How To Be a Self-Employed Housekeeper

Updated June 24, 2022

Housekeeping can be a rewarding career for detail-oriented individuals who enjoy keeping spaces organized. Many housekeepers work for agencies who hire people to clean offices and homes. Talented housekeepers who also have business skills, however, can enjoy flexible work hours and potentially higher earnings by starting their own cleaning services. In this article, we explain how to be a self-employed housekeeper and its benefits.

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What is a self-employed housekeeper?

A self-employed housekeeper is an individual who runs an independent business through which they offer their cleaning services to the public. They work for themselves and set their own fees and hours. Housekeepers' responsibilities might include:

  • Vacuuming

  • Emptying trash

  • Dusting

  • Sweeping and mopping

  • Cleaning dishes

  • Changing bed linens

  • Doing laundry and folding or ironing clothes

  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces

  • Scheduling and billing

  • Organizing financial records

  • Marketing their services

Self-employed housekeepers can perform cleaning tasks in hotels, businesses, clinics and private homes. They get to choose which clients they work for and might visit multiple clients in one day.

Related: Learn About Being a Housekeeper

Benefits of being a self-employed housekeeper

Self-employed housekeepers enjoy the same benefits as any other business owner, including choosing their own hours, rates and clients and reporting only to themselves. The advantages of being a self-employed housekeeper include:

  • Low cost of operation: Starting a housekeeping business requires minimal investment and operation costs other than the tools and transportation required to provide cleaning services.

  • High demand: Housekeeping is in high demand, because individuals and companies always require clean and, increasingly, disinfected spaces.

  • Flexibility: Self-employed housekeepers can decide how many hours a day they want to work and which days they work. They often enjoy a good work-life balance.

  • Earning potential: Most housekeepers charge by the hour, meaning the more hours they work, the more money they can earn. Being self-employed, they also get to keep their entire paycheck rather than giving a percentage to a cleaning agency.

  • Independence: Self-employed housekeepers make all their own business decisions and get to control what types of clients they work for and where.

  • Pride: Self-employed housekeepers have the distinction and respect of being business owners. This can give them a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work.

  • Job satisfaction: Many self-employed housekeepers enjoy the satisfaction of transforming homes and businesses into clean, well-organized spaces and the gratitude they receive from happy clients.

Other benefits of being a self-employed housekeeper are the same as those for any housekeeper, including having a casual wardrobe, getting exercise while cleaning, working indoors, few education requirements and interacting with people.

Related: 13 Benefits of Self-Employment

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How to be a self-employed housekeeper

Housekeepers do not need specific degrees or training to start their own cleaning services. They should, however, have excellent cleaning and customer service skills, a sense for business and determination to succeed. Follow these steps to be a self-employed housekeeper:

1. Get experience

Most housekeepers spend several years working for a cleaning agency before starting their own businesses. This allows them to gain experience and develop their housekeeping skills so they can perform quality cleaning services quickly and effectively. Skills you need to be a good housekeeper include:

  • Attention to detail

  • Cleaning abilities

  • Communication

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Organization

  • Reliability

  • Time management

While gaining work experience, you can also develop a reputation for being a good housekeeper and build a network of people who can give you references for future clients.

Related: Guide To Housekeeping Skills (With Tips and Examples)

2. Determine business requirements

When you decide you want to start your own cleaning service, research local requirements to run a business. Many cities and counties require even self-employed housekeepers to get a business license. You can usually find this information by contacting your county clerk's office. You might have to complete paperwork describing what your business does and where it is located and pay a licensing fee to operate legally. Also register to get a federal tax ID number for your housekeeping business, and research the tax requirements for small businesses or sole proprietorship so you make correct payments to the IRS.

Related: How To Become a Small Business Owner in 10 Steps

3. Choose a company name

While not required, naming your housekeeping service can give it credibility. Think of a name that represents your brand and identity and is easy for clients to remember. You might choose words and phrases that convey order, cleanliness, efficiency or reliability.

Then search online to see if another business in your area is already operating under that name or if the website domain name is for sale. If the company name is available, consider registering it with the Small Business Administration so you can benefit from legal and tax benefits. You can then use it on your business license application, tax documents, website and marketing materials.

4. Get insured

You might need certain types of insurance to protect yourself and your housekeeping business. Get business auto insurance for the car you drive to and from cleaning sites. Consider getting business liability insurance to protect you if a client takes legal action for property damages. You might also consider getting surety bond insurance that protects your clients from losses related to your cleaning service. Many clients feel more confident hiring housekeepers who have insurance and bonding.

5. Buy equipment and supplies

Most self-employed housekeepers need to have their own cleaning equipment and supplies. These might include:

  • Vacuum

  • Broom

  • Mop

  • Cleaners for various surfaces

  • Disinfectants

  • Ladder or stool

  • Bucket

  • Rags, sponges and wipes

One of the most cost-effective ways to get the supplies you need to be a self-employed housekeeper is to buy in bulk. Find an industrial supply store, warehouse club or wholesale cleaning supply seller that offers the items you need in large quantities. Compare prices at physical stores as well as online to find the best prices.

6. Set your rates

Determine how much you plan to charge clients by researching other local housekeeping companies' rates. Set an hourly rate that is competitive but also high enough to cover expenses such as supplies, travel, insurance and any other business costs.

Related: What Is a Pricing Strategy?

7. Market yourself

Once you are ready to do business, advertise your cleaning services in your desired area. Create business cards and flyers with your housekeeping business name, logo, contact information and services offered. Ask if you can leave these in local home goods and home improvement stores. Other ways to advertise include:

  • Creating a social media business page and promoting it

  • Asking former and current clients for referrals

  • Sending mailers to local residents

  • Placing advertisements in local publications and newspapers

  • Putting your business name and contact information on your work vehicle

Bring marketing materials such as your business card everywhere you go, so you can share them with anyone who might need housekeeping services. Offer incentives such as first-time customer discounts or a free cleaning for referrals or new customers.

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