9 Steps to Automate Vacation Rental Cleaning

Apr 11 2023
9 Steps to Automate Vacation Rental Cleaning

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.


What’s in this article?

Coordinating rental turnarounds can be a logistical nightmare. But using dedicated technology to automate vacation rental cleaning makes it infinitely easier. Automation means making manual tasks run on auto-pilot. Once it’s set up, there’s little or nothing more for you to do. 

No more worrying if the next guest will show up to a dirty rental. No more typing the same manual texts or emails, or repetitive explanations to different cleaners about what to do and the standards you expect. No more worrying if it’s been done correctly and no more struggling to find good cleaners or pay them on time.

But using automation technology can feel confusing if you’ve never done it before. How, and where should you start? Can you really replace the complexity of team management and multiple properties with automation?

The answer is, yes. And it makes managing multiple properties much easier, especially if you’re scaling. Most property management software (PMSs) include features to automate many processes involved in organizing vacation rental cleaning. 

In this piece, we’ve explained: 

  • 5 reasons you should automate vacation rental cleaning
  • 9 ways to implement automation for greater efficiency, revenue, and time-saving
  • How technology makes this possible and which tools to use for the best results

automating vacation rental cleaning

Why should you automate vacation rental cleaning?

A woman wearing yellow cleaning gloves wiping a mirror
Automating vacation rental cleaning, like sending reminders automatically, avoids nightmares like forgotten cleans.
Source: Pexels / Karolina Grabowska

1. So nobody ever forgets to clean

This is the main reason to use Airbnb automation software for cleaning—and for other online travel agencies (OTAs) and direct bookings. Having a guest turn up to a dirty rental is a vacation rental manager’s ultimate nightmare. It ensures a terrible first impression and a negative review. Automated alerts for your cleaners when each guest checks out dramatically reduce this risk. 

2. Reduces your workload

You can automate most processes needed to run a vacation rental business, and it’s one of the best ways to reduce repetitive, manual jobs. Tech tools for vacation managers ensure that daily, necessary tasks are done on auto-pilot. This saves you a lot of time and stress and frees you up for more creative tasks. You can focus on offering an excellent guest experience and developing your business (or getting back to your day job or family!).

3. Allows you to scale 

A major benefit of using a vacation rental management platform to automate cleaning is that it enables you to scale more easily as your portfolio grows. 

You don’t have to keep track of increased numbers of properties or guests manually. Managing cleaning no longer takes any manual time (beyond the initial set-up). You can also replicate the system each time you set up a new property, with little extra time or work.

4. Achieve consistent standards 

Because it replicates the same processes time and again, automation boosts consistency and makes it easier to achieve uniform standards. This will please guests who increasingly expect hotel standards in vacation rentals.

With automation via a PMS like Hostfully, you can send pre-written messages to your cleaners with the same instructions every time. You can also create checklists with step-by-step instructions. That means they’ll do the same job to the same standard every time and won’t miss anything. 

It’s also easier to measure cleaner performance and standards if you have a consistent process.

5. Makes it easier to work with or hire external cleaners

A graphic showing TurnoverBnb’s hiring platform, with two profiles and a magnifying glass
Tools like TurnoverBnB, which integrates with Hostfully, even let you find cleaners.
Source: TurnoverBnB.com

Consistent automated alerts mean you can easily work with new cleaners or outsourced vacation rental cleaning providers. They don’t need you to show them what to do. They’ll receive alerts and the cleaning checklist the same way each time. 

This makes their job predictable and the clean is done properly even if you’ve only just signed a brand-new vacation rental cleaning contract.

Some platforms, like TurnoverBnB (which integrates with Hostfully), let you hire and pay vacation rental specialist cleaners. This further automates the system and means even less time spent on hiring and coordinating payments.

6. Save costs and increase revenue 

Using automation lets you automate repetitive or manual tasks, so you don’t need to hire extra staff. You also may not even need an in-house cleaning team as the process is easy to follow even for new or unfamiliar cleaners. This saves on hiring costs.

Ensuring a spotless clean in your rental also gives guests a good impression, leading to better reviews, more bookings, and higher revenue. You can also offer cleaning mid-stay as an upsell to generate extra revenue from each stay.

9 ways to automate cleaning for your vacation rental

1. Automate task scheduling

 A screen of Hostfully’s task assignment window
Hostfully lets you assign tasks to cleaners and grant property access.
Source: Hostfully.com

It’s crucial to automate messages and team tasks. Cleaners are automatically notified and assigned a cleaning task when a reservation is booked, when reservation dates are modified, and when a reservation is canceled. With a PMS like Hostfully, messages, SMSs, and task assignment happen automatically.

