Cleaning After Airbnb Guests

Someone has to do it.

Full Disclosure

I wanted a cleaning crew.  Like, really really wanted a cleaning crew.  I regularly searched (once a month for the first six or seven months) for someone who is willing to come clean my house for a cost-effective price and who is willing to have a flexible calendar.  All I ever seemed to find were people who wanted $150+ per cleaning, who wanted to come on the same day every single week, and who would charge extra for laundry.  Two problems.  First, now I have to either ensure everyone checks in on the same day or checks out on the same day, which takes away flexibility for guests.  Second, I potentially have to live in a place that hasn’t been cleaned after guests leave.  Nope, nope, and a big helping of nope.  Honestly, after the first half a year where I had the routine down, $150 for three hours of work just wasn’t worth it.  It takes me three hours to do the laundry anyway, and I am happy to spend the same three hours cleaning if it means I keep the $150.

What Helps the Most

Practicing minimalism in my home is the most helpful thing I can do for making cleaning easy.  Less to put back, less to move, less to clean.

Second, clear expectations in the guidebook make a world of difference.  I ask that they put things back in their place, take out the trash, leave beds unmade so I know which to clean, pile used towels on top of the washing machine, turn everything off, and lock the doors when leaving.  Setting clear expectations ensures most things are done and makes cleaning easier on me.

Rule #1: Have the right supplies in the right location.

In each bathroom (the two guest bathrooms and my own), I keep one toilet brush right next to the toilet.  This is something that is used regularly, and so I don’t want to carry it back and forth.  They are cheap anyway.  I also keep a plunger in my bathroom and in one of the guest bathrooms.

I keep my cleaning supplies in the main closet in the center of the house.  This ensures that they are easy to reach from all the rooms and it doesn’t take a lot of time to walk back and forth.  You might even consider a cleaning supply basket that you can carry with you.

Supplies I use:

  • Clorox toilet bowl cleaner with bleach
  • Clorox bathroom cleaner with bleach – spray bottle for the sink and shower
  • Scrub brush for the shower
  • Windex and a roll of paper towels for cleaning mirrors
  • Mr. Clean floor cleaner (the mop and bucket and vacuum are in the garage)
  • Lysol Wipes

As a side note, I keep a can of Lysol wipes in my bedroom for the times I need supplies for myself but have guests in the house.​

Rule #2: Have a routine.

When you have a routine, it makes cleaning so much easier.

The first thing I do is gather all the white towels and any white sheets that were used into the laundry machine.  Then I gather all my clothes and remaining sheets for the second load into a laundry basket, and I put it on top of the dryer.  Once I know everything has been gathered, then I start the first load of laundry.  This process helps me ensure nothing is missed.  Whenever I hear the buzzer, I stop what I’m doing and move the laundry to the dryer and start the second load of wash.  When the first load is done in the dryer, I stop to fold everything and put it away so that I can move the second load over immediately when that’s done.  Laundry is the one thing it’s really hard to speed up, so it’s important to keep tabs on the progress.  

After the first load of laundry is started, I throw on Pandora and move back any furniture or other items that were moved (it’s not usually a lot).  I gather all the trash into the main trashcan (or take it directly out, like the leftover pizza boxes) after doing a full walk through the whole house.  I get the dishwasher running if it’s full.  I organize/refill the bathroom baskets and the snack basket in the kitchen.

Once I’ve gotten organized, I start in the bathrooms.  I do a scrub down of the sink/counter and shower/bath in both bathrooms.  Then I splash both the mirrors with Windex and wipe them both down with a paper towel.  Finally, I clean both the toilets.  Scrub, scrub, scrub!  At this point, with toilet cleaner in hand, I usually clean the toilet in my bathroom as well.  I also clean my bathroom if needed. Then I put fresh clean towels on the rack for guests and move on.

It’s on to the kitchen next!  I start with wiping down the sink and counters thoroughly.  I wipe down the microwave and stove top.  Then I check the drawers and move back anything misplaced.  After, I move to the dining room table, chairs, and bench.  I go on to the living room table, wiping anything down and putting away the magazines.  Finally, the nightstands in the bedrooms and the desk if needed are also wiped down.

Once all the surfaces have been wiped down, it’s time to vacuum up everything!  The vacuum is the best cleaning tool there is.  It makes things so fast and easy.  It gets the dust, the crumbs, the dirt from shoes, everything!  I zoom through the entire house, including my bedroom, and then I empty the Dyson canister into the trash can.  This is the number one trick to making cleaning faster.

At this point, if I finish everything else, I will hang out until the laundry is done drying.  Then I make the beds, put away anything left, and wash the floors throughout the whole house.  I start in my own bedroom so that the floor in there dries first.  Then I go to the opposite side of the house and the guest rooms, working my way back.  I “exit” out through the garage, empty my mop bucket, put it up to dry out, and walk around to my bedroom, where I enter through the exterior door.  Depending on what time I started, it might be time for a shower and bed, or I might eat dinner and enjoy a TV show before I mop the house, or I might just decide to mop the floors the next day and go out with friends.  Either way, the house is now clean.

I usually don’t plan to go out after, because I never know exactly how long cleaning will take and would rather not stress.  I always try to plan for cleaning the night guests leave, just because it makes me feel more comfortable in my own home.  However, there are days where I have other plans or it’s unrealistic, or sometimes cleaning has to be spread over two evenings.  I just try to remain flexible, since starting early guarantees I won’t be hustling later.

Sometimes it Feels Like a Toned-down “Dirty Jobs”

No sugar coating here.  Sometimes the toilets are gross.  Sometimes the kitchen isn’t wiped down. Sometimes there is hair EVERYWHERE and I’m vacuuming the shower before wiping it down.  You will have situations that necessitate extra time to remedy.  The only way to prevent it is a walk through with your guests, but you’d have to tell them it’s not good enough and delay their departure, at which point you risk a bad review.  That’s far worse for your business!  Overall, people are respectful.  The bad apples usually only mean an extra hour or two of work.