How to Find Cleaners for Airbnb?
Listen to the episode ‘how to find cleaners for Airbnb’ below. Read along with the transcript.
Hi everybody. John here again, and thanks for tuning in to another episode of Vacation Rental and Airbnb Mastery. Today I want to talk about basically all the questions you should ask when you’re hiring an Airbnb cleaning service. I run one of the largest Airbnb cleaning services in the country. We turn over thousands of vacation rentals every single month, and we come across the same questions from our owners and host. The questions seem to repeat themselves over and over, and I thought doing a good FAQ for owners looking to hire a cleaning service would be helpful because everyone needs a great turnaround cleaning service, right? Finding a good turnover cleaning service is kind of tricky. You can Google Airbnb cleaning services, Google vacation rental cleaning, ask friends, ask Facebook groups, and usually you’d get some pretty good recommendations. However, there’s a lot of different types of short term rental cleaning services out there.
Identify different types of airbnb cleaning services.
You have large companies like Molly Maids, Um, you have companies that do primarily residential cleaning services and also, you know, got into the short term rental cleaning game as it became very lucrative. But those services are not super specialized, so they don’t have as much calendar support, no integrations, and their cleaners may be cleaning a, like a residential house one day and office space one day, and then a vacation rental the other day. So the learning curve, you might think cleaning is cleaning, but it’s actually not like cleaning of a vacation rental is extremely, extremely different than cleaning someone else’s home. So I definitely recommend to all of our listeners to look for a specialized Airbnb cleaning service, that that’s all they do is turn short-term rentals, because you’ll, you’ll find that the cleaners that you work with are much more experienced. Know what to look for, know what kind of pictures to take for documentation, and know how to be efficient with time, because when you’re doing short-term rentals, sometimes you only have four to six hours to do a turnaround.
Residential vs. Vacation Rental Cleaning
When you have guests checking out and arriving in the same exact day, um, a residential service may come late and not actually finish in time. So you definitely wanna look for a cleaning service that specializes in Airbnb’s short-term rentals and vacation homes. Personally, in most of the Facebook groups I’ve seen a lot of hosts are asking for recommendations for an independent cleaner. This is for one of two reasons. Some owners like the personal touch they get with a cleaner they work with all the time. And then the other end of it is some owners want to pay a cheap <laugh>, a cheap cleaning rate, and they know that with an independent cleaner, their rates will usually be lower. I personally find that there’s several benefits in working with an independent cleaner versus a large cleaning company. Um, one, your communication’s much better. You can text or call your cleaner and know what’s actually going on in your rental.
Independent cleaner for vacation rentals.
You have eyes and ears on the ground, boots on the ground that can actually help you solve real problems. When you deal with a large maid service, a lot of times are communications very centralized when you have that middleman aspect. So you never really get to talk directly to your cleaner, and it leads to a lot of really inefficient communications happening, a lot of miscommunications and just overall dissatisfaction with the service. So many hosts are looking for a trustworthy, independent cleaner that they can work with. The drawback to this though is everyone’s human, like your cleaner may need to go to a dentist appointment, a doctor’s appointment, family gets sick, car breaks down. So many things can happen. And if you rely on a really independent cleaner, you may not have coverage when something goes wrong and it’s gonna leave you in a pickle in a bind when you can’t find good coverage.
Vacation Home Help finds airbnb cleaners for airbnb hosts.
My company, Vacation Home Help actually finds really great independent cleaners who want more jobs in Airbnb cleaning, and we match them with owners who really need high performance because we’re in a review based business and the reviews are guest lead for cleanliness, it’s important because that’s our strongest marketing tool. Having great reviews signals suggest that we’re providing a safe and clean space for them to enjoy. So what we do is we vet source and retain the best cleaners possible so we can match them to owners who need an independent cleaner. That way if something happens where the cleaner is to retire or have a doctor’s appointment or a family issue, car breakdown, there’s a plan, be always, and the owner is not left scrambling last minute to find somebody to clean their rental because they chose to go to independent route for affordability reasons. We help our cleaners by keeping them busy all year, keeping their calendars full so they could earn a living wage and actually thrive and make money to build the future that they always dreamed of, and have their own independent cleaning company as well.
So our organization as a whole, we tried to keep both the cleaner happy and the owner happy so they could have a long-lasting and fruitful relationship that helps the guests enjoy it safe and clean space.
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Cleaner for Your Vacation Rental.
