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How to Start a Trash Can Cleaning Business in 7 Easy Steps

Discover how to start a trash can cleaning business with our step-by-step guide. Start planning to launch and grow your own successful business.

GoSite Team
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Why Start a Trash Can Cleaning Business? | Identify Demand for Trash Can Cleaning in Your Area | Build a Business Plan | Invest in the Right Equipment | Register Your Business | Create a Marketing Strategy For Your Trash Can Cleaning Business | Organize Your Business Operations | Deliver Exceptional Customer Service | Starting Your Own Trash Can Cleaning Business Is Easier Than You Think 

Dirty trash cans are a common issue that everyone experiences. However, very few individuals enjoy the unpleasant task of cleaning them. This is where a trash can cleaning business can be of service. With the appropriate equipment and a commitment to providing excellent customer service, you can transform this widespread problem into a thriving business.

But how do you progress from having nothing to running a profitable trash can cleaning enterprise? If the prospect of delivering a much-needed service and constructing a business from the ground up excites you, then you're in the right place. 

In this article, we'll outline how to establish a trash can cleaning business in seven straightforward steps. From understanding your target market to promoting your new venture, we've got you covered. Get ready to get your hands dirty, dive in, and start making the world a cleaner (and less pungent) place.

Why Start a Trash Can Cleaning Business?

As far as business launches go, trash can cleaning (or trash bin and dumpster detailing) are among the easiest small businesses to start.



These kinds of businesses have pretty low startup and operating costs. Getting started is as simple as acquiring basic equipment (which can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $30,000, depending on the type of vehicle you need and the volume you plan to start servicing on day one) and filing applications for proper licensing in your area.

If you’re working by yourself, your overhead expenses will be almost nothing. You can easily store your equipment in a garage while you set up your base of operations from your home.

Conversely, your potential to earn high-paying customers is very good. Both residential and commercial property owners (and managers) need assistance with their waste-management-provided dumpsters, bins, and cans. These trash cans are difficult to clean without pressure washing equipment and industrial cleaning supplies.

@trashcancleaning

How to be a trash can cleaning company instead of another pressure washing company. How to start a trash can cleaning business or trash bin cleaning business. #trashcancleaning #trashbincleaning #smallbusiness #entrpreneur #pressurewashing #greenscreen

♬ original sound - Trashcancleaning


Offering Trash Can Cleaning as an Add-on for Your Pressure Washing Business

Adding trash can cleaning to your pressure washing business can be advantageous for various reasons. 

1. It can create a new source of income and increase the total amount a customer spends per visit.
2. It can be an efficient use of equipment as you can use the same tools for both services. 
3. It can give you a competitive edge over other local pressure washing businesses. 
4. It can lead to more frequent bookings with clients as trash cans need to be cleaned more regularly. 
5. It can be beneficial for customers who prefer to avoid the unpleasant task of cleaning trash cans. 

However, it's essential to consider potential challenges such as proper wastewater disposal and logistics of scheduling, pricing, and insurance implications. But by and large, these considerations only require moderate adjustments to your business operations and have tremendous upsides.

1. Identify Demand for Trash Can Cleaning in Your Area

The Market Potential for Trash Can Cleaning

In general, all cleaning services are in high demand. 

For example, the cleaning services market share in the United States is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2021 to 2030 – a remarkably high number for any small business. The report also states that rapid urbanization has had a favorable impact on the cleaning services business. This prediction means that the total size of the cleaning services industry in the US will get 6.2% bigger every year, consistently, for the next seven years.

As it happens, demand for trash can cleaning services trends even higher. But this demand is so new that there’s not a lot of market research available.

The Market Potential for Trash Can Cleaning


Source: Google Trends

But Google Trends is one way to get an idea of how demand for trash can cleaning has grown in the last two years. As you can see in the chart above, Google users have searched “trash can cleaning” far more since 2020 than ever before.

The Market Potential for Trash Can Cleaning _2

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Source: Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Other keyword explorer tools (like Ahrefs above) show an incredible uptick in search traffic (see Volume window in images above) for trash can cleaning services related terms in recent years.

These search trends indicate that people are using search engines - Google, social media, maps, etc. - to learn more about trash can cleaning. No doubt, a high percentage of these people are looking for service providers in their area.

Identifying Demand for Trash Bin Cleaning Services in Your Area

Of course, just because there’s a surging demand for trash can cleaning across North America doesn’t guarantee success in your neighborhood or city. Still, there are a few things you can do to get a sense of whether or not this business would be successful where you live.


