Have you ever had that feeling of walking into a holiday rental and it feels dirty, even if it may not appear dirty? Maybe the walls and light switches have scuff marks, the air feels damp, or you can smell something strange you can't quite place.
Professional cleaners are so important to our industry, yet they are frequently under-appreciated and under-utilised. No matter how well your property is styled (high-end furniture and luxe touches) or facilitated (state-of-the-art technology and appliances up the wazoo) - if it's not spotless the moment a guest walks in, you're in for trouble.
We've been lucky to work with some of the best cleaners from around the world over the last few years. During this time we've picked up some tricks of the trade on how they keep short-term rentals spotless. Here are our top 10 cleaning tips to keep your property feeling fresh for guests.
1. Use a furniture and fabric refresher after every clean
Make sure your cleaner does a quick spray onto most of the fabric and furniture after they've finished cleaning, as this is a great way to leave that freshly cleaned smell that can last for your guest's entire stay.
You could even make your own "Febreze" by just mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of fabric softener, 10-15 drops of essential oils (we recommend lavender or lemon), and water into a spray bottle. I got this tip from a cleaner who used to source rose water from local farmers near a hotel she worked at in Oman.
2. Clean buttons, knobs, and remote controls after every clean
As guests make themselves feel at home, they may leave sticky residues on the items they are most likely to touch by hand - light switches, microwave buttons, door knobs, drawer handles, and remote controls.
Be sure to get your cleaner to give these a thorough wipe down every clean using a damp cloth or cotton tips for electronics. There's nothing worse then a guest who's about to put their feet up to watch TV only to find the remote control is sticky from the last guest.
3. Clean your drains after every clean
We've been shocked to find out the hard way what other people put down our drains during their stay. Grease, glass, condoms, tampons and instant noodles - we've seen it all.
While in many cases these things don't take effect on your pipes right away, with a bit of time the combination of those terrible things will mutate into a blockage that'll be hard to manage or cause an overflow. Worse still, this could happen during the stay of another guest which will affect your reviews.
Use a product like ACTIZYME Pellets. These enzyme based pellets target and break down organic waste. A homemade alternative to try is a mix of baking soda and vinegar pellets, which you can get your cleaner to drop down the sinks.
If your short-term rental is close to a water source or in a building that is generally not well looked after, poor drain smells could just be environmental. High tides can raise the water table, bringing smelly water closer to your drains and creating a damp smell throughout your apartment. If this is an issue, try Drain Mate. It is affordable, easy to use, and protects from pests making their way through your plumbing system.
4. Refresh pantry items every 3 months
How many of the pantry items you've made available for guests past their expiry date? How many pantry items have guests themselves left behind that are either half eaten or expired? This can not only be off-putting for the next guest, but might leak or not be properly sealed.
Keep an eye on this and make sure to update the essential items that are out of date.
5. Wash throw blankets and pillows every 3 months
Throw blankets and pillow are a great, inexpensive way to make your property feel more homely, but they quickly become a haven for dirt, grime, and bad smells. Make sure you have throw pillows that have removable cases and throw blankets that are washing machine friendly.
In most cases, these can be washed on a quick cycle and air dried in the same time a cleaner is cleaning other parts of your property. If not, buy a second set of these throw blankets and pillows that you can use while the first set is being cleaned.
6. Clean the air conditioner filters every 3 months
An unclean air conditioner not only makes it work harder and drive up your electricity bill, it also famously turns into a breeding ground for nasty bacteria that can make your guests sick.
Your air conditioner filters should be cleaned every 3 months. This simple regular maintenance will lower your electricity bill and also lower the chances of expensive repairs and replacements.
We also recommend getting your air conditioner unit professionally serviced every 12-18 months which will only cost you between $70-150.
7. Clean your range hood filters every 3 months
A range hood fan removes smoke and oily vapours during cooking, pushing the air outside of the house. If you allow grease to build up in the filters over time, it becomes an oily fire hazard that can leak onto the stove, as well as create unpleasant odours.
To clean the range hood filters, carefully remove each piece and place them in the sink with warm water and a degreasing solution for about 60-90 minutes. Once the grease has dissolved, wash them with warm water and let dry before reinstalling them.
8. Do a full bond clean (including carpets and upholstery) every 6-9 months
Most cleaners are paid to only do a surface clean, like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, changing the sheets, and wiping down surfaces. Generally these would take about 1-2 hours to turnover a property for the next guest.
During this surface clean, naturally there will be things that are missed. For example, when was the last time you cleaned under the fridge? You might think that guests don't look under there, but they do.
During their stay, something could have rolled under the fridge, and worse, it could be something that rots over time. Getting a thorough bond clean once in a while not only helps keep your property fresh, but also lasting longer.
9. Clean the exhaust vents every 12 months
An exhaust vent's job is to extract excess moisture and unwanted odours from activities like showering or cooking, which means that over time it will build up grime and possibly clog up.
You can usually tell if the exhaust vent unit is in need of a clean based on it being louder than normal. Leaving this unattended will create a damp smell, or worse, dust particles could start falling from it.
While the exhaust vents surface should be wiped down during every turnover clean, a thorough cleaning should be done every 12 month. This process can be a little difficult but Fansonline has a great step-by-step guide on how to do this yourself. If you are after a quick fix, an Air Duster is great for removing surface level dust, dirt, and other nasties.
10. Provide your cleaner with a step ladder
One of my favourite cleaners I have worked with is only 4-foot-10. Brilliant cleaner, but only where she can reach, as she pointed out to me. I bought a step ladder to help her do the job properly.
Even the best of cleaners have trouble doing their jobs without the right equipment. By simply leaving a step ladder accessible to cleaners, they'll be able to reach tougher spots, like tops of cupboards and bookshelves, ceiling lights and fans, and doors and window ledges. We recommend Little Giant ladders which are safe and sturdy to use.