agitation.

Another method of carpet cleaning is encapsulation. This method involves spraying down a solution that encapsulates soil and dries. This dried solution is then vacuumed up to remove the soil. Encapsulation is used mainly for commercial cleaning. Many cleaners will specialize in one method of cleaning and discount all others. This can be a huge disadvantage to a carpet cleaner.

I would suggest utilizing a variety of cleaning methods. The more tools in your toolbox, the more you can accomplish. There is no one cleaning method that is perfect in all situations. Each individual job should be evaluated and the cleaning method that is most suited to that job should be used.

Defining Your Carpet Cleaning Process

When performing carpet cleaning for a customer in a residential home, the basic carpet cleaning process can be described in 6 steps.

  1. Pre-Inspection

A technician walks through the home with the homeowner and visually inspects the carpet. He will identify to the potential stains and give an evaluation of the expected results.

  1. Pre-Vacuum

Dry soil is removed by a thorough vacuuming. Removing dry soil is one of the most important steps in cleaning and is most often is overlooked.

  1. Furniture Moving

Basic pricing should include moving and replacing furniture such as sofas, chairs, coffee-tables and smaller items. Entertainment centers, beds, dressers, heavy pieces, and furniture with expensive valuables are left in place under the basic pricing structure. Ask if the customer needs larger items moved ahead of time so you can prepare & price accordingly.

  1. Pre-Spray

Applying of a pre-spray solution that will help suspend and loosen the soils from the carpet fibers. You pre-treat the carpet to loosen dirt and oils the vacuum cleaner cannot lift and remove from the carpet and then let it set for 5-15 minutes. After determining the type of carpet you will cleaning, you may need to use a carpet-rake to work the pre-spray chemicals into the carpet. See the page on Carpet Cleaning Chemicals for the proper type chemicals to use and how to apply them.

  1. Carpet Cleaning

In this step, you’ll perform the carpet cleaning activity via any of the method mentioned above.

  1. Post-Cleaning Inspection

The technician should always walk through the home and point out the cleaning results to the homeowner to make sure they are completely satisfied with the job. It is a lot easy to fix a problem than have to make a return visit. Or to end up with an unhappy customer.

Most carpets should be dry to the touch in about 2-6 hours. The amount of time needed for the carpet to dry depends on the degree of cleaning needed, the type of carpet, the humidity, air movement, and the quality of the equipment used.

Starting Your Carpet Cleaning Business

  1. Buying a Carpet Cleaning Equipment

Much research is required when purchasing your carpet cleaning equipment. All manufacturers will claim that their equipment is the best on the market. Spend ample time reading reviews of each manufacturer’s equipment.

In addition, you can learn quite a bit about carpet cleaning equipment by reading forums. With reviews the same can be said as happy customers, “a happy customer will tell a friend, an unhappy customer will tell 10 friends”.

Also, you should not be afraid of buying used equipment to save money.

Below are the list of basic Carpet Cleaning Supplies and equipment to start a Carpet Cleaning Business:

  • Commercial vacuums (with attachments)
  • Carpet extractor (Portable/Truck mount)
  • Carpet spotter with attachments (for cleaning stains and upholstery)
  • Carpet Rake
  • Floor buffers
  • Chemicals:
  • Deodorizers
  • Shampoo
  • Spotting agents
  • Fabric protection
  • Upholstery care chemicals
  • Specialty cleaners

We recommend you to buy at least a small portable extractor, a carpet cleaning machine that you can load, right into your van, truck, or even your car, and begin cleaning carpets right away. This beginning setup can be bought for as little as $1000 if bought used or up to $5000 if purchased new.

  1. Purchasing Chemicals for Your Carpet Cleaning

There are many different types of carpet cleaning chemicals

  • Pre-sprays – Traffic Lane Cleaners (TLC)
  • Detergents
  • Spotters
  • Soil Retarders
  • Deodorizers
  • Sanitizers
  1. Acquiring Carpet Cleaning Business Software

Before starting your business it is important to institute good carpet cleaning software. This type of business software will include several functions for your business. One of the main functions of this software is to manage your customer database.

