How to Manage Housecleaners & Keep a Spotless Vacation Homes

By Adro Gahhaes.

Experienced vacation rental owners across the world can confirm that it doesn’t matter how beautiful, well-located, or trendy your home appears—if you don’t know how to manage housekeepers and keep a spotless rental, then travelers will be less likely to book your home.

Data backs that up as well. In 2011, a survey released from household cleaning product company Calcium, Lime & Rust (CLR) showed that 86% of participants valued cleanliness above all other amenities when looking for a hotel or vacation rental.

With cleanliness at the top of a renters mind, owners should invest in quality housekeeping service. Finding a reliable and professional housecleaning service can be time-consuming and tedious, especially if you manage a rental remotely. Vacation rental owner Abigail manages six Cape Cod rentals remotely in Brazil and said because of the distance, using a professional vacation rental management company is integral for her success.

“Finding a good cleaning team was the hardest part of the vacation rental business for me to solve,” Abigail said. “But since listing on Airbnb in September 2011 I have attained an overall rating of 5-stars for cleanliness, with a total of 97 reviews.”

Continue reading to learn how to manage housekeepers and keep a spotless rental year-round.

How to find your housekeeper

Like many vacation rental owners, Abigail tried to use the internet to find local housekeepers. “Not being local to the area where my vacation rental is located, I began my search for a cleaning company with a Google search, and I ended up bring lots of trouble for my business,” she said.

None of the results matched her requirements; some were too cheaper, others didn’t have the manpower needed for a quick turnover. Eventually she found her local cleaning team by staying at a clean Airbnb in Hyannis Port, MA near her vacation rentals and finding out, through word of mouth, who cleaned the rental.

The internet can be helpful sometimes, though, and is worth perusing. Adriano Carlos, the owner of Neaten in Cape Cod, MA recommends vacation rental owners look at big review platforms, such on Facebook. “The best platforms are the biggest ones because you will have more opinions and more options,” he said.

Additionally, vacation rental owners can get recommendations from their property managers, who have more experience with cleaning companies in the area. Rental owners can also hire property management companies to manage their homes and handle all of their housekeeping needs.

, for example, takes care of everything including cleaning, laundry, restocking amenities, property maintenance, and concierge for its homeowners.

How to choose your housekeeper

After you’ve figured out where to look for a housekeeper, you have to choose the best one for your needs.

Carlos recommends that vacation rental owners choose a licensed, reputable cleaning service, instead of an individually owned business with just one or two full-time employees.

“Although they may be more costly than a local person without a licensed business, the benefits alone will help them sleep easier at night. Licensed professional cleaning services should thoroughly background check their employees, have multiple staff members so there is never a concern that “sickness or personal issues” will delay the cleaning, and are insured in case anything happens. Accountability and reliability are additional important traits a good housekeeping company should have. For example, our cleaning team is always pivotal in helping our clients getting their listing up and running after it was trashed by guests who checked in on Fourth of July and threw a party that resulted in a lot of broken furniture and messy spills in a house located in Provincetown,” Carlos said.

As you begin your search, identify what special needs your vacation rental calls for and ask cleaning companies if they can fulfill those requests. Carlos said vacation rentals are often different from regular house cleanings because owners require additional touches and tasks, such as setting up a fruit basket with a welcoming note attached to bottle of wine or checking if any light bulbs are out. Make sure your cleaning company can tackle those vacation rental-related tasks, on top of keeping your rental sparkling clean.

Abigail also recommends vacation rental owners ensure their contract with their housekeeper addresses their availability—whether they can accommodate late checkouts or early check-ins—as well as insurance, cleaning products used, and potential amenity restocking fees.

Use high-quality cleaning products

Vacation rental owners should look for housekeeping companies that use high quality cleaning supplies, according to Abigail. “A bad quality cleaning product could end up losing your money,” she said. “Picture it this way—imagine a bad soap that cost half of a good soap but only works a third as well as the premium one. You can end up losing a ton of money if you don’t check what you are buying.”

Abigail defines a quality cleaning product as one that’s “reusable or covers a lot of ground for less money.” She said Neaten Vacations & Airbnb Management always test paper towels versus microfiber towels, for example, and finds the reusability of the cloth always ends up as the better product than even the thickest paper towels which also you help saving the environmental.

Abigail said she often gets requests from guests to use “scent-free” or "mild scent" cleaning products. “More guests are sharing that they have allergies to "chemical scents" and want to be assured prior to booking that I can accommodate their request for green cleaning products,” she said.

Neaten team uses Puracy, Method, Everspring, ECO, The Laundress New York cleaning products and wool dryer balls instead of fabric softener / scented dryer sheets to limit scents.

“I want my linen and towels to smell fresh, crisp and clean, not strong-fragrant,” she said.

How to know your housekeeper is doing a good job

Because a single negative review can hurt a business, vacation rental owners don’t want to find out that their housekeeper isn’t meeting expectations by seeing a bad review about their home’s cleanliness; solve the problem before it ever becomes a real one.

When you first hire a new cleaning company or a vacation rental to manage your property they should already come up with professional check list, then you go over it with them—so you know they understand your needs and expectations clearly. Don’t be afraid to also arrange a trial period and have them clean your home before you have any paying guests stay so you can review their work.

To ensure a cleaner is meeting standards once you’ve decided they’re a good fit, vacation rental owners can ask cleaning companies to send photos of their rental after a cleaning is complete since this is what Neaten does. This won’t necessarily show crumbs on the table tops or dust under the bed, however, so an in-person inspection is always best.

For remote rental owners or owners with a busy schedule like me, in-person inspections may not be realistic. These rental owners should consider hiring a vacation rental management company who can consistently check that your rental is clean after a housekeeper leaves and before a guest arrives. Neaten, for example, has a strict cleaning protocol that it requires its housekeepers follow. They provide services with checklists to follow, photo comparisons to ensure the home is staged correctly, and has a property manager walkthrough the rental before guests arrive.

Rental owners will find more success in their market and better reviews online if they ensure their rental homes are as clean—if not cleaner—than hotels, by hiring a quality housekeeping company that goes above and beyond cleaning.

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