  • Talk to Existing or Potential Customers: Working from your current book of business (if you’re already running another operation) or people you know, start asking questions. Find out if they’ve looked for this particular service before, or if someone provided it, how much they’d spend. 
  • Use Social Media: To determine if there is a demand for your service, you can utilize social media platforms such as Facebook community groups or Nextdoor to inquire if your neighbors would be interested in using your service.
  • Try a Test Run: To test the level of demand for your service, you may consider providing a discounted rate to a select number of customers as a trial. By doing so, you can evaluate their feedback and the level of interest generated, which can help you determine whether there is sufficient demand to offer the service regularly.
  • Look Around: By simply observing the condition of trash cans in your local area, you can gain insight into potential demand. If you frequently come across dirty cans, it could indicate that property owners might be interested in a cleaning service.

It's important to keep in mind that launching a new service always involves some level of risk, and it may require time to establish a customer base. It's crucial to remain patient and open to making adjustments based on what you learn as you begin offering the service.

2. Build a Business Plan

Business plans can be long and extensive if you’re looking for some funding. Or they can be short and straightforward, making sure to include necessary financial predictions and accounting opportunities and challenges specific to your area.

Identify Your Target Market

Not every person in your community is going to want trash bin cleaning. It’s up to you to figure out exactly who those people are.

Additionally, you may not want to service every single person looking for the services you offer. For example, you might be more profitable cleaning restaurant dumpsters over neighborhood trash bins (or vice versa). Or, it might be too costly to service the entire city you live in, as opposed to filling your schedule with jobs located within a 5-mile radius.

By identifying your target market, you’ll be smart about who you market too. This approach saves you time and money, and it ensures you make higher profits faster.

Price Your Services

The pricing for trash can cleaning services is generally determined by the number of trash cans to be cleaned and the frequency of cleaning per year. Typically, a flat fee is charged for one or two bins, with an additional fee for each extra trash can. Although some services may offer one-time cleaning, most prefer customers to follow a regular schedule.

Trash can cleaning is typically a lower-priced service, so the more weekly/monthly bookings you can get, the better it will be for your bottom line.

Price Your Services
Source: Example pricing sheet from Tidy Trash Bins in Janesville, Wisconsin

That said, your particular pricing structure comes down to the following factors:

  • What your operating costs are
  • What your competitors charge (and how your services might be similar or different from theirs)
  • What customers are willing to pay
  • Whether you have an opportunity to offer add-ons, upsells, or other related services

Example pricing sheet from The Clean Can Company in Dallas

Source: Example pricing sheet from The Clean Can Company in Dallas, Texas

It’s likely that your prices will change, especially during your first year or two in business. But these tips will help you arrive at the best possible pricing structure to launch your business.

Forecast Initial Costs and Sales

The most important part of any business plan is accounting for your costs and having a decent idea of what you can make in sales.

Begin first by listing your business costs. You should also separate them by cost type:

  • Startup costs: These are one-time setup costs you need to get started, such as purchasing equipment, business licenses, etc.
  • Fixed costs: These are costs that remain constant month over month, such as rent, utilities, vehicle payments, etc.
  • Variable costs: These costs rise and fall based on how much business you get. For example, increased bookings mean that you’ll have higher transportation and water disposal costs.

If you’re comfortable building your own financial statements, we recommend you use a spreadsheet or QuickBooks to draft some pro forma statements. But if you’re like most people, you might prefer to work with an experienced accountant or bookkeeper to complete this portion of the business plan.

3. Invest in the Right Equipment

There’s currently a debate online among trash can cleaners on whether it’s better to operate with simple pressure washing equipment or full bin cleaning systems. Whichever you choose comes down to what your business plan tells you is the best way forward from a financial standpoint.



Additional equipment you’ll need includes…


1. A reliable vehicle (ideally a truck or van)
2. Tow hitch (if using a bin cleaning system)
3. Marketing tools (vehicle wraps, flyers, website, small business management software, etc.)
4. Cleaning supplies (solvents, degreasers, brushes, etc.)
5. Water source equipment
6. Water disposal equipment
7. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

4. Register Your Business

The procedure for legally registering a business in the United States varies depending on where live and plan to operate, but there are some general steps that you will most likely have to follow:


1. Select a Business Structure: The first step is to determine your business structure. This could be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Your chosen structure impacts your liability, taxes, and the paperwork you need to file.
2. Register Your Business Name: You must choose a business name. If you're a sole proprietorship and using your own name for business, you may not need to register. However, if you're using a fictitious business name (DBA), you'll need to register it with your state or county clerk. For LLCs and corporations, the business name is registered when you submit your articles of organization or incorporation.
3. Acquire a Federal Tax ID: Also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), this is required for corporations and LLCs and recommended for other business types. You can apply for an EIN through the IRS website.
4. Register with State and Local Agencies: Depending on your business structure, you may need to register with your state's Secretary of State, State Revenue Office, and/or State Unemployment Insurance Tax agency. You'll also need to check on any local permits or licenses you might need.
5. Obtain Required Permits and Licenses: Depending on your business's specifics and local regulations, you may require certain permits or licenses to operate. This may include a business license from your city or county, and potentially an environmental permit for the disposal of waste water.
6. Get Insured: Make sure you have the appropriate business insurance. This often includes liability insurance, and if you have employees, workers' compensation insurance.
7. Establish Your Business Accounting: This involves setting up a system for managing your books and establishing a business bank account.

