How to Start a Shoe Laundry Business in Your City

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Written by BusinessAlligators Support

Support Staff at BusinessAlligators is a team of business experts led by Shilpi Singh Trusted by over 100K readers worldwide.

November 3, 2017

Shoe laundry/ cleaning business, in spite of being a novelty startup idea, is a viable proposition, especially in the urban set up where the pace of life is really high. This, combined with the awareness of hygiene and footwear care is making this business increasingly popular. A shoe laundry or cleaning business usually involves the services of collecting shoes, getting them cleaned, repaired and polished as required, and delivering them at the client’s doorsteps. Additional services might include washing, color correction, maintenance services, footwear restoration and so on. A popular IBIS report highlights 3 most crucial factors for the Shoe Repair Industry as:

Accessibility to consumers, qualified workforce and having a loyal customer base

In the US alone, an average consumer spends 155.82 USD on laundry and cleaning supplies and the revenue of the compound cleaning manufacturing industry is estimated to be US $57,550.9 million. The global footwear industry is expected to garner US $3,71.8 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 5.5% during the years 2015-2020. Becoming a shoeshine professional is something that requires no rigorous training, the investment is low and one can set up the business in various locations. However, the right preparations are needed before starting a shoe laundry business. Below is a step by step approach for initiating a successful shoe laundry business. Take a look.

Niche and Demographics

Firstly, determine the kind of shoe business you intend to start and what kind of services you plan to offer your clients. Doing this will help you determine the machinery you will need and the target audience of your business. You can think of starting from one segment initially and build upon your services and machinery as and when the business picks up. Market segmentation for a shoe cleaning business can be done in the following categories:

  • Gender- Males or Females
  • Commerical Shoe Cleaning
  • Age- All age groups
  • Occupation- Business people or elite class
  • Area- Primarily urban

Moreover, one can cater to one or more of the following shoe categories for his or her shoe business:

  • Leather shoes
  • Fabric Shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Sports Shoes

Budget Needed

Shoe laundry business a low budget business idea which can easily be started by anyone. Major budgets involved are:

  • Location rent: Rs. 10K- Rs30K per month
  • Machinery and supplies: Rs. 2 lakh
  • Employees: Rs. 1 lakh per month
  • Advertising: As per requirement

Business Plan for Shoe Laundry Business

It is important to have a business plan in place before starting your business. Before going into the shoe laundry business, write down the entire process that would go cleaning the type of shoes you intend to cater to and also how you plan to extend services to your clients. Figure out your target audience and a plan of action of how you would be promoting your business. Calculate a start-up budget and expected revenue return. There can be various ways to start this kind of business.

1. You can either start this business by owning a franchise. This is by far the safest ways, especially for beginners.

2. Else, you can start the business from home. Experience and knowledge about the shoe cleaning business are essential. Besides, sufficient space to start your operation is important too, predominantly for washing, storage and carrying out official work including delivery.

3. Another viable option is to start a business from a retail store. Depending on your budget, the size of your retail store can be determined. Alternatively, you can set up a small space for taking orders and delivery, while washing operations can be carried out remotely.

Process Involved in Shoe Cleaning

The entire shoe cleaning process involves a series of 10 to 15 steps that vary depending on the type of shoes. The common shoe cleaning process involves

Step 1. Dismantling the shoe.

Step 2. Conduct a stitch-by-stitch inspection

Step 3. Hand wash or machine wash the shoe thoroughly

Step 4. Use of motorized scrubber using a variety of solvents, solutions and mild detergents which are safe and suitable for cleaning shoes.

Step 5. Repairing services typically involve refurbishment of foam, cushion, stitching, changing shoelaces and sole for the shoe that comes for cleaning.

Step 6. Assembling the shoe.

Step 7. Deliver it back to the consumers.


