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Adventures in finding a solid cleaning team

I’ve had quite an adventure getting my cleaning situation down. For starters, I inspect between each clean and guest just to make sure things are good to go. It isn’t ideal but until I’m confident and can fully trust my cleaners I’m not ready to just do random inspections.

So far we are down to a new cleaner but here’s how I lost the first 3. Oh I should add - my goal was always to have more than 1. I’m leery of having no backup.

1st - I had to fire after 2 weeks of me asking daily for my offsite laundry to be returned. I had already purchased replacements because I didn’t know if they would return. Before that they let the house go uncleaned for 4 days ( that’s when the linens left). They just kept postponing. I finally had cleaner #3 take that job. I should add -
Cleaner #1 actually did great cleanings.

2 - Cleaner #2 - after hiring - took days to respond to anything . I tried to give a cleaning 2 times to them and both times the responses took ages and then were non committal. So that was a no go.

3 - cleaner #3 - first cleans were great. For the last 2 I noticed the linens and towels folded in the cupboards were wet. Not slightly damp - but full blown mildew smell forming. I addressed the issue - asked for linens to be packed only after fully dry. Next clean - linens and towels wet again! This time after inspecting I found sticky areas of the floor. Wiped areas missed , dirt not swept , grill not cleaned etc. I brought this up and cleaner #3 quit and said there are too many things wrong ( and something about my dryer is the fault wet linens were folded).

Now I’m down to a brand new cleaner again! So my strategy has been to use more than 1 cleaner just for backup sake. I wanted 3 but perhaps 2 is better to be able to have more cleans per cleaner.

I did full walkthroughs with each cleaner when hiring , have an agreed upon checklist of things to be cleaned, paid them exactly what they asked for and even offered an opportunity for them to increase their rate if they felt it made sense after the walks through.

I’m wondering if any hosts have any tips on securing / cultivating a solid cleaning team? Is taking laundry offsite better than keeping it onsite ? Given my property sleeps 8-10 - it is a lot of laundry. Any tips on how you provide feedback on things missed ? I always take pictures with my comments if I have any.

And perhaps my most vague question - how “clean” is acceptable ? What types of things do you let slide if you like the overall clean and what types of things must be raised every time?

Oh and us cleaning the property is a NO GO! Not on a regular basis. It’s close enough for us to get there quickly but not close enough to practically go all the time.

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Cleaning an Airbnb is nothing like cleaning the home where you live, it has to be perfect every time.
I work beside my team and they know my expectations.
I do the worst jobs and I always find out what their favourite tasks are.
If I find an issue I point it out on the spot.
No one will do it as well as you, because this is your business.
I double check everything on the final walk through before the guests arrive.
I have 5 members in my team and they don’t work for anyone else.
4 properties 18 beds
They all get work as I get busy.

Re the wet linens- your cleaners don’t want to come back to the listing to deal with the dryer and the sheets, so they are folding them before the drying cycle has finished. You may need a linen service
Your cleaners will make or break your STR business.[quote=“Debthecat, post:2, topic:50443, full:true”]
I work beside my team and they know my expectations.
I do the worst jobs and I always find out what their favourite tasks are.
If I find an issue I point it out on the spot.
No one will do it as well as you, because this is your business.
I double check everything on the final walk through before the guests arrive.
I have 5 members in my team and they don’t work for anyone else.
4 properties 18 beds
They all get work as I get busy.

Re the wet linens- your cleaners don’t want to come back to the listing to deal with the dryer and the sheets, so they are folding them before the drying cycle has finished. You may need a linen service
Your cleaners will make or break your STR business.
[/quote]

YUP! This is why I still go before every single check in - and probably will have to for a while.

1 Like

These are my suggestions.
You are close by, you are the linen service.
I have 3 sets for every bed / bathroom.
One on the bed, one in the cupboard, one in the wash.
You deliver the fresh linens when you do the walkthrough, you take home the soiled ones and prepare them for the next service.
You need to know how long a turnover takes. I can estimate it within 10 minutes, pending the number of guests and which of the team I am working with. When I am not there it takes longer.
One of our methods is to do one room completely - furniture pulled away from walls, ceilings/ walls brushed, windows cleaned, timber furniture lifted and polished. Bathrooms are always cleaned completely . The 3 bed has 9 rooms, so 9 cleans and around we go again. It only adds about 30 minutes, but nothing gets behind.

