The Ultimate Guide to Short-Term Rental Cleaning

Mar 25 2024
A bucket with colorful cleaning supplies inside

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What’s in this article?

That Airbnb townhouse, that Vrbo bungalow, that family vacation rental: no matter the channel or property type, guests expect immaculately clean properties—and can (and do!) sniff out traces of dust, unkempt rooms, and less than stellar accommodations. As the demand for well-maintained and sparkling-clean rentals has grown, it’s now the norm for short-term rentals to provide a spotless and hygienic environment for their guests.

In this ultimate guide, we will explore the importance of short-term rental cleaning and provide you with valuable insights and tips to keep your property in top-notch condition for every guest who walks through the door.

Short-term rental cleaning: why it matters

Short-term rentals cleanliness and sanitation play a crucial role in ensuring guest satisfaction and maintaining the value of your property. Let’s delve into the impact of vacation rental cleaning from two key perspectives: guest experience and property value.

The impact on guest experience

From the moment a guest enters a rental property, their first impression of the home’s cleanliness will set the tone for their stay, influencing their overall satisfaction and the likelihood of them leaving positive reviews or recommending your rental to others.

Beyond first impressions, cleanliness also affects your guests’ overall experience. A clean short-term rental provides them with a sense of well-being and reassurance, allowing them to relax and fully enjoy their vacation. On the other hand, a poorly maintained property with dirt, dust, stains, or unpleasant odors can lead to discomfort, dissatisfaction, and negative reviews.

But what exactly goes into short-term rental cleaning? It’s not just about tidying up and changing the linens. A thorough deep cleaning regimen includes consistent tasks such as dusting all surfaces, vacuuming or mopping the floors, sanitizing high-touch areas like countertops and light switches, cleaning windows and mirrors, and ensuring that the bathrooms and kitchen are sparkling clean. Attention to detail is key, as even the smallest overlooked area can make a difference in your guests’ perception of cleanliness.

Maintaining your property’s value

Short-term rental properties are significant investments, and their value is closely tied to their condition and reputation. So besides enhancing the guest experience, thorough and consistent cleaning also preserves the longevity of your property. Over time, neglecting cleaning tasks can lead to damages, wear and tear, and the need for costly repairs or renovations.

Consistent cleaning and maintenance help prevent the accumulation of grime, mold, and pest infestations, ensuring that your property remains in excellent shape for years to come. Keeping your rental in pristine condition additionally affects your rental pricing, attracts more guests, and helps you maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Professional cleaning services: a game-changer

Investing in professional cleaning services can be a wise decision for short-term rental owners—and are a must for property management companies with multiple properties and high turnover. Not only do experts have the knowledge and expertise to clean your property thoroughly, but they also have access to specialized equipment and disinfecting cleaning products that can tackle next-level stains and odors. By outsourcing the cleaning tasks, you can save time and energy while ensuring that your rental is always in top-notch condition.

Furthermore, it’s important to establish a cleaning schedule that aligns with the turnover of guests. Promptly cleaning and preparing the property for the next guest is essential for maintaining a seamless and efficient vacation rental operation. This includes not only cleaning and disinfecting, but also restocking essential supplies, checking for any damages, and ensuring that everything is in working order.

Essential cleaning supplies

Equipping yourself with the right cleaning supplies is fundamental Let’s take a look at the ultimate cleaning tools and products you should have in your arsenal for your short-term rental property.

Cleaning supplies you can’t live without

A well-stocked cleaning kit will ensure a thorough and sanitary cleaning process for your short-term rental. Essential cleaning supplies should include the following:

  • Microfiber cloths for dusting and wiping surfaces
  • Sponges and scrub brushes for tougher stains and grime
  • Mops and buckets
  • Vacuum cleaners for carpets and hard floors

Additionally, investing in specialized cleaning tools can make a significant difference in the cleanliness of your short-term rental. For example, a steam cleaner can effectively sanitize and remove tough stains from various surfaces, including carpets, upholstery, and tile grout. The power of steam can eliminate bacteria, allergens, and odors, providing a deep clean that will leave your guests impressed.

Choosing the right cleaning products

Selecting the appropriate cleaning products is crucial so as not to cause any damage to your property or risk harm to your guests. Opt for eco-friendly and non-toxic cleaning solutions whenever possible, as they are not only safer for the environment but also for your guests, especially those with allergies or sensitivities.

When it comes to all-purpose cleaners, it’s essential to find one that is versatile enough to tackle a wide range of surfaces and materials (from countertops to rugs). This will save you time and money by eliminating the need for multiple products.

Consider having a range of cleaning products for different surfaces and areas, such as all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, bathroom cleaners, disinfectants, and floor cleaners. Always read the labels and follow the instructions to ensure you’re using the products correctly and maximizing their cleaning power.

Step-by-step cleaning process

Let’s break down the short-term rental cleaning process into manageable steps. By following this guide, you can ensure that no area goes overlooked and that your property remains in top condition.

Preparing for rental property cleaning

Before you dive into cleaning, it’s essential to prepare and gather all the necessary supplies and start by inspecting the property for any damages or items that need repair—and make a note of them for later action. Gather your cleaning products and tools, ensuring everything is within reach to avoid unnecessary back and forth during the cleaning process.

It’s also a good idea to open windows or turn on ventilation systems to let fresh air circulate throughout the space. This will help eliminate any lingering odors and improve indoor air quality.

Room-by-room cleaning guide

As you proceed with cleaning, start with high-traffic areas such as the living room, kitchen, and bathrooms, followed by bedrooms and any additional spaces within your rental property.

Begin by decluttering and organizing each room, removing any personal items left behind by previous guests. Dust surfaces, wipe down furniture, and clean windows and mirrors using appropriate cleaning solutions. Pay extra attention to frequently touched areas, such as doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls, ensuring thorough disinfection to promote a healthy and safe environment.

