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Vacation Rental Hosting: How to Clean your Home FAST between AirBNB Guests

How to clean your home fast, whether your mother-in-law just called to say she’s on her way for the weekend, or you’re running a successful rental home property.

Cleaning a house requires a whole list of skills, but cleaning a house quickly, from top to bottom, is a skill that in my book approaches super-hero status. And when you’re getting a whole house ready for guests in under 4 hours, you need all the super-hero-ness you can find. So I’m going to give you our secrets to how we do it with our AirBNB rental home.

How to clean your home fast between AirBNB guests

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If you missed the last post about getting a house ready to rent as a vacation property, definitely check that one out first. But if you’re caught up, or just wondering how to clean your home fast, roll up your sleeves, grab your gloves, and read on!

One more thing… if you want to skip all the reading and just grab the checklist, be my guest! Simply scroll all the way to the bottom of this post for downloading instructions.

How to Clean Your Home FAST for Guests

If you’ve been a reader for a while, then you know I hate cleaning house. I mean, I wrote the book (or really just the article) on Why I Quit Spring Cleaning as well as my latest one on 9 Genius Cleaning Hacks. If there is a way to get out of cleaning, I will find it.

Clean white bedroom with bed and bedside table

However, keeping a clean rental house is essential to making guests happy and getting good reviews, so it has to be done. With cleaning, if I can’t avoid it then the next best thing is to get it over with as quickly as possible. To that end, here is how we clean our rental house super-fast in between guests.

Cleaning Time Frame

When cleaning a house between guests, you need to give yourself a reasonable amount of time. We set our check-out time at 11am, and check-in at 3pm. Plus, we ask guests to let us know via text if they check out early, so we can get an early start on the cleaning.

To be honest, it takes the two of us almost that whole 4 hour window to clean the house from top to bottom, so every extra minute helps.

Woman getting sucked into laundry machine

The most time-consuming part of the cleaning process is washing and drying the linens, specifically the towels. (Our rental house sleeps 12, so that can make for a lot of laundry!) You can cut down on this time if you take linens with you to launder off-site, but we like to do them on property to get it over with, and so we don’t have to remember to bring them back and forth.

Cleaning Method

The key to getting your cleaning done quickly is to time a few things strategically. Here’s the specific order you should do things to clean your home fast:

  1. Gather the dirty linens and throw a load of sheets in the washer.
  2. Check the dishwasher. If there are dishes to be cleaned, load them and turn on the dishwasher.
  3. Clean the bathrooms. Work from the top down. Start with sink tops, then the shower/tub. Then scrub the toilets and wipe them down thoroughly. Finally, use glass cleaner on the mirror and all the faucets and handles. Don’t forget to give the door handle a quick wipe-down too!
  4. Switch the sheets from the washer to the dryer. If there are more sheets to be washed, add another load of sheets to the washer. If all the sheets have been done, add any blankets or coverlets to the washer.
  5. Clean the kitchen. Be sure to check the fridge and cabinets for any leftover half-eaten food, and do the inside of the microwave and oven. And don’t forget the coffee maker!
  6. Remove the first load of sheets from the dryer. Switch the washer load to the dryer. Add a load of towels to the washer. (Finish all the sheets before starting the towels because the towels take longest to dry and you can use that time to make the beds.)
  7. Vacuum the carpets and sweep the floors.
  8. Check the dryer. If all the sheets are done remove them, and transfer the next load to the dryer.
  9. Put the freshly cleaned sheets on all the beds. (If you have a partner this part goes so much faster!)
  10. Put away the dishes from the dishwasher, if there were any.
  11. Wipe down tables, ledges, windowsills and any other dusty surfaces.
  12. Check the dryer. You should be drying the towels by now, which takes the longest by far. Just keep checking in between other jobs, so you can keep the process going between the washer and the dryer.
  13. Mop all the hard floors.
  14. Replace towels in the bathrooms, and refill any soaps and toilet paper rolls.
  15. Straighten outdoor furniture and sweep front porch and back patio. Be sure the front door and door handle are clean and easily accessible.
  16. Check the dryer one more time. (By this time, if there have been a lot of towels to clean, we usually have to call it quits for the day and take any damp towels home to dry for the next guests. This is why we have multiple sets of towels for the house.)
Wooden cart with plant and drinking water

There you have it – 16 easy steps to clean your home fast. OK I know 16 is a lot, and none of them are really easy, but at least now you have a plan, right? That’s gotta be worth something! Make life a little easier, and download your cleaning checklist (below) to keep on hand the first few times. After that, it’ll all become second nature.

