Everything you want to know about vacation rental cleaning

Grit and grime, meet your match

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Cleanliness matters—especially to your guests. In fact, nothing can ruin a stay faster than a dirty vacation home. That’s why we make housekeeping a top priority to get more 5-star reviews. We have scores of professional and expert house cleaners across North and Central America, making sure our vacation rentals are spotless and immaculate before guests check in.

From our favorite deep cleaning products to how to hire a quality, trustworthy house cleaner—we’re answering your burning questions about vacation rental cleaning. Drop that mop and let’s go.

Should I hire a vacation rental housekeeper?

There are vacation rental owners who love to clean. Then, there are vacation rental cleaners who are paid to clean. Delegating cleaning to paid professionals can make all the difference to your guest reviews.

What’s the difference between normal housekeeping and vacation rental housekeeping?

In a nutshell: Vacation rental housekeeping is far more extensive than cleaning your own home. Cleaning a short-term rental requires so much more—more attention to detail, more efficiency, and more tasks. In addition to dusting, sweeping, mopping, and wiping down surfaces, vacation rental housekeepers also have to change linens and towels, stock the home with essentials (hand soap, paper towels, etc.), and assess the vacation home for any damage.

Let’s also not forget: There’s a lot more at stake for your vacation rental. At home, people may skip cleaning the blinds and baseboards to save time. At your vacation rental, a buildup of dust and dirt on any surface is fodder for a bad review. Guests are a tough audience and they arrive ready to scrutinize. So, vacation rental housekeepers must adhere to high standards.

What should I look for when researching vacation home cleaning services?

There’s more to consider than just cleaning experience. Here’s what to look for when hiring a house cleaner for your vacation rental:

Reliability and accountability

This is crucial. A lot rides on your housekeeping—like your reviews, your guests’ experience, your future bookings, and your bottom line. Ask for reviews from former clients to gauge their trustworthiness.

A cleaning service instead of a single cleaner

Your go-to housecleaner can get sick. Or, not show up at all. Instead of hiring a single housekeeper, it’s best to hire a licensed cleaning company with many cleaners at the ready. These companies are usually bonded and insured and conduct background checks.

Experience with vacation rentals, not just private residences

Every vacation home has special needs beyond the basic vacuuming, wiping down, and dusting. There’s outdoor barbecue grills that need scrubbing, fireplaces that need soot removed, and towels that need to be replaced.

Vacasa housekeepers do more than clean. They inspect our vacation homes before every guest check-in. This includes ensuring that TVs and appliances are working, remote controls are out, and WiFi speeds are fast.

Flexibility

Make sure your cleaning service can accommodate last-minute bookings, late check-outs, and early check-ins.

Meet a few of our housekeepers >

Modern vacation rental management.

Your home is a success waiting to happen. We'll show you how.

Why should I hire a vacation rental cleaning service, instead of cleaning it myself?

Because cleaning takes a tremendous amount of time and work. As a property owner, 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.

Plus, every guest can agree: A dirty home can spoil a vacation right on arrival. It can instantly ruin any chance of a repeat booking or a glowing review.

Data backs that up as well. Countless hospitality industry surveys find that cleanliness is always a top priority for travelers when choosing where to stay. So, it’s best not to leave it up to chance.

If I do it myself, are there any vacation rental housekeeping training programs?

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.

Another great resource: Vacasa’s vacation rental maintenance checklist to keep your vacation home in tip-top shape throughout the year.

How do I learn to trust a housekeeper in my home?

At Vacasa, we train our own housekeepers and work with vetted vacation rental cleaning companies throughout the country. There are a few things you can do to mitigate risk before handing over the keys to your vacation home:

  • Ask for referrals from other vacation homeowners in your area
  • Stick with cleaning companies that are licensed, bonded, and insured
  • Work with a full-service vacation rental management company—such as Vacasa—who will manage and oversee your housecleaning for you
  • Remove important possessions for safekeeping—such as family photos, heirlooms, expensive equipment—and move into your owner’s closet

Do I need a vacation rental laundry service?

Don’t overlook the impact that linens have with your guests. Nothing epitomizes hospitality more than beds and towels that are so crisp and clean that they practically feel brand new. The key to pristine linens? Thorough laundering.

However, at vacation rentals—with multiple bedrooms, beds, and bathrooms—that laundry pile can get pretty high. And, if you don’t have a washer and dryer on site, that requires looking to local laundry services that can clean your linens under short turnaround times.

One tip to lessen the stress of battling dirty laundry on a tight deadline: have a second set of bedding and towels that’s already clean and ready to be used. That way, you’ll have extra time to wash and dry all the used items.

Person wearing yellow cleaning gloves scrubbing a cabinet with an orange microfiber cloth.

Vacation rental cleaning supplies and fees

What are reasonable vacation rental cleaning fees?

There’s no standard vacation rental housekeeping fee, as homes vary widely. For instance, a one-bedroom condo in Orlando would likely charge a lower cleaning fee than a five-bedroom cabin in Vail.

