Vacation rental cleaning is a major logistical consideration for property managers and comes with specific challenges, such as:
- Coordinating cleaning and guest turnarounds quickly.
- Ensuring the cleaning is to professional standards and complies with Covid rules.
- Managing automated access and keeping your space secure.
- Making sure your cleaning materials don’t run out at the last moment...and more.
Guests will notice a lack of cleaning immediately, so if it’s not good enough, you’ll soon hear about it—as will other potential guests. But vacation rental cleaning is more than just ensuring your property is spotlessly clean for your next booking: it also includes maintenance and safety.
Happily, for busy property managers who may not be on-site doing guest turnover, these challenges can be overcome by automating part of your housekeeping operation, increasing the efficiency of your in-house cleaning team and saving you valuable time.
You can connect your PMS to vacation rental maintenance tools such as Operto and VRScheduler, which are designed to simplify your vacation rental operations.
That’s why in this post, we’ll explain:
How to automate and coordinate cleaning processes and staff.
How to document all processes and ensure your high standards are met.
How to remotely manage safety checks, deep cleaning, and stock of cleaning supplies.
What the perfect cleaning checklist for your vacation rental in-house cleaning team looks like.
Plus, what to do if you don’t yet have an in-house team, and how to find a reliable, professional cleaning service in the meantime.
Read on for answers to all your most-asked questions about managing your vacation rental cleaners, for maximum efficiency and minimum stress.
Connect your operations
Cleaning doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Manage your housekeeping operations efficiently with a powerful automation platform.
How to manage your vacation rental housekeeping operations
Hiring in-house cleaners is a great start, but it’s only the first step. Having a cleaning team means you’ll need to standardize and manage the process to ensure consistent cleaning, an easy process, and fast, efficient rental turnover. This takes property managers a lot of time (and money), particularly when operating a lot of vacation rental properties.
But this doesn’t need to be a constant scheduling headache so long as you establish the right practices and invest in the right tools.
Use a scheduling tool to automate your workflows and coordinate staff
Harnessing the power of digital tools can be the difference between your vacation rental cleaning becoming a stressful, logistical nightmare or a smooth-sailing process.
With so many moving parts to manage—from giving staff access to ensuring cleaning materials are stocked, to making sure the job is done to the right standards, to scheduling deep cleans and maintenance checks—doing everything manually makes things harder than they need to be.Tools such as VRScheduler can make a property manager’s life a thousand times easier by keeping everything in one place. They allow you and your team to coordinate staff and cleaning with a touch of a button, and enable you to keep track of the whole thing automatically.
VRScheduler allows you to:
Coordinate staff via color-coded, drag-and-drop digital dashboards.
Auto-generate cleaning tasks based on bookings and scheduled maintenance.
Enable staff to keep track of their cleaning, upload photos, and report issues in real-time.
Maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in one place, making them easy to refer to again and again.
Generate alerts for emergency cleaning, last-minute bookings, damage, and more.
Communicate easily between team members using email and SMS.
Generate reports on tasks and booking history.
Combining tools such as VRScheduler with digital automation platforms such as Operto also enables you to:
Connect your cleaning with guest bookings, check-ins, and check-outs.
Ensure tight security when it comes to access and logistics (using smart locks and keypads).
Ensure that all aspects of your rental business talk to each other with ease.
Establish standard processes and procedures
Establishing clear processes means creating step-by-step Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), enabling all staff to coordinate and all moving parts to run like a well-oiled machine.
These save a serious amount of time in the long run. It’s just rinse and repeat. Tools such as VRScheduler allow you to document every aspect of your in-house cleaning team’s job.
These will include:
Check out cleaning standards. Everything from how to fold the towels, to what product to use in each area. If possible, include photos.
Other cleaning standards. What cleaners should do mid-stay, when to do deep cleaning, and how to access their schedule.
Maintenance standards. When to do tasks such as cleaning the hot tub, furnace filters, coffee machines, ceiling fans, or garbage containers.
Staff hiring. How to onboard, welcome, train, and manage new staff successfully.
Lost and found. What to do with items that guests leave, so that each staff member responds in the same way. This may include uploading photos of the missing item.
Once these SOPs and standards are established, they can be referred to again and again, to maintain consistency. Clear SOPs mean there’s no extra stress or any unexpected surprises for you, as well as your cleaners, maintenance staff, property owners, and guests.
Schedule regular safety checks, deep cleans, and inspections
Once your standards are in place, you need to ensure that they are being followed and met consistently. Using a tool such as VRScheduler can automate this.
It allows you to automatically schedule check-out cleans, as well as ensuring boots-on-the-ground jobs get done consistently too. These include taking out the trash, checking if there’s enough coffee for the next guests, and if the cleaners have enough linens.
