8 Quick and Easy Cleaning & Laundry Tips that Airbnb Hosts Swear By

published Jun 16, 2019
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Credit: Melissa Nichols and Jake Durrett

If anybody knows how to clean—I mean really clean—it’s an Airbnb host. I’m a longtime superhost, and let me tell you: We live and die by reviews. Nothing else matters if the place isn’t immaculately clean.

I don’t mean clean-for-pictures, which is something else altogether. I’m talking the proverbial white-glove-test clean. Those of us who survive and thrive in this world of letting strangers tell the internet how tidy we are have learned some mad skills when it comes to cleaning and laundry. And I’m going to let you into our circle: Here are some tips from me and other hosts that you can use whether you’ve got guests (paying or otherwise), or just want a sparkling clean home around the clock.

First, meet our expert group of superhosts:

Rowena Ajero runs the popular Los Feliz Garden Cottage in Los Angeles.

Jonathan Klunk co-founded Key Source Properties in Louisville, which handles short term rental property management and cleaning. He and his husband also host travelers in their own Historic Central Park Apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.

Deborah Jacobs designed and runs the Airbnb Plus Industrial Eco Loft in Indianapolis, along with several other listings.  

Clara Brosnaham Reeves is the host behind the rave-reviewed Magical Jewel Cottage in Pensacola, Florida.

And I’m Dana McMahan and I designed and run the all five-star Vertigo Louisville and soon-to-launch Little Carriage House on the Alley in Louisville, Kentucky.

Credit: Minette Hand

The fastest way to get rid of human hair is with a lint roller

Hairs are the bane of our existence. Filed under the glamorous life of an Airbnb superhost, I can often be found shortly before check-in time crawling around the bathroom with a lint roller. I’ve tried everything, but a sticky roller works better than anything at picking up any stray hairs hiding out in the seams between tiles.  

Credit: Anna Spaller

Banish dog hair with a good vacuum and a sponge

Even if you run a dog-friendly Airbnb, that doesn’t mean every guest wants to see dog hairs. When we have a canine checkout, I rush to our third floor rental flat with my weapon of choice: a Neato D7 RobotVac. It handles the major job of vacuuming our main house downstairs where two dogs shed approximately a bale of hair a day, and it does the trick in the rental unit, too. Guests without pups have commented that they’d never know there had been a dog in the space.

I also like the Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter sponge, a simple little block that you basically erase pet hair from furniture with.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Hide a tissue in the blinds to make your home smell nice

I’ve seen advice on a hosting tips website for hosts who don’t have time to clean thoroughly to simply spritz the air with a strong cleaning solution. That’s horrifying, but they’re obviously on to something.

“I believe smells can have such a powerful impact when someone enters a space,” Brosnaham Reeves says. “That first impression/first smell is critical.” She avoids synthetic fragrances, choosing to run a diffuser with natural peppermint oil between guests. And if you don’t have a diffuser, she suggests this hack: A tissue with two to three drops of essential oil placed in between the blinds will provide a subtle scent. “Guests walk into the cottage and almost always comment how wonderful it smells,” she says.

What if the last guest left some lingering odors—say, they fried something strong? Set out bowls of vinegar, or if you’re in a rush, microwave a bowl of vinegar for 15 seconds to remove unpleasant odors quickly, Brosnaham Reeves says.  

The secret to stain-free living is oxygen bleach and black towels

Any host worth their salt would never keep a stained linen in service. (Think about it: do you want to climb between the sheets only to find a mystery stain?). Jacobs donates anything she can’t get totally clean to Goodwill, but costs add up for quality linens, so “we usually get them out with some good old OxiClean,” she says.

I provide make-up removers in the bathroom for guests, in hopes of avoiding stains on fluffy white washcloths, but many hosts use dark colors to minimize the risk altogether.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Make laundry less painful with “boring but efficient” linens

I think I spend more time with my washer and dryer than I do any human friends. It’s a necessary evil, but some smart hosts have found ways to deal. Ajero never does a load that’s less than full, so that she can conserve energy. “This is why most of what I own are along the same color schemes or I have items where colors do not run,” she says. “Boring, but efficient.”

To avoid any allergic reactions to laundry detergent and fabric softeners, Ajero uses Dropps laundry detergent and wool dryer balls dotted with essential oils.

Lint roll (and double protect) the bed for guests

Let’s be real here. Guests are up close and personal with the bed and linens in your space, and have plenty of time to notice anything off.  Brosnaham Reeves makes sure there is nothing (like those dreaded hairs) to set off alarm bells by lint rolling the linens before she strips the bed, and again when she makes it—a tip you can borrow if you want your bed to make a good impression for guests.

Brosnaham Reeves also knows what an influence a dirty mattress can make, so she uses not one, but two mattress protectors. Not just for double protection, but “if someone stripped off one protector, it would still keep a clean look,” she says.

Credit: Ana Kamin

Get the shower squeaky clean with a razor blade

There’s no area more important to keep sparkling clean than the bathroom. “To clean soap scum from clear glass shower doors we use Scrubbing Bubbles foam and a razor blade,” says Klunk. “Let the Scrubbing Bubbles sit for a minute. Maybe even apply a second coat. Then use the razor blade to scrape the soap scum and other material from the shower door to reveal crystal clear glass.”

And once it’s clean, Klunk keeps water spots and buildup away by treating the shower doors with Rain-X. “This works on shower doors just like it does on windshields. Nothing sticks. We recommend reapplying once monthly at a minimum to keep them clean and clear,” he says.

If you’ve got shower curtains, don’t overlook the liners; nothing says a place isn’t kept up like sticky, streaky liners. I replace mine every few months and wash them frequently in between, and love this tip from Klunk: “Wash thick plastic shower liners before use in the washing machine with a little detergent and a few towels. This will soften the material and make it more pliable. To help prevent soap scum buildup spray, Rain-X on the liner will help keep it clean and clear.”

Credit: Lana Kenney

Dust and sweep with a leaf blower (really!)

Deep cleaning may be reserved for springtime for most people, but when you have a steady stream of people traipsing through, you can’t limit it to once a year.

Klunk brings out the big guns quarterly with—get this—a leaf blower. “[When] you want to get under beds and sofas and in every crevice, I recommend first going through the house with an electric or battery operated leaf blower,” he says. “This is great for older houses with spaces between wood floor slats, baseboards with stubborn grime, and getting under the edges of rugs where dust and small debris can accumulate.” A couple caveats: Definitely don’t use gas-powered equipment indoors, and be sure the setting is on low to not damage small items or accessories.

Klunk does it systematically to make sure every inch of the house gets blown clean: “Open as many doors and windows as possible, start on the top floor of the house and work your way down. On the first floor, start in the rear of the house and work your way forward.”