What's the first thing you notice when you walk into a home, vacation rental or hotel? More likely than not, you notice if it's clean. Time and again, cleanliness or lack thereof, is something that comes up over and over again on customer reviews. As a property owner, it's important to go beyond the fact that you should clean between guests. Here are some considerations when it comes to Airbnb cleaning that will make this required, albeit sometimes unpleasant, task easier to tackle and tackle well.
Plan for Frequent Cleaning
If you're just starting to set up your vacation rental property and need to purchase furniture and decorations, keep in mind that your vacation rental will need to be cleaned much more frequently than your home. As a result, select easy-to-clean furnishings and make wise decoration decisions.
1. Avoid Small Decorations. You probably want to avoid many knick knacks as they will require dusting regularly and cover surfaces that will be more difficult to clean. If you welcome children to your rental, knick knacks can be a temptation to be tinkered with, broken, and misplaced in odd locations around your rental.
2. Buy Protective Covers. Invest in things like plastic table covers or waterproof mattress covers to protect your furniture and ease clean-up between guests.
3. Avoid Heavy Window Coverings. Heavy, fabric curtains can collect a great deal of dust and require regular laundering. Instead, invest in easy-to-clean blinds or shades for your windows.
4. Plan for Replacement Items. Depending on the traffic at your vacation rental, you may want to replace items like towels and sheets every six months or so. Make sure you plan for that in your overall annual budget.
Make Cleaning Checklists
Each vacation rental will be different in terms of the things that will need to be cleaned and maintained between guests. Most of us don't find cleaning an especially enjoyable part of the vacation rental business. To perform or hire out this necessary task, it's important to create, maintain and update a complete vacation rental cleaning task list.
1. Make Your Inside List. Take the time to walk your property and write down everything that should be cleaned before new guests arrive. Your checklist can be divided by room and start with everything that you can easily see. Be sure floors and main surfaces are clean. As time goes on, be sure to add items and update your list so that your cleaning efforts are as complete and efficient as possible.
2. Create an Outside List. Remember that guests and potential guests will see the outside of your property before they ever step inside. Be sure you maintain your landscape, gardens and exterior of your rental. Make sure grass is trimmed and windows are washed.
3. Share Your List with Contractors. If you are contracting out your cleaning tasks to a third-party, take the time to meet with the person who will be cleaning your vacation rental. Talk through the things that are important to you, and ask for their advice on what you might be missing. A good cleaning contractor will probably have its own checklist; use both to create a custom cleaning plan for your rental.
4. Leave a Mini-List for Guests. It's acceptable to leave some basic cleaning tasks for your guests upon check out. You'll want to be careful not to ask too much of your guests, but expecting some basic tasks to be done can help you get your rental in shape for the next guest. Acceptable guest requests include moving furniture back to original positions, disposing of opened or used food from the refrigerator, unplugging small appliances, loading and running the dishwasher, placing used towels in a hamper, or taking garbage to an outdoor container. If guests comply, be sure to send them a thank-you e-mail.
In the Midst of Guests
Once you enter your busy season, you'll be keeping quite busy with bookings, answering questions, and managing guests and issues during their stay. You'll want your cleaning tasks to run like clockwork, not be an extra burden during an already busy time. While you're hosting, here are some things to remember:
1. Charge a Cleaning Fee. Nearly all properties charge a security deposit to cover potential damages. It's acceptable to add a vacation rental cleaning fee as well as include a cleaning deposit as part of your security deposit policy. Be sure you are clear about what fees are standard for all bookings and which ones will be returned under what circumstances. If you decide to keep part of the security deposit due to cleaning issues, document the violations with photos and communicate clearly with the offending guest.
2. Invest in Green Supplies. Most people are environmentally conscious these days, and many people react to chemical cleaning supplies. Purchase or use the most environmentally friendly products that you can in order to do your part in protecting the world and the health of your guests.
3. Make it Easy to Recycle. In addition, most people probably recycle at home but may be unfamiliar with the recycling programs in your city. Help guests by providing different recycling containers and label what items can be recycled locally.
4. Deal with Problems Immediately. If something gets overlooked and your guests complain while they are at your vacation rental, be sure to respond as quickly as possible to correct the problem. You may want to go above and beyond to make up for the oversight with something extra.
5. Respond Calmly to Negative Cleaning Reviews. If guests do not notify you of cleaning problems while they are at your vacation rental, but instead, leave a negative review upon departure, be sure to apologize and assure future guests that the cleaning issue was an oversight and will not happen again.
After the Busy Season
Once you are through your busy season, you'll want to step back and take a look at cleaning considerations in the slow season. Thorough cleaning tasks are difficult to do while guests are in and out of your property nearly every day; however, they are still important to do occasionally.
1. Deep Clean Twice a Year. In between busy seasons is a great time to conduct a deep cleaning and replace worn-out items. You can also hire a company to conduct a more comprehensive cleaning for you. Check everything including grouting in bathroom and kitchen tiles, outside rain gutters, dripping faucets, and drawers and closet corners. If you don't have a slow season, you'll still want to block off one week, twice a year to thoroughly clean and repair.
2. Complete Major Outdoor Projects. Don't forgot regular maintenance items that need to be done outside as well. Trim overgrown tree limbs, repair worn deck boards, or re-cover asphalt driveways regularly as well.
3. Maintain and Repair. This is also a great time to complete maintenance items like furnace and air conditioning filter replacements and tune-ups. Be sure broken appliances or furniture are repaired or replaced so that everything is in good working order.
4. Prepare for Vacant Periods. If you shut down your vacation rental for weeks or months, you will have some additional AirBNB cleaning considerations. Do things like wash comforters or blankets, empty the refrigerator, and unplug appliances. If you're closing your rental during cold weather, be sure to drain your water pipes and set your temperature at a level where things will not get damaged. Before re-opening your rental, you'll want to do a thorough cleaning again, making sure you catch all the cobwebs and dust that settles in a vacant rental unit.
Even though cleaning is a task that most property owners don't enjoy, it is a critical one to always keep in mind when you're running a vacation rental business. If you can keep these and similar cleaning considerations in mind before, during and after your guests book with you, you can ensure that the tasks are carried out as completely and efficiently as possible.