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[2023] 12 Tips to Start a Junk Removal Business

Updated: Aug 14

Affiliate Marketing Disclosure

In a consumer-driven economy, it has never been easier to find your home full of clutter. Unfortunately, this can a little overwhelming and frustrating for homeowners and renters alike looking to open up space in their basements, attics, and closets.

But have you ever considered that from all of this frustration comes the opportunity to start and monetize a great side hustle?

That's right, similar to 1-800 Got Junk, you may be able to make a living hauling away and selling other people's trash.

Today, I'm back to talk about starting a junk removal business, as well as provide you ten tips to help get your side business off the ground.

What is a junk removal business?

A junk removal business is a service-oriented side hustle or business that focuses solely on going into people's homes, sheds, commercial sites, and other locations in order to clean out and remove any junk that they want moved.

These services are a win-win for individuals and your business alike.

Individuals, companies, and other clients get their spaces cleaned out for them, and you'll get paid and come across items you can resell at a profit as well. It is like having two revenue streams at the same time.

What services do junk removal businesses offer?

Junk removing and hauling companies offer an array of services, including:

  1. Residential cleanouts

  2. Commercial hauling

  3. Yard waste removal

  4. Cleaning out estates

  5. Cleaning and hauling

Generally, picking one niche is the best way to go, since different services have a variety of equipment needed and disposal methods. Logistically, picking too many services can quickly become a headache for those looking to get their businesses up and running.

How to start a junk removal business: 8 tips

I don't need to tell you that running a junk removal business can be highly profitable. Surprisingly, starting your own gig hauling away others' possessions isn't actually that difficult to do.

In fact, in order to get started, I suggest that you follow these eight steps:

  1. Conduct market research and business planning

  2. Establish your business legally

  3. Source your equipment and other business resources

  4. Pick your services

  5. Create a pricing model

  6. Market and promote your business

  7. Focus on customer service

  8. Grow your client base and business

There is no right or wrong amount of time to complete these steps. Rather, the pace in which you will be able to progress through the process depends on a number of factors.

1. Conduct market research

Before you get started, you'll want to perform some market research. Your goals here are simple. You want to understand:

  • Whether junk hauling is a viable business in your area

  • What types of services are most in demand

There are a number of ways in which you may opt to do market research. But today, I want to focus on three in particular:

  1. Internet research

  2. Live surveying

  3. Online polling

Internet research

The Internet can be a great way to learn and begin to validate your prospective business model. Start to read in an attempt to:

  • Size how large of an opportunity you may have in your area

  • How many competitors you'll have

  • How profitable you can be

The key with a local business like junk removal is to think through all of the local business risks that a national company may not have to contend with. A great example is disposing of the junk that you're not able to resell at a profit.

Depending on where you live, you may only have one or two landfills, dumps, or other disposal sites to consider. You need to make sure that the prices to dispose of items are not cost prohibitive to you starting your company.

Live surveying

I've found that connecting with people live is oftentimes the best way to get valuable answers to the questions you have, and this is no different with a junk removal business. Connecting live will help you truly see your target customers' pain points and understand where they're coming from.

You'll improve your surveying method over time, but you should look to get answers to these questions:

  • Do you have excess junk in your home/apartment?

  • Does it overwhelm you?

  • Would you pay for a solution to this?

  • What would that solution look like?

  • How much would you pay to get rid of your junk without having to do it yourself?

Over time, you'll develop your unique survey style. There is no perfect number of people to talk to from the onset, but I recommend you start with at least 10-20 individuals in your target client base.

Online polling

The third option you have to help you complete your market research is to complete some online polling. I don't think polling is quite as good as talking to people live, but it is an option, nonetheless.

You can create surveys using sites like SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics and define an audience.

Unfortunately, you never know who is actually reading the questions and who is just clicking through as quickly as possible.

2. Establish your junk removal business

Before you get started entering customer's homes, sheds, or places of work, you'll want to make sure that you are legally in good standing as an established and licensed business in your state of operation.

Establishing a business may seem daunting, but it is nothing more than a series of smaller mini-steps.

Pick a business structure

You'll likely want to formally pick a business structure. Your typical options include a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.

I'm a fan of limited liability corporations myself, since they separate your personal and business assets. They also shield your assets from any litigation that may occur against your business.

And while nobody wants to think about potential lawsuits, the reality is that a junk removal business is more risky than many other side hustles, since you'll be in and out of client homes and places of work.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships on the other hand can take your personal assets to pay off any business debts incurred. An S or C corporation is another option, though profits are double taxed, and they are expensive to establish.

Register with state and town

Before you begin hauling junk to dispose of or resell, it is critical to register your business with your state and town, if necessary.

I used Northwest Registered Agent to help start my business. Their services helped me establish my LLC and register it with the state, all for a couple hundred dollars.

It is some of the best money I've ever spent on my business.

Acquire an EIN

With your business formally established, you'll next want to acquire an employer identification number - EIN for short - from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file your taxes with each year.

Getting an EIN has never been easier. You'll just need to answer a few questions about your business.

You can find the EIN application here.

Get business insurance

I highly recommend that all entrepreneurs, particularly those visiting customer home or property, buy small business insurance to protect themselves in the event that it is needed.

Let's face it, things happen.

You could trip down the stairs with a couch in your hand, scratching valuable hard wood floors. You could break windows or hit a car. All of these unforeseen accidents require money to fix, money that you would have after filing a claim with your insurance company,

There are plenty of companies offering business insurance out there, but I like The Hartford in particular. They offer robust coverage for as little as $25 or so per month, but make sure to do your own research before you pick an insurer.

