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How do I clean my Vacation Rental?

If you find yourself questioning if your cleaning routine is sufficient, or are living in fear of a poor review on the cleanliness of your STR, we have the Top 10 Ways to keep your STR Fresh, Clean, and ready for those 5-Star Reviews!

When it comes to short-term rentals, cleanliness is of paramount importance. As the owner or manager of a vacation rental, maintaining a spotless and inviting space is not only crucial for attracting guests but also for ensuring their comfort and satisfaction during their stay. A clean environment reflects positively on your property's reputation and can lead to better reviews, repeat bookings, and increased revenue.

If you own a Short-Term Rental and do your own cleaning, or hire outside help, you need to know what it takes to keep your Vacation Rental ready for those 5-star reviews! Here are our Top 10 Ways to Keep Your AIRBNB / Short-Term Rental / Vacation Rental (or whatever you call yours) bright and shiny:

1. Select Appropriate Finishes

While you are first setting up your Vacation Rental, it may be tempting to try to create a space you would like to live in. However, you need to step back and remember this is now a hospitality space (think Hotel, even if yours is an entire house). With any kind of luck, hundreds of people, from diverse backgrounds, will be coming to your vacation rental for a brief stay. Not only should you appeal to the greatest number of people esthetically, each surface and object you select should be easy to clean and disinfect after each of these visits.

As designers of Short-Term Rentals, at Raini & Associates, Inc, we always encourage our clients to add texture and one-of-a-kind décor to create interest. Unfortunately, we have seen many novice owners and managers place thick knit throws on the sofa or end of bed. These are easily be snagged and do not wash and dry well. Instead, select cotton or polyester blend so they can easily be laundered (avoid tassels and fringe trim, too. They will tangle and get knotted up in no time). Create texture and interest with throw pillows (Pro Tip: always look for removable pillow covers and purchase several so they can be replaced if needed).

Dos and Don'ts for using throw blanket in a STR
Add texture without losing the ability to keep your space tidy and CLEAN!

Veer away from the ‘living’ wall of artificial plants. Instead, create an interesting feature using a mural or local artwork that can easily be cleaned. The last thing you want are dust and cobwebs to be what your guests focus on instead of the ‘instagramable’ moment you intended.

2. Establish a Cleaning Routine

Consistency is key. Develop a detailed cleaning routine that outlines daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. This routine will help you stay organized and ensure that no cleaning aspect is overlooked. Regular maintenance prevents the accumulation of dirt and grime, making each cleaning session more manageable.

At Caravel Cleaning Company, we use a systematic cleaning method - this means we create a system for each property that can be replicated by anyone who cleans the space. Each space/items will be cleaned the same way - every time we are in the property. (If you want to learn more about using procedures and processes in your cleaning, we do offer in person and virtual training. Click here for more information).

3. Create a Cleaning Checklist

125-Point Turnover Checklist

A comprehensive cleaning checklist serves as a roadmap for your cleaning staff or yourself.

List down all areas that require attention, from living spaces to bathrooms, kitchen, and outdoor areas. Having a checklist minimizes the chance of missing crucial cleaning tasks and helps maintain uniformity in your cleaning standards.

To help you get up to speed faster, we are offering our 125-point check list.

4. Use Quality Cleaning Supplies

The proper tool(s) make every job easier, more efficient, and effective.

If you do not hire a professional cleaning service, be sure to invest in high-quality cleaning products and tools. Quality supplies not only make the cleaning process more efficient but also yield better results. Opt for eco-friendly and non-toxic options to ensure the health and safety of your guests, cleaning staff, and the environment.

5. Focus on High-Touch Surfaces

Pay extra attention to high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, and faucets. These areas harbor germs and bacteria that can spread quickly. Disinfecting these surfaces regularly can help create a healthier and more hygienic living environment for your guests.

Don’t forget about all of the spots in a kitchen that hands touch – door and drawer handles, refrigerator handle, oven handle, and so on.

