If you’re tempted to skimp when scrubbing your vacation rental remember this – majority of vacationers rank cleanliness as the most important factor they consider when booking lodging, according to TurnKey’s 2018 Consumer Travel Survey.
Cleanliness is so important that respondents in another survey commissioned by CLR Brands reported they’d rather sacrifice Internet access for the duration of their vacations than stay in less-than-immaculate vacation rentals.
“Make sure you have a regular cleaner on whom you can rely to always turn up and clean when needed,” said Julie Finch-Scally, author of Preparing Your Property to Lease. “If not and you live a distance from the property, you will always have a problem. It might mean you will have to pay them a little more but if they are reliable, it is worth the extra expense.”
Lodging a guest deems unclean may lose you that customer and result in a poor review of the property that costs you future business. Surveys show that 96% of travelers pay close attention to online reviews before they book lodging.
Whether you plan to hire professional cleaners, do the work yourself, or combine efforts, consider these tips from experienced vacation lodging experts to ensure your vacation home is fresh and clean for guests –
- Realize not all cleaners are created equal. Before she hires cleaners for her vacation properties, Cathy Bokman, owner of Beachcomber Vacation Rental Cottages in Colonial Beach, Virginia, asks her trusted staff for input. “They have been cleaning houses for 20 years, so they know each other,” she said. “They know who will show up on time, do a good job, and work efficiently.” Of course, you’ll interview potential hires and check references, but peer input is often invaluable.
- Realize even top cleaners aren’t proficient at everything. That’s one reason Bokman will assemble teams that include those who pay close attention to top cleaning (ceiling fans, light fixtures) and lower cleaning (under furniture, baseboards). Play to people’s strengths.
- Don’t just rely on checklists. Yes, you’ll want to set cleaning standards and walk through your property with those who will do the work. You’ll also want to spot check work, especially with new cleaning teams. But one mistake some vacation homeowners make is to give cleaning staff checklists. Completed checklists don’t mean everything was finished. They often mean cleaners did the work as they wanted and then just checked everything off by rote.
- Keep things fresh. Of course, you’ll air out the home. But long-time vacation property owner David Hillard, founder of Piddlin.com, has developed many tips and tricks for cleaning and making a home smell fresh. He recommends using baking soda to freshen cloth couches, chairs and other upholstered furniture, rugs and even the garbage disposal drain. “When you sprinkle it [on furniture and carpets], allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes and then vacuum it,” he said. “Most people are not bothered by baking soda like they may be by strong perfumed cleaners.” Also – avoid bleach. The smell is industrial and stray splashes may ruin rugs and other items, said Bokman.
- Always watch for stray hair. “At the end of a cleaning session, do a final inspection of all surfaces and look for any missed spots or stray hairs,” said Lauren Haynes of Star Domestic Cleaners. “A single stray hair at the wrong place can leave your guests with a bad impression of your rental.” A good way to catch stray hairs is to use a lint roller or double-sided tape. “It just takes minutes to remove pet hair and can even pick up small food crumbs,” added Hillard.
- Discard all remaining food items left behind. Some vacationers leave condiments, spices, and other food items as a courtesy to guests. “I’ve found no one wants to use someone else’s ketchup or other foods,” said Bokman. “We clean out the refrigerator and cupboards and leave them fresh for the next guest.”
- Attention to Detail Matters In Easy-to-Miss Spots. “You will be surprised how often guests change the position of your furniture, even drawers,” said Haynes. “Make sure to check under the furniture and deep inside all drawers for any leftover food, packaging, or other items.” Other must-clean spots: Cupboard fronts in bathrooms and kitchens, shower screens, sinks, and mirrors. “Dust is always a problem so all-horizontal surfaces should be cleaned between guests,” added Finch-Scally. “This includes indents in ornate doors, which quickly show a ridge of dust. Make sure the rear of the door is cleaned at the same time as the front.”
- Prepare for trash disposal. If your trash is collected once a week – say on a Thursday – make sure you can dispose of trash at other times, too. That way if a guest checks out on a Friday, their trash won’t be on your property until the following Thursday. Bokman has arranged for the property’s handyman to dispose of trash on off days.
Those that rent your vacation home are looking for time away from chores and household worries. Your clean and tidy vacation home will go a long way to winning their approval and top reviews on travel sites.