How to Outsource Vacation Rental Cleaning: A Complete Guide

Lizzie Griffin
Lizzie Griffin

February 21, 2024

You could be looking to outsource cleaning tasks to help guarantee the highest cleanliness standards, to help reduce costs during low season, or to free up more of your time as you focus on other areas of your business.

But finding a cleaning crew that’s familiar with the challenges of short-term rentals and coordinating their work around a fast-changing schedule of bookings is time-consuming and stressful. Also, it can bring about errors that impact revenue and the guest experience.

To outsource your vacation rental cleaning without experiencing any of these issues, you need high-performing operations, a fast and accurate scheduling process, and a simple and effective way to communicate what you need.

In this article, you’ll see how to do all the above:

  • We draw on expert advice on how to find the best cleaning services
  • You’ll see insights about creating a vacation rental cleaning contract
  • We talk about how to manage quality control and remote inspections
  • You’ll learn how to automate schedules and save time on team coordination

By implementing these strategies and tips, you’ll be able to outsource your cleaning with confidence, consistently deliver the service guests expect, and grow your business without the operational headaches that often come with managing third-party teams.

Automate scheduling and quality control
Breezeway connects with your booking calendar to coordinate, communicate, and verify standards. No missed cleans, costs saved, and a better guest experience.

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Why outsource cleaning for your short-term rental business?

It’s important to understand how outsourcing cleaning tasks can impact your operations and guest satisfaction, so here's a look at the benefits:

  • Increased expertise: Professional cleaners can help you avoid cleanliness issues if you require specialized cleaning tools or products, like stain removers, high-powered vacuums, or ozone generators (for example if you offer pet-friendly stays or have guests who smoke).
  • Time savings for management: Instead of closely managing in-house cleaning staff, you can redirect your focus to other critical areas of your business, such as customer service or marketing efforts.
  • Greater scalability: Outsourcing your cleaning helps you meet the operational needs of a growing portfolio without going through a lengthy hiring or training process as you look to take on more staff.
  • More cost-effective: You can avoid the ongoing expenses related to employee benefits and training with an outsourced team—though, hiring in-house is often more economical if you consistently have a high volume of cleaning needs (for example, if you manage an aparthotel with high occupancy rates).

Whether you're hiring internally or outsourcing your cleaning, you need to balance efficiency with maintaining high standards, which you can do with an STR ops management platform

As we discuss below, this automates tasks like creating cleaning schedules, messaging housekeepers, and running cleaning inspections, which helps you avoid mistakes like missed cleans, and allows you to focus on growing your business instead of managing day-to-day operations.

6 steps for outsourcing cleaning for your vacation rental business

From selecting the right service providers to establishing clear communication channels, here's a comprehensive guide to efficiently outsourcing your short-term rental (STR) cleaning. 

1. Research & select cleaning services

The best way to choose your cleaners is to base your decision-making on referrals from other vacation rental property managers you trust. 

Recommendations from private property owners can be useful, too, but there’s a big difference between cleaning a house and cleaning a vacation rental—as your cleaner needs to not only clean thoroughly but also adhere to the specific standards and quick turnaround times that are essential to your business.

So, as well as seeking out referrals from professional contacts, research cleaning services with experience in the vacation rental industry, as they'll be familiar with the expectations and nuances of preparing properties for new guests.

To do this, you can look at reviews and ratings on online platforms, such as:

  • Airtasker
  • Angi (formerly known as Angie’s List)
  • Thumbtack

Airtasker platform, showing a search for STR cleaningAirtasker gives cleaners the opportunity to bid for your work, so you can review their experience and client reviews.

