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cleaning tips

12 Great Uses For Baking Soda in Your Airbnb

 

One of the most important parts of running a successful Airbnb is keeping your cleanliness ratings high! It’s easy to think you need an arsenal of cleaning products at your disposal, but I’ve found baking soda to be my number one go-to for messes and smells that come from your guests. And best of all, it’s extremely cost effective. Almost all twelve of these tips use baking soda alone, or paired with simple accessories like a sponge, water, or some vinegar!

 

1. Deodorize your fridge and freezer.

We’ll start with the easiest and most common! The fridge and freezer are notorious for picking up smells of everything your guest buys or cooks during the week, and we know how the smells seem to multiply in there! Without the option of keeping the doors open to ventilate, an open box of baking soda placed in the fridge and freezer can go a long way towards keeping your Airbnb smelling fresh for your next guest. I would replace these every 6-12 weeks, depending on how busy your Airbnb is.

2. Freshen your rugs.

No matter how often you vacuum, it’s easy to begin to pick up smells in the carpet after time. While we encourage you to put bi-annual carpet shampooing on your fall and spring cleaning lists, sprinkling baking soda on the rugs before vacuuming each time is an excellent way to extend the freshness of your rugs between shampoos! This can quickly soak up the worst of smells- I would recommend sprinkling baking soda on the rug for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming.

3. Brighten, clean, and extend the life of your linens!

Even the toughest of stains can be helped with a little TLC; and of course, baking soda. Adding a cup of baking soda to your linens load will not only brighten your dingy whites, but when used with a liquid detergent, can actually balance pH levels to get your laundry cleaner!

4. Remove baked on residue from pots + pans.

Get your greasy, hard to clean pots and pans soaking in hot water, two large tablespoons of baking soda, and a small amount of liquid dish detergent. Let it sit there to loosen up some of the debris for about 20 minutes (or until water grows cool), then put a little baking soda on your sponge and scrub away! The mild abrasive of the baking soda scrub will remove the rest of the stubborn caked on food bits.

5. Deodorize your trash can.

If there’s one thing we notice as hosts, it can be the amount of trash a guest can go through during their stay. Inevitably pieces of food or other garbage will slip down in between the liner and the can. This can lead to an unpleasant smell that can be off putting to future guests. To help avoid smelly problems, clean out the trash bin of debris, then sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the bottom of the can before the trash bag liner goes in.

6. Shine tarnished silver.

Is your silverware taking a beating? An easy way to clean up any tarnish accruing on your silverware (or any other kitchen item made of silver,) is to combine three parts baking soda to one part water. Lightly scrub at the tarnish with your baking soda, rinse off, then dry off with a microfiber cloth or something similar to keep water spots from forming.

7. Easy oven cleaner.

The oven: possibly one of the hardest items to clean up after guests! Without fail, at one point in your Airbnb-ing you will come in after a guest and see baked, crusted on items coating your wire racks and the bottom of your oven. Fear not! Spray water onto all of your offending surfaces, then sprinkle baking soda liberally on top of any food debris. Let it sit for as long as you can; if you have another guest arriving the same day, start the baking soda right when you start cleaning your unit, and leave the scrubbing for last. When you have a day where no one is coming in for at least 24 hours, coat the baking soda paste all over the oven, and let it sit overnight.

8. Unclog your sink or shower drain.

As the daughter of a plumber, I have been warned against the perils of Drano and the like. It may work for small clogs, but the toxicity of the product you’re putting down the drain is both bad for your plumber and the environment. (Pro tip: if you have used Drano before calling a plumber, let them know! As they unclog the pipes they risk being burned by the Drano.) Or, you could skip all that, and try this environment and budget-friendly option with baking soda:
• Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Cover offending drain opening with something, as the mixture will bubble up when combined. Let it sit for five minutes, then follow with a gallon of hot water. If it’s a stubborn clog, it may require repeating these actions several times.

9. Deodorize your garbage disposal.

Garbage disposals end up disposing a lot more than originally intended! I myself have a story about a guest and some scrambled eggs- I’ll let you imagine how that one ended up. (I’ll give you a hint: Expensive.) To keep your disposal smelling fresh in between guests, put this cleaning trick on your weekly to-do list (or after a particular smelly encounter with your disposal):
• Slowly pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the disposal while running warm to hot water. Run the disposal, and then repeat once more. Baking soda can neutralize acids and food odors that cause smells to rise from your kitchen sink.

10. Create a soft scrub to brighten your bathroom.

Cleaning bathrooms can be a headache, especially if you have grout in between tiles. Nothing cleans as thoroughly or as gently as a baking soda scrub! Wet down your dirty shower, sink, or toilet and sprinkle baking soda all over. Next, take your damp sponge and sprinkle more baking soda on it. It will take some elbow grease, but your bathroom will be restored to its bright, clean self with just a little bit of elbow grease and none of the smell of heavy duty bathroom cleaners. Pro tip: if the area you’re cleaning is extra dirty, give your scrub some oomph by mixing it with coarse salt and dishwashing soap.

