If are looking for a business that doesn’t require any specialized degrees, licenses or skills to start and you don’t have a ton of money to invest in expensive inventory or a physical storefront, an Airbnb (or vacation rental) cleaning business may be perfect for you.
It’s a really straightforward business that can bring in steady revenue (especially if you are in a destination city or other area where renting out vacation homes is a thriving business).
In this article, I am going to show you how to start an Airbnb cleaning business and go through each step of the process.
I will cover topics such as conducting research, defining your scope of services, developing a thorough cleaning checklist (so you can deliver consistent results), setting up your business entity, and marketing your services (this is a critically important step). As a bonus, I’ll include some secret cleaning tips that I have found really work to handle the toughest cleaning issues.
I’ll begin the article by answering key introductory questions, such as what an Airbnb cleaning business is, how much it costs to start, and how much you can expect to make. If you want to skip ahead to the guide, just click here.
Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!
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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
What Is An Airbnb Cleaning Business?
An Airbnb cleaning business is a business that offers a cleaning and turn over service to Airbnb owners. Services often include a thorough cleaning after each customer finishes their stay as well as related tasks that making the dwelling ready for the next customer.
As you probably figured out from what I just wrote, an Airbnb cleaning business doesn’t just do cleaning. They often change out towels and bedding, make sure the dishes and utensils are clean and put away, and generally make sure that everything in the unit is ready for the next Airbnb guest.
How Much Does It Cost to Start an Airbnb Cleaning Business?
As I mentioned at the top, one of the great things about starting an Airbnb cleaning business is that it does not require much money to start.
You can start with an Airbnb cleaning business for as little as $200 by buying some basic cleaning equipment and supplies, such as a vacuum cleaner, buckets, mops, sponges, masks, gloves, dustpan and broom, laundry bags, trash bags, and the like.
In a lot of cases, the Airbnb host will buy cleaning products in bulk and store them at the unit for the cleaning company to use, so much of the cost associated with buying cleaning products may be covered for you. Of course, you may have to reduce your fee accordingly if they are doing this.
As you can imagine, your starting costs will rise if you choose to spend money on marketing, business insurance, or setting up a formal business entity like an LLC or corporation. And you may also need to spend a little bit of money to get appropriate licenses and permits for your business (more on that later).
But all in, those incremental costs should be fairly modest. If cost is a real concern, start small and simple. You can tackle a lot of this type of discretionary stuff later on after you have made some money.
How Much Does an Airbnb Cleaning Business Make?
In general, you can expect to make between $25 to $50 per hour for a basic cleaning job according to Angi Leads.
If you are doing the cleaning yourself, you will be able to pocket a good portion of this revenue. Of course, if you choose to scale your business and hire workers who will clean for you, this will eat into your profits.
It is worth noting that the price range above is a national average, so you will need to factor in what pricing is market standard in your local area and what other Airbnb cleaning services are charging.
It’s a simple matter to find out who your local competitors are – just type in “airbnb cleaning services near me” in Google and see who pops up. Get quotes from them based on various unit sizes and services. If they don’t provide prices on their website, you can call to get quotes.
How to Start an Airbnb Cleaning Business
Of, now that we’ve got the introductory stuff out of the way, let’s get into the step by step guide on how to start your own Airbnb cleaning business.
Step 1: Do Your Research (Due Diligence Is Key)
Doing your research is one of the most important parts of the process.
If you don’t know enough of the market you’re throwing yourself into, you risk failing. Aside from that, you need to know all the legal requirements of the job and the licenses you’ll need to start working.
Here’s a breakdown of the research you have to do.
Competitive Research on Airbnb Cleaning Services
To prepare yourself for what’s out there, you’ll need to check on your competitors.
Research on Pricing, Services and Structure
A simple way to find out what your competitors are doing is checking their websites. Do they include pricing plans? A list of services they offer? Payment options? You can find a wealth of information through a simple google search. Don’t forget to read their terms and conditions.
You may be able to glean some really good ideas for how you should operate your business and protect yourself.
Another way to research your competition is by simply calling them and asking about their services. Pose as a landlord who is shopping around for a cleaning service provider for their properties. You can find out their pricing and much more.
When it comes to pricing strategy, you have two main choices.
You can charge a flat fee based on size of the unit or a charge based on price per hour. Many Airbnb hosts may prefer a flat fee due to its predictability, but you may like the price per hour model because you don’t know how bad a condition a property will be and some units may take a lot more effort to clean and make ready.
Again, find out if there is a prevailing market standard in your area and keep that in mind as you determine price points and structure.
You will also want to find out what platforms and channels your key competitors are using to market their services. They have probably tried out various marketing strategies and have settled on some good ones.
