Successful Departure Cleanings in the STR World

Simply stated, the success of a Departure Cleaning will affect the success of your vacation rental property. A vacation rental cleaning goes above and beyond what you would expect from a typical house cleaning. The first experience a guest has is observing how clean and well-prepared the unit is when they first walk in. First impressions last the longest and more often than not, a comment on the level of cleanliness will show up in their online review. Guest reviews may then affect the future bookings of the home. Travelers use reviews as a strong deciding factor when booking vacation homes.

There are several key differences between what perfect cleanliness means between a residential home and a vacation rental home. A vacation property that is 100% Guest-Ready looks very different when compared to a home prepared for its residents. It's important to keep in mind that a home that is 'clean enough' for you to live in is not necessarily 'clean enough' for paying guests to stay in.

It's extremely important to keep these differences, and the various tasks associated with them in mind.

Expectations: We are responsible for the entire appearance of the home, ensuring that it is 100% Guest Ready for each and every reservation. We want to empower our cleaners to take action on every issue within their capacity.

Staging/Styling: A house can be perfectly clean, but it still is not inviting if it is not presented properly. The manner in which beds are made, towels are folded - even in the closets - all work together toward a holistic presentation. Design is in the details, and it’s important that we take time and be consistent even with the little things. Ensure that sheets are folded nicely and stacked consistently in the closets for 2 par. Arrange all pillows and throw blankets appropriately.

Trash: A housekeeper should never leave excessive trash outside of the cans. If possible, please take trash off-site and place it in a dumpster. Housekeepers now know to fill the Green spray painted bins for the white glove trash service that we pay for. However, if there is excessive trash left by the previous guests, it’s imperative for the HK team to inform the Property Manager (Eileen) if an additional trash pick-up needs to be scheduled.

Laundry: NO laundry should EVER be left unfinished for a guest to discover upon arrival. Residential cleanings don't require time-sensitive washing or changing of the sheets and towels. But vacation rentals absolutely require this service. If the cleaner or housekeeper does not wash the linens his/himself because the laundry service is outsourced, he or she will still strip and replace all the linens in the house anyway. Linens include bed sheets, bath towels, hand towels in the bathrooms, bath mats, and kitchen towels.

**If there is not enough time for the laundry to be completed, the housekeeper is expected to take it with them and finish off-site and return upon the next scheduled clean.** Please be strategic in starting laundry to ensure necessary linens are completed first. We have calculated this into the cleaning fee; thus invoicing for extra laundry should ONLY happen with prior Redamo consent. In the event that a dryer is taking too long to dry towels and sheets, please make sure your Operations Manager knows, it just may be that the vent needs to be properly cleared.

Damages: Housekeepers are our main source of information on the state of the home. Please let the Operations Manager know about any damages as soon as possible. It is also expected that you take pictures as documentation.

Lights: Throughout the cleaning, it’s important to test all the light switches to confirm that no light bulbs have blown. Please report if more bulbs are needed and what kind. Once the home is fully cleaned, please remember to turn off all appropriate lighting.

Thermostat and Alarm: The thermostat must be set to the proper temperature at departure. Typically 78 degrees is standard. Please remember to set the home alarm as you leave the property.

Laundry comforfer/duvet charged to owners

In the STR world, comforters & duvets have never been considered part of a normal guest departure cleaning. There is zero time between guests to do all that additional laundry and therefore, the comforters have never been considered part of a general guest departure cleaning. Therefore, the cleaning of a comforter generally falls into the category of when a deep clean occurs, or when there’s a large stain that needs immediate attention. This additional laundry is billed back to the homeowner as maintenance and upkeep expense of running an STR.


The pricing structure varies and it can be done at a piece rate or a general flat fee per home, which includes sheets and towels. This fee depends on the type of property, it’s square footage of the home, number of beds, and enhanced COVID cleaning practices. Depending on how you market your short-term rental accommodation, the housekeeping price point is a determining factor, along with any special nuances of the home, and outdoor lounge or pool areas. This all aids in the type of clientele attracted to the homes in your portfolio so the housekeeping rate can be played with a little.

