Vacation rental cleaning: your questions, answered

A vacation rental turnover cleaning FAQ from the professionals at Vacasa

With so many moving parts, problems, and points of confusion, vacation rental cleaning can be a challenge to even the most experienced rental owners. And at Vacasa, we’ve seen it all.

Let us help you gain confidence about cleaning your vacation home. Read the vacation rental cleaning FAQ for answers—then call us and learn how to never clean your vacation home again!

To hire or not to hire a housekeeper?

Your options for vacation rental cleaning services

How often do you check your blinds for dust? Or change the sheets of every bed in your home? When you own a short-term rental, these are just some of the tasks you’ll need to take care of between every guest stay. And while it might be tempting to simply hire conventional cleaning providers, you risk providing inadequate accommodations—which can potentially hurt your rental business in the long run.

Typical housekeeping isn’t usually a comprehensive clean. It refreshes your home, sure, but a normal clean doesn’t always address the little things that your guests might notice (and mention after their stay). Vacation rental housekeeping is a typical clean and then some. The goal of vacation rental housekeeping is to present a home that is clean, comfortable, and inspires glowing reviews. When you rent out your vacation home, you commit to providing a meticulous clean between each stay—which is no small feat, especially if you’re also juggling customer service, bookings, and marketing.

So, is it worth working with a professional vacation rental cleaning service? We think so. Consider how the day-to-day cleaning maintenance of your home could better your investment over time:

  1. Professional housekeepers prep your home for new guests
  2. Delighted guests write outstanding reviews
  3. Stellar reviews get your home better exposure on listing sites
  4. More exposure drives more bookings
  5. Heightened demand helps you charge more per night
  6. A better nightly rate earns you more income (And who doesn’t love that?)

A proper vacation rental housekeeping program can help your investment stay healthy in the long run. Plus, working with a professional housekeeper can get you peace of mind—and help your guests rent with confidence, too.

Many vacation rental owners leave the cleaning of their homes to “professionals”—but that label is no guarantee for a guest-approved clean.

We recommend working with a service that specifically offers cleaning for vacation rentals. They’ll know what needs to be done and how quickly they’ll need to do it before the next guest arrives.

Often, you’ll find vacation rental managers will offer to connect you to a local housekeeper. Some may even offer in-house cleaning services. But that convenience may come at a cost: small vacation rental managers who offer housekeeping may not always have the staff to keep up with spikes in demand, potentially leaving your home in the lurch. Seek out and build connections with other vacation rental owners in your area. Ask them about their experiences with local house cleaners and property managers. It’s always a good idea to do your homework, especially when the comfort and safety of your guests is on the line.

At Vacasa, we make an enormous effort to hire and thoroughly train our local housekeeping teams. Our owners know that their home is in good hands—and love that they never have to worry about the condition of their property, even at the busiest times of year. That’s because your local Vacasa team has all the resources of a large company with the strong relationships of a smaller operation. It’s the best of both worlds—with none of the compromises in care.

Meet a few of our housekeepers >

Because life happens. You don’t always have three hours to clean your home on an ever-changing schedule and within tight deadlines. And you don’t always want to sacrifice holidays or special events to clean up after someone else.

But a professional cleaning service gets you more than convenience. It’s important that you offer accommodations that are consistent from guest to guest. So when travelers are shopping for their next vacation, they see your home as a sure bet—and the trust born out of consistency could help you win more business.

The Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) and Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) have co-created an online course to become a Certified Vacation Rental Housekeeper. This course teaches you everything you’ll need to know, from maintaining grills to safety standards.

Want to dive deeper into home maintenance? Consider supplementing your education with a course from the Institute of Inspection and Restoration Certification (IIRC). You could learn how to inspect your floors for damage, repair upholstery, and other useful skills that will help you keep your vacation home looking sharp.

Entrusting your home to a new caregiver can be a vulnerable process. And as a vacation rental host, you want to be sure that your housekeepers are working in your home’s best interest.

There are a few things you can do to mitigate risk before inviting guests, housekeepers, and maintenance staff into your vacation rental. We recommend that you go through your home and remove important possessions for safekeeping—think family photos, heirlooms, expensive equipment, and so on.

Ask other vacation rental owners in your neighborhood for their thoughts on full-service vacation rental managers, cleaning companies, and housekeepers they trust with their homes. No matter which option you choose, you’ll want to work with someone who is licensed, bonded, and insured—these measures further reduce risk to you if something goes south.

If you choose to work with Vacasa, we always encourage you to call your local property manager to check in. Some of our housekeepers have been with us for years, and take enormous pride in the trust they’ve built with our homeowners. What’s more, Vacasa invests in extensive training programs that help our cleans remain consistently excellent—so anytime you arrive to relax, you can do so knowing that your home is ready for you.

As human beings, not everything we do is perfect. And sometimes, your housekeeping won’t meet your guests’ expectations.

It’s important to respond to negative reviews, if you can. Facing criticism is often stressful, but a measured, thoughtful response helps. Letting a guest who had a less than stellar experience know that you hear them and are working to correct any issues helps them feel satisfied—and shows potential customers that you are a responsive (and responsible) vacation rental owner.

Keep up the good work—in the end, you might find that rough spots make your business better!

Vacation rental cleaning fees, ideal cleaning supplies, and other costs of renting

There’s no one fair vacation rental housekeeping fee. Your vacation home’s size and amenities largely determine how much it will cost to clean—for instance, a one-bedroom condo in Orlando may be priced differently than a five-bedroom cabin in Vail.