Now I am not saying you should copy your competitors in every aspect, but learn about what they are doing and see if you can find a way to do things better or exploit a gap that you competitors are not addressing.
In most cases, a cleaning business is a fairly simple one to operate. Unlike businesses that deal with health, safety or financial matters, the licensing requirements tend to be pretty light.
In a lot of cases, a simple general business license may be all that your state and local governments may require.
But you need to check. A good place to start is your county clerk’s office and your state corporation commission or Secretary of State’s office.
If you want some professional help doing this, you can hire a qualified lawyer who specializes in helping small businesses get up and running.
Step 2: Determine Your Services
Before you jump right into cleaning, it’d be wise to determine the services that you’ll be offering first. For example, do you intend to offer specialized cleaning services, like carpet or curtain cleaning? Will you offer outdoor cleaning for hosts who have gardens or large yards?
Some cleaners also choose to offer laundry services for bedding as a part of their package.
Determining your scope of services also gives you a good idea of how much money you need to start the business. That’s because you’ll have to buy detergents and cleaning supplies accordingly.
Not only that, but it’ll also help you determine if you need more workers for your business.
Step 3: Develop a Cleaning Checklist For Each Service
If you want to operate a successful vacation rental cleaning business, you’ll need to develop a great reputation for consistent and reliable service. Airbnb is based on reviews and cleanliness is a huge factor in getting positive reviews.
If an Airbnb host hires you and you fail to clean something that guests expect to be clean, then they will give a poor review and that host will never use you again.
One of the best ways to prevent this is to have a detailed and comprehensive checklist of things that you will do for each unit. This could include the standard stuff like sweeping floors, vacuuming carpets, cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms and kitchens, changing linens and bedding, dusting, and sanitizing high touch areas like remote controls and the like.
If you (and your workers) follow this checklist, then you will know that you have covered everything that needs to be done every time. It’s also great to have this checklist because both you and the host will know exactly what is in scope and what is not in scope. This will prevent any misunderstandings and promote good relationships with your clients.
If you want to see a sample Airbnb cleaning checklist, you can find one here.
Step 4: Create Business Plan for Your Airbnb Cleaning Business
A business plan is essentially a roadmap for your business.
It organizes your thoughts relating to your business into an actionable plan. Some things to include in your airbnb cleaning business plan are budgeting, identifying your competition, marketing strategy, pricing strategy, operational plans, and growth projections.
Don’t stress too much about getting your business plan perfect. I would use it more as an organizational tool at this point. You can polish it up later if you need to.
Another benefit of having a business plan is that it can help you raise money from banks and investors. Now, due to its low starting costs, you may not need a business plan for this purpose at first, but as you grow and need more capital to expand, you will need to refine your business plan – these folks will want to see a professional-looking business plan as part of their lending or investing process.
Don’t know how to get started? The Small Business Administration has a great tool to help you write your business plan.
Step 5: Set Up Your Business Entity
You may want to set up a business entity like an LLC, corporation, or partnership. In most cases, setting up a business entity can help shield some of your assets held outside the business entity if there is a claim against the business.
If you do want to make the investment of setting up a corporation, LLC, or some other business entity, you can hire a lawyer to help you, or you can use many of the online resources that can help you set up your business entity.
I like Northwest because they can get you up and running quickly and easily. They are also one of the most affordable options that I was able to find that still offered great customer service ($39 as of the date of this article).
According to their website, they are the only national registered agent service that lets you use their office address so you don’t have to use your own. That’s a killer privacy advantage.
Definitely worth checking out.
Make sure as part of your efforts to set up your business entity, you do the following:
- Obtain a Federal Tax ID (Known as an Employer Identification Number or EIN). You want to do this so you can pay taxes for your business (an EIN is like a social security number for your business). Here’s a link to the IRS site where you can apply for one. There are services that will do this for you, but it’s actually not too hard to do it yourself.
- Register Your Business. Most states require this (at least for corporations, LLCs, etc.). You usually need to do this with your State’s Secretary of State, State Corporation Commission or Business Bureau.
- Appoint a Registered Agent. You will need someone who can accept service of process for your entity. There are services you can hire or you can appoint yourself to this role in live in the state and meet the other requirements for being a registered agent.
For more information of registering your business, check out the SBA’s helpful article on the topic here.
Note: This can be a fairly complicated area and you don’t want to make mistakes, so you may want to consult with your legal and financial advisors to make sure you understand the implications of setting up a business entity.
Step 6: Create Marketing Plan For Your Airbnb Cleaning Business
Ok, let’s turn to what I think is one of the most important steps in starting your Airbnb business.
If you don’t market your business properly, you won’t have any customers. I don’t think I need to tell you that without customers, your business is pointless.
So what are some of the best ways to market your business?