Staying on schedule with deep cleans to ensure that your place stays in good condition despite heavy traffic is also key, and includes carpets, curtains, ovens, blinds, fire alarms, and furniture.You also need to keep standards high for many OTA programs, which require everything to be in good condition. Proper cleaning and maintenance should be a core part of every vacation rental owner’s Airbnb Plus checklist.
Stay on top of your property’s maintenance needs
Maintenance might include various checks such as if the hot tub is working, if the windows still lock, if there are any issues such as a loose tile on the kitchen floor that may be a safety hazard.
All this can be tracked via tools such as VRScheduler, so you don’t have to remember to do it manually, and it’s accessible to you and your team remotely.
Digital automation, using keypads and keycodes for remote smart lock entry, also means that you can grant and revoke staff access at the right time. This enables you to coordinate repairs and checks while still keeping your property safe.
Make sure you’re always fully stocked on cleaning supplies
Your team will also need top-quality cleaning supplies and products that don’t run out.
You can establish processes to ensure that there are always enough cleaning materials, plus essentials such as toilet rolls, coffee capsules, or toiletries. Tools such as VRScheduler allow you to keep track of supplies automatically, and allow you to see when a certain product might be running low.
Standardizing repetitive tasks such as this can take it off your plate, and ensure your in-house cleaning team runs smoothly, with little extra effort from you.
Provide your cleaners with a vacation rental cleaning checklist
Establishing a digital vacation rental cleaning checklist enables your team to literally check off items as they go, running through each SOP in turn. This standardizes the process to ensure nothing is missed.
Digital checklists can also be accessed by everyone, and you can see how your team is doing during a tight turnover.
A sample cleaning procedure is as follows:
Do an initial walkthrough of the entire property on entry making sure to:
Submit any issues (damage, maintenance, lost and found).
Gather up laundry (wearing a mask and making sure not to fluff or shake) and put in bags for pickup.
Gather up garbage and dispose of it.
Put the toilet lids down and flush.
Check toilet paper and other stock.
Open the windows.
Load and start the dishwasher.
Check all lights and appliances, such as coffee machines, toilet flushes, lightbulbs, Wi-Fi.
Clean each room using standard procedures (top to bottom, room by room, etc.).
Do a final walkthrough to check supplies, thermostat, and final disinfection. Upload any photos to the checklist if needed. Check for missing items and take pictures of any additional damage or maintenance requirements found.
Finally, address outdoor areas as needed, including decks, BBQs, outdoor furniture and other items, referring to relevant SOPs.
You can track cleaning in real-time using platforms such as Operto, and coordinate access for your cleaning team seamlessly if guests check-in or check out early or late.
Ensure compliance with OTA hygiene and safety protocols—including Covid compliance
Many OTAs such as Airbnb and VRBO guarantee high levels of cleanliness for guests who are traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic, and your in-house team will need to be aware of this.
In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also has a set of local regulations and laws required for Covid-safe cleaning.
These enhanced standards, across OTAs and OSHA, include:
Ventilate the space during cleaning.
Use proven disinfectants to sanitize all possible surfaces.
Wear protective gear where necessary, such as masks and gloves.
Wash and disinfect your hands before, during, and after cleaning.
Sweep, dust and mop all surfaces before sanitizing.
Use the hottest water you can to clean, and in dishwashers and washing machines.
Safely dispose of all equipment.
Don’t re-enter a room once it’s been sanitized.
Cleaners can also receive a certification from a neutral third party such as CleaningCertification.com. This is an online cleaner course that covers best practices for cleaning during Covid, plus how to know when to stay home, how and when to wear PPE (personal protective equipment), and how to disinfect.
Choose effective, eco-friendly cleaning products
Cleaning chemicals and wastewater are some of the biggest polluters of the hospitality industry in general, so it makes sense to go green.
And yet, it’s still recommended to check that all products comply with standards from trusted sources in your country, especially when it comes to sanitizing against Covid.
In the US, these sources might include medical and safety agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
What if you don't yet have an in-house cleaning team?
You can DIY your cleaning. But it’s unlikely to be your best option (unless you manage a handful of properties next door, and have the time and expertise to clean to the standards required).
Individual owners may start out cleaning themselves, but will eventually need a team, either because the business is growing, because they want to travel, or have more free time.
Hiring your own team also frees you up to focus on the enjoyable aspects of a vacation rental, such as helping rental guests to enjoy their stay!
DIY vs. professional cleaning: An at-a-glance guide
Can schedule remotely and entrust the job to several people at once.
Taking stock of essentials is a lot to manage.
Putting SOPs in place ensures that all staff members check stock as a matter of course.
Dealing with breakages, such as showers, coffee machines, or the TV is a hassle.
Your team can easily and quickly report these breakages and act on established processes to fix them efficiently.
Deep cleaning is needed at least twice a year—which is expensive and time-consuming.
