Tips & Insights from the Vacation Rental Cleaner:

Cleaning – What is expected of guests?

In my five years as a vacation rental cleaner in Kailua, one of my favorite aspects of the job was when I had the opportunity to welcome and then see off the guests. It was exciting meeting people from so many different places and varied backgrounds, and I loved seeing the transformation they underwent from when they first arrived (stressed and overwhelmed) to when they left (so much more relaxed and carefree).

Vacation Rental Cleaner
Vacation Rental Cleaner

When guests first arrived, one of most frequent questions they would ask me was, “What is expected of us, as far as cleaning?” I was always slightly amused by that question (I was the cleaner, after all, so they probably felt compelled to ask me) and I tried to assure them that they should just relax and enjoy our beautiful island and not worry too much about cleaning! However, there are a few guidelines that can make things easier and smoother for everyone—both the guests and the cleaners—so I thought I would share them with you, too.

Please note that each vacation rental is different and some may have specific rules or requirements, so be sure to check your agreement and/or speak to the manager about any questions you have. The following guidelines are gleaned from the way we did things at the 3 vacation rentals I cleaned. Things may be different where you stay, but if you are paying a cleaning fee, then they should be a good general rules of thumb.

Kitchen disaster
Kitchen disaster

Cleaning: What Is Expected of Guests

Most importantly: you are on vacation. Relax and take it easy! You are paying a cleaning fee for us to clean the place after you are gone and get it ready for the next guest, so you don’t need to worry about that. However, please note that, unlike hotels, vacation rental cleaners are not maids and only clean after you leave. One of the great things about a vacation rental is that it’s a comfortable home away from home. But along with that comes doing some of the cleaning you would do in your own home, such as doing dishes and taking out the trash. If you are staying for an extended period and things get messy, there should be a broom and basic cleaning supplies provided for your use, if you like.

The do’s:

  • Wash the dishes. We provide soap and a clean dish sponge (and in some cases a dishwasher). It’s ok if there’s a stray glass here or there, or you were in a hurry to get to the airport in the morning and left a cereal bowl or two, but please don’t leave a sink full of dirty dishes. We expect that most people will wash their dishes after using them, so when we are left with the “surprise” of a sink full of dirty dishes to wash, it really sets us back time-wise and can make it difficult to finish the cleaning job in time.
  • Place trash in proper receptacles, not strewn around all over the place. If the trash gets full, change the bag like you would in your own home. Most vacation rentals will have trash bags easily accessible.

The don’ts:

  • Avoid the urge to wash the towels! Many vacation rentals (like the ones I cleaned) provide white bath towels, and it’s pretty amazing how dirty and stained they get. Well-meaning guests would try to wash them for us, but oftentimes they ended up further discoloring the towels or setting the stains in when they dried them. If you are provided enough towels to use for your stay without having to wash them, then it’s better to leave the dirty ones to us so that we can properly treat the stains.
  • Don’t remove the sheets from the bed. Oftentimes, guests would collect all the bedding and put it in a pile, but it’s actually better for us if you leave them on the bed because then we’re able to tell the state of the sheets (i.e. if they need bleaching or special care, etc.) If they’re crumpled up, it’s easier to miss things. Also, hold back your urge to wash the sheets, for the same reasons as the towels.
  • Don’t hide messes. If you stained or broke something, your child had an accident on the bed, etc. please let us know. Accidents are expected to happen every now and then, and we know this. Just try to be as careful and respectful of the home as possible, but if something does happen, don’t freak out or try to cover it up. We’re going to find out at some point anyway, so it’s better to let us know upfront so it doesn’t become a last minute surprise that ends up setting us back. (P.S. The manager will be more likely to charge a fee for broken/damaged items if you hide it.)

To tip or not to tip

To tip or not to tip
To tip or not to tip

You are paying a cleaning fee, so a tip is generally not expected. However, if you are happy with the cleanliness of the place, or if things got a little crazy during your stay and you have to leave behind a big mess, then a tip is always welcome. We were happy when guests showed their appreciation by leaving us food (in good condition), by signing the guestbook, or leaving a short note. In many cases the cleaner is someone other than the manager or owner of the property, so if you think they did a good job, please give them a shout-out in any reviews.

For me, personally, one of the best “tips” was seeing how much more peaceful most people seemed after their stays. Spending time with their loved ones in the beautiful natural environment of Kailua rejuvenated them, and they appreciated the hard work we put into maintaining the place so they had a comfortable, home-like place to stay. I like to think that, in my own small way, I tried to share the spirit of aloha with every guest, and that they took a bit of that aloha back home with them.

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