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Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining a 5-Star Vacation Rental

Updated: Jun 12

Cleaning tips for creating a spotless, guest-ready short-term vacation rental that drives 5-star reviews and repeat bookings.


In the world of short-term rentals, cleanliness is king. A sparkling clean property is no longer a nice-to-have – it's a must-have for attracting guests and earning those coveted five-star reviews. At Vacation Rental Designers, we know that a well-maintained property is key to a successful and profitable vacation rental business. In this ultimate guide, we'll dive into the importance of short-term rental cleaning, provide valuable tips and insights that can be a game-changer for your business.

father and daughter playing together on the floor at a short term rental property

Why Cleaning Matters


A clean property sets the tone for a guest's stay, influencing their overall satisfaction and the likelihood of positive reviews. A well-maintained space gives guests a sense of well-being, allowing them to relax and enjoy their vacation.


Consistent cleaning and maintenance also preserves the longevity of your property, preventing damage, wear and tear, and costly repairs. A pristine property attracts more guests, commands higher rates, and gives you a competitive edge. We'll discuss how cleanliness impacts your property's value and reputation.


Let's explore what goes into a thorough deep cleaning regimen and how attention to detail impacts your property's value and reputation.

cleaning supplies short term rental property

Essential Cleaning Supplies and Products


Having the right cleaning supplies on hand can make all the difference in maintaining a spotless property and exceeding your guests' expectations. By investing in high-quality, effective supplies, you'll not only impress your guests but also create a more comfortable and enjoyable environment, driving positive reviews and repeat bookings.


Here is a list of the essential cleaning tools and products you need to keep your rental pristine.


  • Multi-Purpose Cleaner: A multi-purpose cleaner is a must-have in your cleaning arsenal. Look for a versatile formula that can tackle countertops, floors, and bathroom surfaces with ease. Opt for a cleaner that's potent against germs and bacteria while being gentle on your floors and surfaces. A good multi-purpose cleaner will be your go-to for quick cleanups and deep cleans alike.

  • Disinfectant Spray: Disinfectant sprays are more crucial than ever for vacation rental hosts. These powerful products are essential for sanitizing high-touch areas like doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. When selecting a disinfectant spray, ensure the label lists the COVID-19 virus as one of the germs it effectively eliminates. By using a disinfectant spray regularly, you'll provide a safer, healthier environment for your guests.

  • Microfiber Cloths: Microfiber cloths are a cleaning powerhouse. These cloths excel at picking up dirt and debris on surfaces, and can be used with or without cleaning products. Plus, they're machine washable, making them an eco-friendly choice. Stock up on microfiber cloths in various colors to prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of germ spread. They're perfect for dusting, wiping down surfaces, and cleaning delicate areas.

  • Mop and Bucket: Floors in high-traffic areas like kitchens and entryways can become dirty quickly. A good mop and bucket combo is your secret weapon for tackling messes with ease. Opt for a mop with a washable, reusable head to minimize waste and save money in the long run. Look for a microfiber mop head that can pick up dirt and grime effortlessly, leaving your floors sparkling clean.

  • Vacuum Cleaner: A high-quality vacuum cleaner is vital for keeping your carpets and upholstery clean and fresh. Consider investing in a cordless stick vacuum for the ultimate in convenience and portability. It's also essential to have various attachments on hand, like crevice tools and upholstery brushes, to reach tight spaces, stairs, and clean furniture with ease.

woman scrubbing floor with cleaning supplies at a short term rental property

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process


Before you roll up your sleeves and dive into cleaning, preparation is key. Start by inspecting your property, noting any damages or items in need of repair. Make a mental note (or better yet, a written one!) so you can tackle these issues later. Gather your arsenal of cleaning supplies, keeping everything within easy reach to save time and energy.


Next, usher in some fresh air! Open those windows or crank up the ventilation system to banish any stuffiness and lingering odors. This simple step will instantly improve the indoor air quality and set the stage for a refreshing clean.


Now it's time to get down to business. Begin with the high-traffic areas – think living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Once these are sparkling, you can move on to the bedrooms and any additional spaces.

  • Declutter and Organize: Start by removing any personal items left behind by previous guests. A clutter-free space is easier to clean and more inviting to your new arrivals. Dust surfaces, wipe down furniture, and give windows and mirrors a streak-free shine. Don't forget those frequently touched areas like doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls – a thorough disinfecting is a must for a healthy environment.

  • Disinfect: Tackle the toilet, sink, and shower, leaving them gleaming. Restock toiletries and ensure everything is guest-ready. Sanitize countertops, clean appliances, and tackle any dishes left behind. Don't overlook the often-neglected areas like refrigerator handles, stove tops, oven interiors, and the microwave. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar is your secret weapon for removing stubborn stains and odors in the sink area.

  • Dust and Wipe Down: Use a microfiber cloth to gently remove dust from electronic devices and delicate surfaces. This ensures a scratch-free shine and keeps your space looking its best.

  • Refresh and Restock: Replace linens and towels with freshly cleaned ones. Give those mattresses some love by rotating and flipping them. This helps extend their lifespan and ensures a comfortable night's sleep for your guests. Don't forget to vacuum them to remove any dust mites or allergens.

  • Storage Rooms and Outdoor Areas: Don't neglect less frequently used areas like storage spaces, laundry rooms, or outdoor areas. These can quickly accumulate dust or require some TLC. Use a pressure washer to give outdoor spaces like patios or balconies a like-new look.

man pressure washing wooden deck at a short term rental property

The Power of Regular and Deep Cleaning


Consistency is key when it comes to cleaning your short-term rental. Regular cleaning sessions are the backbone of maintaining a spotless property, but don't underestimate the importance of occasional deep cleans. These more intensive sessions are crucial to keeping your property in top-notch condition and ensuring a healthy, inviting environment for your guests. What's the difference between regular and deep cleaning? It's all about consistency. Let's take a look:


  • Regular Cleaning: These surface-level cleanings involve dusting, vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, and tackling any messes or spills as they happen. They're the day-to-day cleanings that keep your property looking and feeling its best. Regular cleaning is the first line of defense against dirt and grime, ensuring your space stays clean and welcoming for your guests.

  • Deep Cleaning: These less frequent but more intensive cleanings target areas often overlooked in regular maintenance. Think behind appliances, under furniture, inside the microwave, and in those hard-to-reach corners. Deep cleaning is all about attention to detail, ensuring every nook and cranny is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Deep cleaning is especially crucial during seasonal changes or after periods of high occupancy. These times can lead to a buildup of dirt, allergens, and even pests. A good deep clean helps remove accumulated grime, refresh the property, and ensure a healthy environment for your guests. It's about more than just visible surfaces – it's about creating a truly clean and hygienic space.

vacuuming mattress at a short term rental property

In today's competitive vacation rental market, cleanliness is paramount. By following the tips and insights in this guide, you can keep your property in top-notch condition, provide an exceptional guest experience, and protect your valuable investment. At the Vacation Rental Designers Collective, we're dedicated to helping you succeed. Join us to learn more about how design, maintenance, and exceptional cleaning practices can elevate your vacation rental business.


Ready to take your vacation rental to the next level? Join the Vacation Rental Designers Collective today and become part of a community dedicated to success and profit in the vacation rental industry. Together, we can shape the future of vacation rentals, one beautifully profitable space at a time.

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