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Our vacation rental cleaning process (VRBO & Airbnb cleaning tips)

How to clean your vacation rental effectively & efficiently!

Stressed about how to get that vacation rental cleaning done in such a short window of time and still get the five-star review?

I'll walk you through our vacation rental cleaning process on how we clean our four bedroom, 2,000 square foot home in about 4 hours.

Whether you're cleaning your home yourself or hiring a team, you'll want to make sure that you have these six steps covered in your cleaning process.

OK, I have to say, this is NOT my area of expertise, but I called in an expert to help me out with this topic.

My mom, Peggy, has owned her own cleaning business for over 15 years, and she leads the cleaning on our vacation rental.

Our secret weapon for fantastic vacation rental cleaning:

Whether it's her going in there herself to clean or whether we are relying on a team to clean it for us, this is the exact same process that is used every single time.

As you know, cleaning a rental home is very different from cleaning your own home, and most notably, it is because you have such a short amount of time that you have to get everything done to perfection.

Our six-step vacation rental cleaning process

Step #1: Set expectations with the guests beforehand.

Before anyone ever enters our home, there are some expectations that we have for our guests, and we outline this in our welcome binder, and we make sure to communicate this through our email communications as well.

We kindly set expectations for what to do with the trash, stripping beds, moving furniture back to the original location.

What you decide to ask the guest to be responsible for is a personal decision but make sure you clearly outline the expectations beforehand and make sure the ask is reasonable in relation to your offer!

Step #2: Keep the home stocked with your supplies.

Rather than loading all the supplies in and out of the home, we find it to be a lot easier to have everything already at the home.

We keep it in a locked cabin, and this includes all of our cleaning supplies, all of our paper products, paper towels and toilet paper that we provide, as well as the extra amenities that we provide, like shampoo and conditioner.

We also keep inventory on this so that we always know what our levels are and we can make sure that this is always fully stocked.

The other thing it's great to have extras of are your linens, so that when there are loads going, that's not holding you up. It's great when you can get the beds made even if you have wash in the washing machine or dryer.

Step #3: Getting the essential tools.

Here are the essential tools my mom notes for a perfect clean:

  • A lightweight vacuum so it's really easy to move quickly from room to room, and her preferred brand is the Shark vacuum.

  • The O-Cedar Spin Mop (she says this is the best one she's ever found)

  • A large supply of Magic Erasers (she says these are key, and she uses them all of the time for stubborn stains throughout the house)

  • And of course she has lots of rags on hand, and some of her favorite cleaning products include Scrubbing Bubbles, Lime-A-Way, Windex, and Comet.

  • Last, she's always stocked up on air fresheners (and that's something that gets noted in our comments and reviews quite a bit, is how clean the home smells).

Pro tip: Make sure you have really good music with you, and have fun with it so that the time really flies by!

Step #4: Follow the same flow every single time.

Once you establish your process and find something that works well, use this same one over and over, as it helps you move really efficiently and effectively throughout the home.

When my mom enters the home, she first goes to the laundry room and makes sure that there's a load of sheets going.

Then, she checks what shape the oven is in. Usually, if the oven had been used, then she'll need to run the self cleaner. That takes about four hours on its own, so that's the very first thing she'll do to maximize her time in the home.

Then, she always starts with the most difficult rooms first and addresses the rooms in this order:

  1. Bathrooms

  2. Kitchen

  3. Bedrooms

  4. Main Living Areas

Step #5: Focus on the order in which you clean in each room.

The first thing is to work your way down in a room.

Start with the ceiling fans and then move to the dressers, shelves, counters, and then the floors are always last.

Then you want to work your way out of the room, so that you are not leaving any prints behind.

Step #6: Final Walk-through

This is where you'll make sure that you have gotten to everything.

Here are some key things to check:

  • Check all of the dresser drawers and making sure that nothing has been left behind there

  • Check all pantry and cabinets, and making sure that no food has been left behind.

  • You'll also want to go through the kitchen cabinets and drawers and just make sure everything is in its proper place.

  • Make sure that there are no streaks or hand prints,

  • Ensure there are no hairs left behind! Check those bathrooms especially, for any little hairs that are possibly left behind.

You will definitely not want to leave anything behind, because that could get noted on a review.

The last part of the walk through is documenting what the home looks like. This is particularly important if you are hiring out a cleaning team.

If you are hiring this part out, I would ask that before they leave, they take photos and they send them to you, especially if they're new, so that you can approve what it looks like and make sure that it is being left in the condition that meets your expectations.

Then, you will want to document anything if you think that there has been damage that that last guest was responsible.

If you are going to put any claims in, you'll want to make sure that you have the photo evidence of that, so those are a few key reminders that you can keep in mind when you're going through the final walk-through.


Cleaning your vacation rental effectively and efficiently is key to running a successful vacation rental.

Please let me know in the comments below if you have questions or cleaning tips to add to this list!

Also, if you're new to the industry and would like to receive more best practices, be sure to grab my free marketing guide.

It's called The Vacation Rental Marketing Roadmap, and you can grab that in the link below.

It is my seven-step guide to really marketing your home so that you can get seen and booked on the listing sites.

You can just grab your free copy, and it'll be sent directly to your inbox.

Be sure to grab your free marketing guide here!

Vacation Rental Marketing Guide

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