This means you don’t have to stay on top of who’s checking out when, manually manage cleaners’ schedules, or waste time typing the same message over and over. 

Linking alerts to check-out and check-in times means that cleaners know if a guest has checked out early or late and when the next guest is arriving. This lets them plan cleaning in real time for even more reliable results.  

2. Send reminders for your team

A messaging screen with green and white messaging bubbles on a smartphone
Hostfully enables easy and automated messaging for cleaning services.
Source: Hostfully.com

Automating reminders for your cleaning team makes it more likely that they’ll show up on time and do a good job. They might need a reminder the day before a check-out is scheduled. Or you may send a nudge to remind them which properties they’re cleaning today. Either way, when you automate reminders, you don’t need to remember to send them.

One way to automate reminders is through the triggers and templates you would have set already (see previous section). Another way would be to pull the data from your PMS and create an automation using Zapier.

3. Create a cleaning checklist

Properly’s checklist platform, with a step-by-step checkable system
Properly is a platform that integrates with Hostfully, and specializes in thorough cleaning checklists.
Source: GetProperly.com

A vacation rental cleaning checklist improves the chance of a consistent clean done to a high standard every time.  New cleaners will need and appreciate the guidance and even staff familiar with your properties can still slip up at times.

Writing down a step-by-step to-do list of what you need cleaners to remember every time puts your mind at rest that everything has been done properly. You can make it as detailed as you need. It might include basic “change linens, top up the toilet paper, and empty trash” steps or reminders such as “refill the coffee machine” or “check the air con is working.”

Some tools, like Properly (which integrates with Hostfully), specialize in cleaning checklists. They help you share instructions easily and are available on smartphones for on-the-go checking.

Others, like Operto Teams, use visual drag-and-drop tools to make checklists and instructions easier to set up, see and understand.

Many property managers simply prefer to save checklists in Google Docs where cleaners can find them on the job via Google Drive, with a link to the relevant folder included in automated messaging for easy access.

4. Share your booking calendar

A view of the color-coded booking calendar on Hostfully on a smartphone screen
Hostfully enables you to share your booking calendar and has a mobile app for on-the-go management.
Source: Hostfully.com

Sharing your centralized booking calendar with cleaners gives them autonomy to check what’s coming up on their schedules. They can see when guests are leaving and when the next ones are set to arrive. They’ll even see if there’s a last-minute change. Couple this with your reminders and alerts and there’s no risk of a missed clean or staff being unavailable.

Hostfully’s centralized calendar shows all bookings across all properties, from all channels. Its Booking Pipeline tool also lets you assign roles and set filters so cleaners can only see the status of the properties they’re assigned to. This offers an extra level of management, which is still 100% automated.

5. Set per-room quality control

A view of one of Breezeway’s cleaning tracking screens
Breezeway lets cleaners and managers keep track of property condition.
Source: Breezeway.io

Good cleaning automation platforms let you tailor cleans to each room or property. For example, Breezeway and Properly (which integrate with Hostfully) let you upload photos of how you expect the space to look when it’s done. Cleaners can also take photos when they’ve finished the job and send them to you, so you can double-check everything before they leave. This enables even better standards and lowers the risk of something important getting missed.

6. Schedule deep cleans

A view of one of Breezeway’s maintenance update screens
Breezeway enables you to schedule maintenance and repairs periodically.
Source: Breezeway.io

Any property that’s used regularly needs deep cleans as well as regular turnarounds. This might include tasks that your regular cleaners don’t usually have time for or that only need doing every few weeks or so. For example, washing cushion covers or curtains, dusting the top of cupboards, or deep cleaning the coffee machine and dishwasher. It could also include checking for repairs and general wear and tear.

Automation lets you schedule deep cleans periodically and incorporate them into your cleaner alerts and tasks. That way you can ensure your properties are in good working order. This enhances overall cleanliness, reduces the risk of items breaking down, and protects you and your guests from accidental damage or injury.

7. Stock up on essentials or toiletries

 A bucket with colorful cleaning supplies inside
Automating your cleaning means you’ll never run out of supplies or amenities.
Source: Pexels / Ellie Burgin

Automation can also prevent you, your cleaners, or guests from running out of essential supplies. You can ask cleaners to update you in good time when they’re running low on a certain cleaning product or send them automatic reminders to purchase new items when they need them. 

You can also send them reminders to check levels of items like bathroom toiletries or washing-up liquid. Having an inventory checklist to give to your cleaners will allow them to check the property for what needs replacing. These won’t need replacing every time, but it’s important to keep them topped up. Make these checks part of your cleaning checklist or automated reminders. 

8. Enable and secure access

A view of RemoteLock’s smart lock and access management dashboard
RemoteLock, which integrates with Hostfully, lets you manage digital smart lock access.
Source: RemoteLock.com

One of the biggest struggles with vacation rental cleaning is giving staff access to the property. Especially if guests have checked out and left the physical key inside. Yes, you can give staff their own key. But what about if they lose it or your cleaner changes at the last minute? Lost or stolen keys also pose a huge security risk.

Instead, automation lets you use smart locks that you can control remotely. Send cleaners their own unique, temporary access code via a pre-scheduled message and share a different code with your guests. You can also track when cleaners arrive and leave. 

No more need for annoying in-person key handovers, getting new keys cut, insecure, single-code lockboxes, or guests being locked out.

9. Upsell mid-stay cleaning during longer stays

 A view of the colorful Hostfully Guidebook page with upsells like mid-stay cleaning
Hostfully Guidebooks, which integrates with Hostfully PMP, lets guests book mid-stay cleaning without any extra work from you.
Source: Hostfully.com

Automation doesn’t just extend to host-cleaner communication. It can also help boost your revenue directly if you offer mid-stay cleaning as an upsell to guests. Offering extra cleaning to guests via a platform like Hostfully’s Digital Guidebooks lets them request cleaning services and pay online. 

This is especially useful for longer stays, which are becoming more common with the uptick in digital nomads and remote workers. In 2022, Airbnb found requests for stays of a week or more were on the rise. Research shows that 15.5 million Americans described themselves as digital nomads by 2021 and some even predict this will rise to as many as a billion by 2035. 

Another study found that most digital nomads travel slowly (with only 17% visiting more than five countries per year), with longer stays the norm.

This means you can make extra money from cleaning, improve stays, and coordinate your cleaning team, all without any extra manual work. 

Vacation rental cleaning automation: the key to consistent, stress-free turnarounds

Automating your vacation rental cleaning can free you from the logistical misery of worrying if the clean will be done on time or that guests may show up to a dirty rental. Not to mention constant repetitive messaging with your cleaners. 

Using a property management platform like Hostfully to automate messaging, scheduling, task assignment, and access makes cleaning streamlined and scalable. Integrations with vacation rental cleaning tools even enable you to share checklists and hire and pay staff.

No more manual coordination or risk of cleans being missed or done late. No more worries over whether cleans are done properly. No more time-consuming coordination, manual messaging, or in-person key handovers.

Just consistent cleaning, done on time, to the standard you need and guests expect—managed entirely automatically and remotely. Automation can even help you to save costs on hiring and payment, and help you to boost revenue. 

For clean rentals, consistent standards, happy guests, great reviews, and increased revenue.

automating vacation rental cleaning

Frequently asked questions about automating vacation rental cleaning

How do I manage my vacation rental cleaners?

It’s much easier to manage vacation rental cleaners if you use automation tools via property management platforms like Hostfully. Automation means that cleans never get forgotten. You can achieve consistently high standards, save time, money, and stress; and boost revenue. Automation lets you assign tasks, send reminders, let staff know when they’re needed, and do a great job every time. You can also ensure secure access, schedule deep cleans, and top up supplies.

Is there a way to share my booking calendar with the cleaner?

You can share your booking calendar with your cleaner by using a property management platform like Hostfully. With its centralized calendar, task assignment, and Booking Pipeline features, you can give cleaners access to your booking calendar view. This lets them see the properties they’re assigned to and when they’ll be needed between each stay. 

What can you automate in a vacation rental business?

Depending on your PMS, you can automate most processes needed to run a vacation rental business. For example, distribution, listing updates, bookings, payment processing, security, property access, and cleaning. Hostfully also integrates with other tools for even more functionality. For example, you can coordinate cleaners, assign them tasks, enable secure access, and make sure no clean is forgotten. You can then automate your guest review requests to ensure a steady flow of positive ratings!

What is a vacation rental cleaning checklist?

A vacation rental cleaning checklist is a step-by-step guide for cleaners to show them exactly what you want them to do when cleaning your vacation rental property. You can create it however you want (e.g. pen and paper, spreadsheet, text). But it’s much more efficient to share it via a PMS like Hostfully. The checklist is sent automatically to each cleaner. They follow the step-by-step process, and nothing is forgotten (for example, all bins are emptied, sheets are changed, and the coffee machine is always topped up with beans).