However, if you’re just looking for a different solution and you’re not in one of the markets that we actually serve, here are some of the questions I recommend you ask to properly vet your cleaning service. When we vet our cleaners, the first question we always ask is for them to walk us through a typical day in the life cleaning a home, because some people say, Hey, you know what? I have vacation rental cleaning experience. I’ve cleaned them before. But when you ask them to walk you through the process of cleaning a short term rental, you can really quickly identify how much experience that cleaner has, because if they don’t mention like starting the laundry first and they quickly say they clean the kitchen and the bathrooms, you already know something’s up because laundry is the biggest binding constraint.
Laundry for vacation rentals 101.
Time is our binding constraint in vacation rentals, and that should always be the first thing they start with next. Like you definitely want to ask them if they take pictures of their cleaning because you need documentation. In the event that Airbnb, um, you have a guest damage your property, you can’t just say, Hey, they damaged my furniture. You need to have photo documentation and, and a description of what actually happened and keep all receipts and invoices so that you can be reimbursed in the event of damage. So if your cleaners are not taking pictures with timestamps and then you’re relying on their award and you’re thousands of miles away, hmm, that’s just not gonna cut it. You definitely need real concrete photo evidence of the cleaning when it’s done. That’s something that Vacation Home Help does provide all of our owners, and that’s something that your cleaning service definitely needs to be doing for you.
How short term rental cleaning services handle laundry.
Asking how do they do laundry? Specifically, what do you do with the comforters? That’s a huge question. Like you need to be asking your potential vacation rental cleaning service if they wash comforters, if they wash the duvets. I’ve interviewed so many cleaners and they always say they just leave the comforters dirty and they wash the sheets and the towels, and you know what, that’s kind of gross because no one wants to sleep on a dirty bed that someone else’s body fluids was on. They were sweating in there. It’s just thinking roast. And we need to always ask cleaners what they do with the covers, the blankets, the comforters, you dove covers. Now on this podcast, we did an episode with laundry times, right? Doing laundry math, how long it takes to do laundry. It does take significant time to do laundry. And if you have a three bedroom, think about this, a three bedroom, it might have three to five beds or more in there.
What laundry is included in an airbnb cleaning service?
So that’s three to five sets of sheets, three to five covers, and about 10 sets of towels or more. That’s hand towels, bath towels, wash cloths. You have mattress pads. It’s a lot of laundry to put into a residential washer and dryer. So that’s gonna be five, six plus loads to wash and dry that properly. It’s gonna take over six hours. So you need to really know like what’s possible, and if you’re trying to get your Airbnb cleaning service to do a same day flip, a same day turnover a back to back, and you have a five, six bedroom house and you’re thinking they’re getting that laundry done in four or five hours, you know, think again, that stuff’s not getting washed and they may be telling you it’s getting washed, but it’s because you, you have unrealistic expectations. Like you need to personally know what it takes to clean a house, how long it takes to do laundry, because you don’t wanna put whatever cleaning service you hire in a situation where they, they actually can achieve what you need them to.
Beware of unethical cleaners who promise more than they deliver.
As a cleaning, um, company, a platform, this is always my issue. Um, we always want to obviously market and attract more owners so we can help them achieve their goals. However, most of the owners we talk to, they don’t have the right expectations, and we try to educate them on what it actually takes to turn over a home and what laundry, what laundry actually does, right? Like why laundry is such a big binding constraint. If you have a client, a potential client saying, I only wanna pay $125 for this four bedroom house, how in the world do you think in four to six hours that’s going to get cleaned properly, um, when your washer and dryer doesn’t handle it and you only are wanting to pay a certain amount of money, Yes, the guest wants an affordable clean fee. It makes it more attractive to market your property that way, but you also can’t be unrealistic with the expectations that you have for cleanliness because you can say, I want a spotless place, that’s what my guest expects.
Understanding cost of doing laundry for your airbnb property.
But then there’s a cost associated with doing all that laundry. And a a lot of cleaners afraid to lose their business. They’ll promise things that they just can’t deliver. So asking them how they’re gonna handle the laundry is a, a good way to know what to expect from cost, what to expect from time, and what to expect from your Airbnb cleaning service. Ask them what kind of amenities or supplies they leave for your guest. Some services, it don’t leave anything, they just clean it and the, the host or the inspector, the property manager comes and fills the amenity for the guest, and those services tend to be more affordable. Some services they leave, uh, a couple of items like our service actually leaves to toilet paper, the paper towel and the trash bags. But since every host has different expectations of what they think’s appropriate for soap, shampoo, conditioner, if they include makeup remover, kitchen sponges, kitchen dish soap, et cetera, it all depends on the host and the type of accommodation that they want.
What supplies should cleaning companies leave for airbnb guests?
