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The Expert Cleaning Process That Ensures You Never Miss a Spot

Posted By: Astrid Lindstrom

[:en]Every outstanding housekeeper has two characteristics: speed and quality. In other words, they work quickly and are able to meet the standards set by the property manager.

How do housekeepers develop speed and quality? They have a repeatable process that they use no matter the size of the property.

I teach a seminar on how to clean properties the right way, and I’m going to share my tried and tested Cleaning Process, which we always use with the Follow the Wall methodology as shown below:


The Cleaning Process has four steps:

  • Prepare the Property
  • Make the Beds
  • Clean
  • Place the Towels and Amenities

These steps allow the housekeeper to have the same set of tasks every time to ensure consistency. It also makes a large job less intimidating. There’s an old joke about this: you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

The same goes for cleaning a property. How do you clean a vacation rental? One step at a time.

The individual steps in the Cleaning Process are:

1. Prepare the property

Using the follow the wall methodology throughout,

  • Gather the dirty laundry
  • Collect the trash and dispose of it
  • Gather the dirty dishes
  • Report any damage
  • Distinguish between clean and dirty by leaving signals for what is dirty, such as:
    • drawers – if the inside is dirty leave them open; if clean then closed
    • cabinet doors – if the inside is dirty leave them open; if clean then closed
    • sofa cushions if cushions are dirty, turn the cushions up on their side; if clean put them back in place

Distinguishing between clean and dirty helps the housekeeper be more efficient. It doesn’t take long to walk through and find each dirty item if you’ve left signals for yourself, but it would take longer to stop in between tasks to check if each  item needs cleaning.

2. Make the Beds

This is a psychological trick that makes it much easier to complete a clean quickly. Making the beds is a time-consuming task, but once it’s done, the whole room looks much cleaner. It’s easier to quickly move on to the next task when you feel like you’re almost done!

3. Clean

Using the Follow the Wall pattern once again, use the appropriate cleaning products on the correct surface. Clean only items that you signaled to yourself were dirty. You already checked once, so there’s no need to waste time checking again.

4. Place Towels and Amenities

Use your company’s Standard Property Appearance document. Every company has a preferred way they like towels and amenities to be arranged. If your company doesn’t have a Standard Property Appearance document, you can take a photo for your own reference so that you know you’re delivering the quality your company expects every time.

Save Time and Avoid Mistakes

When using the Follow the Wall and the Cleaning Process, you will have gone through each room of the property four different times. Considering we’re trying to improve the  speed of the cleaning process, you might think that’s too many repetitions.

In fact, using these methods actually saves you time. When you don’t have a consistent method, you’re moving like a pinball in a pinball machine – bouncing from room to room without pattern. This haphazard approach means it’s easy to forget tasks.

With the Cleaning Process and Follow the Wall, you’ll move quickly and efficiently through one step at a time, and you never forget any of your tasks.

A housekeeper’s job is physically demanding and mentally exhausting. Breaking the cleaning down into simple steps allows you to focus on specific tasks as you clean so you never get overwhelmed.

Durk Johnson has over 15 years of experience as a leading authority in the vacation rental housekeeping industry. Currently he serves as the executive director of Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP), a national organization that specializes in housekeeping principles and procedures. 

Properly is a changeover management tool that provides property managers with access to an exclusive network of vetted and verified cleaning services. Talk to our Customer Success team to learn how Properly can make it easy for you to get the quality clean you need every time – whether you use your own service or need an expert referral. [:]

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