Questions to ask a professional cleaning service provider

When hiring a professional cleaning service provider for your vacation rental, it's important to ask the right questions to ensure they meet your standards and operational needs. Here are five questions that can help provide you with important insights:

  1. What’s your experience with vacation rental properties?
    This question helps you gauge their understanding of the unique needs of vacation rentals, including quick turnovers and guest satisfaction.
  2. Can you provide references from other vacation rental managers?
    References offer insights into their reliability, quality of work, and ability to meet the specific demands of vacation rental cleaning.
  3. What’s your process for screening and selecting your cleaning staff?
    This helps you understand the provider's commitment to hiring trustworthy and reliable staff, including background checks and previous employment verification.
  4. How do you manage last-minute bookings or changes?
    Understanding their flexibility and responsiveness to unexpected changes is crucial for maintaining a smooth operation.
  5. What cleaning products and equipment do you use?
    This question ensures their cleaning practices align with your standards, especially if you have preferences for eco-friendly or specific cleaning products.

Once you find a cleaner or cleaning company you trust, you need to manage that relationship carefully so a) they’re happy to continue working with you and b) they demand as little management time from you as possible. We look at how to do this using cleaning management software, below.

To see more insights on how to develop a cleaning team you can rely on, see our article on finding and managing Airbnb cleaners, where we share insights from Suzanne Hacker, vacation rental business coach and CEO and Founder of Welcoming Wow.

2. Create a vacation rental cleaning contract

You may feel you don’t need an STR cleaning contract if you’re only managing a small number of vacation rentals, but as your business grows, you’ll need to:

  • Clarify your expectations in a way that’s scalable across multiple property types and locations
  • Define your cleaners’ responsibilities, such as turnovers, mid-stay cleans, last-minute cleans, callbacks, recurring deep cleans, basic maintenance, and linen washing
  • Explain your operational processes, for example your methods of communication, use of technology, how you provide property access, and your inspection workflow
  • Standardize your task tracking, invoicing, and payment processes
  • Establish an agreed procedure for contract termination

Given the complexities of legal agreements and the potential for misunderstandings, it's best to seek professional legal advice when drafting your contract. A legal expert familiar with the vacation rental industry can help tailor your contract to cover all bases, including liability issues, service level agreements, and compliance with local regulations. 

This provides protection to your business, but also strengthens the relationship with your cleaning service providers by clearly defining roles and expectations, minimizing the risk of disputes, and ensuring a consistent operation across your growing portfolio.

Professional cleaning contract templateA contract becomes increasingly important to your business as you scale operations.

Download Breezeway’s free vacation rental cleaning contract template.

3. Make a vacation rental cleaning checklist for each unit

Cleaning checklists help you consistently deliver a welcoming environment that meets, or even exceeds, guest expectations. Plus, you can use checklists to simplify and streamline your management processes, so you save time and reduce your workload.

A well-structured cleaning checklist helps you standardize housekeeping across your portfolio—even with outsourced cleaners you haven’t worked with before—making it scalable and efficient. This ensures every property meets the same high-quality standards, regardless of its location or size.

And, with the right tools, a checklist streamlines communication between you and your cleaning teams, reducing misunderstandings, and ensuring no task is overlooked. On top of this, you can use your cleaning checklists to support other related tasks, like task tracking and property inspections.

For example, with Breezeway’s digital cleaning checklists and cleaner’s mobile app, you can: 

  • Tailor your requirements to the unique needs of each property, booking type, and guest. This includes customizations for each unit and special checklists for homeowner stays.
  • Share representative photos so cleaners have a clear example of how you wish to present the property to guests.
  • Time-track cleaning tasks to review costs, optimize scheduling, and oversee unit status in real time within your manager’s dashboard.  
  • See uploaded photos of completed turnovers, which you can use for remote inspections and to keep as a record of your service standards.

Breezeway mobile app showing cleaning task with checklistA digital cleaning checklist allows you to manage quality control across multiple cleaning teams, units, and stays.

Learn more:
Nopali Properties uses Breezeway for its virtual checklists and inspection tools, team communication, and task assignment features.

"...for us, it was a need to have inspections because of the high number of same-day reservations (61%). I had to build out systems to protect ourselves, our property, and our cleaners, and the easiest way to do that was with virtual inspections," -David, professional real estate investor.