Like if their luxury or economy and every host has a different, you know, starter pack that they want to leave, then you have some services that are much more expensive and they leave a full pack for the guests of, of hotel style amenities. So it just depends on what kind of accommodation you are, but you want to know what to expect from your short term rental cleaning service. So you definitely want to ask them what kind of supplies they leave for the guests, if any. Also ask them if they bring their own cleaning supplies to actually clean the rental. If it’s a real cleaning business, they will have their own supplies, vacuums and et cetera to clean the house. Um, you want to be very careful with hiring an independent cleaner because when you hire an independent cleaner that’s truly like they only clean for you, you may be running into, uh, an employee employer relationship, which will leave you open to significant tax liabilities.
Are airbnb cleaners independent contractors or your employee?
Um, at the end of the year, if if they’re truly just working for you and they don’t have any other clients, they can actually make the case that you’re employing them and it will cost you lots of money in back payroll taxes and, and a lot of responsibility. It goes without saying, you want to make sure that your cleaners actually insured in case anything is to break, and you want to make sure that they’re also authorized to work in your state and the United States. Um, so anytime you hire a cleaner, you definitely want to copy of their identification, um, issue, ask them for a W nine, so at the end of the year you can issue them a 10 99. Um, because if you don’t ask for that information up front and you’re not actually authorized to work in your country or state, um, you may be responsible for, you know, different tax implications.
Issue your short term rental cleaners a 1099 year end.
You want to make sure you can deduct those expenses from your income with a 10 99. So you, you definitely wanna make sure you can issue the cleaner that you’re going to hire a 10 99 document. Also, ask them, um, how do they take care of a loss and found if the guest is unhappy, how they respond to that because you, you really want to put them in a real life situation to see how they respond, because no one’s perfect. And when you’re going with any contractor, any service problems do arise. And it’s not that your contractor’s going to be perfect, but it’s if they have like, how do you say, self respect, accountability, and they’re willing to get things done. And the best way to do that is to create questions that are situational to see what, what their awareness is. Uh, good question to ask is if there’s, um, if the guest left something behind, what will you do with it?
Will your cleaner fix problems reported by your guests?
Another good question to ask is if the guest is not satisfied, they check in and they say the floor is sticky. Um, or the beds were, were unclean. What will you do to satisfy them and let them answer in the most organic way they can to see if that cleaner is accountable and they’re going to be able to handle problems as they arise? No one’s perfect. There will be problems, but it’s all about the individual’s character and your values and how they’ll be able to respond to the different kinds of situations and feedback that comes up. We want, um, a cleaning team that is open to constructive criticism because you will find that your guests will say things like, Your place is great, it’s clean. However, I think that you could, you know, do more dusting on the fans. The fans above my bed, it was dusty and I wish it was a little bit cleaner.
A great vacation home cleaner will be receptive to feedback.
So things like that, you’re going to deliver that feedback to your cleaning team and you want to know that they’re gonna be receptive to that feedback, that they’re going to actually say, You know what? I could have done a better job there. Um, next time I’ll definitely, uh, dust off the fan and take a picture just so you know it’ll be done. That’s a good answer. If, if they get defensive or they don’t actually know how to answer that, that’s a common rate. As an owner, you’re also going to want to ask how they charge for services. Um, it’s a cleaning by the hour. Do they charge by labor hour? Do they charge a flat rate for cleaning by square feet, by bedrooms? How exactly are they coming up with the estimate for you? Our service actually does it off the square footage, and we have a minimum per number of bedrooms because we’re taking into account things like laundry time and labor hours.
How do cleaning services calculate the airbnb clean fee?
However, you need to ask this question up front because if someone says they charge by labor hour, what’s to stop them from cleaning? Super, super slow to charge you a lot of money? Um, and this vice versa, if they charge by the number of bedrooms, that’s not a really accurate quote because you could have a three bedroom that’s huge, like four or 5,000 square feet. So there’s some strange configurations and layouts of homes nowadays, and you want to know that your cleaner is a prepared to quote you an estimate, um, appropriately and that it makes sense for, uh, for your goals and for your vacation rental business. A really great question to ask is if the oven’s like super dirty, the guest left and they bake the Turkey and there are pizza and there’s cheese on it on the greats, like, will you charge me extra for that?
Will your cleaner charge for extra cleaning?
That’s something you want to know because if the cleaner charges extra for like a super messy party house, that’s normal. But if the, the bathroom’s a little dirty or they’re overcharging and if the oven’s dirtier and they’re charging you more for that in every little thing, that kind of nickel and diamond really adds up. So you want to make sure that the rate is somewhat consistent. If it’s dirty, it’s dirty. If it, if it’s a little cleaner because the guest was cleaner, they’re still charging you the same, right? So you want to know that you’re being charged fairly, and it, it’s common for an Airbnb cleaning service to charge a lot more when the guest was super dirty and they threw a party or they smoked in the house or they had a pet, it’s common to charge more, but anytime something’s a little dirty and the cleaner’s gonna complain about that and try to to charge you more, that’s a red flag as well.
