9 Things to Know About Vacation Rental Upkeep

You’ve heard it time and again: maintaining a well-organized and spotless beach vacation rental is not just crucial for your reputation; it’s a cornerstone of your financial success. We don’t mean to be repetitive, but cleaning and maintenance should sit right at the summit of your priority list as a property owner.

Trust us, the upkeep of a beach rental is a unique realm, distinct from managing your own home. With a steady stream of guests, every beach property necessitates more frequent cleaning and care.

Now, you might be thinking, does this sound akin to running a hotel? Not exactly. Beach rentals come with their own array of spaces – kitchens, dining rooms, outdoor areas, and more. This diversity necessitates specific rules and procedures.

At Carolina Beach Realty, we firmly believe that a missed spot is synonymous with missed revenue – and possibly many missed dollars. If a guest were to leave a review about a poorly maintained or unclean beach rental, prospective guests reading it might develop a negative impression.

To assist you in your pursuit of beach rental excellence, we’re sharing nine of our rules as Carolina Beach and Kure Beach property managers for effective cleaning and maintenance, ensuring your property shines, and your guests revel in a memorable beach vacation experience.

1. We draw a line between routine cleaning and deep cleaning


We always strive to provide guests with an immaculate experience, but conducting a deep clean after each checkout is time-consuming and extremely costly. Instead, we opt for routine cleaning while reserving deep cleans for select times throughout the year.

But what exactly is the difference?

  • Routine cleaning

    Routine cleaning is a practical and efficient approach that targets the most visible aspects of your cabin. The aim is to ensure it looks flawless when a new guest checks in, just like the pictures on the listing.

Yes, routine cleaning is a little lighter, but that doesn’t mean it’s not thorough. Cleaning staff should keep a watchful eye for any missing or damaged items. They should also double-check the supply of plates, cups, and other essential amenities. Should they come across anything in need of replenishment or repair, they need to report to you.

During a routine clean, there’s one main enemy to battle: hair. Always arm your cleaners with a sticky roller and tell them to be extra vigilant — not only for the strands of others but also their own.

  • Deep cleaning

    Once or twice a year there comes a moment when the need arises for some heavy lifting. This means cleaning under heavy appliances and furniture, dusting all the blinds and fans, checking walls and ceilings for cobwebs, and treating the wood, among other things.

Deep cleans ensure your cabin remains in impeccable condition and it helps to prevent significant maintenance issues down the line. Still, they demand considerably more effort and cost at least three times higher than a regular cleaning session. You’ll also need to plan on blocking your cabin for a day or two.

At Carolina Beach Realty we like to deep clean at least once a year (in Jan/Feb slow times), but if your property has a high turnover, it may be better to double the frequency and do another one in Aug/Sept before the winter rush. We also like to have an independent inspector go after a deep clean just to be sure it’s performed up to our standards. With a 1BR deep clean costing at least $350, it’s important that it’s money well spent.

2. Trust the Pros

While personally taking charge and handling all cleaning tasks may be tempting, we prefer to redirect our energy elsewhere. Instead, we trust the services of professional cleaning companies and/or freelance experts to keep our cabins spotless. (At Carolina Beach Realty we have our “in house” group, but as an independent owner you won’t)

Housekeeping is complex and it requires meticulous attention to countless details, hence the pros are the best ones to tackle it. By relying on their trained eye and skills, you can rest assured that every detail, from restocking amenities to maintaining inventory, will be handled with care.

In our experience as Carolina/Kure Beach property managers, it’s good to get an outside group to come in from your regular crew to get that second set of eyes looking in on the place. If you’ve got over 4.9* this rule can be bent or if you think it may cause too much heartburn from your crew, but there are obvious advantages to getting an outside group helping.

3. We value our staff and involve them in our business

Knowing the value of your cleaning staff is essential for success. You can think of them as the pillars of your business and your best allies to identify anything wrong with your property (without leaving a review, that is).

Some hosts like to offer bonuses tied to earnings. This can indeed be a powerful way to get cleaners motivated. However, if this is not your preference, you can still find other creative methods to reward their hard work.

At Carolina Beach Realty, we like to involve our cleaning staff directly in the biz, making sure they understand how important they are for our revenue. By making them feel valued and appreciated, we inspire them to take pride and ownership of what they do. They have a direct link to our support system, logging in any issues they find during their daily cleans. We also choose to pay above average rates and expect above average results.

