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9 Cleaning Tips for Vacation Rental Hosts

The last 4 years have taught my husband and me that hosting guests via Airbnb,, VRBO or any vacation rental venue is an adventure in cleaning. Our studio apartments in Greer, SC have stayed quite full, even through the pandemic. That has meant LOTS of cleaning. Thankfully, our guests have noticed and appreciated our efforts. In addition to the basics of washing linens, emptying trash, and disinfecting the bathroom, here are our 9 cleaning tips for vacation rental hosts.

Be ready for every guest.

This seems obvious, but isn’t always easy. Your guests have seen your online photos. They have expectations based on the photos and the comments others have left. When they open the door to your space, they immediately decide whether the actual space meets those expectations. They know nothing of the family emergency, the quick turnaround you faced, or the extra cleaning time required after the last guests left. My top cleaning tip for vacation rental hosts is simple—be absolutely ready every time.

Everything must look clean and smell clean.

Some folks really don’t have a keen sense of smell, but others see as much with their noses as they do with their eyes. For them, having a place look clean is no

more than half the battle. It must smell clean. I use disinfectant spray on all the furniture. I put a hefty dash of

my favorite, antibacterial, great-smelling, cleanser into a sink of water as soon as I start cleaning. The pleasant scent permeates the air while I clean. I also tuck a dryer sheet into the bag with the extra bedding, just to make sure things smell fresh. Since the arrival of the coronavirus, I run an ozone machine in our apartments after guests leave, and then I proceed with my cleaning routine.

Hair is public enemy #1.

The next guest doesn’t want to see your hair, the last guest’s hair, or any pet hair. Getting all the hair out of the bathroom, off the floors, and out from under the sofa requires a sharp eye and diligence. I find that a lint roller is great for picking up stray hair as well as lint.

Remove all fingerprints and smudges from mirrors and glass.

Don’t forget to check mirrors tucked behind cabinet doors. Check for spatter marks on windows near any cooking area. Clean mirrors and windows last if you are prone to using your elbow to hold the door open.

Shiny faucets and sinks tell your guests you care about little things.

Taking a few extra minutes to towel dry the faucets and sinks until they shine is well worth the effort. “Spotless” is impressive, especially to weary travelers.

Grease travels amazing distances and sticks to everything.

Each of our efficiency studios has a small kitchen with a stove. One features a full kitchen with a full-sized, 4-burner stove. More than once I have cleaned grease spots from cabinets and appliances that weren’t the ones closest to the stove.

Dust bunnies multiply like real bunnies.

I prefer a Swiffer 360° long-handled duster with a washable head to catch baby bunnies starting in the corners or on the furniture and knick-knacks. Then I use one to dust under the bed and sofa, between the back of the refrigerator and the wall, and along the trim. Just before I finish up, I wipe down the porch furniture to remove pollen and dust.

Assume that your guests will be barefooted while in your apartment or home.

They will find every crumb or other debris you fail to vacuum. They will step on every sticky spot if you don’t mop. One of our apartments features distressed hardwood floors with lots of grain that hides crumbs. Hardly ever do the floors look like they need to be swept. When I sweep and mop, I’m amazed at how many crumbs and messy spots were hidden by the distressed flooring. I sweep and mop every time, because I don’t want what I didn’t see to end up on the bottom of the next guest’s feet.

Wear at least basic protective gear while you clean.

Protect yourself so that you are healthy and able to clean well. For me, essential protective gear includes non-latex gloves and eye-covering. You may want to also wear a mask or even a protective suit. I find the suit and mask too hot and too cumbersome. To me, less more in this case. Decide what level of protection you’re comfortable with and use it consistently.

Cleaning well is critical to meeting guests’ expectations, especially in our coronavirus world. At least temporarily, we have bolstered our cleaning regimen to include a bleach-water spray and are taking extra precautions. But, if you’ll consistently follow these 9 cleaning tips for vacation rental hosts, I’m confident that they will help you earn lots of 5-star ratings for cleanliness.


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