A successful year-round vacation rental property prides itself on being available to guests on a moment’s notice. For this to be viable, a vacation rental property’s cleanliness must be maintained at all times. Here, we share tips for cleanliness and the invaluable benefits that come with it.
The Nightmare Away from Home: What Not to Do
Paul and Janet arrived at the cute vacation cottage with their children in tow for a much-needed weekend getaway. The drive had been long for the little ones, and now the whole family was looking forward to cooking a quick dinner and relaxing in the adorable cottage the advertisement had promised.
The couple noticed that the yard was fairly tidy, but after they turned the key and entered the cottage, their jaws dropped. The kitchen was littered with dirty dishes and debris; the bathrooms were dirty; and the beds had been stripped, with used bedclothes and towels lying in rumpled heaps by the washing machine. To add insult to injury, all the toilet paper was gone, and they could not open the locked cleaning supply cupboard to get more. They also noticed that picture frames were dusty and that one of the chairs was broken.
Paul called the owner, but because it was the weekend—and despite the owner’s apologies—no cleaning service would be available throughout their stay. Worse, the owner could not locate another rental for the family. Paul and Janet spent several hours that evening doing laundry, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and making beds so their exhausted children could get some sleep. Janet had to run to the grocery store to pick up cleaning supplies and toilet paper. They both agreed that in addition to leaving a poor review of the cottage and warning all of their well-traveled friends, they would never rent any vacation cottage from the owner or the vacation rental company again.
This scenario should be every property owner’s nightmare.
Tips for Maintaining a Spotless Vacation Rental
With the Internet making it easy for people to locate and rent vacation homes, condos, and apartments all over the world, more people than ever are choosing to live in a home-away-from-home rather than crash at expensive hotels. Because of the increasing demand, more property owners than ever are choosing to enter the vacation rental market to make some money; but getting repeat customers and keeping your property solidly booked takes more than a nicely worded Internet ad and pretty pictures. Good reviews, repeat bookings, and word-of-mouth referrals depend largely on the upkeep and cleanliness of the property from customer to customer. Positive talk about your rental property equals a much more likely chance you’ll make money all year round.
Why be Fastidious about Rental Property Cleanliness?
We’re all used to our own dirt. What none of us likes is to walk into a home and be required to live with someone else’s dirt. Vacationers spend their hard-earned money to rent a place to stay, and they expect it to be in good condition, cleaned, and ready for instant occupation. While some vacationers might have unrealistic expectations about what services they feel should be available, sparkling cleanliness is one thing you can always bank on to keep your clients happy year after year. A super-clean environment allows customers to overlook many of the little quirks that vacation rental properties sometimes include.
Create a Daily/Weekly Cleaning Schedule
Cleaning between renters is an absolute must. But having a daily or weekly cleaning schedule will help reduce the amount of cleaning or repairs needed overall. It’s your choice as to whether you offer daily cleaning services—and in most cases, daily cleaning is not necessary or expected—but at least be prepared to offer weekly cleaning for long-term renters. Not only will you keep your renters happy, but you will also reduce overall wear-and-tear to your property, and that will cost you less money in property upkeep in the long run.
Create a Checklist for Use Between Renters
Whether you clean the rental yourself or hire a cleaning service to do it for you, a checklist will ensure that you aren’t neglecting any important duties and allowing stains, dirt, and dust to build up over time. Schedule annual or bi-annual deep cleanings in the off-season, but use a checklist to keep things spic-and-span between renters.
Here is an example of a regular cleaning checklist. Add to or subtract from it depending on the needs of your property.
- Scrub down cupboards, counters, backsplash, and small appliances (toaster, coffee maker, etc.).
- Scrub and sanitize sink
- Scrub refrigerator, inside and outside. Remove perishable food items left behind
- Clean range top and wipe oven exterior and interior
- Run the dishwasher through a cleaning cycle, empty food trap, and buff away any hard water stains. Refill rinse aid compartment.
