The ultimate guide to cleaning a vacation rental like a professional

Cleaning A Vacation Rental Unit

Cleaning is one of the most important aspects of a vacation rental business. Whether you are an owner or cleaning provider of an Airbnb, VRBO, or any other platform, the fact is, cleaning can make or break your guest’s stay.

Cleaning a vacation rental unit needs a methodical approach. While there may be a quick turnaround time between each guest, you must ensure that every single clean achieves the same quality and thoroughness as the last. Following this article, we will show you how we approach cleaning any of our units.

Choosing The Right Equipment

Having the correct equipment is key to performing efficient cleaning jobs. When it comes to vacation rentals, keeping it simple is the best way. 


Determine if there will be a vacuum in the unit or if you must bring one for the cleaning. Depending on which role you serve in the vacation rental cleaning, you need to decide which option is being provided. As a cleaning company, we have some units with vacuums inside while others don’t. In an ideal world, every unit would come with a vacuum cleaner; however, it is not the end of the world to have to bring them along. We find, especially in the downtown apartments, that it becomes less efficient to lug around this vacuum cleaner between each unit. The other aspect of it would be hygiene. If you are an owner that does not provide a vacuum cleaner for the unit, please ensure that your cleaner or cleaning company takes the proper precautions when bringing the vacuum between jobs as they can cross-contaminate the units.

We have found that our cleaners prefer stick vacuums for most of our vacation rental cleanings. This is mainly due to their manoeuvrability in small apartment units. In addition to that, being lighter in weight than a typical upright vacuum cleaner is an added bonus when bringing them between each unit.

Mop System

As with the vacuum cleaners, determine if the mop will remain in the unit or must be brought in for each cleaning. Again, if the mop is being brought between different units, please ensure the proper precautions are taken. Our company brings enough mop heads so we can switch them out between each different unit so they can be properly washed between uses.

As for which type of mop, our team enjoys spin mops. Spin mops have the benefit of having a lower moisture content and are typically compact enough to be brought between different cleans. As mentioned above, the fact that we can switch out the mop heads easily and quickly makes them perfect when running between each clean.


We have found that keeping our chemical list small and simple is the most efficient system. We carry

  • All-purpose cleaners,
  • bathroom cleaners,
  • window cleaners,
  • stainless steel cleaners,
  • toilet bowl cleaner,
  • floor cleaners.

These are exactly what we need. Now, a note about each of these: we ensure they are either non-scented or low-scented. While scented cleaners may provide a sense of completion or satisfaction in knowing it smells clean after you finish, the last thing you want is for guests to arrive and complain about the strong odour causing headaches or other problems.

We avoid carrying bleach to avoid any accidents. Whether that is from accidentally spilling it or using it by mistake.

If you are providing laundry on site, ensure that the laundry detergent is scent-free.

Everything Else

In addition to everything above, our team also carries a form of duster, lint rollers, and lots of microfiber towels. We also carry a bag to place all of the used towels and another bag for the laundry if we take it off-site.

How We Begin

We begin by entering the vacation rental unit and looking around. We first inspect the condition and even the smell. We do this now so that we can address any immediate concerns, such as a post-party, smoking in the unit, or any major damage. We continue to walk around the unit and quickly examine everything. We check the closets, dressers, under the bed, and all cupboards and drawers in the bathrooms and kitchen. We get this out of the way now so that when we begin to clean, we don’t end up forgetting anything. As we walk around, we open any window we can to allow fresh air inside and remove any lingering smells.

If we are doing laundry on-site, then start the laundry right away, as that is the most time-consuming part.


We almost always start the cleaning process in the bathrooms. The bathroom is likely to get the most complaints from guests, and it can be a time-consuming process. No matter how long the guest has stayed, you always clean the bathroom the same way.


Once in the bathroom, we typically start in the shower. We removed any out-of-place items and then proceed wet down the shower walls and tub. We then spray our bathroom cleaner on the walls and tub, including the handle. After letting the solution sit for the specified amount of time to disinfect, we then start to scrub. Typically, if these units are getting cleaned fairly often, a towel is all you need. Otherwise, a non-scratch abrasive sponge can help as well. 

Once all areas of the shower have been scrubbed, we then rinse it down once more and proceed to dry the whole shower. This is an important step as it makes the shower look clean and unused. Imagine walking into a rented unit and finding the shower dripping wet; the only thing you’d think is that it had been used and was never cleaned. The other benefit of drying the shower is that you can easily see any hairs that got left behind, which you can remove. 

We then ensure that all chrome and stainless steel parts get buffed with a dry microfiber towel. This really makes the shower stand out. 


We then make our way to the sink. We first spray our bathroom cleaner thoroughly on the sink and countertop. While we let that sit for the appropriate amount of time, we spray the mirror with window cleaner and wipe it clean. We then scrub the counters and then the sink. Just like in the shower, we dry the sink and polish the chrome fixtures. 

We then wipe down the faces of the cupboards and drawers as needed, and if we noticed any dirty drawers or cupboards during our initial walkthrough, we clean those as well. We find that the top drawers of the bathrooms contain a lot of hair, probably from brushes being kept there. 


Now we move to the toilet. We first take a small piece of toilet paper and use that to remove any lingering dust on the top of the toilet. We use toilet paper over our duster for sanitary reasons. We also only use a few squares so as not to use unnecessary amounts of toilet paper. 