These software programs are designed to be able to quickly generate reports and mailing lists to stay in front of your customers. In addition, the software will allow you to quickly and easily generate invoices.

Also, carpet cleaning software has scheduling functions to keep your schedule tight and organized. Good carpet cleaning software is something that many businesses put off until a later time. However, instituting the software in the beginning will help keep you focused and organized.

Setting Up Your Carpet Cleaning Service Price

Carpet cleaning pricing is something that many cleaners struggle with. The first thing you need to do is to determine whether you will charge by the square foot or by the room. Both methods of pricing are quite commonplace throughout the country.

However, many areas will settle on one method to keep from confusing the consumer. The per cost room method is much easier to convey over the phone to a customer; however, the square-foot pricing method is more accurate and tends to be fairer since you are only charging for the area cleaned.

To determine the price that you will charge you will have to consult your breakeven analysis and survey other cleaners in the area to see what they are charging. Much of your pricing will also depend on the niche that you have decided to service.

High-end residential customers are willing to pay much more for a higher level of service. On the other hand, many commercial accounts will expect to pay rock-bottom prices because of their repeat business.

Utilizing the right cleaning method can allow you to charge cheaper prices on commercial jobs since you can cover large areas in a small amount of time. Pricing is one of the hardest factors to figure out in any business and this is no different in carpet cleaning.

Market Your Carpet Cleaning Business

There are many ways to advertise your new carpet cleaning business, ranging from word of mouth to television ads to having a website by showing up on a carpet cleaning local search on Google, Yahoo or Bing.

  1. Referral Method

The easiest and cheapest way is by word of mouth or by referrals, or by making some fliers on your computer and taking them to your local printing business and having them print off several hundred copies. You can place them in a highly visible place around your neighborhood.

Do a referral service were maybe they get $10 off their next cleaning if they refer someone to you.

  1. Make Your Business Card

You will also need to have some business card made, and you can hand these out to just about anyone including your customers after each job. You will find that if you have made the customer happy about your service that they will either ask for one or will take one for further cleanings and to give to relatives and friends. This seems to be one of the cheapest and best form of selling your service.

  1. Local Listing

Get listed on your local business pages on the internet, such as: Google Places, Yahoo Local, Merchant Circle, Yelp and many more.

  1. Self-Advertising

The next level would be to have some small signs to put on your vehicle, so as you drive around you are doing some self-advertising. You could make door knob hanging advertisements, so on your spare or idle time you walk the area where you would like to clean, or hire a neighborhood kid to put them on doors around town.

  1. Bill-Boards

You can make signs and place them in public places. Be sure your city allows this, or get city approval for the signs.

  1. Offer Some Exclusive Deals

Give some of you customers a break in pricing if they will put up a flier and some of your business cards at their business.

  1. Other Methods

  • Sign up for local home shows and expos and hand out fliers.
  • You could do a mass mailing using the postal service.
  • You could get a list of business names from the local chamber of commerce and do an email blast to all the businesses.
  • Even before the acquisition of equipment, you need customers. Your prospects are all the businesses and homes with carpets in your area. Your problem is going to be in reaching these prospects, impressing upon then the benefits of your service, and getting them set up with an appointment for you to do the work.
  • Study the carpet cleaning service ads in your local newspapers, the yellow pages of your telephone directories, and any similar flyers you may have received or seen. Make a pencil sketch of your own flyer, emphasizing customer benefits and your capabilities of doing the job and take your ideas to the advertising class at a local college. Explain your project and ask for volunteer help. In most cases, you’ll be favorably impresses with the work, and will only have to pay with a copy of the finished flyer for the student’s portfolio, and a recommendation or testimonial about his work for you. Even if there should be a charge for the work you have done at the college, it will be a reasonable one.


A carpet cleaning business can be quite rewarding and can help you reach your financial goals. There are many challenges that you will face during the startup and throughout your business career. With proper planning and research many of these challenges can be eliminated from the start.


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