Vacation Rental Owners

10 Handy Vacation Rental Cleaning Checklist

Vacation rental cleaning checklist

The number one cause of guest complaints about vacation rental properties is uncleanliness. Whether it’s stray hairs in the bathroom or crumbs in the kitchen, nobody wants to feel like they’re staying in a vacation rental that hasn’t been cleaned properly since the last guest was there. Cleanliness is hugely important to travelers, so much so that many even say they’d sacrifice free WiFi before staying in a dirty vacation rental property! Considering how crucial it is for your vacation rental property to be thoroughly cleaned in between each guest’s stay, it’s necessary to take the time to ensure the job is done well. In this article, we’ll cover ten handy vacation rental cleaning checklist to help you handle your property successfully! Also, you can check our vacation rental tips for owners to improve guests’ experience.

Vacation Rental Cleaning Checklist (Tips & Tricks)

Here is our top selection of vacation rental cleaning checklist: 

1.  Consider hiring a cleaning company

When planning out the cleaning process at your vacation rental, the first thing to think about is whether you want to clean it yourself or hire a cleaning company. If you’re not sure, consider the following questions:

    • Do I live close enough to the property to drive there on a regular basis?

    • Can I set aside enough time in my schedule to thoroughly clean the vacation rental between guests?

    • Can I arrange my schedule so that I’m always available during turnover hours?

    • Do I enjoy the cleaning process enough to consistently do it well, or will I start cutting corners after a while?

    • Is cleaning the vacation rental property something I want to do?

    • Are there other responsibilities that it would be better to spend my time on?

While it’s absolutely an option for you to clean your vacation rental property yourself, you might find that having a cleaning company do the work is more efficient. It really depends on your specific situation.

If you’re only managing one vacation rental property, it’ll be much easier to take care of the cleaning than if you were managing five properties that were spread across multiple states.

2.  Clean from the top down

Clean from the top down

When cleaning, always follow the top-down method. This method keeps you from having to clean anything twice because you’ll avoid spreading dust and dirt to areas you’ve already cleaned.

Begin by dusting the tallest surfaces in the room: fan blades, and shelves. Continue to dust lower and lower surfaces, then repeat the process by wiping everything down from top to bottom. Then it’s time to clean the floor, and you’re done!

This is the most efficient way to clean and will keep you moving along quickly. You’ll want to make your turnovers as fast as possible, and top-down cleaning can help you do that.

3.  Take photos in between stays

In between each guest’s stay, take photos of every room to record any damaged or missing items. If you have a cleaning crew, you can ask them to send you photos. This also enables you to observe any wear and tear over time.

It’s rare for guests to cause property damage, but it’s always best to be prepared in case of any disputes. If a guest damages an item but denies that they were at fault, you can use your photos to prove what actually went on.

4.  Hire a team you can rely on

If you’ve decided not to clean your vacation rental property yourself, you’ll need to hire employees you can trust. There are three types of cleaners to consider: a sole proprietor, a small business, and a commercial cleaning enterprise.

A sole proprietor works alone at an average rate of $25 per hour. They’re not likely to be insured, licensed, or bonded, and they typically use your cleaning equipment. They have little to no official training and limited availability.

Meanwhile, a small cleaning business usually works in groups of one to three people. Businesses charge an average rate of $50 per hour, and they are usually licensed and insured. They use their own cleaning equipment and may have had some training. Employees of a small cleaning business are typically available during normal working hours.

Hire a team you can rely on

The final option is a commercial cleaning enterprise. You can hire as many cleaners as you need, with an average rate of $90 per hour. They’re often licensed, insured, and bonded, and they bring their own specialist cleaning equipment.

All of their staff is fully trained, and they can supply cleaners around the clock according to your specifications.

It’s standard practice to pass the cleaning fee along to your guests, so you’ll want to factor that into your decision as well. There are very few travelers who are willing to spend several hundred dollars on a cleaning fee.

It’s always smart to ask other vacation rental owners for references. You could also start off with a trial period to make sure the person or business you hire is a good fit.

When hiring people to clean your vacation rental property, you’ll want to ask them the following questions to see if they’re a good fit:

    • Do you have experience cleaning short-term vacation rental properties?

