What Are the Differences Between a Residential & Hospitality Cleaning?



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 top of 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.


1. Doing the laundry and changing the linens

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, pool towels, and kitchen towels.


2. 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.


3. 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.


4. 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.


5. 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.


6. 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 their original positions, and arrange the rest of the exterior in a most appealing way.



7. Replacing Amenities & Refilling Supplies

Residential cleaners do not have the restock any of your home supplies for you, but constant 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 which can provide essential home information, a local area guidebook, extra keys, etc.

  • Emptying all trash and recycling.


Feel free to download my basic Departure Cleaning Checklist so you may stay on top of your vacation rental cleaning needs. If you're interested in any additional types of cleaning checklists such as Deep Cleans, Construction Cleans, Mid-stay Cleans, please reach out to me directly! I adore assisting other colleagues in this industry!


Happy Renting!

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