Property Management 10 mins read

The Ultimate Cleaning Checklist Template [for Vacation Rentals]

By February 4, 2022 No Comments
featured image of vacation rental cleaning checklist

Benjamin Franklin knew what he was talking about when he said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” No truer words have been spoken than when talking about turnover cleaning for your vacation rental property. If you want happy guests and 5-star reviews on Airbnb, Vrbo and Booking.com, you’ll want to keep this checklist on hand so you or your cleaning service can nail your cleaning routine every time.

Why you need a vacation rental cleaning checklist

We can’t overstate the importance of ensuring your vacation property is sparkling clean and beautifully staged when your guests arrive. You might be an extraordinary host or manager with a unique property in a desirable location. But if those baseboards are dirty or, worse, they find tiny hairs in the bathroom – it won’t matter. You’ll likely have to deal with a negative review.

Be sure to print this off and use it for creating your cleaning routine or use it as your cleaning service checklist template when setting expectations with your vendor.

Rental cleaning checklist

Cleaning the house in proper order is essential to ensure you aren’t creating more work for yourself. Using a top-down strategy and working your way out of the room you’re cleaning will keep footprints from ruining your freshly mopped floors and dust from settling in places you’ve already cleaned.

Things to have before getting started

If you’re cleaning the property yourself, you’ll want these three things to make the job much easier:

  •  a playlist with your favorite music
  • A caddy with wheels for all of your supplies
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty

Home systems

Start with the basics and perform the following checks and quick cleanings. While some of these checks might seem basic, bear in mind that if they are missed, they could have an impact on future guest experiences or cause maintenance issues down the road.

  • Turn on all the lights during your first walk-around of the property to check if any bulbs need replacing
  • Collect all the laundry and put it on to wash and dry
  • Start the self-cleaning oven if necessary
  • Set the thermostat to an agreed-upon temperature for guest arrival (if you’re using this guide to setup a checklist for outsourced cleaners, ask them to check that the remote thermostats adjusted the temperature automatically post-check-out)
  • Collect and remove all garbage
  • Dust and check all vents, fans, heaters and A/C system
  • Ensure all the locks are working and replace batteries if necessary
  • Collect any items left behind and follow your lost and found policy
  • Check to make sure the home is free of any pest infestations and follow any pest control protocols
  • Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check that any noise sensors are still plugged in and installed

Living room & common areas

In many properties, living rooms and common areas are centrally located. This is also where guests will spend a lot of their time. So odds are the living areas need a bit more attention.

  • Clean the inside of windows
  • Clean and sanitize high touch areas like remotes, light switches and doorknobs
  • Make sure there aren’t any fingerprints on screens
  • Clean mirrors and dust decorative items
  • Steam clean and dust upholstery on sofas and chairs as needed
  • Fluff pillows
  • Fix curtains and check for stains, tears or fading
  • Wipe vertical blinds
  • Sweep, vacuum or mop floors and tidy up baseboards
  • Clean up any scuffs on walls as needed, paying particular attention to hallways and entrances
  • If there’s a fireplace or stove: place ashes in a fireproof bin, clean the seal around the door frame, restock wood if necessary

Kitchen

Vacation rental kitchens can be challenging to clean. Not only do you (or the cleaner) have to worry about surfaces, but attention must also be paid to inside the drawers, cabinets, and refrigerator. On top of that, guests will be sensitive to any missed areas in the kitchen: no one wants to prepare food in a dirty area!

  • Deep clean the fridge, freezer and dispose of any leftover food
  • Check the pantry and cupboards for non-perishables, check expiration dates and clean shelving and cupboard doors.
  • Disinfect and ensure the inside of the microwave is clean
  • Inspect taps and drains to make sure they are functioning properly
  • Wipe down oven hood and light fixture
  • Empty and disinfect Keurig or coffee maker and replace pods or coffee filters
  • Restock fridge and pantry with any food items that you provide
  • Ensure all the pans are clean and neat
  • Restock cleaning supplies used by guests
  • Disinfect the garbage can and make sure it is free of any odors
  • Disinfect around and inside the sink
  • Clean the front and interior of the dishwasher and ensure the seal is clean
  • Wipe down stovetop
  • Disinfect kitchen table and wipe down chairs
  • Clean and disinfect countertops
  • Stage with any fruit bowls, fresh flowers or special touches to enhance the guest experience

Bathrooms

cleaning a bathroom

You’ll want to pay extra attention to loose hair from previous guests in these rooms. While bathrooms are generally built with materials to wipe down, it’s important that your vacation rental cleaning checklist include specific checks for areas where dust or hair can accumulate in. Think of the areas under a cabinet, vanity, or bathroom. If you’re outsourcing cleaners, create specific checks for those areas.