Licensing is the next important step in a shoe cleaning business. Depending on the area of operation for your business, one needs to research different legal expectations that are needed to validate the shoe cleaning and repairing business. One needs to first register the company name and license his or her business. Requirements, however, vary depending on the city and state. For example, for a road-side shoe cleaning business, one needs to obtain a traveling vendor license. One must also meet with an accountant and discuss ways to manage your tax obligations and deductions.

Next, comes the insurance part. One must insure his or her business so that all the business assets are protected. It is important to cover your store and everything that is inside. Since the client’s property (shoes) is involved, one must also need property damage coverage. Also, because there are manpower and machinery involved, one must also have personal injury coverage.

Target Audience and Location

The next important thing is to determine why this type of business will be successful and to determine the type of shoe shine business you want. One way is to open up attractive looking shoe shine stands near high-end hotels or garment cleaning services. Other places where these kinds of stands can be feasible are train stations and airports. These type of businesses usually cater to business professionals or affluent individuals who are in the lookout for convenient ways to get their shoe polished or shined in the most hassle free way possible. These shoe shine stands are also conveniently located in bustling areas, city streets, barbershops, shopping malls, near office areas, schools, and other crowded places.

Alternatively, you can consider opening a drop-off or pick-up type shoe shine business. This kind of business model would require you to pick up client’s shoes, clean them at your cleaning facility and drop them off to the client on a timely basis. Ideally, a store front spot that benefits in high traffic is well suited to give you the right exposure you need in the cleaning industry. Also important is to research the neighborhood businesses so make sure that your store is not located in close proximity to your competitors.

Machinery and Supplies

The next crucial step is to procure machinery from reliable suppliers to initiate your cleaning and drying process. Establish a list of potential vendors that you can set up credit with and get what all you need for your shoe cleaning business. Moreover, customized machinery is available too in the market. Also, depending on the type of shoes, you will need cleaning solutions, as well as different kind of shoes, require a different kind of cleaning solutions. You can also set up a complete shoe laundry room in your cleaning facility equipped with every required equipment and tool. Here is a list of all the essential equipment and supplies this type of business needs:

  • Washing machine
  • Drying machine
  • Professional shoe rest
  • Polishes
  • Shoeshine kits including curve needle-outsole stitcher, heel popper, finisher and heat lamp
  • Brushes and daubers
  • Wax
  • Buffers
  • Comfortable and good quality shoe shine chair
  • Leather protector
  • Shining cloths
  • Applicator brushes
  • Shoehorn

Also important to keep in mind is that especially for mobile kind of businesses, supplies and equipment should be such that they are convenient to carry and easy to set up in mobile locations.


Keeping in mind that a shoe cleaning business demands a lot of direct consumer interactions and the level of customer satisfaction largely depends on the quality services offered to customers, excellent customer service needs to be of prime importance. Choose your staff who know how to engage with your customers and are courteous. Try and connect as much as possible with your customers so that positive word of mouth about your work spreads and helps you in attaining bigger tip and repeat and loyal customer base. Here is a list of employees that you might need in a shoe cleaning business:

  • Professional cleaners (with in-depth experience of shoe cleaning industry)
  • Front desk staff
  • Delivery boys
  • Accountant


The most important thing to do before your business is up and running in the market is to set pricing for your services. Keep in mind to set prices for each type of specialized service that you offer such as cleaning, stain removal, and spit polishing. Learn about your competitor’s pricing as well and get an idea about your own business. While it is important to set competitive prices, it is also important that the prices are comparable to appeal to more and more consumers.


Lastly, one needs to start advertising locally to inform customers about your services. Various creative ways can be used to spread the word about your business. One thing that needs to be remembered is to be consistent with your budget before choosing the right way to sell your business.

1. Place flyers in local newspapers. Also, approach shoe stores and leave these flyers with them. Pass out business cards and flyers at local airports, train stations, hotels and restaurants, typically high traffic areas which attract professional and business individuals.

2. Offer doorstep service. Collect the shoes from the client’s place and deliver them on time after executing the cleaning process.