Remember, these are general steps and may not all be applicable to your situation. Always check with your state, city, and county government for specific requirements in your area. It can also be beneficial to seek advice from a business attorney or accountant to ensure you're meeting all legal and financial obligations.

5. Create a Marketing Strategy For Your Trash Can Cleaning Business

Getting those first few customers can be as simple as talking to neighbors or going door-to-door in subdivisions or office parks. As you grow, you’ll want marketing that gives you a steady stream of business without draining you of time and cash.

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Online Presence

Being easy to find is critical for a business at any stage. As we noted above, searches for trash can cleaning have multiplied in the last three years. The steps you take to be easy to find and engage online will produce more sales in the long run than you could get by cold calling or knocking on doors.

The key to a strong online presence is…

  • Google Business Profile: You’ll need to claim and verify your business with Google to show up in search results and Google Maps.
  • Online Reviews: Online reviews (especially on Google) also help you rise in local search results, as well as increase your credibility in your area.
  • Website: A simple, clear website that is SEO-friendly and mobile-friendly gives customers more ways to learn about and engage with your business. 
  • Accurate NAP across all platforms: NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. If you’re using online directories to further enhance your online presence (including social media profiles), it’s critical that your business information remain consistent everywhere.

Online Presence
Source: GoSite Business Listing Management

For a more in-depth look at tactics and tools for a stronger online presence, check out our guide here: Local Business Marketing: How to Promote Your Business in Your Neighborhood, City, & Region.

In-person Sales Tactics

Once you have a reliable online presence, it’s still important that you get out there and meet potential customers. Ways to do this include:

  • Going door-to-door
  • Attending community events
  • Joining local networking groups
  • Participate in local online communities like Facebook Groups and Nextdoor
  • Ask your existing customers for referrals

Local Advertising

If you have a few extra marketing dollars to spend, you can leverage some advertising to get sales rolling. The most common mediums for trash can cleaners are…

  • Facebook ads
  • Google ads (SEM)
  • Local sponsorships
  • Wrapping your vehicle
  • Local mailers (Every Door Direct Mail, Money Mailer, Valpak, etc.)

6. Organize Your Business Operations

As you get more and more jobs under your belt, you’ll notice ways in which you can save time by being more efficient. 

For example, planning routes to collect and clean trash bins is something you can improve over time. Other examples include ways to schedule jobs, send estimates/invoices, and collect payment.

Getting your operations in order will likely be a combination of doing things differently and carefully adding small business management technology to make your life simpler.

In short, the beginning of your cleaning business will be all about getting new customers. As you grow, your priority will slowly shift to streamlining your business so that you can accomplish more with less.

7. Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

If you know how to make and keep your customers happy most of the time, you will be wildly successful. That’s because keeping your customers for as long as possible has shown to be the secret to high business profits, regardless of the product or service you sell.

Deliver Exceptional Customer Service
Source: Nextsale Blog and act!

In addition to doing great work and being dependable, you’ll want to develop your people skills as you encounter various challenges with customers.

For example, miscommunication happens with everyone. You might double-book yourself and not realize it, or perhaps you weren’t completely clear on what your customer wanted. In those moments, it can be difficult to not get defensive and focus on coming to a quick resolution.

It won’t be possible to make everyone happy all the time. But if you know how to make your customer feel valued and be professional at all times, your chances of retaining your best customers is very high.

Starting Your Own Trash Can Cleaning Business Is Easier Than You Think

And there you have it: the complete guide to starting your own trash can cleaning business in seven simple steps. With this guide at your disposal, you are now equipped to transform a common household chore into a thriving enterprise. Remember, every prosperous business begins with a solid foundation, and now you have the blueprint to create yours.

Starting your own business may appear intimidating, but with determination, meticulous planning, and a focus on providing exceptional customer service, your trash can cleaning business can flourish in more ways than one. Keep in mind that every filthy trash can is a potential customer, and with millions of households throughout the country, the opportunities are endless.

So, go ahead, tackle those dirty cans, and make your mark on the industry. Your journey into the world of entrepreneurship is just beginning. Best of luck, future business owners, and remember: the world is a cleaner place because of you!



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