A cleaning guide for vacation rental owners

Exit instructions

To help minimize the cost of your vacation rental cleaning, consider giving your guests exit instructions. Exit instructions should be simple things that can be done in minutes by your guests but can save hours for your cleaners. Recommended exit instructions include simply starting a load of laundry before leaving, placing all used towels on the floor to separate them from the clean ones and removing linens from the beds that were used to avoid cleaning linens from the beds that weren't.

Rethink white

White pieces in the home like bathroom mats, area rugs, towels and pillow cases can brighten the home and present an appearance of clean. But white pieces do not hide stains even after they are cleaned and will most often be replaced frequently. Simply using darker colors for things that inherently attract dirt like area rugs can not only save you money in maintenance but mitigate the risk of receiving complaints from picky guests.

Modesty for efficiency

When people are on vacation, they generally let loose, especially with laundry. If your home is stocked with eight towels, usually all eight will be used. If your home is stocked with twelve towels, usually all twelve will be used. But if your home is stocked with only six towels, not only will there be only six towels to clean but nobody has ever complained that a vacation home only had six towels to use.

Extended stays

If your guests are staying for longer than two weeks, consider offering them complimentary home cleaning during their visit. These cleanings don't need to include laundry and can be scheduled when they are sightseeing.

Properly price your cleaning fee

It is customary that your guests pay for your home's cleaning after their stay. Research what other homes of your size in your area charge their guests for exit cleaning on sites like VRBO (http://www.vrbo.com). Many vacation rental owners are afraid to "overcharge" their guests for exit cleanings but chances are your competitors are already charging a premium because it appropriately helps limit their liability. If you've never owned a vacation rental before, be prepared to take on some very dirty guests, especially if you target families with children and pets.

Spare sets

Spare sets of towels and linens can greatly reduce the cost of your vacation rental cleaning. If your home is stocked with six towels, consider buying twelve in total and leaving six in a locked storage area in the home or in your own home. Consider doing the same with linens. This way, your cleaners will be able to focus on cleaning the home itself and not the laundry which can be done off site over the span of the next guest's stay instead of in the usually-small time windows between check outs and check ins.

A cleaning guide for landlords and renters

Know the law

First and foremost, know the law. The California Department of Consumer Affairs makes the process of returning a security deposit very clear (click here for link).

When newer is cheaper

Light switch and electrical outlet covers attract grease simply from the fact that they are meant to be touched every day. And cleaning them can not only be time consuming, in other words costly, but dangerous. A single-toggle light switch cover at your local hardware store is 30 cents and will always be cheaper and turn out better than degreasing an old one.

Shower heads, depending on the hardness of your home's water supply, can build up calcium deposits that are not only an eyesore but can be very difficult to clean. And difficult things to clean always cost more. A standard shower head at your local hardware store is $5 and will always be cheaper and turn out better than demineralizing an old one.

Toilets are, not surprisingly, a touchy subject for many people, especially neglected ones which are often permanently stained. Toilets can be expensive, however, but in light of California's water conservation efforts local water districts will rebate the full cost of many toilets back to customer if they buy water-saving toilets called "WaterSense" toilets which use 20% less water than the current federal standards mandate. These toilets can be purchased at your local hardware store for less than $150, free after rebate.

Walls, when scuffed or stained, can make any clean home look dirty. Walls, however, are one of the most inefficient and costly things to clean in a home because more often than not the paint comes off and the extra care that is needed to properly clean them, if they even can be cleaned, can be costly. Color matching paint to existing walls is free so take advantage of it at your local hardware store and touch up the areas yourself. Take a paint roller to an entire wall if the stains are large enough to avoid issues with blending.

Self clean before we clean

Ovens can be very difficult to clean simply because of the nature of their use. They are also an intimate and often-used part of a home which makes cleaning them properly doubly important. Because ovens can be so difficult to clean, newer ovens are self-cleaning. The self-cleaning feature locks the oven door shut for a period of up to 6 hours and raises the internal temperature up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit incinerating everything inside leaving nothing but a pile of dust to sweep out. Be sure to remove anything from inside the oven that may melt but leaving certain metal pots, pans and baking sheets inside during the self-clean will clean them also. Refer to your oven's instruction manual before commencing.

Timing is critical

Landlords too often order multiple services on the same day like home cleaning, carpet cleaning and window cleaning thinking it will save time. One landlord even ordered these services and painting in the same morning! This almost always leads to disaster and is a very inefficient way to prepare your home for new renters.

If you need reconstructive work done in your home like painting, plumbing or electrical, order them first. And always, always leave at least one day buffer (preferably three) because contractors almost always go over their scheduled estimate. We have more postponements of cleaning due to lagging contractors than any other reason.

After reconstructive work is complete order the most delicate cleaning, like carpet cleaning, last. Start with window washing, then home cleaning and finish with carpet cleaning and your home will be sure to impress.

Prevention really is the best medicine

Preventing a dirty home is the best way to clean any home. Landlords must walk a fine line between keeping an eye on their property and not being invasive. Renters must also balance their expenses with maintaining the integrity of their landlord's home. Landlords and renters should consider splitting the cost of a routine cleaning service if even for just once or twice a year. Professionally maintaining the cleanliness and care of wooden floors, carpeting, porcelain bathrooms, stainless steel appliances and other delicate areas of the home will help ensure maximum return of the security deposit and maximum rent from future renters.

A cleaning guide for new customers

What to expect

Your home cleaning crew will come fully supplied with cleaning tools and agents, ready to take on almost everything you can throw their way. The number of house cleaners you receive depends primarily on the size of your home, as well as location and preference, but most jobs require no more than two cleaners.

What we expect

You never have to be there for any of your home cleanings, not even the first one, but most customers choose to be there for the first visit. If you have any pets you will need to section them off in an area that will prevent them from interfering with the house cleaning. And if you want to keep the price as low as possible you should pick up and put away as many loose items, such as toys and clothes, off the floor as you can.

Establishing the price

When the cleaning crew arrives for the first time, walk them through your home and present them the entire scope of work that is to be done. Show them trouble areas, areas that need specific instruction and all of the add-on tasks that you may have requested in your initial cleaning estimate. When the walk through is complete, you and the crew will establish a final cleaning price which in almost all cases will be within the initial estimate.
If you are not present for the first cleaning, the cleaning crew will relay to the office the price before they begin and if it falls outside of your initial estimate you will receive a phone call or text message before work begins to approve the adjusted price.

When they finish

After the cleaning crew finishes, you or someone present will need to walk through the home and verify the completion of the job. On approval, you will need to pay the cleaning crew cash or check (made payable to "Crystal Clean Homes") or call the office at (949) 340-7130 and submit a VISA, MasterCard or Discover number (if you were not required to submit one prior to your cleaning) or establish a PayPal payment arrangement.

If you are not present for the first cleaning, you will need to submit a credit/debit card prior to the cleaning which may or may not be charged depending on your method of payment. You will, however, be protected by our 24-hour guarantee which means if the cleaning crew missed anything they will return at no extra cost to you to fix any corrections as long as the request is made within 24 hours of the home cleaning.

Going forward

If you like your cleaning crew, which everyone does, you can specifically request to have them back to clean your home again but if you want to try a different cleaning crew, you can do that as well. After you feel comfortable with everything you can have us hold your keys, leave keys hidden for them or wait for them to show up to say hello!