Free Vacation Rental Cleaning Checklist  Template

When preparing for guests to a rental or Airbnb property, making it personal and welcoming will go a long way towards encouraging cleanliness. Guests who feel like they’re visiting family who has pulled out the stops for them will feel excited and positive about their experience. If they’re happy and enjoying their stay, they will be more likely to treat the rental unit with respect and care. Be sure all the essentials are in place and easy to find, and include some little extras. Investing in quality items that are easier to care for and clean, such as nicer towels, will be noticed and help garner you repeat business and good reviews.

Why Are Vacation Rental Cleaning Checklists Important?

When establishing best practices for your vacation rental management, adding organization to processes helps standardize them. With codified documentation, you’ll spend less time handling mishaps and more time nurturing (and scaling) your business.

With a vacation rental cleaning checklist in hand, you’ll:

1. Eliminate Guesswork and Human Error

Even when a cleaning routine is tried and true, it’s natural to overlook a step in the process — or think you’ve done something you haven’t.

With checklists, you effectively eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) that risk. Having your cleaners initial each box as they go is a super easy way to ensure the service is as thorough as intended.

2. Set Expectations for Your Maintenance Team

When you onboard cleaning services, it’s important to outline expectations from the jump. Providing comprehensive cleaning checklists helps teams not only navigate the areas of your home that obviously need attention, but also tackle tasks that may be less obvious to the naked eye (like, say, sanitizing surfaces and handles).

Certain cleaning services may also have different people coming through your home between each guest visit. Requiring every team to fill out the same checklists mitigates discrepancies, so you can rest easy knowing consistent standards are applied every time. (Just remember to get those completed checklists back for recordkeeping.)

3. Collect the Reviews You Deserve

Guests pay a professional cleaning fee when they book your property, so they’re expecting an impeccable home that looks just like the pictures online.

By utilizing cleaning checklists, you make the turnover process between bookings seamless. This helps avoid unpleasant phone calls or complaints while giving guests peace of mind that their health, safety, and comfort is top of mind.

Cleaning Before Guests Arrive

As we have mentioned before, leaving a great impression on guests is important, especially if you want to rack up glowing reviews. In addition to stylish décor, amenities, and good prices, customers cherish cleanliness. The first impression always matters, so do your best to create an excellent one. Here’s the ultimate vacation rental cleaning checklist that will help you to clean up your rental before your guests arrive: 

General Cleaning

  • Dust and clean all light fixtures in the house
  • Wipe the blinds and dust the curtains
  • Vacuum and sanitize all floors, carpets, and furniture
  • Empty and sanitize trash bins
  • Clean mirrors and windows
  • Clean shelves and wipe the dust off decorative items
  • Vacuum and wipe the areas around and underneath furniture
  • Clean all the drawers
  • Fold and restock towels and blankets
  • Dust the pillows

Cleaning the Living Room

It is important to make sure that your guests are comfortable with the cleanliness of the living room, because it is where they will want to relax and hangout.

They don’t want to use a sticky TV remote or sit on the remains of the last guest’s sandwich.

  1. Disinfect all remotes
  2. Vacuum/wipe down all sofas and be sure to vacuum beneath the cushions as well
  3. Disinfect light switches
  4. Dust/disinfect coffee tables
  5. Clean the TV screen
  6. Keep bookshelves or magazine racks tidy
  7. Double-check if throw pillow covers need to be washed
  8. Wash all used throw blankets
  9. Vacuum under furniture
  10. Remove area rugs when cleaning the floor

Cleaning the Kitchen

The gathering place in many vacation rentals and where your guests will prepare food, the clean kitchen is a really big deal. Guests rented a vacation rental property instead of a hotel so they can enjoy cooking their own meals and dining together. The importance of this room is second only to the bathroom in how your rental unit’s cleanliness will be perceived. Countertops should be gleaming. Help your guests help themselves. There should be an adequate roll of paper towels readily available with a back-up nearby.