3 Likes

I do all my own cleaning now that I’m retired. When I did have cleaners I had trouble finding and keeping them. I finally hired a deaf woman who was frankly having trouble finding work selfishly thinking that she would stay with me. Three weeks later she got cochlear implants and could hear. Fortunately she stayed with me for some time. My advantage was that I let her bring her disabled son with her so this made it affordable for her. We did have the occasional damp linen issue. My dryer is in my cellar and I find that both cleaners and I sometimes take linen out well after the dryer stops and we think is just cold from sitting in the dryer. Then it warms up and feels damp.

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I can’t help with finding and keeping a team as I do my own small attached Airbnb. But as both a guest and longtime active member of the forum I have some thoughts about this. The level of clean I expect for my own Airbnb is “perfect” as @Debthecat says. What I expect for the Airbnb I stay in is not “perfect.” I’ve stayed in 23 Airbnb/VRBOs over the last 7 years. They range from private room in a home with shared bath to luxury whole places, from $50 a night to $800 a night.

Obviously lived in homes with shared bathrooms are much different that whole places. Regardless of the price point, I expect several things: clean linens, no smells (good or bad) and no hairs that don’t belong to me. Nothing sticky or obviously dirty. So yes, make sure the counter is clean and polished dry. Check things like the back of the handles of the microwave and refrigerator. I don’t want to grab a handle and I feel something stuck on it, like BBQ sauce. Dust on a fan blade, top of a picture frame or a dead moth in light fixture doesn’t phase me at all. It probably wouldn’t be there at my place but if I don’t have to touch it or sleep on it, I don’t care.

Clean is also about being in good repair. If a bedroom ceiling fan squeaks, it renders it useless.

I need soap, shampoo and plenty of TP. Don’t skimp on that as it instantly makes you look cheap and uncaring about the guest experience. Also note that I’d rather have a wrinkled sheet than a microfiber sheet.

Old things can look dirty and actually be clean. I’ve stayed in places that had mildew/mold associated with the shower (the orange and the black). More than one place needed some paint, caulking, grout but they were still 5 stars overall. I think most people realize this but if you can use replace a crusty old faucet or dig out that blackened caulk and recaulk it, do so.

Also use the search function to find essential and sometimes funny threads about the necessity of using thin layers that can be washed and/or duvet covers. Everything on the bed should be washed between every guest. If you can’t do that, don’t put it on the bed.

2 Likes

"Check things like the back of the handles of the microwave and refrigerator. I don’t want to grab a handle and I feel something stuck on it, like BBQ sauce. "

OMG this! Sadly - my cleaner who quit was not impressed that I mentioned finding caked on things on the fridge handle and bits of fruits in the clear drawers in the fridge - and a sticky area of the floor - yes my sock stuck to it which is how I found it. Everything you’ve mentioned is pretty in line with what I expect.

For a moment - with the cleaner’s disbelief - I began to wonder if I’m just nuts…

I have found finding stay-at-home moms who like to clean to be the best. Professional cleaners just don’t clean as well. I also have a once a month deep cleaning. After I reopened my airbnb this September my old cleaner didn’t want to come back so I hired new one. Not good, didn’t show so I decided to clean because I knew that it was only going to be busy for 2 months then slow until March. At this point with the day and half between checkout and check in, I’m finding it just as easy to do it myself and may continue. I don’t think professional cleaners understand how the unit has to be perfect.

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My advice is clean it yourselves and change the settings to a min stay of 5 nights and block two days in between stays so you can take your time cleaning.

It seems to me that you have already invested so much time trying to get decent cleaners, that at this point, it’s best to clean yourselves.

I feel the pain of finding an acceptable cleaner. My largest rental (1600 sq ft, 3 bd 2.5 ba) I made LTR for many reasons, one was cleaning.