And then… the bathroom!! Do not miss the toilet handle, faucet handle(s), cabinet and drawer handles!

6. Use Quality Linens and Launder Professionally

Not only should your linens be quality they should, in our humble opinion, be white.


Regardless of the theme or color of your room, regardless of the number of different sizes of beds (we have a secret for this, too) – everything should be WHITE!

Do not depend solely on thread count to determine the quality of linens. Read about how thread count is determined, and why more is not always better in this article by Lexi Sachs.

Ask yourself this: How many hotels have you stayed in (and enjoyed) that had colored sheets? There is a reason for this – because white feels clean.

white towels and bed linens
Use WHITE Linens to promote the feeling of "clean" in your Short-Term Rental

Your guests simply perceiving your space as clean upon entering is one of the most important aspects of this business. Using tinted, printed, or something other than white linens (towels, too) will go a long way to deter this perception upon arrival.

As long as you are laundering these white linens appropriately, they will stay white and your guests will continue appreciating the crisp, clean sheets and fluffy towels for many, many turnovers.

We believe in properly caring for linens so strongly, we started our own Linen and Laundry Service!

Clean and fresh linens are a hallmark of a well-maintained short-term rental. We recommend you do not depend on a single washer and dryer to complete linens for a unit that sleeps more than 4 people. Establish a relationship with a reliable professional laundry service, or consider renting, to ensure that your linens, towels, and bedding are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each guest's departure.

7. Deep Clean Regularly

In addition to routine cleaning, schedule deep cleaning sessions periodically. Deep cleaning involves tackling areas that might not receive daily attention, such as under furniture, behind appliances, and inside cupboards. This practice prevents the buildup of dust, allergens, and pests.

8. Train Your Cleaning Staff

If you have a cleaning team, provide them with proper training. Ensure they understand your expectations and cleaning standards. Effective training enhances efficiency and consistency in cleaning procedures, resulting in a consistently sparkling clean rental.

If you are not confident in your abilities, or you’re not 100% certain on how to train your cleaning staff, Raini & Associates, Inc offers Turnover Service Training.

However, this is a place where you truly have to trust but verify. Regular quality checks are recommended for any cleaning team. We are all human and we can all acquire bad habits. One way to curb anything from becoming a habit is to catch it early. If you are doing your own cleaning, take out that checklist from Tip #3 and QC your own work.

9. Encourage Guest Cooperation

While you and your cleaning staff play a crucial role, guests also contribute to the cleanliness of your property. Include a polite and friendly note in your welcome packet or rental guidelines, kindly requesting guests to maintain cleanliness during their stay. To make it easy, keep a fully charged cordless vacuum and a few, simple cleaning products on hand for quick cleanups.

10. Regularly Inspect for Repairs

A clean environment goes beyond surfaces. Regularly inspect your property for any maintenance or repair needs. Fixing leaking faucets, malfunctioning appliances, or broken furniture promptly not only improves the guest experience but also prevents potential cleaning challenges caused by neglecting such issues.

While, professional cleaning teams, like Caravel Cleaning Company, are in your vacation rental regularly, utilizing a property management company, an inspection team, or being on site yourself is the most effective way to ensure your rental unit is in tip top shape.

Bonus Tip:

11. Seek Guest Feedback and Reviews

Your guests' feedback can be a goldmine of insights. Encourage guests to leave reviews and provide feedback on the cleanliness of your short-term rental. Positive reviews can attract more bookings, while constructive feedback can help you identify areas for improvement.

In the world of short-term rentals, a sparkling clean property is the foundation of success. By implementing these top 10 tips, you can create a bright, clean, welcoming environment that leaves a lasting impression on your guests.

Remember, cleanliness is not just a task—it is an investment in the satisfaction of your guests and the growth of your rental business. If you do it right from the beginning, you can keep those 5-star reviews rolling in and those guests checking in!


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