Set Up: Finding and Vetting Cleaners for Your Airbnb

As an Airbnb host, you juggle a lot of pins. As your business continues to grow, eventually, finding and vetting cleaners to help to take a few things off your plate can free up your time for more important tasks.

Cleanliness is perhaps the #1 concern guests have and, most unfortunately, it’s often the most overlooked by hosts and managers. People think they can skimp on cleaning by saving $25 here and there.

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This article is courtesy of MaidThis Cleaning. MaidThis is a California-based cleaning service specializing in vacation rental cleaning and services the greater Los Angeles (Venice, Hollywood, etc.), Orange County, and San Francisco areas.

If you’re not putting as much effort into researching a new cleaning company as you put into researching a new brunch restaurant, you’re doing it wrong.

The reality is that having great cleaning scores leads to better reviews and better reviews mean an increase in how much you can charge per night.

One fantastic way to take back your time and increase your business is to hire a cleaning company. However, while this may sound simple at the outset, there’s more to choosing a reputable, reliable cleaning company than simply doing a Google search for someone in your area.

Below are 4 pieces of what we consider invaluable advice as you search for a new Airbnb turnover cleaning company.

1. Get organized and write down your checklist.

If this is your first time hiring an outside cleaning team, it’s important to have your ducks in a row from the very beginning.

Start by taking a little time to sit down and physically or digitally write down exactly what it is you want in a cleaning team that goes beyond the expected “clean all the things.”

We’re talking:

  • Exactly how much of every room is cleaned – Be specific about what should be happening in places like the bathroom and kitchen during turnover cleanings.
  • Taking stock of what needs to be replaced – Should your cleaner simply alert you when supplies are low or should they also be looking for wear and tear on household goods and linens that may need replacing?
  • Reporting missing or damaged items – Make a list of things you want your cleaning team to be looking for each and every time they turn over your Airbnb.

The best way to go about doing this is to create systems for yourself BEFORE asking a cleaner about theirs. If you’ve been cleaning your vacation rental on your own up to this point, how did you do it? How often did you check on your supplies and the wear on your everyday items like sheets and towels?

Before you can ask someone to take over for you, be clear on what you were doing and what needs to continue.

Need an example? Take a look at an example turnover checklist we made for you.

2. Do your research. Here’s how to find cleaners.

If you’re not putting as much effort into researching a new cleaning company as you put into researching a new brunch restaurant, you’re doing it wrong.

Finding a Class-A cleaning team is a major deal for you as a host and there’s no time to be wasted nor room for guessing about how well your new team is going to work with you.

The biggest thing to remember: vacation rental cleaning is VERY different than regular home cleaning. Therefore any old residential cleaning company isn’t going to cut it unless they have vacation rental cleaning experience or hotel cleaning experience specifically.

Interview for reliability first and cleaning skills second.

Check everything available: Google reviews, Yelp reviews, Facebook reviews, and more. If you’re really feeling motivated, ask if the cleaning company will provide you with references. (Depending on the size of the company, keep in mind they may not be willing to do this and that’s okay. Don’t immediately assume they’re trying to hide something from you!)

Bottom line: Put in the work on your end.  

Now the question is HOW to find cleaning crews. Below are our top recommendations:

  1. Google like a pro. It sounds simple enough, but this is the best place to start initially. You want Airbnb-specific cleaners, NOT just any regular cleaner. Cleaning a private home versus cleaning an Airbnb is very different. Therefore, start by searching keywords like “Airbnb cleaner [your city/neighborhood],” “vacation rental cleaners [your city/neighborhood],” “turnover cleaning [your city/neighborhood],” and so on.
  1. Be intentional about searching out reviews. Go to online review platforms (Yelp, Angie’s List, etc) and type in “airbnb cleaning.” This will give you more insight into who has done Airbnb-specific cleaning in the past and give you an idea on how their clients feel about their service.
  1. Check out Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist is still a viable place to look for cleaning help. However, if you’re looking at Craigslist, be very cautious. You need to be very intentional with your vetting process because you’re running in the dark, so to speak, and working without the benefit of documented reviews. When searching in the cleaning section, try to find cleaners with hotel cleaning experience. When you’re doing interviews, see section #3 for the questions to ask

3. Reliability is the #1 aspect to hire for. Ask the right questions.

It’s imperative that you ask the right kind of questions. Of course, you’ll be asking about cleaning time and rates, but there’s more you need to be concerned about as a host.

