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Holiday Let Cottage Changeover & Cleaning Checklist

Reading Time: 7 minutes


It often feels like changeover days have to be carried out with military precision, or they end up chaotic and stressful. Especially in the high season when you literally have one guest out and the next guest in. You’re up against the clock to do a diligent clean, check for damage, restock the fridge, toiletries and round up discarded items from the last guests.

The number one cause of guest complaints is cleanliness – so don’t cut corners with your changeover cleaning. You only get one chance to make a good first impression and amidst a global pandemic, cleanliness is more important to guests than ever. You never know when you will get a picky guest who will leave a bad review because they found dust on a picture frame or crumbs lurking under the toaster.

We’ve put together this comprehensive changeover checklist to ensure that you don’t miss any of the essential touches that will make your holiday let the perfect home-from-home for your next guests.

Are you going to clean yourself or hire a cleaner?

The first decision you need to make is whether you’re going to do the cleaning yourself or hire a cleaner.

Although doing the cleaning yourself can cut down on expenses, it only makes sense if you can commit to a thorough clean after every rental. If you can’t, you need to think about hiring a cleaner.

There’s an art to cleaning a home well and hiring a cleaner who has experience cleaning holiday cottages can take the stress out of the process. They can follow your cleaning checklist and even use a cleaning app. This post has some useful tips on how to choose a holiday let cleaner.

Allocate tasks for efficiency

If your changeover team consists of more than one person, then each person should be allocated tasks before they arrive to ensure there is no delay making decisions on who does what.

One person should handle the maintenance, check for damage, fix anything and tackle the deeper clean tasks like the barbeque, oven and replenishing of products. That leaves your other team member to get on with the main tasks at hand – beds, bathrooms, floors, etc.

If you have tasks, such as gardening or window cleaning, these will add quite a bit of time to your busy schedule. In this case, it’s a good idea to get an extra pair of hands and outsource to a local company. These chores only need to be completed once a month or so. Try and schedule these when guests aren’t around.

Invest in the best

Investing in tools like a steam cleaner, really can save you a lot of time during changeover cleans and leave your home looking cleaner and fresher than just using mops. Plus, at the end of the season, you can use them to clean curtains, carpets and upholstery.

Coronavirus deep cleaning tips for holiday rentals

Providing a safe and clean property has always been one of the highest priorities for holiday let owners and managers. It’s now more important than ever to re-evaluate your cleaning procedures and take measures to clean and disinfect your rental as we aim to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are some ‘coronavirus cleansing’ tips to protect your cleaners and guests.

The changeover checklist

If you only have a 3-4 hour changeover window (or less) it’s essential you tackle the biggest and most important tasks as a priority.

The first thing most owners do is read any new reviews in the guestbook, then it’s time to get started.

Do a visual check of the property for any damage, stains, missing items or if your holiday home was left excessively dirty. Take photos as evidence, you may need it at a later date if you are deducting from a security deposit.


  • Wipe down worktops, sink, units, chairs, tables and baby equipment.
  • Clean appliances (oven, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, toaster, coffee machine) and check they are working. Hard to clean items such as the oven and barbeque should be tackled early on during the changeover, as you may need to apply a cleaning fluid and leave it to soak while you get on with other tasks.
  • Sweep and mop the floor.
  • Organise cupboards and remove any old food.
  • Restock washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, bin bags, dishcloths and replenish hand soap.
  • Put out 2 clean tea towels and clean cloth napkins.
  • Empty bins and disinfect.
  • Wipe place mats and coasters.
  • Check cutlery, pots, pans, crockery, glassware and utensils for grime, breakages or chips.
  • Clean out crumbs in drawers and bread bin.


