Your 6-Step Guide to Starting a Cleaning Business in Florida

This guide will explain how to start a cleaning business in Florida, including how to create a business plan and obtain any required licenses and permits.

Female janitor holding a basket of cleaning supplies in the foreground with another janitor mopping in the background.l
Updated June 26, 2024
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Cleaning services are needed in a wide variety of settings, from hotels to schools to private homes, which is why different cleaners target different niches. A cleaning business in Florida could be successful in many of these niches due to its healthy economy, booming tourism industry, and elderly population.

If you want to know how to start a cleaning business in Florida, you'll need to start by determining what kind of cleaning work you will do. This step-by-step guide will explain everything you need to know to get your Florida cleaning business off the ground and maximize the chances of its success.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Florida is a great place to start a cleaning business because of the healthy economy.
  • There is a lot of demand for cleaning professionals due to the large number of hotels and rental properties.
  • When starting a cleaning business, you'll need a business plan.
  • It will be very important to get the proper insurance in place, as you will be cleaning other people's property.

How to start a cleaning business in Florida

Florida is a great state for starting a cleaning business. The economy in Florida is growing at a faster pace than the U.S. as a whole, with the national economy growing by 2% in the first three months of 2023 and Florida's economy growing by 3.5%.

Not only is Florida's economy growing, but some unique characteristics of Florida have made it a state where cleaners are in especially high demand. Early figures show that approximately 137.6 million travelers visited Florida in 2022, and Florida is home to thousands of hotels and vacation rental properties — all of which require cleaning services.

Florida also has a large concentration of snowbirds — people who visit seasonally during the winters — and who may need help maintaining their homes during the off-season months. In fact, snowbirds increase the Florida population by more than 5% during the winter months.

Florida also has a large elderly population due to its warm weather and reputation as a retirement destination, so seniors who become unable to maintain their homes may be interested in hiring cleaners as well.

But while there are ample reasons to start a cleaning business in Florida, you'll still need a solid business plan, permissions, and cleaning equipment to get your new business off the ground.

1. Create a business plan

The first step you'll want to take to successfully start a cleaning business in Florida is to make a business plan. This could be a detailed or simple plan, but it should outline what your goals are for the company, what market you want to target, what services you'll be providing, and how to make money by offering cleaning services.

There are many different niches within the cleaning industry, so your business plan is your chance to decide where you'll focus your efforts. For example, you may decide you want your cleaning company to offer any of the following services:

  • Residential cleaning
  • Commercial cleaning
  • Janitorial services
  • Window cleaning
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Car cleaning
  • Chimney cleaning
  • Swimming pool cleaning

All of these cleaning services cater to different kinds of customers. You likely want to focus on just offering one or two services — at least to start. You can always expand into other areas as your company grows.

2. Decide on a business structure

When figuring out how to start a business, your choice of legal structure for your business is one of the most important. You have a few options, including:

Sole proprietorship

You and your business have no separation in the eyes of the law. You're fully liable for anything your company does, and you declare business profits and losses on your own tax return. If you just plan to clean people's houses yourself, this could be the right business structure for you since it is simple and doesn't cost anything to set up.

Partnership

You and another partner (or partners) will be running a business together. You could have a general partnership, where you’d share responsibilities and share liability for the company's actions. Or you could have a limited partnership with one partner protected from liability and not as actively involved. A partnership agreement requires more paperwork but can be a good option if you're starting a company with others. Partners will declare profits and losses on their personal tax returns.

LLC

A limited liability company can be a good option for single owners or when multiple people will run a company together. Those who co-own the company are called members. There are more restrictions on ownership for an LLC than with a corporation, and there’s more paperwork than with a sole proprietorship or partnership. But the members are better protected against liability with an LLC.

S-corporation

An S-corporation involves incorporating a business. It creates a separate legal entity. You can be the sole owner of the S-corp, or others can own it with you. More paperwork is involved, but you have strong liability protections and are subject to some favorable tax rules, such as the ability to take part of your profits as a distribution which isn't subject to payroll tax. Profits and losses pass through to you, but the company still must file its own tax return.