  • Dirty coffee maker – Coffee lovers can be fanatical or be the kind that’ll drink from the same pot for two days, but one thing is for sure- if they don’t have coffee when they want it (now!) they won’t care how nice the rest of your unit is. Coffee makers should be clean inside and out. Wipe down the coffee maker on the outside, and thoroughly clean around and underneath it. Have filters and everything handy for them to get their fix quickly without having to clean it first.
  • Dirty toaster, or toaster oven – These appliances just get dirty even with fastidious people using them. It’s not a bad idea to invest in a nicer toaster that won’t look dingy and gross. Wiping the outsides of these with a good degreaser, thoroughly cleaning and wiping down the crumb tray, and shaking the entire unit out over the sink will go a long way to keeping it clean. Toaster and microwave ovens should be wiped down inside after every visit.
  • Dirty stove and oven – Stovetops should be immaculate and don’t miss the backsplash behind it. Grease is just gross. A glass-top stove will be easier to keep clean in a rental, and regularly wiping out the oven will be easier than trying to remove built-up, caked-on debris. Don’t wait until it looks like a Hawaiian lava flow in there. Leave out aluminum foil for your guests to use over your pans, maybe leave a friendly note that foil means no clean-up!
  • Stinky refrigerator – Keep a fresh box of baking soda in there and change it out every month. Wiping things down after every visit will ensure that not even the almost-invisible residue from somebody’s sushi leftovers is gone. Dump ice out of the ice maker every month because it will absorb odors and taste disgusting. If your refrigerator has a water dispenser, have spare filters on hand.
  • Stinky dishwasher – Be sure the rim and gaskets are wiped down and cleaned between every visit. Not everyone cleans the plates as thoroughly as your grandma does before putting them in the dishwasher, so ensure there’s no food debris or silverware in there clogging things up. Refresh your dishwasher regularly with the dishwasher sanitizing tabs.
  • Consumables – It’s helpful for guests not to have to purchase every single thing they need to cook a meal. Having a few essentials on hand like common spices, cooking oil, salt, and pepper, etc. will be helpful to them, but be sure to have these checked every visit. Wipe down all bottles, jars, and lids to ensure there’s no grease or remnants of somebody else’s spaghetti sauce on the jar of basil.

Cleaning the Dining Room

As your guests gather their friends and family around the table, make sure that their focus is on enjoying the well-prepared dinner they’ve slaved over all afternoon and not on the crusty food stuck between the leaves of the table.
Eating on a table like that is not only unappealing but unhealthy.

  1. Clean out food and grime from between the table leaves
  2. Check under the table that nothing has been stuck to the bottom
  3. Wipe down dining room chairs
  4. Clean deep in the crevasses and curves of each chair to remove any food or other dirt
  5. Wash table cloths
  6. Wash any cloth napkins
  7. Move the table and chairs aside while you clean the floor
  8. Clean and disinfect any child booster seats or highchairs
  9. Dust off overhead lights and remove cobwebs
  10. Clean off any centerpieces well

Cleaning the Bathrooms

  • Check corners for dirt, mold, or hairballs.
  • Are the counters clean of dirt and mold.
  • Is the toilet clean?
  • Should the toilet seat be replaced?
  • Ensure there is NO mold or grime in the shower and or tub on the ceiling.
  • Are the windows and the sills clean of dirt and mold?
  • Is the lighting dark? Bright lights are important.

Tips & Tricks

Here are some common things we recommend you have on-site somewhere on the property to make life easier:

  • Handheld steamer – Tackles everything from grime and build-up in bathrooms to quickly handling stains on carpet and upholstered surfaces like sofas and chairs
  • Long-handled dusters with refills – These telescoping dusters will get to all the tight spots, and the disposable dusting attachments will ensure you aren’t just pushing the same dust around.
  • Extra/specialty cleaning supplies – Keep what your guests will need to clean up after themselves out and easy to find. Specialty or more toxic cleaning substances that could be misused or damage your home if misused (like bleach and pest control!) should be kept locked up except when being used by your housekeeping staff.
  • Touch-up paint – In the event that something gets pretty badly scuffed, you can quickly go in and make a repair without having to match paint. Keep in mind that after a few years touching up paint may look worse than the scuff because paint colors change. Using semi-gloss paint from the beginning will make it easier to clean and touch up.


These resources are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.


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