After a couple disappointing cleaner experiences, I finally found two sisters who did an excellent job cleaning. I paid them what they asked. I had to do the laundry.

Then it happened—supposed to clean on Friday, had check-in on Tuesday. After daily excuses & rescheduling, they were a no-show on Monday. I scrambled, paid a premium for a cleaner, and I took time off to work with her.

Then the guest complained the condo wasn’t clean enough because they found a blonde hair in a sink (probably mine shed during final walkthrough). It pushed me over the edge.

I still believe EVERYONE should run a STR, work retail, & wait tables sometime in their life.

3 Likes

A bit difficult to wash wool blankets between every guest. At least for me it is.

I hear you. There have been loooonng threads about washing linens between guests. Duplicates help. However we do the best we can.

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I’d love to but that’s not going to be feasible for me. I have too many commitments to take that on and be confident that I’ll always be available. We have room in our budget so cost isn’t an issue - but we definitely need to find a reliable team ( or preferably teams ).

Honestly - I’m cringing because mine is even bigger. It’s in an area where there are a ton of Airbnbs so cleaners are out there. I’m just realizing I"m going to have to sift through a really large pile to get a few I can trust. I’ve also accepted that I’ll need multiple ones - because your no show scenario is my worst nightmare. It’s one reason I don’t allow same day turnovers.

and YES about actually working this. I’ve cleaned the property - done all the linens myself - so I’m very aware of what I’m asking the cleaners to do - which is another reason I don’t negotiate on price. I’m pretty much willing to pay whatever they ask for ( within reason)

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Totally agree! Now that I have done all 3 I feel like hard hands-on work, customer service, quality, and just overall excellence are hammered into my brain permanently. It also produces, maybe depending upon your personality, a good deal of humility.

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That’s great advice, depending upon goals and circumstances, and something I will take under consideration. I’m a little worn out and my helper cannot always assist me (I am alway there). I really need a backup but with only 1 STR, I cannot offer a regular schedule of work. So, your suggestion is a good possible alternative to just going to an LTR (has it’s own drama/stress).

Most of my stays are 3-4 days and include the weekend. I have a 2-day min for a Friday check-in and it increases from there so I don’t get my Friday/Saturday split (except on holiday weeks like Thanksgiving, I allow a M-F booking). So, I only have to clean once, maybe twice a week.

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I don’t quite get it. Cleaning isn’t rocket science. You start at one end of a room and clean from the ceiling to the floor. People who “miss” things shouldn’t be working as cleaners.

But I think sometimes hosts don’t give the cleaner enough time to do a throrough job. I read a post from some hosts who were getting low cleanliness ratings, but they were expecting their cleaner to clean a 2 bedroom apartment in an hour and a half. They were a young couple and probably had no idea how to clean themselves.

Another host claimed it took him 40 minutes to clean a one bedroom apt. I suspect his idea of clean isn’t mine.

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I would double up on machines, 2 full size stackers side by side and since you are hands on (like I am). Do the laundry yourself, it is way too time consuming for the cleaners. I have 3 sets of machines on my property, one in each cabin plus my office. Turnover day is laundry day for me. I have backups of everything as well.

RR

@JustANewHost

When I STR’d the condo/townhouse I own 2 doors away, if the space wasn’t rented, I used both washers & both dryers. With 4 beds, Occupancy of max. 6, even with all machines going it took forever to do towels, wash cloths, bedspreads, sheets, blankets, throws, & dish towels & cloths. I don’t know how people with large families do it.

Btw-the w/d in the rental were new, adequate but not as speedy wash or dry as the pricier models. In hindsight, I paid in time what I didn’t pay for nicer laundry appliances.

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it’s not rocket science but it is definitely detail oriented work - and very tedious. That’s where the ball gets dropped. I agree about time - which is why I don’t have a time limit really set for my cleaners. You can’t start before checkout time ( unless it’s a free day - then you can start at 6 am for all I care ) - but at least I can offer to them that you won’t be cleaning for fear of someone else checking in before you’re done.

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