C-corporation

Businesses organized as C-corporations must complete more-detailed record keeping and reporting than other types of business structures. The business will exist as a separate legal entity that pays its own taxes. Owners will also pay taxes on distribution, so some corporate money can be double taxed. This business structure provides strong liability protection and doesn't have the ownership restrictions of an S-corp or LLC. A C-corp can be complicated but is often the best business format for larger businesses.

Choosing the right business structure will help ensure you get the necessary protections and are subject to the most favorable tax rules for your cleaning business.

3. Register your business

In Florida, LLCs, corporations, and partnerships must be registered with the state. If you plan to run your cleaning business using any of these business formats, you'll have to file the correct documents with the Division of Corporations and pay the required fees.

If you plan to run your company under a different name than yours, you will also need to submit a Fictitious Name Registration with the Division of Corporations. There are detailed steps to take to register a fictitious name (also known as a “doing business as” or DBA), including advertising the name at least once in a local newspaper and paying fees for registration.

If you plan to hire workers or you have an LLC with multiple members, you also have to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can obtain one for free online. With an EIN, you can open a business bank account, apply for business licenses, file a tax return by mail, and more.

Finally, if you plan to perform services for commercial clients, you'll need a sales tax permit as well. Residential customers do not have to pay sales tax on cleaning services, but commercial clients do.

4. Get licenses, permits, and insurance

The state of Florida doesn't require a special license or permit to run a cleaning business. However, some local counties do require permits, licenses, or other permissions to start operating a business locally. For example, Orange County is one of many counties that may require you to get a business tax receipt when opening a new company.

You will also need to make sure you have appropriate business insurance. Since you will be cleaning other people's property and could potentially damage it, you will want to make sure you have good liability insurance.

If you will have workers on your team going into other people's properties, you may also want a janitorial bond to protect your clients against theft. Finally, you should have workers' compensation insurance if hiring employees and business interruption insurance so you aren't without income if you must temporarily stop operating your company for a covered reason.

5. Purchase equipment and supplies

Depending on the type of cleaning business you are operating, you may need many different kinds of supplies. Some examples of cleaning supplies and equipment needed include the following:

  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Mops and buckets
  • Containers to carry supplies
  • Brooms and dustpans
  • Dusters
  • Cleaning clothes
  • Laundry bags for dirty rags
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Trash bags
  • Residential or industrial cleaning solutions
  • Spray bottles
  • Rubber gloves

If you will be offering a specialized type of business, such as swimming pool or vehicle cleaning, you will need different equipment specific to that niche, such as a pool net, pool chemicals, or special vacuums designed to detail a vehicle.

6. Start marketing your business

It's important to have a plan to reach the target customers of your cleaning business. For example, if you hope to offer janitorial services, you'll need to market to commercial clients. If you want to offer residential cleaning, you'll need to market to homeowners or apartment owners who need assistance keeping their houses clean.

In Florida, there are many unique niches you could target. For example, you could focus on cleaning short-term rental properties after tenants leave, or you could focus on post-storm cleanup of yard debris after hurricanes.

The important thing is to identify how large the market is and to make a clear plan for how you will both meet your potential client's needs and let them know your company exists.

FAQ

Does Florida require a business license for cleaning services?

Florida doesn't require a business license to open a cleaning business. However, you may need to obtain a business tax receipt, as many local counties throughout Florida require you to do so when operating a cleaning business. Check with your local municipal government officials to determine what is mandated in the specific area where you will be running your cleaning services.

How profitable is owning a cleaning business?

Owning a cleaning business can be profitable if you have a solid business plan, charge fair prices, and are able to effectively market the company to potential clients. The size and scope of the company and the services you provide will also determine profitability. Owning a large cleaning business with many employees can provide far more profit than acting as a sole proprietor who just cleans a few houses weekly.

What is the best type of cleaning business to start in Florida?

There are many types of cleaning businesses you could start in Florida. Florida has a large tourism industry, especially in cities like Orlando and Miami, so you could focus on offering residential cleaning services to short-term rental property owners. You could also offer specialized cleaning services to Florida's large snowbird population (those who come down only during the winter season).

Bottom line

Starting your own cleaning business in Florida doesn't have to be complicated. Work on your business plan today so you can decide what type of cleaning business to offer, and then move forward with the steps of your plan to get your company off the ground. With hard work and a smart marketing plan, you can make your cleaning business a great success.

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Christy Rakoczy

Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.