Cleaning fees can depend on:

  • Home size
  • Amenities
  • Average rates in your particular market
  • Seasonality (cleaning companies may charge more in peak season and less in the shoulder season)
  • Frequency of scheduled cleanings

With Vacasa, professional housekeeping is included in a single management fee. We also manage all of your listings, from Airbnb to Vrbo, and add the cleaning fee onto your listing on your behalf. It’s just one of the many ways we take the guesswork out of renting your vacation home.

What are ideal vacation rental cleaning supplies?

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

Beyond that—no matter the vacation home—the cleaning essentials remain the same. Every vacation rental should have these pro cleaning basics on hand:

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Bucket organizer (like a utility belt for your bucket)
  • Cleaning towels
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Furniture polish
  • Glass cleaner
  • Grout brush
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Mop cloths
  • Mop with extendable handle
  • Multiple microfiber rags
  • Oven cleaner
  • Scrub brush with nylon bristles
  • Squeegee

Tips and checklists for cleaning your vacation home

What are some tips on how to be a faster and better housekeeper?

At Vacasa, we train our housekeepers to “Follow the Wall.” With this cleaning method, they make multiple circuits around the home—room by room—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. Get the laundry and dishes going first, 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 doable.

Check out our housekeepers' top tips >

Where can I find a vacation rental cleaning checklist?

A vacation rental checklist can help you set a benchmark for cleanliness, whether you hire a vacation rental cleaning service or decide to clean it yourself. Even better—it will help ensure your home is cleaned and prepared consistently the same way, each time.

Use Vacasa’s ultimate vacation rental cleaning checklist to break down room-by-room cleaning tasks.

What should I consider when cleaning a vacation home that’s pet-friendly?

While pet-friendly vacation rentals tend to earn more and book more, they can also require extra steps when cleaning your vacation home after every stay. Some things to consider:

  • Have a vacuum cleaner specially designed to pick up pet hair and banish odors (aka extra strong suction and a good filter).
  • Consider upgrading your sofa to one made of leather, tightly woven materials, or synthetic fabric like microfiber. These clean well and stand up longer to wear and tear.
  • Use pet-safe cleaning products and avoid general cleaning formulas with toxic chemicals.
  • Buy air purifiers that remove pet dander and allergens from the air, which will help prevent lingering pet odors.
  • Supply some standard pet supplies at your vacation home. This includes items to help minimize messes, like:
    • Pet towels to wipe down dirty paws
    • Fabric stain and odor removers
    • Dog wipes
    • Machine-washable dog bed covers
    • Tape roller
housekeeper cleaning the stove with a bin of cleaning supplies sitting on counter

Do pools or hot tubs at my vacation rental require any special cleaning?

Yes, your vacation rental pool and hot tubs require special cleaning. With so many guests using your amenities, filters get clogged, debris piles on, bacteria build up. At Vacasa, we work with professional pool and hot tub companies in each market to service our homes at least once a week (more in peak season). It’s necessary to keep your pool and hot tub in optimal condition and keep your guests healthy and safe.

What should I do if my vacation home’s cleanliness gets negative reviews?

Sometimes, your housekeeping won’t meet your guests’ expectations. If that happens, here’s how to respond to a negative review:

  • Take your time to respond (about a few hours or so), but always respond.
  • Use your response to show that you take feedback seriously, you’re working on solving the problem, and prove to future guests can trust you’re empathetic to their experience
  • Be specific. Don’t shoot off a generic reply. Speak to their unique situation.
  • Don’t get defensive.
  • Don’t hold off fixing what needs to be fixed.
  • Consider offering compensation for really bad messes. This doesn’t have to be a full refund. You could offer a percentage off their next stay, for example. Or, if they alerted you during their stay, offer to pay for dinner.

Guidelines to consider when cleaning your vacation home

What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

Cleaning versus disinfecting versus sanitizing: let’s help clean up the confusion.

Cleaning

  • Removing dust, debris, and dirt without necessarily killing bacteria or germs

Sanitizing

  • Lowers the amount of germs and bacteria on a surface
  • Gentler than disinfecting and doesn’t require strong chemicals
  • Best for surfaces that wouldn’t normally harbor hazardous bacteria, including door knobs, cooking surfaces, and tabletops.

Disinfecting

  • Kills germs and bacteria on a surface
  • Requires heavy-duty cleaners made of strong chemicals
  • Best for surfaces like toilets and bathroom sinks

What are Airbnb’s and Vrbo’s cleaning requirements and guidelines?

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

At Vacasa, every vacation home is cleaned with Vacasa Premium Clean standards, which meet or exceed CDC cleaning recommendations and aligns with guidance from hospitality industry experts.



Vacation rental housekeeping is the heart of our business

Greeting every guest with a thoroughly clean vacation home is one of our hallmarks. However, we do so much more. 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 of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, 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.