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How to Start an Exterior Cleaning Business: 6 Tips for Success
Posted on Wednesday, August 12th 2020

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Commercial and residential cleaning services — both interior and exterior — are good business. For instance, overall, exterior cleaning alone saw an average industry growth of 2 percent from 2015 to 2020.

It can be grueling, time-consuming work for a homeowner to clean their own home exterior in between career and family obligations — and many people work multiple jobs these days. Hiring a cleaning service to handle cleaning gutters, storm windows, screens, and other outside surfaces is a big help.

Likewise, due to the busy lifestyles of homeowners, cleaning interior elements such as windows, mirrors, ceiling fans, skylights, chandeliers, and more tend to disappear from “DIY” lists. It makes sense to hire specialists to do the cleaning — and do it well. And some tasks around the outside of a home can be unsafe for the novice to take on as a weekend project.

The same goes for commercial buildings, where janitorial staff may not be cut out for these specialized tasks.

But providing exterior and interior cleaning services for residences and businesses requires more than just picking up some cleaning supplies.

Franchise owners operating a branded cleaning services business will have a ready-made system for success, but an independent entrepreneur may need to consider the following tips when starting out.

Business Plan

You may say, “I’m only cleaning windows and gutters and stuff; I don’t need a business plan,” but it’s prudent to create one no matter what type of business you’re starting — especially if you need to apply for a small-business loan to get started.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, but your business plan will set forth your description of your business, a summary of who is involved and does what, what services you will offer, how you will market your services, what your plan is for operating and managing the business, and how much (if any) funding you need.

Business Entity

Again, no matter how simple your operation will be, you need a formal business entity, if for no other reason than to help shield you personally from liability in the event of property damage or injury to someone.

Consult an attorney for full advice on whether to choose an LLC, a corporation, or other partnership. Remember also that the Small Business Administration has many resources available as you begin to form your enterprise.


Obviously, you will need ladders. How many and what size depend on your budget and your crew. Also, be sure to use some type of ladder stabilizer, to keep you stable and keep your ladder from pressing against certain surfaces and gutters.

For windows, you’ll need squeegees, extension poles, t-bars and mops, scrapers, cleaning solutions and buckets, towels, belts, and holsters.

For gutter cleaning, you’ll be digging lots of wet, rotten leaves and other organic matter — even dead rodents and birds — out of gutters, so get some quality rubber gloves. You may also need a rake, a shovel, buckets, tarps, or a wheelbarrow to collect and dispose of gutter contents you remove.

Screen cleaning requires unique tools as well.

Regardless of the scope or menu of services you decide to offer, you’ll also need software for billing and providing estimates.


You need transportation that can tote your supplies and your ladder or ladders. If it’s just you, you can even put a rack on top of your car.

Depending on how much business you’re doing and how many helpers you have, you may need a truck or van.


Whatever can go wrong very well might, especially doing work that has some degree of danger. Cover your business in case it does by getting insurance coverage.

At the very least, you’ll need general liability insurance (a policy in the name of your business entity as the insured) and commercial auto insurance for your vehicle.

If all goes well and you grow the business to include a team of workers, you may also need workers’ compensation insurance.


This part can be fun. Find a creative and catchy name for your business to make it stand out and be memorable.

Start with business cards and handbills advertising your services. 

Social media such as a Facebook page is a great way to begin spreading your reach.

A basic website for your cleaning business, with your contact information and a list of services, is also advisable.

If you choose to buy a franchise cleaning business, such as Fish Window Cleaning, the company’s successful system will have you set up and in business efficiently and with guidance and support.

About Fish Window Cleaning®

Fish Window Cleaning was founded in St. Louis in 1978 and is now the largest window cleaning franchise in the country, with over 275 locations nationwide. FISH provides service to more than 200,000 commercial and residential customers nationwide. Free estimates and customized service plans tailored to each customer’s needs and budget are just a few offered benefits.

For more information, visit www.fishwindowcleaning.com, or call 1-877-707-FISH (3474).