Result: 4.99/5 rating on Airbnb and 8 hours saved weekly.
Read the case study

4. Automate scheduling with operations management software

Vacation rental bookings can be very fluid, with late reservation changes, special requests, and last-minute bookings. So, coordinating with an outsourced cleaning team can quickly become a complex task—in the worst-case scenario, a weakness in your scheduling or communication processes can lead to a missed clean or two cleaners being dispatched to the same unit.

Automated scheduling tackles this by dynamically adjusting to booking changes, guaranteeing that cleaning assignments are accurately updated and communicated in real time. This not only streamlines operations but also minimizes the risk of errors, helping you achieve a seamless turnover for every guest stay.

Here’s how it works with Breezeway:

  1. Breezeway connects with your property management system (PMS) and/or online travel agency (OTA).
  2. You apply your customized rules for each unit, including property-specific information, cleaning staff details, and requirements for different kinds of cleans and guest.
  3. When a booking is confirmed, the cleaning schedule is updated, based on check-in and check-out times, cleaner availability, and your customized rules.
  4. Cleaners access their schedules and cleaning checklists using the mobile app.

By automating your cleaning schedules, you save hours on manual tasks, eliminate human error, and make your business more responsive to guest needs—which can help you create more opportunities to generate revenue.

As well as automating task coordination, you can use Breezeway to track inventory and manage supplies, create recurring tasks at monthly intervals, and manage property access with smart locks—all key areas of ops management that can become more complicated when you outsource your cleaning.

Breezeway vacation rental dashboardA comprehensive operations management platform automates schedules and gives you clear visibility of unit status across your entire portfolio.

5. Use STR software to streamline communication

By using a mobile app that’s integrated with your vacation rental operations management tool, your outsourced cleaners can:

  • See cleaning schedules based on your latest booking information
  • Access property-specific cleaning checklists
  • Upload photos of their completed tasks
  • Time-track their work

But you still need a way to manage ad-hoc tasks that can occur as the result of special guest requests, maintenance matters like broken lamps or faulty appliances, and callbacks because the guest has noticed an issue with the cleaning—and your operations management software can help with this, too.

Breezeway’s solution is to let you create and assign work orders within your guest chat view, where you manage all your guest messaging. This saves you from having to switch platforms or search out contact details—then you can keep your guest informed as you communicate with your maintenance or cleaning teams to get the problem resolved as soon as possible.

Likewise, it needs to be simple for housekeepers to report any issues they notice while carrying out turnovers and other tasks. With Breezeway, they can do it all in the mobile app—so, even if they’re an outsourced cleaner that’s new to your processes, they can easily add a note and photo to explain the problem.

 Breezeway platform showing work coordinationCleaners can quickly report issues; you can manage work orders and message guests in the same chat; and your default maintenance team is automatically notified.

Learn more:
Biloxi Beach Resort Rentals started using Breezeway to capture and report issues, streamlining the assignment process for maintenance.

"My employees love Breezeway. It's easy to use and reduces unnecessary back and forth. Things don't slip through the cracks," -Jacqueline Wilson, President and CEO.

Result: 60% reduction in property-related inquiries and $1000s saved annually.
Read the case study

Vacation rental operations that save you time and reduce costs

Outsourcing your vacation rental cleaning doesn't have to be fraught with operational challenges—you can: 

  • Access online platforms to review and compare the suitability of different cleaning services
  • Download a template to create a standard cleaning contract for your business
  • Use STR software to share customized cleaning checklists, communicate with housekeepers, and manage work orders
  • Automate cleaning schedules to avoid human error and be responsive to last-minute changes

These strategies not only help you consistently deliver the highest standards of cleanliness despite working with an outsourced team, but also reduce your day-to-day workload of manual tasks, so you can spend more time on growing your business.

Automate scheduling and quality control
Breezeway connects with your booking calendar to coordinate, communicate, and verify standards. No missed cleans, costs saved, and a better guest experience.

Book a Demo