  • Dust and wipe over all the surfaces – furniture, blinds, picture frames, shelves, window sills, skirting boards, ornaments, lamps and get rid of any glass rings.
  • Inspect carpets, rugs and soft furnishings for stains.
  • Vacuum furniture, including under the couch cushions (empty vacuum cleaner bag if necessary).
  • Remove any cobwebs – check corners.
  • Clean windows, any internal glass doors and mirrors.
  • Empty the wastebasket.
  • Check remotes and batteries.
  • Clean the log stove, replace the fuel and set ready for lighting.
  • Throw out any surplus magazines.
  • Floors should be one of the last jobs on your list. Sweeping, mopping or steaming is a relatively quick job. You can almost finish up on your way out the door.


  • Remove leftover toiletries.
  • Empty bin.
  • Wipe down units and countertop.
  • Clean shower, bath, sink (use grout cleaner if needed).
  • Remove any plughole debris.
  • Check silicone for mould/pink stains.
  • Clean mirror.
  • Shine taps.
  • Clean toilet, check flushing and seats aren’t wobbly.
  • Wipe bath mat.
  • Mop floor.
  • Restock liquid hand soap, toiletries and toilet paper.
  • Supply clean towels (check for stains on used).
  • Double check the plumbing for leaks or potential problems.
  • Check the bathroom fan is working and not noisy.


  • Stripping and making the beds should be one of the main tasks, especially if you have to wash the linen while you get on with other jobs. It is a good plan to have at least three sets of sheets and towels. Preferably Egyptian cotton.
  • Check for wear and tear, wetness or stains on linen, mattress covers, throws and pillows.
  • Check under the bed and in drawers for personal belongings left by guests.
  • Vacuum the floor and under beds.
  • Dust furniture, clean mirrors and windows.

Exterior & garden

  • Clean outdoor furniture and disinfect any outdoor eating areas/tables.
  • Check for dog muck if you are pet-friendly.
  • Check play equipment isn’t damaged.
  • Clean barbeque, ensure tools are clean and there is enough gas/fuel for next guests.
  • Make sure paths are clean and not slippery.
  • Pull weeds, trim bushes, mow the lawn and remove debris from the garden.
  • If you have a hot-tub, check the water, chemicals and that it’s working properly. Don’t forget to inspect the cover for damage. Follow the relevant health and safety checks (you can find out more here). However, it’s a good idea to outsource maintenance to qualified professionals.


  • Are the washer and dryer empty and clean?
  • Clean out the dryer fluff filter.
  • Check there are enough pegs.
  • Check the clothes airer and ironing board function ok.
  • Restock washing machine detergent.

Is everything working?


  • Heating/hot water.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Light bulbs, inside and out.
  • TV channels.
  • DVD.
  • AC.
  • Oil/gas tank – (check levels).

Pet-friendly cottages

  • Clean the pet bed, food/drinking bowl.
  • Include dog treats in the welcome pack.
  • Provide map with local dog walks.
  • Provide stair gates if required.
  • Cover couches with throws.
  • Provide cleaning towels.

Safety checks

It’s important to ensure that your property not only looks perfect but is also safe for guests. Look out for hazards and remove anything broken or not safe: loose carpets or rugs, broken light switches, slippery steps or wobbly handrails. In addition to Portable Alliance Testing (PAT), visually check your electrical appliances are safe to use. Look out for cuts in wires and any other signs of damage. Replace faulty items immediately.

It is also vital that you test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working. Check the fire extinguisher and fire blanket can be located easily.

Instructions for guests pre-checkout

Make sure the arrival and departure times are clear in the booking contract, or you could be in for a nasty surprise when you come to do a quick turnaround clean and find them still packing or eating breakfast.

Asking your guests to perform a few simple tasks before they depart can reduce the amount of work and save you a lot of time in the long run.

For example:

  • Leave used towels in the bathtub or laundry basket.
  • Empty the bins, take out rubish and remove any opened and perishable food.
  • Return any furniture to its original location.
  • Wash and put away any dirty dishes or load and run the dishwasher.
  • Check drawers to make sure no valuables are left behind.
  • Turn off the lights.
  • Close windows and lock the doors.
  • Leave the key.
  • Remember to send them a thank you message.