3. Place ads in local newspapers and also in offline and online local classifieds.

4. Create a stunning website with the list of all your services in detail. You can also add a reviews section and add customers’ feedback and reviews to inform potential customers about your success quotient.

5. Add videos of your shoe cleaning process to facilitate transparency with your customers. Also, initiate online order system encouraging people to get an instant quotation of their specific requirement.

6. Moreover, you can promote your shoe laundry business across all social media platforms.

7. The hotel industry is a lucrative business opportunity that can guarantee you a reliable client base. Contact the management team of hotels and educate them about your entire service range and price module.

8. Additional tactics like posting signs around your neighborhood and leaving information on vehicle windows can fetch you great returns too.

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  1. Chirag soni

    Where can I find machinery?

  2. Swastica sharma

    What would be the estimated cost if I start it from my home, and how much area will be required for the entire process.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      You can easily start a shoe laundry business from your house and a single room will be sufficient.

      • Ravi Chalekar

        Give me the details

        • BusinessAlligators Support

          I have already mentioned details in the article, what else you want to know?

      • Sandeep

        Give me details about shoe machines in India.

    • B das mahapatra

      I want to start this business, guide me everything. I will be highly obliged.



  4. Makaula

    Thank you very much for sharing this sir.??

  5. Khuli

    Interested in shoe laundry business, I want to know what is used in term of machinery, detergents and all other things

  6. Vijay Kumar

    I am intrested in this business, please guide me

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Let me know your query will try my best to help you.


        What price can we charge from costumer for a pair of shoes?

        • BusinessAlligators Support

          Completely depend on your target market. If your target market is middle class then you can anywhere between Rs20-100 depending on your work. But if your target market is the upper class where shoe cost is like 5K-50K then you can charge anywhere between Rs200-2000.

      • Melina

        How can I get to you for more information and guide?

        • BusinessAlligators Support

          Hi Melina, either you can ask here or email me on info@businessalligators.com


    I’m interested in shoe laundry business

  8. Isaac Ramseyer

    Hi, I am interested in reaching out to middle-class people in my area for shoe cleaning/detailing. I want to start with athletic shoes and sneakers and see where that takes me. I am having a hard time finding materials as well as advertising. Could you help me with this Lokesh Tanwar? Or any other experienced entrepreneur?

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Hi Isaac, have you taken any idea about spending power of those people? Also, when we talk about the middle class then in the majority of cases we talk about numbers instead of margin, so have you made any roadmap for market penetration? If you haven’t done these things then please do these things first.

      • Sagar ahire

        I am running the same business already since the year 2010
        Kamal shoe laundry in Nashik

      • Stan

        Good day,

        What are the threats and weaknesses of starting a shoe cleaning business?

    • Vikas varma

      Hi sir, I would like to know about the franchise. What’s the procedure for it?

      • BusinessAlligators Support

        I am not sure about this. As of now, I haven’t encountered any person who is selling the franchise for a shoe laundry business. I guess you have this great opportunity. Start your own brand and sell your franchise.
        To know more on running a successful business and converting it into a big brand you can check my course Business Crux. Here is the link

  9. Segun Eresanya

    Good day Lokesh, I do have basic knowledge on how to wash and clean shoes. But I am having issues with setting price for services and also do I necessarily need to register for a franchise. Thanks for your insight on the topic.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      You need to run the A/B testing on different pricing point.
      If your laws are extremely strict then have proper documentation, if they are favorable for budding entrepreneurs then you can wait till you earn some money.

  10. Harshad shinde

    Sir is there any different kind of washing machine for washing shoe or a simple washing machine is okay?

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      It depends on the shoe, you need to learn that

  11. Sunil Reddy

    Great share!

  12. Avinash

    Hi, I am interested in setting up this in Pune. Is there any good franchise model available? How do I get trained on this business myself before startup?

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Currently, no good brand is there from a franchise point of view. The best way to train yourself is to start with your family and friends shoes, moreover, this business doesn’t demand that much skills, so just start it if you really want to start.