How much does airbnb cleaning cost?
In our market in Florida, um, the current clean fees that I’m seeing as market in 2022, as of November bes of inflation, we’re seeing around 10 cents a square foot is average 20 to 35 cents per square foot per deep cleanings. And then we’re, we’re seeing cleaning fees no lower than $150, right? Um, there’s some places that advertise like a way lower clean fee, but that’s because the owner’s making up for it, paying their cleaner out of the nightly rate. But you need to think about like labor hours, labor significantly more expensive now because of inflation. The labor market is not really normalized yet. And then you also have the element of gas prices, of cleaning supplies. They’re more expensive because of inflation. And then you may need to take laundry offsite because if you’re doing same day turns, you may not be able to get all of your laundry done in a residential washer and dryer.
Offsite laundry may raise your airbnb cleaning fees.
So offsite laundry will probably be factored into the price and that raises the clean face. All of this is kind of hard to deal with when the guests are being super vocal on the news, on social media with their friends about how high clean fees and how that has made Airbnb unaffordable as a platform and they’re going back to hotels. However, if you want to stay in a four or five bedroom rental, that does come with increased cleaning costs. It’s not the same as cleaning a hotel room. A hotel room is flipped in about 15, 20 minutes. A vacation rental takes several hours to do a, a proper clean of it to sanitize it to proper standards. So yes, a clean fee will make a vacation rental more expensive, and you don’t wanna pass all of that cost onto your guests because some of that cost is truly a cost of doing business.
Who pays the clean fee?
You don’t wanna fall into that trap of thinking, My guest pays the clean fee. No wallet share is wallet share. What they’re paying to go on vacation is the money they’re planning to pay regardless. So if you wanna think of it as it coming out of your guests, you can, but it’s really coming out of you because that’s money they would’ve spent with you anyway. So it is always coming out of you and that’s an operating expense of doing the business. So whether if you wanna put in the clean fee or the nightly rate, that’s completely up to you in your, in your marketing goals. However, um, that money that was going for cleaning is, was going to go in your pocket. So however you wanna look at it, the guest is paying for the whole reservation, okay? And then the cleaning just needs to be done, right?
Short Term Rental Cleaning is an Operating Expense.
And whatever that costs you in your area is going to be a cost of doing business. Asking them if they have maintenance capabilities or what they do if the trash is also super important because in Florida, so many cleaners just take the trash out and they leave it in the front bench right in front of the house. So when the guest pulls up, they see mountains of trash from the last guest and it doesn’t look good. It sets a horrible, horrible, horrible first impression. So asking what they do with the trash is a super important question. And you also want to ask like their ch like when they leave the house, what kind of procedures they use? Do they lock up? Do they set the alarm? What exactly are they doing when they’re done cleaning? Asking them what kind of of technology they leverage is also important because as a busy professional, as a remote host, you need a cleaner that’s going to be able to allow your Airbnb or VR calendar or your property management software to integrate with their calendar.
Will your cleaner use technology to automate your airbnb cleaning calendar? How will they confirm a scheduled cleaning?
What I mean by that I integration word is that your ICAL link, you can copy and pick fit into their calendar. So every time you have a checkout, it sends the appointment automatically to them. So it’s not relying on your memory, you to remember to send an appointment manually every time because sometimes we just get busy, life happens, uh, people get sick, we have, uh, emergency at work, things happen and we forget to put things in a calendar. It’s just human. So if you don’t have the system doing it for you, you’re prone to failure and you may have a guest check into a dirty unit and you don’t want that. So it’s really important that they’re using some sort of really organized, really efficient calendar software. And our company, we use one called the Resort Cleaning. And what our owners do is a copy and paste their calendar link, it sends us all the appointments and the cleaner.
Ask the cleaner to walk you through their clean checklist or short term rental cleaning process.
As soon as they’re done cleaning, they go in and they market as complete. So the owner knows when it’s done. It also provides that additional benefit that if the unit’s finished earlier, the owner’s made aware so that their guests can check in as early as possible. I’m going to piggyback on one of the first questions I ask. You wanna ask your cleaner how they clean the rental. It’s important that they, they walk you through it from the moment they get in the property to they’re done because you want to see if they’re using what’s called the wall to wall method, if they’re actually finishing one room before they move on to the next, with the exception of laundry, because laundry needs to be started and continually done throughout the turn to make sure that they can get the most laundry out of the least amount of time.
