Maintaining a pristine vacation home is an essential part of operating high-quality rentals. Guests expect short-term rentals to be immaculate and comparable to hotels that employ hundreds on their cleaning staffs.

To guarantee you meet your guests’ expectations, you should consistently follow a vacation rental cleaning checklist after each guest's departure. A standard cleaning checklist and a few vacation rental cleaning tips will turn this daunting task into something more manageable.

Cleaning short-term rentals will always be a labor intensive job where the devil is in the details. The time investment needed to keep a rental home in ideal condition can be immense. You might be doing a deep clean of the vacation rental once a week or have a limited time window between when a guest checks out in the morning to the next one checking in that afternoon. These “quick turnarounds” can be stressful. A standardized cleaning checklist will help establish a routine, so nothing gets overlooked.

Many property managers choose to outsource their cleaning services to cut down on their personal time investment - especially when the number of units under management grows. But even if you hire an outside vendor you will need a thorough vacation rental cleaning checklist. With a checklist, you or your cleaning service will be more systematic and therefore less likely to miss something. If you do decide to hire a housecleaning service for your rental, automating this process will ensure you don’t cause more headaches for yourself.

Short-term rental cleaning is an important and extremely detail-attentive part of managing rental properties, but with a vacation rental cleaning checklist and few tried-and-true tips broken down room by room, it can be easy and painless.

A clean bathroom means a good reputation

The bathroom is the most important room in the house in terms of cleanliness, for both hygiene reasons and for giving your guests a great first impression. Clean this room first, when you are fresh and energized, before attacking the rest of the house has zapped your energy. Don’t just focus on the toilet and the shower. The mirrors, faucets, and the space between floor tiles can collect a lot of grime.

Items that often get forgotten:

  • Mirrors
  • Faucets
  • Toothbrush holders
  • Medicine cabinet
  • Soap dishes
  • Shower Curtains

A spotless bedroom will ease your guests’ minds

The bedroom needs to radiate cleanliness as guests will spend almost a third of their vacation in this room. Strip the linens, keeping an eye out for stains on the sheets and the mattress. Any stray hairs or discoloration will encourage your guests’ minds to wander to who might have been sleeping in their bed the night before - a thought no one wants on their holiday.

Items that often get forgotten:

  • Lamps
  • Alarm clocks
  • Cords and wires
  • Window handles
  • Curtains
  • Closets

An organized living area creates a cozy atmosphere

When cleaning the living areas, dust first and then sweep. When you dust the lamps, side tables and electronics, the only place for the dust to go is the floor. Don’t make extra work for yourself by sweeping the floors first, only to repeat the process after a good dusting. Living areas are also an excellent example of how straightening up can go a long way. Disheveled couch cushions or disorganized bookshelves make a vacation rental look messy and unprofessional even if the entire house has been deep cleaned.

Items that often get forgotten:

  • TV and DVD players
  • Bookshelves
  • Throw pillows and blankets
  • Doormats
  • Coat hangers and shoe racks

The kitchen hides dirt in every crevice

You want your guests to feel comfortable preparing food with your kitchen tools, and you shouldn’t be counting on your guests to do a thorough job cleaning the dishes. You need to check every plate, glass, and utensil for residual food.

Food scraps, crumbs, and saliva are breeding grounds for bacteria. Everything in the kitchen should be soaked and sanitized, including the handles and cupboard doors. They often get overlooked, but as they are touched regularly during the cooking and eating process, they are a haven for germs.

Items that often get forgotten:

  • Handles and cupboard doors
  • Drying racks
  • Hand towels
  • Silverware organizers
  • Paper towel holder

A good first impression comes from impressive exteriors

The exteriors are the first look any guest gets of your vacation rental and is the perfect place to make a good first impression. Keep the lawn mowed with a straight edge around sidewalks to give good curb appeal. Rake the leaves during the fall and pressure wash the driveway, walkways, and decks before the busy summer and winter seasons. Adding lawn decorations, like chairs or birdhouses, will give your rental home some character. But they need to be in good condition if they are going to create a positive and impactful visual for your property.

Items that often get forgotten:

  • Chipped paint
  • Outdoor shoe rack
  • Leaves and lawn
  • Driveway
  • Picnic tables
  • BBQs

When operating multiple vacation rental properties, there are many complicated logistics to worry about. It is easy to see why cleaning could be viewed as the most simple and straightforward task on your plate. And this is sometimes why it gets overlooked.

Having a vacation rental cleaning checklist will help you avoid this common problem. It is important to spend a few unencumbered moments to layout the expectations. With the tips above, a checklist, and clearly defined requirements, your rental will be spotless every time.