Spring cleaning your own home may be a chore, but it’s a chore that can be spread out over the course of, you know, as long as it takes to get everything done. But when you’re cleaning a vacation rental that’s going to be used by other (paying) people, there’s more pressure and stricter deadlines to consider. With the summer vacation season fast approaching, now is the time to get started.
One indisputable truth about owning a vacation rental is that guests will often judge the cleanliness of your place more harshly than what they would expect of themselves in their own homes. Set yourself up for success by providing a solid foundation to work from all year long. Whether you refresh your rental between guests yourself, or you have a professional service do it for you, it’s a good idea to show up at least once or twice a year to do some deep cleaning and add those last minute enhancements before business picks up. Here are some tips and ideas to help you get started.
Prepare the Windows
Is the view from your lake house or high rise city apartment a major selling point for your vacation rental? Chances are your guests are going to want to check out their surroundings, causing them to quickly become well-acquainted with your windows. There’s a lot going on in this area that you want to account for. Obviously, make sure the glass is clean and streak-free (a vinegar/water mixture and either a microfiber cloth towel or old newspaper will do the trick), but don’t forget to also wipe down each individual blind, wash the drapes (if you have them), and clean between the window and the screen, where dirt and dust quickly accrue due to the proximity to the outdoors.
Ensure Proper (and Safe) Ventilation
Having proper ventilation and air flow throughout the unit is very important for the health and comfort of your guests. You should be conducting a general maintenance test on your ventilation system at least once a year to make sure it’s in proper working order. Replace the filter(s) at this time, as well. When that’s done, remove, dust, and wipe down each vent.
Clean the Carpets
No matter what rules you have for indoor footwear, carpets and rugs are destined to gather any and all types of dirt or spilled food and drink. Unfortunately, they’re also going to be one of the first things your guests notice when they arrive. Depending on your cleaning itinerary, it’s probably best to wait until the very end, and then thoroughly vacuum every carpet and rug, rent or buy a carpet cleaning machine, and go to town. The difference should be immediately visible and will provide an overall more inviting atmosphere for visitors.
No Restroom for the Weary
Bathrooms are easy, right? Usually, the parts that need to be cleaned really obviously need to be cleaned. True, so that’s why I’m not here to remind you to scrub the toilet. However, there are some areas that you may overlook, like using the opportunity to declog the drains in the sink and tub. Even if they don’t seem to have an issue right now, there is some combination of hair, soap, and/or toothpaste gathering in there waiting to stress you out at a future date. Don’t use a store bought liquid solution, as it could cause even more serious long-term damage to your pipes. Instead, invest in a heavy duty drain snake. If you’re having a lot of trouble, a plunger or shop vac can also help get the hairball rolling.
The other thing to remember about preparing the bathroom for your guests is to make sure you’ve stocked plenty of supplies. Sometimes, issues arrive in the restroom that need to be handled immediately and discretely, so make sure to leave a plunger, toilet bowl scrubber, and snake handy. While you’re at it, provide plenty of extra toilet paper and some air freshener. If you want to go above and beyond, stock the cabinets with essentials for forgetful travelers, such as aspirin, shaving cream, toothpaste, body soap, mouthwash, shampoo, and conditioner.
Refresh the Refreshments
Whether you’re a host who provides snacks and refreshments to your (very lucky) guests, or some, let’s call them “thoughtful,” guests left behind some of their food when they split, it’s your responsibility to take the time to remove everything from the refrigerator and cabinets to check the expiration dates and cull your collection appropriately. While they’re empty, clean out the fridge, making sure to scrub the shelves, wash the drawers, and wipe down the outside and the rubber seal inside the door. When you’re done, restock these areas with new treats using the “first in, first out” method, where older items or those closer to expiration are placed toward the front so that they’ll be used first. This keeps things fresh. Adding an open box of baking soda in the back of the fridge is a natural and safe way to remove odors for months at a time.
Good Mood Lighting
A pretty simple way to brighten your guests’ opinions of your place is to make sure the lighting is optimized in each room. The right light situation can make a space look bigger, cleaner, and more inviting, so at the very least, spend your spring cleaning session replacing the lightbulbs in every room that needs it (and keep extra bulbs in an easily accessible location in case they burn out while guests are staying there). Clean off the remaining bulbs and any fixtures that can collect dust overtime. If you have the time and inclination, it could also improve the overall experience if you introduce some auxiliary lighting options like floor or desk lamps to rooms that could benefit from a little more illumination.
Baby Got Back(yard)
Visiting warmer areas like the Carolinas, Florida, or California means that your guests are probably looking to spend a good amount of time outside. And no matter where you’re located, a vacation rental with a great backyard is a huge draw for many people, so don’t skimp on making sure that this space is cleaned up, well-manicured, and decorated with enough weather-appropriate furniture and amenities to make it easy to lose track of the hours spent enjoying the company of others in the Great Outdoors. Of course, it’s also important to make sure that the front of the rental looks impeccable, as well, since it’s literally the first thing your guests will see. Be sure to incorporate expertly placed welcome mats outside the doors to ensure your carpets stay clean!
Make It Easy to Keep It Clean
A common experience for many hosts is dealing with guests who aren’t as concerned as you are with keeping the rental spic and span for future visitors. While there is obviously a certain amount of control you have to relinquish when you’re letting (relative) strangers stay at your property, you can set them (and yourself) up for success by providing the cleaning supplies they’ll need to keep the place looking good when they leave. During spring cleaning, you can make sure to replace old or empty cleaning products and get a sense for where the biggest “problem areas” are in the rental. Before guests arrive, print out (and laminate, if that’s an option) clear and detailed instructions on what should be cleaned before they leave and where they can access the supplies they’ll need to do it. Not all guests will execute on these directions with equal quality or care, but limiting the amount of barriers (i.e., excuses) will increase the likelihood that they maintain some level of cleanliness, so you or your hired cleaner aren’t starting from scratch in between every group of guests.
Looking for more ways to optimize your vacation rental this spring? Check out our articles on How to Decorate a Rental Property and How to Make the Most of Your Rental.