11. Extend the life of your sponges.

You don’t want to waste products, but your dish sponge can be coated in food and foul smelling gunk before it’s been worn out. To get the most life out of your sponges, freshen them by soaking them in a baking soda solution. Just add four tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of warm water and let soak for at least 20 minutes (or until the gunk begins to fall off.) To up your disinfecting game, then toss the sponge in the microwave or dishwasher to sanitize further!

12. Deodorize your dishwasher.

A great item to add to your weekly or monthly to-do list is deodorizing your dishwasher. Run an empty cycle on your dishwasher, substituting baking soda for your regular dishwashing detergent or pod. If your dishwasher has a food trap at the bottom, remember to regularly check this filter and dump into a trash can to keep your dishwasher working at its best.

 

I hope these twelve great ways to use baking soda helped you keep your Airbnb clean and smelling great! Have you ever cleaned with baking soda? What’s your favorite way to use it?

 

Categories
hospitality

Shaping First Impressions: 5 Ways To Make Your Airbnb Feel More Welcoming

When entering a new place for the first time, you form your first impression very quickly. Luckily for hosts, there’s five great ways to formulate a favorable first impression!

Step One: Open the Curtains or Blinds

Is it a beautiful day? Open up those window coverings! Is it warm? Throw open those windows, too! Unless you’re without screens and in an area where a high concentration of bugs will migrate indoors, let the light in and air out your place.

Conversely, if your guests are arriving late at night, draw those blinds closed! No one wants to feel spotlighted to those passing by, which brings me to the next tip:

Step Two: The Importance of Lighting

In the middle of the day, lighting is controlled by letting outside light in, but at night lighting can be used to create an intimate, cozy, and welcoming feel. The first step to utilize lighting well is to arrange for an outdoor light. Try to remember, your guests are unaccustomed to entering your place. Imagine you’re stuck outside an unfamiliar Airbnb and can’t see the door to try to enter the code on the keypad! Strongly consider an outdoor light, especially if you have any of the following: stairs to the front door, icy areas around your property during inclement weather, or a difficult key setup! (Are your guests frantically trying to push the right buttons on a Master Key Box with one hand, while holding their phone on Flashlight mode with the other?)

First impressions happen quickly, often while juggling luggage and squinting at their check-in instructions. If you don’t like the look of keeping a light on all night, think about investing in a motion sensor light with the ability to sense daylight.

When entering an unfamiliar home, a small table light in the living room, a light over the stove in the kitchen, or even the soft glow from the bedside tables in the master bedroom are all excellent welcoming touches. Soft lights can create an inviting feeling for guests arriving late in the evening.

Step Three: Pillows, Blankets + Linens

This may seem obvious, but are the pillows on your couch arranged nicely, all facing the same direction? Is that lap blanket draped attractively? Do you have duvet pillows on your bed, and if so, are they placed neatly? Are the comforters on your bed hanging off the side in a straight line? Take a look at the towels in your property. Are they fluffed? Folded nicely on the bed or desk? Hung beautifully off of the towel rack in the bathroom? These may not seem like a big deal, but all of the items in your house will add up to tell a story.

Step Four: What Does Your Place Smell Like?

This is an often overlooked aspect of first impressions, but important! Previous guests can leave all sorts of smells, including heavy perfume, smelly shoes, and the scent of every meal they made that week. It’s tempting to spray over everything with a heavy deodorizer, but I wouldn’t recommend it, for the same reasons I don’t recommend cleaning with harsh chemicals right before your guests arrive:

  • Medically compromised guests like asthmatics and those with strong allergies may react badly.
  • Heavy smells may irritate young children and babies.
  • That oh-so important first impression!

Strong chemicals smells are off-putting- not inviting. Instead, try these ideas to help rid your house of strong smells left by guests:

  • Open all the windows.
  • Wash all pillows, towels, and compromised window treatments.
  • If the smells come from cooking, make sure you get rid of all the oil splatters on the oven and from inside the microwave.
  • Sprinkle furniture and carpets with baking soda, let sit twenty minutes, then vacuum it up! Baking soda is an incredible odor neutralizer and will absorb many smells.
  • Clean everything thoroughly.
  • If needed, turn on the fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • I highly recommend an air purifier on hand, specifically for instances like this! Leave that bad boy near the location of the worst smells. If the smells don’t dissipate in time for the guests’ arrival, offer the continued use of the air purifier as an added amenity.

Step Five: What Does Your Place Feel Like When You Walk in the Door?

