How to Start an Estate Clean Out Business

by Shanika Chapman ; Updated September 26, 2017
Start a Cleanup Business

When a loved one dies, surviving family members or executors may turn to estate clean-out companies to help them get rid of trash and debris or to help them determine if items are salvageable or have value. To compete with auction houses and estate sale companies, clean-out companies may have someone on staff familiar with valuables and appraising goods so that family members can avoid the hassle of an auction and sell their goods immediately. Additionally, estate clean-out businesses may offer partial clean-out, junk removal, furniture pickup and commercial or residential cleaning.

Gain knowledge about the value of various goods if you intend to operate a clean-out company that also purchases furniture, antiques or collectibles from each estate. Before you buy, you want to know that the goods will sell. Conduct research online via and online antique stores or by perusing local antique stores. Consult with an antiques dealer or family friend who is well-versed in antiques or collectibles. You’ll also need to establish a venue in which to sell these goods, either through a dealer or by opening a store yourself.

Secure a location in which to house furniture, clothing and other goods. When starting out, you can even simply rent storage space and then use your home office to conduct the accounting side of the business. However, if you intend to eventually expand your business and hire employees, you’ll need an official job site. A storefront will also give you much more visibility.

Contact your county clerk and register your business. Procure a federal tax ID from the IRS and purchase business liability insurance. If you intend to have employees, consider establishing a limited liability company, which is a business entity similar to a corporation and offers its owners a degree of liability, or a corporation, which will reassure clients that you are a reputable business that will be around for a while. When dealing with estates, clients are apt to be wary of your offers for their valuables and personal items. To further reassure clients that you are a legitimate business, consider purchasing bonding coverage, which protects against employee theft.

Become a certified carpet cleaner or upholstery technician through the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration. Knowing how to restore carpets, fabric and upholstery will prove invaluable in this business.

Purchase hauling equipment, safety gear, uniforms, office supplies and accounting software, cleaning products, shelves and racks to store your goods, a camera for cataloging goods and dump containers. Outfit your commercial moving van with your permit number and business information.

Get quotes from local recycling facilities and landfills for your recyclables and trash. Team up with a charitable organization that will take those items that can’t be resold.

Create a website for your business. On it include the name of the charities that you work with, how you price goods, your service radius and an “About Me” page, detailing how you got started.

Advertise your cleaning business in local directories online and off. Contact churches and funeral parlors about advertising your business.


  • Hire strong and reliable assistants to help you lift heavy furniture and clean. Purchase workers' compensation insurance for your employees.

About the Author

Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.

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