What licenses are needed to start a cleaning business

What licenses are needed to start a cleaning business

Establishing a cleaning company is more than just washing floors; it also entails ensuring you comply with the law and earning your customers’ trust. It is essential to get the required licenses and permits to operate legally. From general business licenses to specialized permits for hazardous materials handling, each requirement ensures safety, quality, and adherence to local regulations. Additionally, insurance protects the business and its clients from accidents and liabilities. With these foundational elements in place, a cleaning business can thrive by providing reliable, safe, and professional services to its clientele. This comprehensive guide will explore What licenses are needed to start a cleaning business.

Overview of the Cleaning Business

From sparkling homes to spotless offices, cleaning services keep our world tidy and healthy. It’s not just about fighting dirt; it’s about convenience and creating a fresh space to live, work, and play. Whether you’re a one-person crew or a cleaning giant, happy customers and green practices are the keys to success in this growing industry.

Why You Need a License to Start a Cleaning Business

A license is frequently necessary when starting a cleaning service to ensure it works lawfully and complies with local laws. Obtaining a permit demonstrates that the business meets health, safety, and insurance requirements, which helps protect the clients and business owners. It also establishes credibility and professionalism, increasing the likelihood that it will draw clients and land deals. Additionally, a license can provide access to certain resources and opportunities, such as bidding on government contracts or joining industry associations, which can be crucial for the growth and success of the business.

Importance of Proper Licensing

Licensing is like the guardrails on the innovation highway. It keeps things fair by giving creators their dues, which fuels their fire to keep making awesome stuff.  It also ensures quality – licensed products must pass inspection, so you know you’re getting something safe and reliable.  And lastly, it avoids crashes. Proper licensing keeps everyone on the same page, legally speaking, so there are no misunderstandings or lawsuits. Overall, it’s a win-win for creators and consumers alike.

What licenses are needed to start a cleaning business

Essential Licenses

General Business License

A general business license, sometimes a business tax certificate, is required to operate any business legally within a city or county. This license allows you to conduct business in your chosen jurisdiction. Fees and requirements change based on the area, so checking with your local city or county government office is essential.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) (if applicable)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a federal tax ID number required by the IRS for businesses that have employees or operate as a corporation or partnership. Even if you are a sole proprietor without employees, obtaining an EIN can be beneficial for separating your personal and business finances.

Vendor’s License/Sales Tax Permit

Should your cleaning company sell goods (such as cleaning materials) directly to customers, you might require sales tax permission or a vendor’s license. With this permit, you can collect sales tax from customers but still need to send the money to the state. The process and requirements for obtaining this permit vary by state.

Additional Permits (Depending on Location and Services)

Doing Business As (DBA) License

A DBA license, also known as a fictitious name registration, is necessary if you plan to operate your cleaning business under a name different from your legal name. It allows you to use and advertise your business under your chosen name legally.

Environmental Permits (hazardous chemicals)

You may need environmental permits if your cleaning business uses or stores hazardous chemicals. These permits ensure that you comply with federal and state regulations regarding the handling, storing, and getting rid of harmful materials to save the public’s health and the environment.

Health and Safety Permits (biohazardous waste)

Health and safety permits are required for businesses dealing with biohazardous waste, such as medical cleaning services. These permits ensure that you follow the proper procedures for handling, transporting, and disposing of biohazardous materials to prevent contamination and health risks.

Local Zoning Permit

A local zoning permit ensures your business location complies with local zoning laws. It is especially important if you run your business from home or operate out of a commercial space. Zoning laws vary widely, so check with your local office to ensure compliance.

Vehicle Permit (if using vehicles for cleaning)

If your business uses vehicles for cleaning services, such as mobile car detailing or transportation of cleaning supplies, you may need a vehicle permit. This permit ensures your vehicles are registered and meet safety and environmental standards.

Fire Code Permit (depending on services and products)

A fire code permit may be required if your business uses or stores flammable materials. This permit ensures your business complies with local fire safety regulations to prevent fire hazards.

Wastewater discharge is permitted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

If your cleaning business discharges wastewater, you may need an NPDES permit. This permit, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or state agencies, regulates the discharge of pollutants into water sources to protect water quality.

How To Get a License for Your Cleaning Business

The exact licensing requirements for your cleaning business will depend on your location, but here’s a general breakdown to get you started:

Check Your State’s Requirements

Every state in the US requires a business license to operate a cleaning service. It’s usually obtained through your state’s Department of Revenue or Taxation. They might redirect you to your county or city for further licensing.

General Licenses You Might Need

  • Business License: Most states require a general business license to operate. It allows you to function legally and collect sales tax.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): This is obtained from the IRS and is necessary to hire employees. You can apply for an EIN easily on IRS (.gov)

Additional Considerations

  • DBA (Doing Business As): If you’re operating under a name different from your legal business name, you’ll need a DBA registration from your county administration office.
  • Local Permits: Depending on your services, some cities or counties require additional permits.

Important Details

  • The application process typically involves submitting paperwork and paying a fee.
  • Licenses often need to be renewed periodically (usually annually or every few years).
  • Additional requirements like opening a business bank account or obtaining a surety bond might exist.

How Much Does a Cleaning Business License Cost?

A cleaning business license can cost between $50 and $150, though this might vary based on several criteria. The main reason for this variation is location. Most cities require a general business license to operate, and these fees can differ between cities and counties. In some states, there may also be a state-level business license requirement on top of the city or county license.

Another factor affecting cost is the type of services your business offers.  While many cleaning businesses only deal with residential cleaning, some may offer additional services like carpet cleaning or window washing.  The cost of these new services may increase if they call for more licenses or permissions.

How Long Does It Take to Get a License?

Usually, getting a cleaning business license requires some time. Although the precise duration may differ depending on the region, the process will often be finished in a few weeks. It involves completing the application, submitting the required documentation, and paying the fees.  Most cities will process your application relatively quickly, meaning you could wait less than a month to get your license and officially begin operating your cleaning business.

How you protect your cleaning business


There are two basic ways that insurance functions as a safety net for your cleaning business:

  • Protects from Accidents: Imagine a client slips on your wet floor and gets hurt. General liability insurance would pay for their medical expenses and potential legal costs. It also applies to property damage you accidentally cause while cleaning.
  • Protects Your Employees: Workers’ compensation insurance kicks in if an employee gets injured. It assists individuals in getting well financially by paying for their missed income and medical expenses. It is mandatory in most places.


Bonds don’t directly protect your cleaning business but rather your clients. They guarantee customers that if a worker steals from them, the bond will cover their losses up to a predetermined amount. Bonds help build client trust and can give your business an edge over competitors who aren’t bonded.


Securing the necessary licenses and permits is a crucial first step in operating a cleaning business legally and credibly—the particular requirements change based on your location and the services you provide. However, a general business license, employer identification number (if applicable), and vendor’s license (if selling products) are often essential.  Depending on your situation, additional permits like DBA, environmental, health and safety, local zoning, vehicle, fire code, and NPDES might be required. By researching your state and local regulations, you can ensure your cleaning business is properly licensed and ready for success.

Tags: How Much Does a Cleaning Business License Cost?, How To Get a License for Your Cleaning Business, How you protect your cleaning business, Overview of the Cleaning Business, What licenses are needed to start a cleaning business, Why You Need a License to Start a Cleaning Business

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