3. Buy your equipment

Presumably, you'll need to source a little bit of equipment to haul things from your job sites. And while it does depend on what type of junk you intend to haul, you'll likely need some or all of the following as you get started:

  • A truck/SUV/trailer/flatbed to haul your trash

  • A back brace if you lift heavy items

  • A dolly for awkward items

  • Tools like screwdrivers, ratchets, wrenches, etc to disassemble bulky items

  • Shovels or rakes

  • Brooms, dustpans, and other cleaning tools

  • Hard hats, safety goggles, steel tool belts, and other safety equipment as needed

4. Pick your junk removal services

Finally, the fun can begin. It's time to put your market research to work, to decide on what services you're going to offer and what junk to haul. Ideally, you'll want about two-three core services to start, which you can always add to over time. They should match with and fix their pain points.

For example, let's say you noticed a trend when surveying people in your area. Let's say multiple people told you that they have bulky furniture that needs to be disposed of and can't readily do so.

This would be an example of a service to consider offering, so long as you can figure out the logistics in a cost effective and profitable way. Remember that in an ideal environment, the items that you haul away will have a positive resale value.

5. Create a pricing model

Pricing your services can be a little more difficult to find out sometimes. It is a good idea to include pricing-based questions when conducting your market research. Don't be afraid to flat out ask "what would you pay for a service like this?" after somebody describes a service to you.

Ultimately, you will have to decide on a price, at least to start. You can always change your mind, but your price should achieve all of these things:

  • Make the customer feel value

  • Be profitable for you

  • Be worth your time

Many of the best businesses achieve all three of these things.

6. Market and promote your services

With your services and initial price points considered, it is time to go find some clients! Marketing your junk hauling is really important to do and can lead to an influx of customers. There are a number of social media platforms and approaches to consider, but no matter which you take, the key is to make your target customers feel emotion.

With a business like this, photos seem to be an incredibly important marketing element. Showing before and after photos of spaces after they've been cleaned out can be a valuable way to help potential customers realize that the change they seek can become reality.


With local service-based businesses like these, I recommend you start by establishing a Facebook business profile. Here's why.

Facebook is a great community for growing businesses because it is really easy to connect with others in your community. Plus, their robust advertising capabilities make it extremely easy (and affordable) to reach your target customers.

You can even target by zip code or town.

7. Focus on customer service

As your marketing efforts continue to evolve, you will find and sign clients. Once you do, you need to put your time and energy into impressing them. Your first clients form the backbone in which the rest of your company's foundation will be based.

Here are some tips to help you provide the best customer service experience possible:

  • Always leave a job site clean: Customers will notice when you use a push broom, dustpan, and other quick cleaning supplies.

  • Always check for satisfaction: If a client is home, it is always a good idea to assure that he/she is satisfied before you leave a job site.

  • Be careful: You are entering somebody's home or place of work. Pay attention so that you don't scratch floors, walls, or otherwise cause damage to a customer's property or home.

And while businesses like junk removal likely can't depend on repeat and regular customers, your goal here is simple. You want your customers to leave positive reviews, either on your Facebook page, Yelp, Google Business profile, or another location so that they can be seen online by others.

8. Grow your junk removal business

As you sign clients and impress them, your focus will soon turn towards growing your business further. In time, you may even be able to afford hiring help, allowing you to leave your day job and take on this business full-time.

Scaling your junk removal business isn't easy to do, and you'll likely need to figure out how to:

  • Dispose of greater piles of junk: Can you make agreements with landfills and other disposal sites in your area? How will you get this trash to these disposal sites?

  • How will you keep track of customers, work statues, and invoicing? There are all types of small business software worth leveraging in this space. As you take on additional clients, it is very important that you stay organized.

More tips to help you get started

The eight tips that I already shared are a great start to help you get your business started.

Luckily for you, I've got four additional tips to help your junk hauling business be a little less difficult. I've not written these in any certain order per se, but these are just business lessons that I've learned that are directly applicable here.

Let's jump right into them.

9. Focus on items you can resell

I've actually mentioned this a few times already, but it is in your best interest to haul items that you know you can resell. I'm not telling you to deceive an item's owner, but oftentimes, people are willing to pay money to get things of modest or lesser value removed.

Examples of items that are junk for some, but may have some resale value for you include:

  • Lamps

  • Furniture

  • Electronics

  • Dishware

  • Tools

  • Musical instruments

If you're a creative mind, you may even be able to combine two side hustles in one. For instance, you may be able to fetch a higher sale price if you fix up the furniture in an attempt to flip it.

10. Sell on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Craigslist

I haven't talked much about where to sell the junk you find that still has some value. Depending on your business model, I find that three platforms in particular offer the best opportunity for side hustlers:

  • Facebook Marketplace

  • eBay

  • Craigslist

11. Focus on items you can move easily

Unless you're planning to hire help and invest in equipment needed to move heavy furniture or items, it is generally a good idea to focus more on decluttering spaces for people instead of hauling larger items.

Not only will this keep your costs down, it will also make your job easier.

12. Stick to a defined geographic area

Removing junk and hauling it somewhere can be expensive. In addition to your disposal costs, you'll be confronted with:

  • Vehicle maintenance costs

  • Gasoline/fuel expenses

  • Potential road tolls

When in doubt, staying closer is better.


I want to hear from you. Would you start a junk removal company?

And if you have, is it profitable? Tell me in the comments below!

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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and worked for one of the world's largest asset management firms before starting his own consulting practice.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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