Do they use the wall-to-wall method of cleaning?
Um, so with the exception of laundry, they should move from room to room to make sure they don’t forget anything. So if they’re in the kitchen, the kitchen’s done to completion, the kitchen should be done, the cabinet should be checked, every single dish should be checked so that you don’t see any crud or any food from the previous guest. Every single drawer, every single utensil checked and made orderly, and then a countertop cleaned off in a way that if you run your hand across, you’re not feeling any, any grim, any dirt. So once the kitchen’s done in picture perfect, then you would move on to the bathrooms or the bedrooms, whichever they prefer. But the bathroom needs to be completely done before they leave it, and they need to be using sanitized in clean rags for each area they’re in. In Florida, it’s a wild west, and I’ve seen in real life, not with our teams, but with teams of other rentals, the cleaners using rags from bath, from the bathroom for, from kitchen, the bathroom, it’s disgusting.
Rags should not be reused from room to room.
So whatever rags are being used in one area cannot be reused in the other. So it’s important to a room to room and have equipment and cleaning supplies for each room to keep the environment sanitized so that the guests can actually have a safe and clean space. This also prevents missing something. There’s situations where guests bring, like, it’s, it’s hard to talk about this stuff, but they’ll bring drugs or firearms or something crazy and now it’s medicine pills and they’ll leave it under a bed, under a nightstand. They’ll leave it, um, under a couch cushion. And if the cleaner’s not being careful and going from room to room with that attention to detail, and they’re just moving around the house haphazardly not really having any order, they’re going to miss that pill under the couch that a child can ingest and actually, uh, die from.
Check under every bed and every drawer, you never know what you will find in an airbnb rental
Right? Um, they can miss the firearm that’s in the nightstand that the last guest didn’t take out of the house. It really happens. I’ve seen situations like this happen in, in, in my own walk. So they need to go from room to room in complete room to room without jumping around and doing it in this, this disorganized fashion. And if the cleaner doesn’t give you a response that indicates that they do their cleaning that way, it’s against the law to actually train your cleaner because then you’re entering into employee employment territory. So the cleaner you hire, they actually need to know what they’re doing. They need to be qualified, equipped, and ready to take on any challenge that comes their way in the cleaning space. So you want to ask them if they’re actually going wall to wall and doing that, but let them let the cleaner walk you through how they do their job.
When interviewing a cleaner, let them walk you through the standard clean without help.
Don’t coach them, don’t guide them and take notes to see if it makes sense, if it’s organized, and if it’s going to work in a way that will make your vacation rental shine with the way the economy’s currently going. I definitely know more owners can benefit from trying to self-manage your own rental because the fees and the commissions that are being charged by both the platforms and professional managers, they are expensive and many owners are not even breaking even right now. So if you take control of your business and you try to do this DIY at least for a couple of months, you’ll see you’ll have more satisfaction, more control, and you’ll be closer to the guest experience. The guests will have better communication with the host you, and you’ll see your business flourished. But when you leave it in the hands of someone else, maybe their best interest is not aligned with your best interest, what you’re doing is you’re giving them your house that you pay for every month with your mortgage or that you paid for in cash and you’re giving it to them and it’s just inventory to them.
Are you more than just a number or rental property to your property manager?
It’s inventory that they can book and earn a commission on. It’s not the same as what it is to them as what it is to you, to you. It’s your personal home. Your family may vacation there, you put your blood, sweat and tears into paying for that home. So only you, only you are going to care about your home because it’s yours. So the purpose of this daily podcast is to help owners like you take control of their own businesses, grow, find personal and business satisfaction through it, and then continuously grow towards mastery. Where after listening to this podcast for a year, you’re gonna be in a much better place than you were before you listened to it because you’re going to learn in bite size steps, bite size tips, and you’re going to be able to apply them to real life situations so you can learn all day long, but it’s the applying that lets the learning sink in.
Join our growing podcast community of vacation rental owners.
And the way this podcast is formatted is to give you bigly bite-size episodes that you could actually try and put into practice right away. So my hopes for this podcast is to start a movement to help owners take control and self-manage your business, grow their own direct bookings, and be ultimately more independent and more satisfied with the vacation rental business as a whole. And I believe firmly that we can do that, and it first starts with education. So thanks for giving me a chance and listening to this daily podcast. I’m so excited to deliver this content to you daily. I hope you find value in this daily podcast. And if you do, please, please, please share it with a friend or family member that can benefit from it as well. I really do hope this was helpful. I’ll definitely do another episode of on more questions you can ask your Airbnb cleaner prior to hiring them to make sure you get the right service for you.
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