How to Prepare Your Home for Airbnb, VRBO, or Other Short-Term Guests


You can’t just hand over the keys when you rent your home to a short term guest. There are a handful of critical items that need to be taken care of before collecting money for having someone stay at your place.

When people stay at your Airbnb or VRBO they arrive expecting the service and product on par with a hotel so thinking like a hotel manager when preparing your place will go a long way to setting you up for success.

Airbnb and VRBO ask guests to rate their stay with you on these criteria:

  • Listing Accuracy

  • Cleanliness

  • Communication

  • Check In

  • Location

  • Value

  • Overall Experience

… and like everything these days, your rating is displayed prominently on your listing so you have to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders to drive as much business as possible to your place.

Clean your home

First and foremost is to make sure your place is clean - not just your version of clean (tidy) - seriously clean. Bathrooms… including grout in the tub, the sides/base/behind the toilet, ceiling fan/vent that little drain hole on the upper part of the sink… everything. Get in to your drawers and wipe them out - getting any hair or dried toothpaste. Empty the trash can and wash it out.

Same goes for the kitchen… don’t forget your fridge. Wipe out produce drawers, throw out old food, and make space for guests to buy things and put them in there. Get under the sink, organize it and clean up any grime. Have a vent or hood in your kitchen? Clean that too - get all the grease off that thing. Get in to your drawers and organize them as much as you can and don’t forget to wipe them out too.

The living room and bedroom need to be vacuumed, dusted and clutter put away. Seriously, think like a hotel when you’re doing this. Everyone… I mean everyone, has a different definition of “clean”. Do more than you think you need to do. It can’t hurt. And if that’s too much to ask, hire someone to do it for you…. because you can add a cleaning fee to your listing that the guest pays for.

Fix broken items

A/C not working? Sticky lock? Get it fixed or tell your guests up front that there is an issue. No one likes surprises, especially if they’re paying good money to stay at your place when there are many others to choose from.

Put away your valuables

Do you have an expensive wine collection on display or valuable antiques/family heirlooms? How about important documents, passports, banking information? Lock them upon a close, storage unit or drawer. Don’t have a drawer that locks? Use your locking mailbox or leave it with a friend or neighbor.

Equipping your home

Your home should be outfitted with everything that your guests might need to make their stay comfortable. Again, thinking like a hotel manager is helpful here. Which essentials are in a hotel room that translate here?

  • Clean, unstained and unworn sheets and towels

  • A mattress that is in good condition (you should also use a mattress pad or cover)

  • Extra pillows and blankets

  • Ironing board and iron

  • A place to hang and store clothes with extra hangers

  • Bathroom essentials - shampoo, conditioner, soap (unused/unopened containers UNLESS you’re using and refilling large format bottles), extra toilet paper and tissue

  • Coffee and tea

  • Fast, functional Wifi

A few other essentials in a full home are:

  • Dishes and cutlery

  • Pots and pans

  • Toaster

  • Cooking tools and utensils

  • Basic cooking essentials like salt, pepper, cooking oil, butter

  • Cleaning supplies like dish soap, bleach, sponges, kitchen towels, paper towels, trash bags

Don’t forget safety items:

  • Fire extinguisher (fully charged)

  • Basic first-aid kit (fully stocked)

  • Functioning fire and carbon monoxide alarm

Extras that enhance the stay

You can really get creative here. There are a ton of other things you can provide to make guests stay that much better:

  • A hair dryer

  • Basic food in the refrigerator/cupboard like milk, juice, cereal or bread

  • Beach towels and supplies if you’re near a beach or have a pool

  • Board games and playing cards

  • A selection of DVDs or instructions to use a streaming service like Netflix

  • Guidebooks and maps to the area

You can even go the extra mile and leave a welcome amenity for your guests like a bottle of wine, chocolates from a local shop, fresh fruit, etc.

The Welcome Book

Last but not least, leave a detailed welcome book for your guests that outlines your house policies, host contact information, emergency information, etc. Check out our post on how to create the perfect vacation rental welcome book that your guests will actually read.

Proper planning and execution will show your guest that you care about their experience. You’re not running the Four Seasons here, but you are trying to set the bar a little higher than normal which will definitely put you far ahead of most vacation rentals out there - earning you better reviews and more money in your pocket.