Including this as a standard part of your processes means they happen as part of a planned routine.
Logistical nightmare to secure in-person access and physical keys for different staff members and guests at different times.
Using digital systems that help to coordinate access, such as Operto, and smart locks, plus a digital manager such as VRScheduler allows you to do it all remotely—and instantly.
Difficult to do to a professional standard if you’re not a professional cleaner.
Your professional team will have training in place, and can even take a professional course to ensure compliant standards.
You need to live nearby and be available for last-minute bookings that require quick turnover at short notice.
You aren’t required on-site. Digital systems enabling keyless entry for vacation rentals mean you can manage cleaning and maintenance access remotely, even if plans change last-minute.
Seem like a cheap option but can be deceptively expensive when factoring in your time and travel.
A professional cleaning staff and software automation of processes enable you to scale and focus your time on managing more properties—making more money.
Puts you at risk of burnout, with no time to actually offer hospitality and enjoy your guests or vacation rental business.
No burnout for you or your team, as the work is shared and coordinated digitally. Everyone has processes in place to reduce hassle and mental strain, and you can focus on guests.
Cleaners and other staff members are a huge asset. They add an extra “pair of boots on the ground” to your business.
This is particularly important if you’re running your rentals remotely, and can’t be there physically to oversee everything. That’s why having these trusted, high-quality staff as part of your team makes total business sense.
How to find a reliable, responsible, and regular vacation rental cleaning service in your area
If you’re not yet at the stage of hiring a proper in-house team, fear not. Here are our top tips for finding professional cleaners who may later become a crucial part of your overall staff.
Cleaning apps. These win out on convenience, as you can often search, schedule, and pay for an in-depth clean in seconds. Some also offer extra services, such as specially-designed Airbnb turnarounds, laundry, oven cleaning, or handyman tasks such as putting up blinds or fixing a door handle. Depending on where you are in the world, some of the best apps include Cleanzy, Handy, AirTasker, MaidThis, TurnoverBnB, and Properly.
Referrals. There’s nothing like a personal recommendation. Reach out to your network of other vacation rental professionals to ask how they found their reliable providers.
Social media recommendations. You may also be able to network on LinkedIn or in Facebook Groups. Join groups of property managers or owners listing on OTAs such as Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com, and ask who they use.
Online listings. Searching for a professional cleaning team on your favorite search engine is an obvious but sometimes overlooked idea. With so many short-term rental hosts looking for high-level cleaning, especially during Covid, Googling key terms could be a good bet.
Before you hire anyone, it’s important to take the time to interview them and ask the right questions, just as you would before taking on any kind of staff or employee.
Key questions might include:
What are your experience and qualifications?
Can you provide a background check?
Are you insured, licensed, and bonded for this area?
How do you train new staff and ensure high standards?
How would you report back to me when a property is cleaned or if there is an issue?
What cleaning products do you use, and how will you communicate when you need more?
What would you do in the event of a very last-minute cleaning job?
How would you manage a deep clean versus a standard clean?
How would you manage a lost item or damaged property?
Do you have any referrals from previous happy clients?
The more questions you ask, the more likely you are to begin the relationship on a solid footing, find a high-quality, reliable cleaner, and hire a member of your team that you totally trust.
Vacation rental cleaning: A professional process
A responsible vacation rental property manager not only needs to hire an excellent in-house cleaning team, but they also need to manage the staff, establish standardized processes, and ensure that all aspects of the rental are checked over consistently.
Coordinating it to be as automated, digital, and remote as possible—using a system such as VRScheduler—makes it quicker and easier, removing the stress of complicated key logistics and the hassles of keeping track of cleaning and products manually.
So you can worry less about cleaning and more about welcoming your guests and ensuring they have an excellent stay in a well-maintained, safe, and sparkling space.
Frequently asked questions about vacation rental cleaning
Hire an in-house cleaning team that you trust to do the job properly every time. Harnessing the power of digital tools such as VRScheduler to manage all the administrative and easy-to-forget tasks also simplifies the process, meaning you can coordinate cleaning quickly and easily, with no extra time wasted on logistics, and focus on your guests instead.
It depends on the services required, such as laundry, oven cleaning, or carpet deep cleans. It will also depend on the size of your property, and whether you have an in-house team or not. The good news is that your guests typically pay the cleaning fee for their booking, so this keeps your overheads low.
While there are apps for this purpose, such as Handy, Airtasker, Properly, or TaskRabbit, we recommend asking other vacation rental owners in your area for references as the best way to find a reliable cleaner.
You can also ask on social media for recommendations, or search online for ads, for both regular cleaning, or for building your in-house team. Ensure your cleaner has experience of what you require, and that they are licensed and insured according to your local laws.
Connect your operations
Cleaning doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Manage your housekeeping operations efficiently with a powerful automation platform.