Cleaning Resources

Cleaning a house isn’t rocket science, and for the most part you just need the basics like toilet cleaner and soft scrub, but there are a few products that can make the job easier and faster. These are a few of my favorite things when it comes to helping me with my cleaning. As with any job, having the right tools can make all the difference!

Cleaning caddy – especially useful for two story houses, so you can keep all your tools together and with you as you move around.

Glass cleaner foam – I just learned that I’ve been cleaning mirrors wrong all my life.

O’Cedar Spin Mop – this one is my favorite. It’s like a salad spinner for your mop!

Disposable gloves – because eww.

The other tool that’s worth mentioning is lint-free rags. We don’t use disposable wipes because that would be a lot of wipes going into the trash. Instead we use scrub brushes for the sinks and tubs, toilet brushes for the toilets, and rags for wiping down all other surfaces.

bathroom sink with soap pump

Then we just bring them home and wash them in between uses. Hopefully we’re doing something good for the environment, and it saves lots of money on product.

Vacation Rental Property Series

I hope this is helpful information for you as you’re getting your house ready for guests! This is the second in a series of four posts on vacation rental property management. Be sure to check out the others too:

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I’d love to hear from you if you have any quick cleaning tips, or just want to complain together about how much we hate cleaning! Leave me a comment below…


Saturday 9th of September 2023

Idk why you would sweep, mop or vacuum before you wiped all the window ledges down. Especially if there were dust,hair or bugs

Alice Buck

Saturday 29th of May 2021

Hi there I was wanting to know if air b&bs wash there duvet covers every cleaning or only if needed?

Stephanie C.

Monday 23rd of August 2021

@Alice Buck, hotels do not wash them every time, not even every other time. Just so everyone is aware. They can be sprayed down with a fabric sanitizer.I was a house keeper for a few different hotels. None of them wash them very often. I do suggest Odo Ban if anyone is interested in using fabric sanitizer!


Thursday 5th of August 2021

@Alice Buck, Would you want to sleep under or lay on or throw your shirt or jacket on a duvet someone else has rubbed their body, druelled, sweated, shedded and many other unmentionable things on? I have several units under my supervision and I always consider what I would expect, if I were staying there.

Anything that touches the bod-gets washed and sanitized. Covid is the one thing to worry about these days.

MiLana Hines

Monday 5th of October 2020

Great advice. You basically listed my routine.


Wednesday 7th of October 2020

That's great, glad to know I'm on the right track!


Tuesday 13th of August 2019

I use a swiffer sweeper with a thin washcloth attached to scrub shower walls and tubs, saves time and my back.


Monday 26th of August 2019

That's a great idea! I'll have to try that next time...


Tuesday 18th of June 2019

My mother and I are contemplating hosting an Airbnb property. A tip I have is to have an extra set of sheets. Have them laundered and ready to go before you head over to clean. Make the bed with those, and bring the dirty ones home to launder or launder them there if time allows. That way, you are not waiting to do laundry all day. You will only need to launder the towels. Pop them in first thing and then get started on the other things from your list.

Another thing you didn't mention, and I would like your thoughts on. I have stayed at several Airbnb or VRBO properties as a guest. Many of them ask guests to remove the bedding or place the towels in the washer as part of the check-out procedure. One even asked that we run the dishwasher and start the washer with the towels before be checked out. I was happy to do this, but I am not certain if that would be off-putting to guests. What are your thoughts?


Saturday 9th of September 2023

We ask all our guest to do so. Only had one complaint


Monday 4th of July 2022

@cindy cagle, can I ask what you charge for cleaning? I am cleaning a vacation condo for a friend and I want to make sure I charge fairly. Thank you for your insight. The condo is in Florida. 🌞

cindy cagle

Wednesday 21st of July 2021

@Alysa, I clean condos and my condos ask the guest to take the sheets off the beds and take their trash out . The washer is there so why not wash your towels ? It’s common curtesy to just pick up after yourselves.


Wednesday 19th of June 2019

That's a great idea about bringing clean sheets with you! In answer to your question, I think it would depend on the price I'm charging the guests. As BNBs become more competitive with the hospitality industry, they become more like luxury hotels. If the house is priced on the higher end, then I wouldn't want to ask guests to do much work, in keeping with a more luxury experience. If it's a more budget-style property, then I think guests would be willing to trade off a little housekeeping for getting a great deal on a place to stay. Great question!


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook