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  • Writer's pictureJulie Fergus

How to Clean a Vacation Rental

Updated: Jun 12, 2023


Cleaning a vacation rental is different than cleaning a private residence. The key difference is a paying guest will arrive to the home for the first time (typically). Therefore, first impression is of upmost importance. Nothing can be out of place, and it has to be thoroughly cleaned and organized. Nothing can be put off if allotted cleaning time has run out. Literally, everything needs to get done.


I have seen house cleaners clean in ways that look inefficient and chaotic to me. Time is of the essence especially on a back-to-back turnover, so I believe an organized approach is extremely important. The key is to avoid being a ping-pong going from task to task. As an obsessive organized person, I clean my vacation rental with a methodical process. That’s right, I clean my own vacation rental. I have found it impossible to find a reliable person that will commit to cleaning every Saturday in the summer.


Here's my process

#1 Do an overall assessment of the entire home. Go through all of the rooms and closets and get a handle on the level of work to be done. Some guests are super neat and won’t have moved everything, and they may have done all or some of the laundry. On the other hand, there are guests that have moved everything and used everything and left a big mess. This means more time is needed.


#2 Spray shower with scum remover spray; I like Scrub Free. Spray the toilet and sink with a bleach foamer; I like Clorox Bleach Foamer. I let these sit till I get back to it in #7.


#3 Get laundry started after assessment. I launder all towels and bathmats on site while I am cleaning. If time permits, I will do sheets as well. If not, I take the sheets home with me and return laundered sheets on the next turnover. The key is to have multiple sets of sheets. If you have throw rugs that are washable, I suggest having multiples so you don’t have to launder those on-site on a back-to-back turnover.


(Laundry will be an interruption in the cleaning process as the loads complete. I tend to the dryer and fold linens and towels right away. Go here for my folding method.)


#4 Put things in order and back in place. I go through the whole house and put things back in order. If furniture and accessories are moved, it all goes back where it belongs. Go through the kitchen cabinets and get things organized if guests have made a mess there. (Sometimes I wait till I get to the kitchen cleaning to do this.)


#5 Make all of the beds. I make up all of the beds at once because this allows for all of the bedding and pillows to be in place to make the actual cleaning task efficient.


#6 Start cleaning. Spaces should be neat and orderly before cleaning. Work in one area or room at a time. Wipe, dust, and scrub surfaces. Wipe windowsills every time in warm weather season.


#7 Clean bathrooms. Bathrooms can be a stand-alone task. I have one bathroom in my rental and I clean it after the soap scum spray remover and bleach foamer have done some of the prep work for me.


#8 Vacuuming begins. Once I’ve completed the set-up and cleaning, I vacuum. (The only time I will vacuum beforehand is if departed guests have left a ridiculous amount of dog hair behind; I will get that out of the way.) I am on the lookout for cobs during this process. As time permits, I pull furniture away from walls and get behind and under pieces.


#9 Set up and prep your welcome note and treat. I use a glass domed cake pedestal to present sweet treats from a local bakery. Read welcome guests here.


#10 Floor mopping. I do all of the floor mopping last before walking out the door. As I am mopping, I inspect each room to make sure I haven’t missed anything.


The reason I do my cleaning this way is because I don’t want to be tripping over the vacuum cord, or dragging the vacuum and cleaning supplies at the same time. The only multi-tasking is tending to the laundry during the process.


Multi-tasking can lead to forgetting items by getting distracted. Nothing can be forgotten when presenting a vacation rental to a guest.


I can clean my rental with two bedrooms, one bathroom, an open living / kitchen space, and small deck in 3.5 – 4 hours. Using my linear method I am not running around like crazy getting overheated.


Notes: if you have multiple floors in your rental cleaning each floor one at a time would be efficient so you aren’t carrying supplies and vacuum up and down the stairs. Or if you have a team assign each team member with a task. One can make the beds while another cleans; bathrooms can be assigned to another member. The key is to have the tasks done in segments so no one is tripping over each other.


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1 Comment


Laurie Smith
Laurie Smith
Jun 16, 2023

Good advice! I agree with everything-especially the methodical approach. Thanks for the posts.

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