  • Bathrooms: In the bathroom, scrub the toilet, sink, and shower, and restock toiletries as needed.
  • Kitchen: In the kitchen, sanitize countertops, clean appliances, and wash any dishes left by previous guests. Don’t forget to clean refrigerator shelves and handles, as well as stove tops, oven interiors, and inside the microwave. Pay special attention to the sink area. Use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to remove stubborn stains and eliminate any unpleasant odors.
  • Living spaces: Use a microfiber cloth to remove dust from electronic devices and delicate surfaces. This will help prevent scratches and ensure a streak-free shine.
  • Bedrooms: When possible, take the opportunity to rotate and flip the mattresses. This will help prolong their lifespan and ensure a comfortable sleep for your guests. Don’t forget to vacuum the mattresses to remove any dust mites or allergens.
  • Other: Lastly, don’t overlook less frequently used areas, such as storage spaces, laundry rooms, or outdoor areas, as these can accumulate dust or require maintenance. Remember to replace linens and towels with freshly cleaned ones.
  • Outdoor areas: When cleaning outdoor areas, such as patios or balconies, use a pressure washer to remove dirt and grime. This will give these spaces a fresh and inviting look, perfect for guests to enjoy during their stay.

Regular cleaning and deep cleaning

While regular cleaning is necessary to maintain consistent cleanliness, occasional deep cleaning sessions are equally important to ensure your short-term rental property remains in optimal condition. Let’s explore when and why deep cleaning is essential, as well as the key differences between regular cleaning and deep cleaning.

Regular vs. deep cleaning

Regular cleaning and deep cleaning differ in terms of scope and intensity. Deep cleaning is typically done less frequently than regular cleaning, focusing on areas that may be overlooked in day-to-day maintenance. It involves thorough cleaning of hard-to-reach places, such as behind appliances, under furniture, or in less frequently used areas.

Deep cleaning is especially important during seasonal changes or after periods of high occupancy, as these can lead to a buildup of dirt, allergens, or pests. By conducting deep cleaning periodically, you can effectively remove accumulated grime, refresh the property, and ensure a healthy environment for your guests.

During deep cleaning sessions, it’s not just about the visible surfaces. Professional cleaning companies pay attention to the smallest details, such as cleaning the inside of the microwave, wiping down baseboards, and sanitizing light switches. These meticulous tasks ensure that every nook and cranny is thoroughly cleaned, leaving no room for any hidden dirt or germs.

Regular cleaning primarily focuses on maintaining cleanliness through surface-level tasks, such as dusting, vacuuming, and wiping. On the other hand, deep cleaning targets more extensive tasks like carpet steam cleaning, grout scrubbing, or furniture upholstery cleaning.

Deep cleaning also involves inspecting and cleaning lesser-used areas, such as air vents, light fixtures, or behind large appliances. This level of cleaning ensures that no hidden dirt or dust can accumulate over time, maintaining the overall cleanliness and hygiene of your rental property.

Moreover, deep cleaning sessions often involve the use of specialized equipment and cleaning agents. For instance, professional cleaners may utilize high-powered vacuums with HEPA filters to effectively remove allergens or bacteria from carpets and upholstery. They may also employ eco-friendly cleaning solutions to ensure a safe and healthy environment for both guests and the environment.

By understanding the key differences between regular cleaning and deep cleaning, you can make informed decisions about the cleaning schedule for your short-term rental property. Remember, a combination of regular cleaning and occasional deep cleaning will help you maintain a pristine and inviting space for your guests to enjoy.

Hiring professional cleaning services

While handling the cleaning of your short-term rental property yourself may be feasible for some property owners, there are instances when hiring professional cleaning services can greatly benefit your business.

One of the main advantages of hiring professional cleaning services is the expertise and efficiency they bring to the table. Professionals are trained in thorough cleaning techniques, utilizing specialized equipment and products to deliver high-quality results. They have the knowledge to tackle even the toughest cleaning challenges and can save you time and effort.

However, it’s important to consider the costs associated with professional cleaning services and factor them into your prices on Airbnb, Vrbo, or your direct booking site. While it may seem like an additional expense, professional cleaners can ultimately help you maintain your property’s value and attract more guests, leading to increased revenue in the long run.

Choosing a reliable cleaning service

When selecting a cleaning service for your short-term rental property, start by researching and reading reviews of local cleaning companies to get an idea of their reputation and customer satisfaction levels.

Verify that the cleaning service is licensed, bonded, and insured, providing you with peace of mind in case of any accidental damages. Additionally, inquire about their cleaning procedures, products, and whether they follow eco-friendly practices. A reliable cleaning service should also have flexible scheduling options to accommodate your property’s specific needs, whether it’s regular cleaning or one-time deep cleaning sessions.

Finally, consider the overall professionalism and communication skills of the house cleaning service. Establishing clear messaging and open communication and developing a cleaning checklist are vital measures to ensure that your expectations are met and that your cleaning team understands the unique requirements of your short-term rental property.

If you use a property management platform, you can automate a number of turnover and rental cleaning integrations, ensuring each rental property is maintained regularly and between each new guest’s check-in by your service.

Property management platforms like Hostfully make it easy to automate and communicate with a cleaning team—and some even offer discounted or free integrations.


Today’s vacation rental guests expect to find a clean and well-maintained property. By understanding the importance of short-term rental cleaning, equipping yourself with the right cleaning supplies, following a step-by-step cleaning process, and considering deep cleaning and professional services, you can keep your rental property in tip-top shape and provide an exceptional experience for every guest. Remember, a clean and inviting property will not only result in positive reviews and recommendations but also protect your valuable investment in the long run—a clear win-win for your rental business.