Cleaning! What's sparkling, what's good enough?

Ok, so i need to improve my cleaning system. Full disclosure, i was raised by wolves so what looks perfectly acceptable to me is probably not a universal standard. (Don’t judge me too hard, please.)

I’m interested in both what people consider sparkling clean (And how to achieve it) and also “clean enough”.

Er, especially “clean enough”… (i have a toddler, i strive for enough)

For me, that’s been washing sheets and pillow cases in hot and using a lint roller on all fabrics the guest uses. Sweeping the floor as far under the bed as i can reach and moving around the bedroom furniture to get in the corners. I wipe down the window sills at least once a month, but it doesn’t make a visual difference so it’s mostly so i know it’s been done. Sweeping the shared bathroom daily, cleaning all ceramic surfaces with Clorox wipes every other day (And the toilet every time i use the facilities. Plus i leave out wipes for others should they want them)

The blinds are wooden slats and they get dusted once every two weeks.

What’s something I’ve forgotten that you think is important? How often do you do it? (Between every guest, once a month… etc)

(And yes, I’m going to make myself a checklist from the answers in this post, because other hosts have mentioned they have checklists for their cleaners and i think that would help me, too)


A few hints I read in that new Absolutely-Awesomely-Admirable Accommodation magazine:

  • The white plastic cover on the bathroom fan – check that, now and then, and take it off to wash when it’s dusty.
  • swish over the door handles and light switches with a Clorox wipe between each guest. Just in case.
  • Clorox wipe-over of the bed’s head board, only every few weeks.
  • Wipe the top of visible light bulbs - eg. the ones on the bedside lamps.
  • After cleaning the bathtub and handbasin, wipe them DRY. Place the stopper in the drain. Looks impressively spotless.

Sparkling and clean are two different things. For something to sparkle it generally has to be new. Then you keep it sparkling by cleaning and as the post above says, polish it dry.

I find the polish it dry to be the part many people don’t do properly. If you wipe something with a clorox wipe for example it might be germ free but if you leave it wet it’s going to be smeared and hazy looking. In my area the hard water leaves mineral deposits on faucets, sinks and tile. So that needs to be polished off. I have seen so many bathrooms over the years with black mold in the tub area. Some people even caulk over it sealing the black in. So if you have any mold in the bathroom clean it with bleach. Remove scale rust and lime as much as possible. For some rentals I’d advise new faucets but in a budget place that might not make sense. Make sure the caulking around the base of the toilet (between the toilet and the floor) isn’t nasty looking. If you have a tile floor clean the grout as best you can.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and good quality microfiber cloths are my go to for cleaning/polishing. Lint rollers are a must (good job) and I use canned air like for electronics to get dust out of tight corners like on picture frames.

Also make sure windows and mirrors are spot and streak free. Outside windows in the winter can’t be cleaned I know but once spring comes, don’t forget.


Sounds like you are pretty thorough to me, not wolf like at all! I’ll add occasionally check lamp shades, ceiling fan blades, chandeliers, the entire outside of the toilet, framed wall art, top of window & door frames and radiators. Most guests may never notice but occasionally one will if it’s not clean.

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You are not a wolf at all! I clean to OCD standards, but still have had comments…

I do feel that people staying in others’ homes sometimes have unrealistic expectations.
They expect it to be like a hotel with all that entails…


I recommend a book or cleaning system that I’ve recommended on this forum elsewhere: Speed Cleaning by Jeffrey Campbell. In a nutshell, you wear an apron so that all the tools and sprays you need are on your person, and you move about most rooms (bathroom is different) from top to bottom and left to right, cleaning only what’s dirty. I.e., don’t spritz or wipe something just because it’s in front of you. We are expert cleaners now and cleaning is kind of fun.

Some secrets of super clean: clean things with cleaning solutions, not by swishing water. The water spreads the germs. As @astralita12 said, wipe surfaces until dry, especially chrome, glass, and mirror. Buy a whole bunch of microfiber cloths–one cloth folded in quarters has 8 cleaning surfaces. Invest in a mop that takes interchangeable and washable microfiber pads. The more often you change your cleaning cloths as you go, the less dirt is spread around. A feather duster or whisk around the base of sofa and bed legs ensures that nothing is left after vacuuming.

I also second @KKC’s recommendation of magic erasers. We use them for wall scuffs. We have an oxo deep clean brush set that allow one to get in around drains and small crevices. For caulk, there are paint pens that will make it look white again.

