Cleaning Houses/Commercial Property: Jobs or Starting a Business

The cleaning industry makes about $40 billion annually. Part of that can be yours, as an employee or, eventually, by owning your own business.

What's known as "cleaning" includes both residential, that is where people live, and commercial, that is where people conduct business. The work might entail daily or weekly janitorial, maid service, carpet cleaning, windows only, and post-disaster clean ups. This field is growing because of the aging of the population who can't maintain their own dwellings, shift of the economy to services, and the expected recovery in construction and tourism.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts hourly pay for all categories between about $10.02 and $10.31. No special skills needed. Usually employers "try you out." They probably will provide training in what their specific clients demand or what is standard for the organization.

Because it's an "inside" job, applicants must have a clean criminal record. Apply through chains such as Merry Maids. agencies specializing in providing cleaning personnel, help wanted listed online, knocking on doors of major employers in the hospitality industry, posting your own notices on the web, in print publications, and in buildings of your availability to do cleaning, and on a person-to-person basis, letting it be known you do this kind of work. As your reputation grows for doing a good job, not stealing, and maintaining customer privacy, you will probably have more assignments than you can handle.

That might bring you to considering launching your own cleaning business. Starting requires little capital - usually less than a $100 and you probably can find a way around owning your own equipment. Many in this industry recommend going it alone rather than joining a franchise. That's for two reasons. One, if you establish your name in the field demand will be there. In fact customers will likely request expanded services such as doing carpets and windows - even house sitting. Two, franchises usually require fees and impose their rules on your enterprise.

Next: Confessions of a Motel Maid >>

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Jane Genova


Jane Genova began focusing on transitions when the academic market collapsed as she was writing her dissertation in linguistics and literature at the University of Michigan.  After re-establishing herself in the public relations industry, she gradually published on the subject.  Her first piece was on The Professional Woman in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Since then, she co-authored the book THE CRITICAL 14 YEARS OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE and myriad e-books and articles on career subjects ranging from emotional intelligence to aging.  In the 1980s she attempted another change by attending Harvard Law School.  She didn’t complete the degree but channeled that experience into maintaining a legal blog [] housed at the Library of Congress.

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