In 1908 a Japanese scientist discovered the fifth “taste”, Umami. In addition to salty, sweet, bitter, and sour, a fifth taste commonly referred to as “a fullness of flavor” was added to our repertoire of distinguishable tastes. It’s been described as “satisfying an urge you didn’t know you had, and leaving you craving for more.” Does your place satisfy an urge, be it relaxation, city lights, romance, or rustic country life? Does it embrace a flavor and leave your guest feeling satisfied?

Let’s look a little closer at the specifics:
When you walk into your house, what’s the first thing you notice? Is it crowded? Barren, or colorful? Do you have a design scheme, and if so, is anything in your house discordant from that theme? Look around carefully. Are there scuff marks on the walls, any paint peeling off the trim? Is the furniture laid out in a nice flow? Does each room look like it belongs? Does your house feel relaxing? Comfortable? We strive for a similar feel in our Airbnbs as you travel through the house, each room’s items and color schemes complementing one another.

Creating a welcoming space for your guest is the key to becoming a profitable and happy Airbnb host. Finding the right balance of expressing your tastes, creating an inviting atmosphere, fulfilling guest needs, and taking care of first impressions along the way will ensure that all of your guests leave rave reviews and tell their friends about you!

How do you make your Airbnb feel welcoming? Let me know in the comments below!

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Categories
hospitality

The Welcome Note: Superhost Series

 

The first installment of the Superhost Series- A series designed to help you advance from Host to Superhost!

Picture it: You’ve just spent the last eight hours traveling. It was sweltering outside when you left, freezing on the plane, and there was some sort of mechanical trouble and you missed your connection. You haven’t eaten since breakfast, and you’ve been running non-stop all day.

When you arrive at your destination you’re tired, you’re hungry, and it’s raining outside. You just want to drop your bags off, wash your face, and get something to eat, but you don’t know where the nearest restaurant is and you can’t remember which bag you packed your raincoat in. After finally typing in the correct key code on the front door in your bleary state, you shoulder your bags through the door and scan your lodgings for your trip.

Something catches your eye- a white envelope on the table, with your name on it.

Opening it, you realize it’s a welcome note. And not just any generic welcome note; it mentions the estimated late time of your arrival and recommends an excellent restaurant nearby that serves hot food late at night. It lets you know about a great event all the locals are going to this weekend, and ends with a tip of where the umbrellas are stored so you can stay dry tonight.

All of a sudden your night just become a whole lot easier, and you start your trip with a real appreciation of your host!

Unfortunately air travel seems to be more stressful than not, and a lot of our guests these days are tired, hungry, and frazzled when they arrive at their destinations. We’ve all been there! It’s easy to be overwhelmed in a situation like that, but we as hosts can change their day for the better with just a small effort on our part; less than five minutes per guest changeover on our end, and we can positively impact the start of your guest’s stay!

Your welcome note or card doesn’t have to be fancy. I routinely pick up great cards when they’re on sale at Target or Barnes + Noble. I will usually choose blank ones, or occasionally ones that say Hello! But some clean stationary and an envelope would do just fine.

To get ahead in a busy season, I will frequently take some time at the beginning of the week and pre-address the cards, starting the notes but leaving the endings blank so I can add something the day of their arrival.

Some great ideas to include in your welcome note:

  • Mention of the reason why they’re staying with you. Is it a work event, anniversary or bucket list trip? Let them know you paid attention to their messages to you!
  • Are there any good restaurants nearby? A grocery store within walking distance? The absolute best ice cream they’ve ever had? Share a quick line about your favorite thing to do in your neighborhood.
  • Are there interesting functions happening in your city that weekend? An event culturally unique to your location? Are there fun street fairs or farmers markets to browse?
  • Include information relevant to their stay: For work stays, where the iron and ironing board are located. For families with children, where the crayons and coloring books are, and what apps are installed on the television (Pro-tip: Pre-install the Disney app for any families you may have coming in!).
  • Let them know if anything unusual is going on: construction shutting off access to the driveway, current plowing hours due to recent snowfall, etc.
  • An expression of gratitude that the guest is staying with you.
  • An invitation to contact you if anything is needed.

It’s not hard to feel negative after the stress of travel, and our job as Superhosts is to ensure our guests have such a great stay that they visit again, and again. Almost 20% of reservations at our own Airbnbs come from repeat guests, who are secure in the knowledge that we will go the extra step each time to ensure that they have a memorable stay.
There are many areas where hospitality is shown that can make a huge difference in our star ratings. The little gestures we offer to our guest can add up, and give you that bump from a 4 to a 5 star rating.

A Superhost is more than someone responding to messages in a timely manner or never cancelling a booking. To get that extra oomph from Host to Superhost, you really have to care about the guest’s experience. By approaching your listing from the view of the guest, it’s easier to see where you might put a little extra of your time to make a big impact!

Keep in mind: People won’t necessarily remember what you did, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel!

Have you ever been welcomed with a personalized note? How did it make you feel? Is there anything you would add to your welcome note?

Let me know in the comments below!

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