  13. Nthabi

    I want to start small but eventually want to focus on sports people, is there a specific way of approaching this target market? Is there any training available for shoe cleaning?

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Open your shoe collection counter near all the playgrounds of the city. Wash them at one place and deliver them again to respective places or customers.
      I don’t think that people are giving training for the same and that is the beauty, it is a completely new business so a lot of scopes to grow.

  14. raghuvaran

    Good and different I would like to start the business in Mangalore Karnataka, can you help? Ready to invest but I don’t know how to start, like infrastructure, machines, cost etc.
    Please communicate in Kannada, Tamil language I am not perfect in English

    Thank you

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      I only know English and Hindi. But you can use Google Translator to what I have mentioned in the article to understand properly. Moreover, this business does not need big setups, you just need washing machines for shoes which you can get from indiamart and alibaba

  15. mark ian

    Interested in the shoe laundry business, I want to know more about machinery, detergents and all other things.

  16. vinod

    Hi, I want to know more about the machinery needed for the shoe cleaning, is washing machine enough for the startup?

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Initially, you can use normal washing machines; later you can order for customized machines as per the availability of funds.

      • Kenneth

        I want to start this business in Botswana, Gaborone, by the end of February, and I want to know where I would take my shoe product?

        • BusinessAlligators Support

          I didn’t get your question correctly. Could you please explain it adequately, either here or on email?

  17. jim

    Great, this is what I have been dreaming about!!!!! Please tell me where do I sign up???? You must help me, please.

  18. larry blanton

    What to charge for cleaning a pair of running shoes that are moderately dirty?

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      It depends on the value you are creating for your customer. So basically it will vary as per the type and price of the shoes. Also, the price may vary as per the geographical location.

  19. Rahul

    I am ready to start this business; please help me fast.

  20. V S Dasaprakaash

    Good afternoon,

    Shoe laundry looks attractive, would it be possible to get your help to set up the business? Kindly let me know, please.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Email us on our official email id with your phone number; our team will contact you.

  21. Zodwa Sibanyoni

    I’m very much interested in seeing the shoes I wash for my boss and his family; this makes me crazy to start.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Best of luck 🙂

  22. Cecilia T. Mochizuki

    Please guide me; I want to start a laundry business. Thank you.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Please tell me where you are stuck; will help you.

  23. Akhona qave

    I want to start this business, but I don’t know which products to use when wàshing shoes that my consumers might like. Please help.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Your customers won’t like you on the product that you are using to clean their shoes; they will love you when their shoes are clean.

  24. gabriel

    Hi there, I’m very interested in this business, but I just have one problem and its fear, fear of the unknown things like, will this business be a success, what will people say, will I be a laughing stock if this business fails.
    Please help me out to get rid of this fear, or please give me some ideas that can help me overcome that.
    And please tell me if you know about different cleaning materials that are depending on shoe type.

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      The easiest solution to the fear is to face it. If you can’t do it directly, then you can start with a small experiment.
      Step 1. Go to a public place like a metro station or railway station where there are so many people around.
      Step 2. Lie down on the floor.
      Step 3. Remain in the same position for 1 min, let the people get curious why you are doing so, let them laugh on you.
      Step 4. You are going to get extraordinarily awkward while laying like this but resist your emotions.
      Step 5. When you will get up after 1 min, you will be a changed person, with almost no fear from the public.
      Note- You can do this experiment where people don’t know you, to make it less awkward for you.

  25. MSoko

    It’s been a nice article, well informed. I guess from all the questions and replies you have made, I am left with no question but the energy to launch a shoe cleaning business. As soon as I’m done with the market analysis & pricing.
    Thanks will contact you for advice

    • BusinessAlligators Support

      Glad you find it helpful 🙂

  26. Tebogo

    Where do I get the materials & machines to start, I am based in Kimberley.

  27. Tony

    Are there specific detergents or solutions for the particular types of shoes?

  28. Kanchana

    Very well articulated article , thank you so much for the information. Got me interested


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