Here are a few important things to remember as you assemble your list of questions.

  • Hire for reliability over everything to make sure your life is easier. This is huge. The biggest risk to any host is scrambling last minute because cleaners did not show up. Don’t be that host. You can always train someone on the details of cleaning, but you can’t train reliability.
  • Get a good sense of their experience. Ask how many Airbnb cleanings they’ve done and look for a strong answer. If they are new to the game, tread with caution. Ask them to explain how they would clean an Airbnb versus a private home. This will help you judge if the cleaner knows the difference and intricacies of your home in comparison to general cleaning requests.
  • Be as specific as you can. There’s no harm in posing hypothetical questions because they give you a real sense of how the company goes about handling everything from missing linens and low stock on toilet paper to broken items or a trashed vacation rental.

Here’s a list of “right” questions include. Our list is, by no means, the “be-all and end-all” of lists. Make a point to add your own questions, too:

  • How would you go about making changes to a scheduled cleaning appointment or canceling one if that issue came up? How can you ensure you are always covered?
  • How, specifically, do you schedule your cleaning appointments? Do you need to call an office? Do they use an app?

Look for Airbnb-specific cleaners. Vacation rental cleaners will be clear on the intricacies of your home in comparison to private residences.

  • How far in advance do you need to schedule a turnover cleaning? Can you request last-minute cleanings if the staff is available?
  • How many turnover cleanings for Airbnbs have they done? If they’re new, dig deeper into what they know.
  • How will they report damages and low supplies to you? This goes back to #1 and your personal list you’ve made. Part of hiring an Airbnb-specific cleaning company is to help you manage this important task.
  • What parts of your list (see #1) does the company already do and what will you be asking them to do extra for you as an Airbnb host? What will that cost? (Think laundry, trash removal, etc.)
  • Does the company already have a template or guide in place for cleaners to follow that will ensure all parts of your vacation rental are ready for a new guest? If they’re experienced, chances are this already exists and you don’t need to provide one. If they’re new, consider providing your own checklist to ensure everything gets done.
  • How would the cleaning team handle things if they walked into a trashed unit? By asking specifically for a system of processes for a situation like this, you’re confirming the cleaners know the level of communication a host needs.

Leave no stone unturned! When everything is all said and done, hire for reliability first and cleaning quality second. Good cleaning quality should be a given, so most of your interview questions should be around making sure the cleaner is reliable. If your cleaning crew isn’t reliable, your hosting life will be chaotic, at best.

Ask as many questions as you need until you feel comfortable (or not). If you are contacting a business (as opposed to an individual cleaner), your contact at the cleaning company will understand your desire for information.

4. Ask about negative reviews you find.

While you’re doing your due diligence noted in #2 above, take note of any negative reviews you find. What, if anything, did the bad review look like?

  • Did they place any blame on the client? If so, does it seem “professional” or just downright rude? Was the reply written in anger?
  • Did they handle the complaint in a timely manner and shed any light on why things went wrong?
  • Ask directly how the company handled any customer complaints and their internal policies

If you’re not comfortable with what you find in bad reviews, don’t hesitate to bring them up when you interview the company. If they don’t have decent responses to those reviews when you ask about them, you might be right to shy away and continue your search for another cleaning team.

Don’t let the hunt for a cleaning company get you down. There’s no question that it will take some legwork, but the payoff will be so worth it in the long run. Follow the tips above and you’ll be sure to gain a great partner for your Airbnb business.


Download MaidThis’ Cleaning checklist!

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