    • How much notice do you need to be available for cleaning?

    • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

    • Do you have other cleaners available to cover for you in the event of sickness or other absence?

    • Can you provide deep cleaning and additional services upon request?

5.  Always start the laundry first

If you want to be efficient, you should always start the cleaning process with the laundry. Put your first load in the washer and set a timer for the amount of time needed for the wash cycle.

Then you can begin cleaning the rest of the house, switching out loads of laundry as needed. But since you can’t leave until the laundry is complete, it’s best to get the laundry started the first thing and try to fit the rest of your cleaning into the wash and dry cycles.

Always start the laundry first

6.  Remember that it’s not the same as cleaning your house

Cleaning a vacation rental property simply isn’t the same as cleaning your house. Guests expect the rental to feel comfortable and homey, but they want it to be just as pristine as a five-star hotel. They don’t want to see any kind of evidence that other people have been sleeping in the bed, using the bathroom, or cooking in the kitchen.

Cleaning your vacation rental is a much more involved process that requires more attention to detail. Try to avoid leaving even one stray hair behind, because that one stray hair can lead to an unhappy guest!

7.  Make arrangements for trash disposal

Be sure to make arrangements for trash disposal in between guest stays. Guests don’t want to arrive to discover full trash cans in the garage.

It’s always best to dispose of the trash before the next guest checks in. Look into local businesses and trash pickup services to see if you can coordinate one to pick up trash after each stay has ended.

8.  Avoid bleach and heavily scented cleaners

It’s best to avoid bleach and heavily scented cleaners for a few reasons. Some guests might be sensitive to strong odors, and others could be allergic to certain scents.

The smell of chemicals can be off-putting, and some strong cleaners can even be harmful to pets, which can be problematic if you have a pet-friendly vacation rental property. Instead of the smell of harsh cleaners, go for a fresh, clean scent that isn’t too fragrant. Your vacation rental should smell clean, but not full of chemicals.

9.  Use a Property Management System (PMS) to keep track of your cleaning schedule

Rather than simply writing down your cleaning schedule or adding it to your Google Calendar, using a PMS makes the process less labor-intensive.

You can use various apps and software to manage your cleaning schedule or your cleaning company’s schedule. A Property Management System can also automate various tasks for you, from replying to guests to combining calendars from various listing sites.

10.  Create a cleaning checklist

Create a cleaning checklist

Creating a checklist for either yourself or your cleaning crew is a great way to ensure that every cleaning task is completed. A few important tasks that should be done between each guest include:

    • Sanitizing all surfaces, especially in the kitchen and bathroom

    • Cleaning the linens and towels

    • Restocking toilet paper, cleaning products, and other amenities

    • Testing various appliances in the house to make sure they’re working properly

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. You’ll need to personalize it to fit your particular vacation rental property, including cleaning tasks for each specific room.

Main Takeaways from Vacation Rental Cleaning Checklist

Whether you clean your vacation rental property yourself or hire a cleaning company, keep these vacation rental cleaning checklist in mind.

    • Consider hiring a cleaning company to take the cleaning process off your hands.

    • Clean from the top down to avoid spreading dust to areas you’ve already cleaned.

    • Take photos in between stays to record any damage or missing items.

    • Hire a team you can rely on to clean the vacation rental on a regular basis.

    • Always start the laundry first for maximum efficiency.

    • Remember that it’s not the same as cleaning your house because vacation rentals shouldn’t show evidence of other people staying there.

    • Make arrangements for trash disposal in between each guest’s stay.

    • Avoid bleach and heavily scented cleaners; opt for light, fresh-smelling cleaners instead.

    • Use a Property Management System (PMS) to keep track of your cleaning schedule.

    • Create a cleaning checklist so that you (or your cleaning staff) don’t forget anything.


Whether you clean your vacation rental or hire a professional to clean it, in both cases vacation rental cleaning checklist is very useful and handy. If you keep a checklist then your rental property will be well-maintained and cleaned properly. 

Not only it is a very healthy practice but also maintaining a checklist will help you improve your cleaning process as well. To keep your guests satisfied and aware of all issues check out this blog as it can really help you maintain your rental property.

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