- Scrub exterior
- Clean dishes and stack in cupboards
- Clean interior and exterior of microwave oven
- Wash windows and sliding doors
- Sweep and mop floor
- Restock dishwasher detergent, liquid dish soap, hand soap, cleaning wipes or cloths, paper towels, trash bin liners, and general cleanser
- Restock coffee filters, instant coffee, tea, salt, pepper, etc.
- Polish chrome or stainless steel faucets, handles, or appliance fronts
- Clean dining table and chairs, including legs
- Empty and rinse out trash bins
- Remove and wash all towels and bathmats. Replace
- Clean and sanitize toilets
- Clean and sanitize counters and sinks
- Scrub and sanitize bathtub or shower. Wash shower curtains and clean glass doors
- Empty and rinse trash cans and remove any bath and hygiene products left by previous renters
- Polish faucets and handles
- Sanitize doorknobs
- Clean mirrors
- Replenish liquid or solid hand soap and complimentary bath and hygiene products
- Sweep and mop floor
- Wash all sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases. Make beds
- Wipe down bedside tables, dresser tops and drawers, closet shelves, windowsills, and other surfaces
- Vacuum carpet, or sweep and mop hard floors (including under beds and furniture)
- Empty trash bins and replace bin liners
- Dust or spot-clean picture frames, knick-knacks, other decorative accessories, ceiling fan
- Clean mirrors and windows
- Vacuum sofas and chairs, including under cushions
- Check any sofa beds for dirty linen. Wash and replace linens
- Clean television screens with anti-static cleaner and wipes
- Replace fresh flowers
- Vacuum sofas and chairs, including under cushions
- Vacuum draperies
- Clean and dust side tables, lamps, coffee table, shelves, other hard furniture items, ceiling fan, window ledges, and window blinds
- Polish wood furniture
- Clean television screen with anti-static cleaner and wipes
- Check sofa bed for dirty linens. Wash and replace linens
- Vacuum carpet, or sweep and mop hard floor, including under all furniture
- Wash windows/sliding doors
- Mow lawn as needed
- Weed flower beds
- Wash siding as needed
- Sweep patio areas; wash down as needed
- Clean and dust washer and dryer exteriors. Clean out lint trap on dryer
- Check all light bulbs. Replace as necessary
- Check for signs of pest infestation (bedbugs, cockroaches, rodents, ants, etc.). Set or replace traps/poison, or call a pest control
- company immediately
- Replace furnace filter
- Check air-conditioning unit, furnace, and hot water heater to make sure they are running optimally
- Vacuum dust from vents
- Wash down patio furniture, clean BBQ
Do Not be Afraid to Replace Items When Necessary
You may feel that you’re saving some money by waiting to replace worn items, but renters will downgrade their opinion of your property if items they use every day are ragged, torn, broken, not working properly, or completely missing. They won’t book your place for their next vacation, and they may even write negative reviews that influence potential renters to look for another place. That’s money you’ve lost.
As a rule of thumb, replace anything that shows wear and tear beyond what can be reasonably expected. Items that come in close contact with a person’s skin, for instance (bed linens, towels, anything in the bathroom), must be in pristine condition—no signs of worn spots, tears or stains. Items that contribute to a renter’s feeling of safety must also be in perfect working order: the security system, locks, doorknobs, doors, and windows. Broken furniture or kitchen appliances should be replaced or repaired immediately. While you don’t have to stock your rental property with the most expensive and plush items, the things that are inside it should be clean and in good working order. Renters interpret overly worn or broken items as sloppiness on your part, and they will assume that you are dishonest. It’s nearly impossible to change a dissatisfied renter’s mind if they’d had a bad experience due to a faulty vacation rental. On the other hand, a little money and time spent on repairing or replacing items as needed will yield large benefits.