Staging the property

  • Check the guest information folder is intact.
  • Leave a welcome pack if the guests are due to arrive soon. It’s a good idea to make up welcome packs beforehand, so you’re not running around buying gifts at the last minute.
  • Before you leave the property check external doors and windows are locked.
  • Leave the key in key safe and change the key code after each visit as it is likely to be a requirement of your holiday letting insurance.
  • Ensure the lighting, hot water and heating are on to welcome imminent guests (depending on the season). Makes a great first impression.

Carry out a deep clean at least twice a year

A deep clean will be required at least twice a year, this maintenance checklist should help. Use this opportunity to replace any items that are damaged or show signs of wear and tear. However, you can reduce wear and tear if you keep up on little projects throughout the year.

If you are shutting down your holiday home over winter, here is a checklist of what you will need to do to keep your holiday home in tip top condition.

Useful tips to remove stains

You will inevitabily discover stubborn stains that will need dealing with during the limited time you have to prepare your holiday rental for incoming guests. When you do, refer to these top tips to remove stains quickly.

To summarise

A structured changeover checklist allows you or your housekeeper to tackle the cleaning with military precision. This helps avoid complaints, means happy guests, and happy guests write great reviews.

Plus, if you ever need a new cleaner your checklist ensures they have all the information they need to ensure the property is spotless for incoming guests.

Useful tips:

How to make towel animals (video)

Helpful housekeeping book

Please help other holiday cottage owners by sharing your changeover tips in the comments.


The essential changeover checklist for holiday cottages


  • Ian Horsfield |

    Very helpful and supportive. I’ll be contacting for a quote come renewal.

  • Suzy |

    Two tips;

    The quickest and most effective way for sparkling, streak-free glass and mirrors. A clean dish or bucket with hot water (absolutely no detergents or cleaning fluids), a roll of kitchen paper and a clean, soft cloth (again no trace of detergents). Using rubber gloves so the water can be very hot, wipe the window with the hot, wet cloth. Before the glass dries (most important) wipe away the surface moisture with the paper towel and polish with a new piece of paper. Never fails.

    This is more a ‘maintenance’ job;
    To remove mould stains from bathroom sealant. Ordinary household bleach and kitchen paper. Tear the paper into 1 inch strips and fold each in half, lengthways. Using rubber gloves, pour undiluted bleach along the length of the sealant where the stains are and immediately place the paper strips on the bleach to prevent it running away. Make sure the paper is soaked in bleach and is positioned over the stains. Leave overnight. Remove paper the next morning and the stains will be gone.

    • Philip |

      Thanks for sharing your tips Suzy.

  • Tracey |

    I’m looking for a chalet cleaner in the Hemsby area ? To clean on the change overs of guests . I don’t know if you can help or you know who I can get in contact with .
    Many Thanks
    Tracey .

  • Rick Bond |

    As ever, a thoughtfully prepared article for property owners.

    We have a 17century thatched cottage, which means that it gets more than its fair share of spiders (all thatched cottages do). So, one item on our list for changeovers is cobwebbing – getting to the high corners of ceilings in particular. With a long-poled feather brush, it doesn’t take long and keeps the spiders completely at bay.

    The other suggestion I have, bourne of experience, is to check the dishwasher before you do anything else. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found it stacked with dirty dishes. Checking it first means you can run a complete cycle while you are cleaning the rest of the house.

    • Philip |

      Good point about the dishwasher – the oven also. I’ve read about food being left in the oven!

      Any tips on how to deter spiders?

  • Dawn Banner |

    Conkers on the window sills deter spiders

  • Debbie |

    If a customer is staying a few weeks or months how often as should the holiday lodge be cleaned

    • Philip |

      For a 7 day booking properties are typically cleaned and the end of the week.

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