It’s the age-old question for the hospitality industry, especially vacation rentals and Airbnbs:
How much cleaning should you expect guests to do for themselves when they stay at your property?
Should you ask them to do the dishwashing? Empty the trash? Start a load of towels in the wash? Or just charge a cleaning fee and keep your expectations low?
The debate rages, but one thing is certain: guests are more likely to clean on their own if you provide them with good-quality cleaning products and cleaning tools.
After all, who is going to willingly do dishes when all they’ve got to work with is a musty old sponge?! The good news is that many of you are getting it right, according to The Distinguished Guest’s Hospitality Survey. Results show 68% supply a brand-new sponge for every set of guests.
But what else are your vacation rental peers providing as far as hospitality cleaning products and cleaning equipment? What should you provide?
Here are the Essential 8 housekeeping and that will help guests help you:
1. DISH SOAP
I leave a fresh (or refilled), small 2 to 4 oz. bottle of dish soap for each set of guests. My go-to brand is Dawn because the blue bottle matches my décor (yes…it’s true), but not only that—it also cuts grease like a champ.
Every so often, I buy a dozen of the small bottles so I have them handy, and then refill with a large economy bottle as needed. As soon as the bottle starts looking the worse for wear, I replace it.
TDG RECOMMENDS: Economy Bottle Dish Soap | Meyers Dish Soap
2. A NEW SPONGE
As you might have guessed, every guest at my property is the owner of a pristine new sponge wrapped in plastic. I highly recommend this for the sake of your guests. After checkout, you or your cleaner can use the sponge to clean up any soap scum and hard surfaces, then toss it. It’s a small amount of money well-spent.
Admittedly, this isn’t the most environmentally friendly strategy, but I try to make up for that in other ways at my vacation rental so I can prioritize odor control and hygiene for guests.
I like Scotch Brite blue sponges, since they are the non-abrasive and easier on my pots and pans.
TDG RECOMMENDS: Scotch-Brite Sponge
3. LAUNDRY DETERGENT
I’m a big fan of the single-use pods for my vacation rental’s washer & dryer. These are easy for guests and ensure they don’t overdo it with detergent.
Unsure how many pods to keep in stock?
Take the average number of nights guest stay at your rental and multiply that by two. For example, my average guest stay is 10 days, so I provide 20 pods (in hopes that no vacationer will feel the need to do more than two loads of laundry a day!).
TDG RECOMMENDS: Kirkland Laundry Pods
4. MULTI-SURFACE CLEANER
This one is important: if you leave a nice-smelling, organic all purpose cleaner for your hard surfaces, guests will be more likely to use it.
I have a lot of glass at my rental, so I swear by Mrs. Meyer’s—which is a natural product that’s safe on most surfaces (and their scents are just lovely).
I leave one spray bottle under the sink and my cleaner refills as necessary with my backup supply locked in my storage closet.
I suggest leaving or near the to make it easy for your guests to clean.
5. CARPET CLEANER
To my dismay, at my Kauai vacation rental, the condo regulations for second-floor units like mine dictate that I must have carpet (no hardwoods)? to reduce noise.
If you have a choice for your vacation rental or Airbnb, I’d go hardwood all the way. But if you have carpet—or decorative area rugs, even—definitely stock carpet or floor cleaner for guests. Accidents happen, and most guests will be anxious to get the mess fixed quickly.
I have tested several products for carpet care and for me, Folex has performed best. Plus it’s easy to use and is scent-free (no harsh chemical smell!).
If anyone has a solid recommendation for hardwood floor care at a vacation rental, please let me know! I prefer not to recommend products that I haven’t tested (or that have been tested by trusted sources).
TDG RECOMMENDS: Folex
6. PAPER TOWELS
Cleaning products are important, of course, but don’t forget other consumables, like paper towels.
The majority of our Hospitality Quiz respondents leave at least 1 or 2 rolls of paper towels for each set of guests. To the 3% who aren’t leaving any at all…you might want to rethink. Of course, we want to be conscious of paper waste, but guests will be hesitant to use your linen towels or microfiber cloths for spills or for cleaning the carpets.
Purchase a good-quality paper towel like the below. If you “subscribe” on Amazon, you’ll save money and won’t have to think about re-ordering paper towels again.
TDG RECOMMENDS: Kirkland Paper Towels
7. TRASH BAGS
Since Costco is my go-to place to shop, I usually have more than enough trash bags on hand at my rental. I stash a few boxes in my owners closet and my cleaner replaces the large roll under the kitchen sink as needed. It’s an inexpensive no-brainer for me. In my experience, guests seem to abide by the “use what you need, and no more” mentality, especially for trash cans.
TDG RECOMMENDS: Kirkland Trash Bags
AND A BONUS: HANDHELD, CORDLESS VACUUM CLEANER
If your property is in a sand-prone area, or just has lots of tile and hardwood, a cordless vacuum cleaner is a lifesaver for your guests. (Especially guests like yours truly, who find the feeling of sand on a tile floor to be like nails on a chalkboard!)
Really, having any kind of vacuum accessible for your guests is a plus, but the advantage of a cordless, handheld vacuum is that its slim, lightweight, and nearly effortless for guests to use. Which, of course, ups the chances that they’ll contribute a quick mid-week clean and save you time on at check out.
We know Dyson products are a bit of a hit to the wallet, but some items are your rental are just worth the splurge—and this is one of them. Brooms are great as a Plan B, of course, but they do require more elbow grease and may mean guests will leave a bigger mess for you or your cleaners.
TDG RECOMMENDS: Dyson Cyclone Cordless Vacuum
A final note. Many vacation rentals owners, managers and Airbnb hosts are reluctant to leave high-quality hospitality cleaning supplies for guests—or any at all. But on average, providing these small conveniences won’t break the bank.
For my three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo, I estimate that the average I spend on these guest-friendly cleaning supplies for each turnover is approximately $7.00.
Worth it! And who knows, it may encourage guests to leave your space in a better better shape than they would have otherwise.
Happy shopping! Have specific questions? I’m happy to help.
Need more help getting your vacation rental started? Check out The Distinguished Guest Blueprint course to learn more about my step-by-step approach to short-term vacation rental ownership.