12+ Dirty Business Ideas People Have Started – And You Can Too!

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated February 8th, 2024

The American dream of owning a business is alive and well. A recent survey by Incfile shows that 90% of people would prefer to be their own boss. But, would these same people consider an “unsexy business“?

The digital age has created many “clean” opportunities, but it is an incredibly crowded space. Online retail, Amazon seller, course creator, influencer – yes, they are options, but the competition is fierce.

These unsexy business ideas (and these really creative business ideas) are a much better option.

These are businesses are those that people rarely talk about, usually because they are boring, gross, or “not cool”. They are often considered blue collar businesses and are often ones others are not interested in – meaning, less competition!

Many require startup money, and it may take a while before you reap the rewards. But if hard (and dirty) work does not scare you – they are worth considering.

Portable Toilet Cleaning Business

portable toilets being removed
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

Probably the grossest job on the list, but it can be very financially rewarding. Portable toilets are needed at everything from residential properties to big arenas and stadiums. Not only do you need to get them delivered, setup, and removed – but you will need to clean them as well. Of course it will require some equity as you will need to purchase a truck and porta-potties to get started.

Success Story: Gary Mead, the owner of Euroloo out of the UK nets almost $1 million in revenue.

Cleaning Business

house cleaners at work
Photo Credit: James Patrick / flickr

It’s not glamorous or desirable, but a cleaning business can be incredibly lucrative. House cleaning is just one option that pays well. But commercial cleaning is where you can really “clean up” in earnings. The biggest struggle is finding quality workers to grow the business.

Success Story: One Redditor started a cleaning service and, within one year, noted he was earning $30K a month.

Gutter Cleaning

gutter being cleaned
Photo Credit: Skorzewiak / Depositphotos

It is one of the easiest businesses to start and can grow as big as you want. This local business can have you working on homes or commercial businesses. Removing leaves and debris for better water flow and possibly repairing gutters will be a typical days work.

Success Story: One inspiring gutter cleaning business owner, Donovan Queensbury, grew his business to “rake” in over $500,000 a year.

Lawn Fertilization & Weed Control

dog on grass

Our kids and pets deserve a healthy lawn to spend their days playing and relaxing. Spreading fertilizer and spraying weeds will be a typical day’s work. Dealing with chemicals and heat is not sexy, but the revenue can be.

Success Story: One Reddit user shared, “Started business 4 years ago, currently have 7 employees and will gross $750k+ this year.”

Custom Concrete Business

concrete finisher

A concrete business is one few think of, but it is so needed. Doing concrete work for commercial businesses can be very lucrative and keep you busy most of the year. Whether you provide repairs, custom work, or concrete finishing there is a huge need for these services.

Success Story: One person noted, “My brother in law started a custom concrete business like 6-7 years ago. Now he’s crushing it doing work for theme parks, zoos, aquariums, rock climbing walls and badass grottos.”

Chimney Sweep Business

chimney sweep business owner at work
Image credit: Farina6000 / Depositphotos

Success Story: One of the best known success stories of a chimney sweep comes from Mark Stoner, the owner of Ashbusters Chimney Services. Started in 1985, the business now generates several million dollars a year in revenue.

Chimney services can be dangerous and come with health hazards, making it a business that few venture into. Daily work can be restoration and repairs, chimney sweeping, or inspections.

Biohazard Remediation Business

biohazard remediation workers
Image credit: Milkos / Depositphotos

Also called crime scene cleanup, biohazard remediation is not for those easily grossed out. Typically these workers are called in to remove blood, body fluids, and other hazardous waste from accidents, hoarders, meth labs, or crime scenes.

You would need to acquire many regulations and licensing, but this can be an incredibly high-earning business.

Success Story: One user who owns this type of business shared, “Last month I made ~$40k net pre-tax on $170k in revenue”.

Asbestos Removal Business

asbestos business workers removing asbestos
Image credit: ricochet69 / Depositphotos

Asbestos removal is another career with many hoops to jump through for licensing but can be incredibly well-paying. Asbestos removal professionals might do testing for asbestos and ultimately be responsible for removing it.

This job can have some health risks, so wearing proper gear and following all recommended safety standards is essential.

Pet Waste Business

dog in front of mansion
Photo Credit: Jill Caren Photography

There are plenty of franchises you can buy into to get into this business, or you can go out on your own. A pet waste business will have you go home to pick up pet waste from customers’ yards. You can also land some government accounts if you have dog parks in the area.

Success Story: Cesar Jimenez once worked as a corporate recruiter. He quit that job to become a franchisee with the Pet Butler. He now earns $20,000+ per month.

Barricading Services & Products

barrel barricade for construction zone
Image credit: photovs / Depositphotos

Driving past a construction site or zone, you see the barrels and traffic workers doing their thing. This is an opportunity for you! From traffic control to renting barrels and barriers, there are many options to work with the government and businesses.

Success Story: Bob’s Barricades, a leader in the industry, is estimated to have an annual revenue of over $30 million.

Pressure Washing Business

power washer at work
Photo Credit: bubutu / Depositphotos

Pressure washing is another low barrier to entry business option. Start solo and then work on building a team. With solid marketing and great service, you can explode your growth. You can provide services for commercial or residential clients and clean sidewalks, buildings, decks, and more.

Success Story: Nathan, a 22-year old who started his business in 2022, generated $155,00 revenue in his first year.

Worm Farm Business

worms in soil for farming
Image credit: Mike Linksvayer / Flickr

Creating a commercial worm farm is gross but needed! Worms allow gardeners and farmers to create a more nutrient-content soil base.

One newbie to worm farming on Reddit shared how he started. “I am growing my worms in 18-gallon totes. I have several hundred totes working now. I spend a LOT of time going through the totes everyday. Which I love to do. I find it to be so much fun to see the worms reproduce and consume the veggies I put in there. I have been volunteering at a food pantry and can get all types of veggies and fruits. Lately I have been getting greens from a few Asia Markets that give them to me. I have to pick them up everyday. The worms seem to devour those greens in no time and appear to grow faster with the greens.”

Success Story: Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm has an estimated revenue of over $10 million annually.

Airplane Repossession

aircraft waiting for reposession

Nothing is unsexier than a repo person coming for your assets. But, if you do not make bank payments to pay for that plane, an airplane repo person will be sent your way. This business requires flying knowledge, grit, and analytic skills to track down those plan owners.

Success Story: Airplane repossessor Nick Popovich’s first attempt at finding and repossessing a plane resulted in a $145,000 payday.

While none of these business are easy, they all offer great opportunities with lower competition than many other businesses.

Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.