Cleaning Types are as follows:

  • Departure Cleans - Guest pays this cost

  • Mid-Stay Cleans - Price point depends on what guest requests. Guest pays that cost.

  • Touch-Up Cleans - Typically done when a unit has sat vacant for more than 30 days. Fee is generally 50% of a departure cleaning since no linens are washed. The homeowner is responsible for that cost.

  • Deep Cleans - Generally done twice a year during the slower season that way you can gear up and prepare for the busier times. In the STR industry deep cleans are billed back to the homeowner at 2.5% the rate of a normal departure cleaning.


Additional Short-term rental tasks that go above and beyond what a residential cleaning entails:

Washing Dishes

Residential cleaners don't usually have the time to wash all your dishes. Picking them up from around the house and placing them in a dishwasher is about what you can expect; anything beyond that is hoping for the best.

Emptying and cleaning the refrigerator, microwave, and inside the oven

Residential cleans do not require cleaners to open your refrigerator and sort through your food. In fact, if a cleaner threw away those Thai leftovers you may end up quite a bit irritated! Vacation rentals must have thoroughly clean and emptied out refrigerators. Those same leftovers would certainly cause trouble for the next incoming guest, as well as create possible cross-contamination. Therefore, everything must be thrown away after Every. Single. Checkout. The same goes for cleaning inside microwaves and ovens. Splatter remnants of frozen pizza or pasta will absolutely not fly with paying guests.

Often times homeowners put complimentary welcome gifts like bottled water or champagne in the refrigerator, so replenishing those, if specified, is also part of the hospitality clean.

Finding & Removing Items left Behind In Personal Spaces

You would never expect your personal housekeeper to go inside your nightstand or dresser drawers for any reason. That's an invasion of personal space! However, it's absolutely necessary for the housekeeping team to check, wipe and sanitize inside ALL nightstands, tables, under beds, in closets, the occasional junk drawer, bathroom drawers, and cabinets to not only wipe/clean debris but also to remove any items left behind by former guests.

Dusting & Removing Cobwebs

A great cleaner or housekeeper will dust your home regardless of the type of cleaning you hired them for. This is actually a highly missed task that generally doesn't affect a homeowner as much as it affects a guest experience. Vacation rentals cannot have dust or sand anywhere. These types of jobs require checking for dust in hard-to-remember places like on top of paintings, on plants, baseboards, ceiling fans, under the bed, etc.

Organizing the Backyard & Patio

A great cleaner wouldn't think twice to check your backyard and pick up old cigarette butts, or recycling cans and bottles from past parties; however, hospitality cleaners must ensure that the guest walks into a presentable back yard or outdoor space. It doesn't take much, but it's necessary to always empty ashtrays, return lanai furniture to its original positions, and arrange the rest of the exterior in a most appealing way.

Replacing Amenities & Refilling Supplies

Residential cleaners do not have to restock any of your home supplies for you, but consistent restocking is essential in a vacation rental changeover. Replacing fresh toilet paper rolls is a must for each bathroom and there must be an acceptable backup amount on standby. It's also required to put a fresh roll of paper towels in the kitchen, rather than keep a used one lying around. Sani-strips on the toilets are always a great idea to let the guests know that the restrooms are 100% clean and sanitized just for them.

Soap dispensers in the kitchen and bathrooms, plus travel-size toiletries are set up for all incoming guests. Personalized amenities such as shower gels, lotions, makeup remover wipes are other additional touches that can add to the welcome atmosphere for any guest.

Other Tasks Required in Hospitality Cleaning That Do Not Apply To Residential Cleanings May Include:

  • Checking all drains, pillows, pillow protectors, mattress pads, headboards, etc. These items can often make or break a review.

  • Making sure there is enough backup supply of various battery sizes, lightbulbs, and pillows.

  • Check, report, and taking detailed photos if any damage has taken place.

  • Detailed communication with either the homeowner or the property manager.

  • Setting out a welcome guest book that can provide essential home information, a local area guidebook, extra keys, etc.

  • Emptying all trash and recycling.

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