In our unit, we have also taken pains to minimize the number of hard-to-clean items. Our blinds are white cellular and we have few tchotchkes. The bed is a platform and goes down to the floor. Every little bit counts. :slight_smile:


Hand held Karacher steam cleaner. Does all the bathroom ceramics, mirrors and window, tiles and grout. No chemicals needed. Boom!

Microfibre cloths to polish everything up and one of these floor swishers that has a microfibre cloth on the end.

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I’m pretty surprised that I have 5 stars for cleanliness as my house is 100 years old, and far from sparkling! Sometimes it won’t matter how clean it is, some will see old as worn and therefore unclean.

But I do keep it pretty ship shape if I say so! My philosophy is “a little a lot”. I’m time poor with a job and a 1yo so I don’t have days where I can get in for a few hours for regular deep cleans all at once.

I do all the required things: dishes beds, bathroom etc, including a wipe over of every furniture surface inside and out, switches/handles, fridge, oven and microwave, and then after each guest I do one or two “extras”- things that aren’t so noticable to be a bother, but at the same time when noticed really promote a sense of cleanliness.

Eg - wipe all skirting boards, or clean windows, or wash out bins, dust fans, put oil traps through dishwasher, hose stairs and driveway etc etc.

In my own house when I used to work nightshift and was a complete zombie I used to put all the spring cleaning tasks in a jar and every day or so pluck one out to complete and transfer to another jar, and so on. It was motivating, satisfying and the tasks got done!


Swiffer™ or wet Swiffer or mop rather than sweep.

First thing I do is pull all linens and towels, and get them in the washing machine.

I dust every horizontal surface every time we re-set the cabana. Also clean toilet inside and out. Clean sink and mirror and shower in bath. Wash all dishes and silver and clean kitchenette sink. Vacuum and Swiffer floors. All in about an hour.

We use a great cleaning company here in Utah and Idaho called Home Care Providers. Give them a call at 801-529-7172.

I am sure that they are the perfect answer for @Alia_Gee’s Brooklyn private room in a home.


And spritz some Orange Odor Assassin around as the very last thing.

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The scent of clean is very important. Using bleach, lemon or orange based oils, and pine detergents say clean with the nose. Airing a room or the house makes a big difference too.

VIsual is important, too. A squeegee cleans glass more effectively.
I use industrial blue cleaner in the toilets to clean constantly.

Fresh flowers and a personalized note convey the extra attention to detail that guests appreciate. I also leave chocolate and simple snacks.

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I’ve done flowers, I’ve done chocolates, I’ve done nothing but a glass of ice water and directions to the nearest grocery store. None of those things (or their lack) had an effect on reviews, so i do them when i want to but i don’t expect any review reward.

The single change that had the biggest impact on 5 stars was writing a post checkout note where i thank them for staying with us, offer them a 15% discount for being awesome guests (and their friends a 10% discount if they mention being friends with awesome guests), and that i look forward to giving them a 5 star review. (Assuming, of course, all that is true.)

Flowers just get their pollen on the pillows.



I found the white paint pens don’t last and eventually peel off. I now mix 50/50 bleach and sodium bicarb into a paste and paint onto grout/caulk and leave for 20 minutes, rinse or shower off. Only needs doing about once a year.

An add on for the garden and ant nests. 50/50 sodium bicarb and icing sugar placed near a nest. Ants are greedy buggers, eat it and then blow up. Result; nest destroyed.


For our tile floors I use a steam cleaner. I think looking and smelling clean hides the age of the floor. Mopping isn’t nearly as effective. Plus the steam cleaner is vacuum/mop in one pass vs vacuuming then mopping.

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I don’t find hotels to be all that clean. I consistently get 5*s for clean, but I have a wonderful housekeeper who knows all the tricks.

I’m sure many of you have seen the TV programme ‘Four in a bed’ where 4 different lots of B&B owners/managers stay in each others place and pay what they think their stay is worth. To justify small payments they literally pull the bedroom apart!! Check the mattress by removing all bedding, delve into the outlet for the shower, finger check all pictures etc for dust, look in all drawers–particularly the corners (dust) look under the bed–you are getting the idea now? Nothing goes unchecked. They squeal with excitement when they find hairs in the beds–if you as bed maker in chief have just made a bed you would see any hairs so I suspect that the camera operators or tech staff with the programme do some ‘salting’ with hairs and dust! I would NEVER go on the programme but it gives me a good idea of how clean to make my place!!


Oh my gosh, that sounds evil!


I haven’t heard of the show, but i think watching it would give me an ulcer.

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Thank you so much for caring and sharing. These suggestions are so spot on. So good to connect with other like-minded folks from around the world. We are all more alike than different.

Blessings, Judy Helm Wright–Author/Blogger/Intuitive Wise Woman

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