Purchase basic equipment or use your own. I own a good Royal Vacuum cleaner that I used for my cleaning business. I did add it to my insurance policy in case it broke. A good vacuum cleaner is invaluable. For most other cleaning equipment, I began with my own and a trip to Target for some extras. After a few months, I purchased most of my cleaning supplies with coupons. If I was bigger, I would definitely have looked into professional cleaning equipment. I used a mop, broom, and dustpan, toilet brush, bathtub brush and grout brush. Everything else was cleaned with rags made from old towels, dishrags and cut up t-shirts. Microfiber cloths are great for dusting and I had a couple of these. I think that t-shirts make great mirror and window cleaners, but need to be washed separately from towels. Newspaper works better and doesn’t streak at all, but it turns your hands or gloves black.
Spending several hundred dollars on a good vacuum will be your best investment. Make sure to have it covered without a deductible by your liability insurance. More often than not, my vacuum cleaner was better than my customer’s vacuum cleaner. I would usually bring my own under those circumstances. I used theirs when it was a long haul to bring mine and their vacuum was adequate.
I tended to only use cleaning products that you can buy from your local Target, partly because I only had a small amount of money at a time to reinvest in supplies and partly because my town didn’t have a commercial cleaning supplier. Whenever I purchased cleaning supplies, I had the cashier ring them up separately and paid for them with my business account.
Ordering from a commercial supplier would have required me to either pay for shipping or travel over 40 minutes for supplies. I did order a few things from Amazon.com under their free super saver shipping option such as my cleaning caddies. I suggest visiting your local cleaning supply company to see what is available and compare prices.
As a savings option, I collected cleaning coupons and would purchase supplies on sale with coupons. For the most part, name brands tend to work better than store brands. Although I did often use dollar store level dusting spray, because I couldn’t tell the difference between it and an expensive brand and neither could any of my customers.
My favorite chemical cleaning products were Dow Scrubbing Bubbles and Clorox spray cleaner with bleach; both were trustworthy and did a great job. I’m sure both are toxic, but neither seemed to bother my allergies. However, it would be much cheaper to clean tubs with baking soda or vinegar solutions.
I used vinegar and water for glass unless the client didn’t want me to because of the smell. Vinegar smell dissipates shortly though. I think that vinegar and water does a better job than most chemical glass cleaners for a fraction of the cost.
Some cleaning services use green products to clean; I only had two customers request this as an option. I also unfortunately don’t think that green cleaning products clean as well for stubborn things like rusty toilet stains or lime and calcium deposits on faucet fixtures. They work great for things like all-purpose cleaners and vinegar and water for windows. I actually think that vinegar and water works better than Windex and doesn’t leave blue streaks. Later on I discuss green cleaning in more detail.
My basic supplies consisted of toilet bowl cleaner, a scrubbing cleaner such as Soft Scrub, degreaser like 409, dusting spray, window cleaner or vinegar water, bathtub cleaner like Scrubbing Bubbles, and an all-purpose cleaner for counters. I also had a regular floor cleaner like Armstrong Floor Cleaner.
Some of the specialty cleaning supplies that I regularly needed were stainless steel cleaner, ceramic stove-top cleaner, granite counter top cleaner, wood floor cleaners, mildew, rust or other stain removers as well as copper cleaner for one house with copper faucets. I used Murphy’s Oil Soap or Bona for wood floors and Bon Ami for copper.
I had my customers supply anything special or unusual that they needed or wanted. Over time, I did purchase stainless cleaner and wood floor cleaner because of the frequency of needing them. By the way, stainless appliances only look good for 10 minutes after you clean them. As soon as they are touched, they have fingerprints again.