4. We give feedback


It’s Business 101 that constructive feedback is a cost-effective method to enhance productivity and drive results. With cleaning, it’s no different. Providing detailed feedback and instructions is a way to boost professional growth and morale as well as ignite motivation. This is how you establish a collaborative relationship with your cleaners, which will certainly result in better outcomes.

However, remember that good communication is never a one-way street. It is crucial to actively listen to your staff and understand the challenges they face on-site. Offer support and guidance when needed, but also recognize that they have the expertise in their craft, so trust what they have to say.


5. We give them a helping hand

You can also give your staff a hand and help streamline their process. One way we find effective is by providing cleaning supplies for your guests to use during their stay. Offer items like dish liquid and sponges and extra garbage bags and they are likely to use them before leaving the rental. 

This is a small investment that can help with the effectiveness of cleaning. Also, implementing small cleaning rules for guests to follow before check out, such as taking out the trash and washing the dishes, is a great way to speed up the cleaning process.

We have the guest send a text that says “check out” to our automated system. When that happens we instantly text the cleaners to let them know the cabin is open for cleaning. This allows them to get a jump on their day.

6. We create checklists & cleaning manuals

Cleaning staff rotates very often, and they’re not robots; they may forget certain tasks. Providing them with checklists and procedure manuals helps clarify your expectations and ensures they don’t overlook any crucial tasks.

Consider creating a checklist that outlines all the essentials that need to be completed between guest stays. You can also include a separate checklist for minor things that often go overlooked, like cleaning the inside of the fridge and microwave and removing hair from the shower.

For more complex tasks, you can include some sort of visual aid, such as photographs or instruction videos. These can show both the process and your expected result. It’s easy to share them with cleaners nowadays since everyone carries a smartphone.

If your cleaning crew speaks a different language, providing instructions in their mother tongue can foster effective communication and understanding — and once more you’ll make them feel valued.

Also, to keep your cabin looking fresh, it’s important to establish a proper cleaning and maintenance routine. Beyond checklists, developing systems that outline when and how to perform specific tasks will be very helpful for you and your crew.

7. We buy supplies in bulk

Considering that rental properties generally demand more cleaning than a regular home, it helps to keep a generous amount of cleaning products on hand. We, for one, like to buy them in bulk as this saves a lot of costs in the long run. 

Some retailers will let you buy everything online in bulk at great discounts, and they let you reorder the same product easily in the future, which saves a lot of time. 

Also, maintaining a steady supply of cleaning products means you’ll always be well-equipped to handle any unique cleaning needs that may arise, which not only helps with cleanliness but also leaves a positive impression on your guests.

8. We perform preventive maintenance

It’s not all about cleaning; it’s also about maintaining your cabin. We like to take the route of proactive preventive maintenance. This means conducting regular inspections and repairs to address potential issues before they escalate into costly problems.

Beyond the basic tasks like replacing batteries in smoke detectors, smart locks, and remote controls, consider scheduling periodic professional inspections and maintenance in your cabin. This may involve cleaning gutters and air filters, checking the HVAC system, implementing pest control measures, and conducting roof inspections. We also require a yearly fire safety inspection to make sure all the detectors and extinguishers are in proper working order. By staying diligent in preventive maintenance, hosts also keep a secure and comfortable environment for their guests.

Our motto is: don’t delay, address it right away. Neglecting regular maintenance can cost a hefty price.

9. We leverage tech

breezeway image

In our tech-driven era, you can leverage online solutions to streamline cleaning processes for your cabins and ensure efficiency. 

If you’re dealing with a significant number of units, using the tool we use, Breezeway, can save a lot of time and make cleaning and maintenance management across all your properties a breeze. With task management tools, for instance, you can set reminders for essential maintenance and upkeep tasks, like filter replacements and so on. And you can choose fixed intervals or set the alarm for a certain number of guest stays.

Not just for cleaning and maintenance, but for every other aspect of your business, embracing tech for short-term rentals can be a game-changer.

At Carolina Beach Realty we take it one step further. We have our task management system tied directly to our scheduling system and all of that shows up in a custom-build phone app that our cleaners and maintenance staff use. The apps also allow the team to directly comment on tasks they’re working on or create new tasks for things they see that need to be addressed.

Contact us today to see how our Kure/Carolina Beach property management can get to work for you!