We then spray down the entire toilet, including the base, and let that sit. While we wait, we use the toilet bowl cleaner and dispense it into the bowl. We scrub the inside of the bowl thoroughly and flush the toilet. Once that is complete, we start to scrub the toilet. We close the lid and start at the tank, then essentially move inward. We ensure that every inch of the toilet is scrubbed, including the base. We also like to give the floor next to the toilet a good scrub as well. This will be cleaned with the mop, but since it is likely soiled, we like to double up on the cleaning.

We empty out the garbage can next to the toilet and wipe it down, as well as any walls next to the toilet. We find that it often gets missed by cleaning crews and, as a result, may leave some “splash” marks on the wall.

Once the toilet is done, we close the lid and disinfect the light switches and handles. Again, allowing the solution to sit for the specified amount of time

We check the fan in the bathroom to make sure there is no dust. If there is, we will use our duster to clean it. As well, we check the baseboards and corners of the bathroom for dust, which we will remove. 


Our next stop will be the kitchen. Depending on the condition of the unit, the kitchen may be quite time-consuming. We start in the fridge and freezer. We would have already looked for any misplaced items that should have been removed. We will then wipe down the inside of both the fridge and freezer as needed. Once the inside is done, we close the doors, and if the fridge and freezer are stainless steel, we will use our stainless steel cleaner to clean and polish the door faces to make them pop. We find this to be another quick and easy way to make the unit shine. 

We move to the stovetop and oven. We clean the stovetop as needed. Depending on the size of the unit, we find there is typically never an issue with the stovetop, as there would not be enough time for things to get caked on. However, occasionally, someone may burn something on the stovetop, which will require some additional cleaning. We check the oven and wipe it down as needed. The drawer at the bottom of the oven is then cleaned and free of any oil or crumbs. This is an area that gets missed a lot. 

We clean any drawers and cupboards that we noticed were dirty inside. We then wipe down the faces of the drawers and cupboards as needed. Pay particular attention to the cupboards above the stove, as they get quite greasy. 

We move to the sink, where we will clean and dry it. Then we spray and wipe down all of the countertops.

Additionally, we check the baseboards for any spillage or dirty areas and dust down any areas that need it. 

The next area to be cleaned is usually up to the cleaner, either the bedrooms or living room. 

For this article, we will move on to the bedrooms. We start the bedroom cleaning process by walking around with our duster and getting to all areas that need dusting, including all the blinds, behind bedside tables, under the bed, baseboards, etc. We spray down the bedside tables with the all-purpose cleaner and clean the inside of the drawers if needed. We inspect any mirrors and spot-clean them as needed. 

If there are any other surfaces that need cleaning, we will wipe them down as needed.

We proceed to make the beds. We like to make the beds so that they look like those in a nice hotel. We will write another article on our bed-making process.

After making the beds, we thoroughly inspect the surface of the bed for any hair. We use a lint roller on the bed to remove any hair that we can’t see with our eyes. Depending on the material of the headboard, we will either use a lint roller on it or wipe it down if it is leather or wood.

Living Areas

The living areas will be our focus. This includes the living room, hallways, rec rooms, and any other rooms that we have not yet completed.

We start by removing any debris and garbage from the area. Next, we wipe down all surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner. We also ensure to wipe down any remotes. After the coffee table has been cleaned and put back together, we move on to the couch, and we check under the cushions for anything left behind. At this stage, that is all we do with the couch. The rest will be covered by the vacuuming process.

We move to the windows and blinds. We spot-clean the windows as needed, and we dust the blinds and any other areas that require dusting.

We continue this process for any other areas in the house, such as the hallways and laundry rooms. We ensure everything has been dusted and horizontal surfaces have been wiped down. 

After the majority of the cleaning has been completed, we move on to the other details. 

We gather all of the garbage and take the garbage and recycling out while replacing the bags. Next, we walk around spraying disinfectant on all of the handles and letting the solution sit for the recommended time on the bottle. Once the time is up, we use two microfiber towels to wipe them. The first step is to remove the solution and dry it. The next step is to buff and shine the handle to remove any marks. This detail really makes the space pop. 

After the handles are complete, we start the vacuuming process. We typically start at the furthest point from the supplies closest to us, or wherever we have our supplies. While vacuuming, we pay attention to the baseboards, under furniture, and any carpeted areas. When we get to the couch, we use the detail attachment to vacuum the pillows and cushions, in addition to checking between each cushion for crumbs. We then, of course, vacuum under and behind the couch. After the couch has been vacuumed, we then use our lint roller to remove any hidden or stubborn hair. Following that, we replace the pillows and stage them as the owner desires.

Once the vacuuming process is complete, we start to mop. Again, we start at the furthest point from the supplies closest to us, or where we have our supplies. This time, the bathrooms will be mopped last. Ensure that you read the instructions on your floor cleaner. Sometimes it will require you to “rinse” the floors after using it. This means mopping again with plain water. Also, ensure you are not using too much product in your mop bucket. Using too much may result in tacky or streaky floors. We recommend wearing booties so you can walk around on the floors after they’re clean. Once the mopping is complete, empty out your mop bucket and place all of your supplies outside of the home or apartment. Do one final walk around to ensure you have not forgotten anything and that all of the supplies have been replenished. Make sure all of the lights have been turned off and all of the windows are locked. 

Once the door is locked, wipe down the lock and outdoor handle to disinfect them before leaving. 

We hope this guide helps you clean your vacation rental more efficiently and properly. If you are needing vacation rental cleaning in the Victoria or Nanaimo area, you can book your estimate here.