  • Replace hand towels and bathmat
  • Sanitize wastebaskets
  • Clean mirror
  • Disinfect sink, shine faucet, and clean counters
  • Clean toilet and ensure the base of the toilet is sparkling clean
  • Replace toilet brush
  • Scrub and disinfect shower stall and bathtub
  • Clean shower track and soap rack
  • Restock toilet paper
  • Stage with complimentary toiletries and any other special touches
  • Wipe baseboards, vacuum and mop floor

Bedrooms

Bedrooms are straightforward rooms to clean. While there’s less to do, the attention to detail has to be high. Sheets that aren’t perfectly white will grab the guest’s attention, and inevitably knock down your review score.

  • Dust ceiling fans
  • Open all drawers and sanitize
  • Disinfect all surfaces
  • Replace lightbulbs as needed
  • Replace batteries in clocks and remotes as needed
  • Disinfect handles
  • Dust shelves in closets
  • Check to ensure linens are in good condition and note anything that needs replacement.
  • Stage with any special touches to enhance the next guest’s experience
  • Wipe baseboards, vacuum or mop floor

Utility room

cleaning a utility room

Although guests don’t spent a lot of time in utility rooms, they should still be reasonably clean. Here’s a quick cleaning checklist for these types of rooms:

  • Empty lint in the dryer
  • Wipe out the washing machine and dryer
  • Clean out the utility sink and make sure the drain is clear
  • Restock cleaning supplies
  • Clean floor

Outdoor spaces

This is the quickest part of the property to clean up, but without a checklist, it’s also very easy to miss out on key areas.

  • Straighten up and inspect outdoor furniture
  • Sweep entrances clear of debris
  • Clean the barbecue
  • Check stairs and outdoor rails for safety issues
  • Ensure planters and garden beds are tidy
  • Make sure that the automatic garage door is working properly
  • Tidy up the firepit, and restock wood

What’s in your caddy?

Having a plan and a rental cleaning checklist is only half the battle. If you’re going to succeed at your cleaning routine, you’ll need the right items to get the job done.

Here’s a list of cleaning products that we recommend adding to your vacation rental cleaning checklist.

  1. Glass cleaner
  2. Multi-surface disinfectant
  3. Oven degreaser
  4. Bleach
  5. Gloves
  6. Microfibre cloths
  7. Lint roller/hair remover
  8. Magic Eraser

It’s also a good idea to laminate your cleaning service checklist template and have it attached to your caddy, along with the inventory of what cleaning products you have included. This way, you or your cleaning provider can keep track of the tasks they need to complete and track if any cleaning items need to be replaced.

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Covid enhanced cleaning protocols

With the spread of Covid-19, hosts and guests are more aware than ever of the importance of a clean and sanitized home. The CDC has provided in-depth information regarding routine cleaning and how to disinfect high-touch surfaces properly. In response, Airbnb has created a 5-step enhanced cleaning process for hosts to follow. Vrbo has also introduced cleanliness guidelines to demonstrate their commitment to guests’ health and safety.

Letting your guests know that you have added these guidelines and protocols to your checklist for vacation rental cleaning will go a long way in making them feel more comfortable and willing to book with much less hesitation.

Save time with automated devices

Most of us underestimate the time it takes to maintain a rental property, especially when there are frequent turnovers. It’s a great problem to have, but chances are you might be struggling to keep up with all the administrative work, let alone keep up with the maintenance and cleaning.

We’ve discovered some automated products are worth looking into to help cut down on the time you or your cleaning service spend between guests.

  1. Automated vacuum cleaners (not suitable for all property types or floor layouts)
  2. Handheld fabric steamer
  3. Self-sealing, self-changing trash can

If you’re outsourcing, save time with automation software

Here, at Hostfully, we believe that automation is the key to reducing everyone’s workload. So if you outsourced your cleaners (or hired some on staff), here are a few tech tools you can use with the vacation rental cleaning checklist outlined above:

  • If you outsource to a cleaning contractor: Create a profile for your contractor in your property management platform (PMP). Then copy/paste your cleaning checklist into a template. Finally, set up a trigger in your PMP that sends the contractor an email whenever a new reservation occurs in the PMP. It’ll help the contractor plan their day, and since each property is unique, will send the right checklist.
  • If you have in-house cleaners or outsource: A cleaning app like Breezeway, Turnoverbnb, Properly, or EZCare have built-in checklists. You’ll need your cleaners to use the mobile versions of these apps. Then integrate the cleaning app to your PMP. This way, whenever a reservation takes place, the cleaner will get all the info and checklists needed automatically (no need to create templates like the option above).
  • If you want to be alerted when something is off with the checklist: Some of the cleaning apps mentioned above will create jobs/tasks if something in the checklist is marked as needing attention (i.e.: if the cleaner finds the heater doesn’t work). If you don’t use a cleaning app, there’s also a “hack”. You’ll need to make sure your PMP has an integration with Zapier. Create a Google Sheet with the complete vacation rental cleaning checklist. Then set up Zapier to alert you if ever one of the cells gets marked with anything other than a checkmark.

Vacation rental cleaning checklist recap

  1. Have a clear plan and expectations using our checklist for vacation rental cleaning.
  2. Put together a cleaning kit that you can carry to get the job done with the right tools.
  3. Automate as much as you can with software, routines and products to make your vacation rental business more scalable.

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