I would start with setting up a website. In this day and age, you absolutely need an online presence and having a professional looking website is the first step. You can start by just getting a simple business profile online using Google Business Profile.
Your business can then be found by people searching for Airbnb cleaning services in their area. It’s also a place where you can include contact information and other relevant data for your potential customers. The best part is that this is free to use.
Now if you want to spend some money to get a more professional looking website, you can but if you are on a budget, this is not a bad starting option.
Once you have a basic website or online profile set up, you should start registering your business on various platforms that offer cleaning services.
Some of the best known include:
- Angie’s List
If you want a platform that specializes in Airbnb cleaning services, check out TurnoverBnB.
These are all platforms that your potential clients are using to find cleaning services. You want to be where they are. Explore them and see which ones work best for you.
You can also engage in local advertising campaigns by buying online ads. Paid ads on Facebook and Google can be a great way to drum up business, but they can be pricey.
Social media is also a great way to spread the word about your Airbnb cleaning business. People these days are looking for social proof and so maintaining a strong social media presence can be really helpful as a marketing tool.
Finally, you can try and use direct marketing to find potential clients. It shouldn’t be too hard to compile a list of Airbnb hosts in your area – you can actually go on Airbnb and do it pretty easily.
Do it and then reach out to them to see if they would be interested in your services.
When starting out, you can offer discounts or other incentives to get them to switch over form their current cleaner.
Again, try different things to see what works – you never know what will gain traction.
Step 7: Finalize Administrative Tasks and Launch Your Business
Ok – you’ve done most of the hard work. Now you just need to take care of some of the administrative stuff and then launch your business.
First, you should get a business checking account, especially if you have set up a separate business entity for your Airbnb cleaning business.
Make sure to run all business revenue and expenses (and only business revenue and expenses) through that account. This is especially important if you have a formal legal entity like a corporation or LLC because you do not want to mingle personal assets and expenses with business assets and expenses.
Why? Because you may risk losing the liability protection we discussed earlier if the business entity is deemed a sham because you did not treat it like a separate legal entity.
On a more practical note, having a separate account keeps things tidy from a recordkeeping and accounting perspective. It will definitely make things easier come tax time. It also signals credibility and professionalism when you write a check from your business account or ask someone to pay to your business account.
If you don’t know where to get started, check out Novo.
They are perfect for new small businesses because they offer no monthly fees or minimum balances, and give you unlimited ATM fee refunds. On top of that, they give you access to tons of other free perks, like major discounts on places like Stripe, Quickbooks and Google Ads.
You will also want to investigate insurance options for your business as well. You want to be protected if you suffer loss or a lawsuit arising from your business activities.
Once you have this administrative stuff lined up, you are there. All you need to do is activate your marketing plan and launch your business!
Secret Cleaning Tips
If you have never cleaned a home before, you should become educated on how to properly do it. There are tons of articles and YouTube videos that address this, so I won’t provide a full tutorial here. But I have collected some tips on how to address some of the really tricky stuff that most tutorials don’t address.
My first tip is obvious, but I see too many cleaners neglecting it. Stay safe – always wear a mask and durable rubber gloves that will keep germs and gross stuff off you.
My other tips are going to focus on kitchens and baths, since they are the two most heavily used areas (and also are the most prone to needing intensive cleaning).
For Tough Kitchens
For stains that are tough to get out of in the kitchen, such as baked on food and grease, try oven cleaners like Goo Gone (which you can purchase at Amazon here). Remember that oven cleaners can work wonders on other surfaces that have baked on foods, like ranges and gas burners.
It’s amazing how the baked on stuff almost magically falls off when you use this. A must have.
For Tough Bathrooms
For bathrooms, toilets can often be a challenging thing to clean. They sometimes have water or rust stains (or ahem “waste” stains) that can be really difficult to remove. The easy solution is to use The Works.
Seriously, I have been a landlord and have managed many properties for over a decade and I have yet to encounter a toilet that The Works hasn’t been able to clean spotlessly (even when professionals swore that the stains were unremovable).
It’s widely available and you can buy it on Amazon here.
General Stains on Walls (and Tubs)
If regular spray-on cleaners aren’t working on a stain on the wall, try using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It works like magic (sorry bad pun) on things like crayons, built up dirt and other tough stains that can accumulate on walls.
I have also found it to be super effective in cleaning showers or tubs that have that gross layer of grayish film on the bottom that normal cleaners can’t seem to remove very well. You will still need to use a bit of elbow grease to get rid of it fully, even with the Magic Eraser, but it really works.
So there you have it – a simple step by step guide for starting your Airbnb or vacation rental cleaning business.
If you want to learn more about how to start a business in more detail, check out my ultimate beginner’s guide to starting a business.