Service Large Appliances Regularly
Schedule regular maintenance checks for the air conditioner, furnace, and water heater to keep them running perfectly. This will reduce the number of emergency calls from renters and expensive emergency repairs you’ll have to pay for. Regular service also extends the lifespan of large appliances.
Have Carpets Cleaned on a Monthly Basis
Clean, stain-free carpets are luxurious on bare feet and allow renters to feel relaxed. Dirty, worn carpets make renters wonder about the sanitary conditions of the rest of the home. Monthly carpet cleaning will help remove buildup and stains before they get ground into the base fibers and become permanent. Worn, torn, or overly stained and permanently dirty carpets should be replaced.
Store Touch-Up Paint for Blemishes
A small jar of wall paint and a small paintbrush allow you to quickly touch up dings and scrapes to the paint job on walls and doorways. When painting the walls, note the brand and paint color for you records. Keep a baby food jar or small Mason jar of the paint in the supply cupboard for touch-ups.
How a Clean Rental Property Positively Impacts Your Revenue
Make no mistake: your renters will form an opinion about the cleanliness of your vacation property the moment they step inside. That opinion will either encourage them to rent from you again or take their business elsewhere.
A Clean Property Helps Create a Memorable Experience
You want your renters to create enjoyable experiences while staying in your vacation property, not negative ones. A clean property provides comfort, relaxation, and a sense of getting their money’s worth for renters. They’ll remember how much they enjoyed staying at the property and will associate it with a good time. This makes renters much more likely to rebook and tell their friends about their good experience.
A Clean Property Increases the Likelihood of Customer Loyalty
When renters know you care enough to take good care of the property, they feel that you are an honest and credible owner/manager. When a rental property is consistently clean, items are in good working order, and concerns are taken seriously, you’re likely to get repeat business year after year. Good service is just that valuable to your renters.
A Clean Property Becomes a Noteworthy Point in Customer Reviews
Guests at a hotel expect immaculately clean rooms. Guests in vacation rentals also expect a very high standard of cleanliness. When you advertise a sparkling clean rental property and then deliver, it will get noticed in good ways. Renters want a clean place, and they will mention it in reviews.
Positive Reviews Generate Future Business
Potential renters spend hours scouring online reviews before deciding on a vacation rental they feel will meet their needs and standards. Accommodation represents a large portion of a renter’s vacation budget, and when they are pleased with where they are staying, they are very likely to give your property excellent reviews. Those reviews will influence other potential renters who are looking for a good place to stay. A renter is far more likely to lay down their hard-earned cash for a place with glowing reviews, thus helping to keep a property booked and making money for you.
Positive reviews also reduce the possibility of cancellation or customer pullout.
As a Rental Property Owner, Your Reputation Is Everything
Reviews posted by past customers and word-of-mouth reviews to friends and family develop your reputation. Because you can’t personally meet with each and every potential customer before they make their decision, you must rely on your reputation to entice customers to rent your property. That reputation is the difference between growing your rental business and keeping your property booked or having it languish on the rental sites while bleeding money from your bank account. Set your standards of cleanliness high and deliver on your promise on a consistent basis, and your reputation will earn you money.
Need Help Keeping Your Vacation Rental Clean?
As more and more people look to the Internet to find vacation houses, apartments, and condos instead of booking hotel rooms, you have an opportunity to make money from your vacation rental. Renters expect their home-away-from-home to be sparkling clean and ready to inhabit the moment they walk in the door. We’ve compiled a list of ways to ensure that your vacation property is always kept to high standards of cleanliness and upkeep. Regular maintenance, a cleaning checklist, and attention to even the smallest of details will build your property’s reputation through positive reviews and repeat business. The more you please your customers, the more money your vacation property will put into your pocket.
Not every owner has the time or inclination to maintain a vacation property in tip-top condition. Hiring professional cleaners is an excellent option. Owners and managers in the Santa Fe, New Mexico, area—a very popular vacation destination—can rely on Ana Valenzuela’s Cleaning Services for the highest level of house cleaning. Contact us today for a free estimate!