The cost of cleaning is another opportunity to connect with other vacation rental owners. Compare notes with your neighbors and decide if the rate your housekeeper sets is fair for your market. And remember that in some places, hourly rates may even fluctuate throughout the year, rising in the peak season and falling in the shoulder season.

But there’s an upshot to the cost of vacation rental housekeeping: most guests expect to pay a cleaning fee when they book on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. That means providing adequate care is a no-brainer—and it won’t dissuade guests from booking.

And with Vacasa, you won’t have to worry about the cost of stellar vacation rental housekeeping—we hand-pick great, local cleaning staff and charge for their services on all the booking sites for you. It’s just one of the ways we take the guesswork out of renting your vacation home.

Think about the features of your vacation home. How many sinks do you have? Are your floors hardwood, tile, or carpet? Knowing what you need to clean will help you determine the supplies you’ll need to clean it.

But no matter what the features of your home are, some of the basics remain the same. At the very least, you should have:

  • A 5-gallon bucket
  • A bucket organizer (like a utility belt for your bucket)
  • Grout brush
  • Squeegee
  • Mop with extendable handle
  • 6 mop cloths: 3 soft, 3 scrub
  • Scrub brush with nylon bristles
  • Multiple microfiber rags
  • Glass cleaner
  • Furniture polish
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Oven cleaner
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Disinfectant spray (see this list for products effective against COVID-19)

The little things matter, too: always keep a supply of batteries on hand for remotes and other electronics. And as much as you can, choose long-lasting LED lights and use the same type of bulb in every fixture. These steps make changing out lightbulbs both infrequent and simple (and help your home look great, too).

In our current climate, your guests want to know that the beds they sleep in and the towels they use are safe. And proper laundry and linen servicing is key to delivering the clean amenities they expect.

You or your vacation rental cleaning service should have the means to do an entire home’s worth of laundry between every stay. If you don’t have a washer and dryer on site, look into local laundry services that are able to clean your items under short turnaround times.

Right now, it’s essential that you have a laundry service that is willing to handle your linens with safety in mind. That means finding a provider who will wash and dry on high heat and who uses clean gloves when touching your items. The Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) and Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) have some helpful tips on handling laundry—check out their cleaning guidelines for COVID-19 for more information.

Vacation rental cleaning tips and checklists

Think of housekeeping like grocery shopping. When you have a list and a plan, you’re in and out of the supermarket before you can say “oatmeal.”

At Vacasa, we train our housekeepers to “Follow the Wall.” This cleaning method asks them to make multiple circuits around the home, starting and ending each lap in the same room. On each pass, they check to see what’s dirty, are able to quickly assess which features need the most attention, and can efficiently multitask to get a fantastic clean done in record time.

When you clean a vacation rental, go in with a plan, the right tools, and tunes that keep your energy up. And make use of the technology you have at your disposal: get the laundry and dishes going early, then tackle the things you have to do manually. When you get chores done two at a time, you’ll find that vacation rental turnover cleaning becomes much more do-able.

Check out our housekeepers' top tips >

Figuring out what some of your typical housekeeping duties will be? Look no further: we’ve developed a free vacation rental cleaning checklist that covers your home from doorstep to deck.

Download our checklist >

Safety measures to consider while cleaning your vacation home

We based our Vacasa Premium Clean program on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO)—guidelines that you should familiarize yourself with before opening your vacation rental for business.

The Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) and Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) have helped the industry adapt to recent challenges through their SafeHome campaign. Check out their site for news, downloadable cleaning guidelines for COVID-19, and other information about the industry right now.

As the situation changes, it’s a good idea to stay up to date with suggestions from public health leaders and industry professionals. When your guests can book with confidence, your vacation rental business remains in good shape.

Cleaning vs. disinfecting vs. sanitizing: most of us haven’t really thought too much about the actual meaning of these words.

That is, until recently. Now, vacation rental owners must know why they’re different—and if they’ve been using them correctly in their vacation homes.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies products that kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces as antimicrobial pesticides: an umbrella term that covers products like sanitizers and disinfectants. But these two labels are more like siblings than twins.

“Disinfectants” are shown to be more effective by the EPA than “sanitizers.” And as there are no sanitizing products that have proven virus claims, only disinfectants have been included on the agency’s list of products that can kill the COVID-19 virus.

If a cleaning product claims to be a pesticide or disinfectant, the EPA must review its effectiveness. So while all disinfectants and sanitizers are cleaning products, not all cleaning products are EPA-approved sanitizers or disinfectants.

So, be alert to the labels on the products you buy. They’ll help you understand how clean your vacation home actually could be.

Airbnb, Vrbo, and other major booking channels have rolled out vacation rental cleaning guidelines to help homeowners adjust to the pandemic. But whether homeowners actually follow these protocols—or how well they execute them—varies from person to person.

If you’re planning on renting out your home, we encourage you to follow these guidelines as closely as possible. If you feel unsure about tackling this challenge, give us a call—we’d be happy to help make renting effortless (and profitable!)

Vacation rental housekeeping is the heart of our business

But that’s not all we do. Check out everything Vacasa’s professional, full-service vacation rental property management can get you—or give us a call to see how much more you could earn when you work with us.

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Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Louisiana L.L.C. (licensed in Louisiana); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 947-800-5979; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC, P.O. Box 283, Conway NH 03818, Dave Grant, Broker of Record; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan E. Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacasa Real Estate Corporation, California DRE #02105811, Joseph Czapkowicz, California DRE #01380722; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Colorado, Daned Kirkham); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Idaho, Oregon, and Utah); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Tennessee, 615-671-9916); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 3350 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Suite 600, Lahaina, HI 96761; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Patrice Tompkins, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.