My First Airbnb Apartment Cleaning

Hello, my fellow house-cleaning aficionados! I’ve been thinking of starting a blog to capture my cleaning adventures (and mishaps) for almost two years, and I’ve finally found the time to do it. I just needed the right story to kick it off; now that I have it, everything fell into place.

My name is Laura Smalls, and I am a professional house cleaner located in one of the most magical pieces of heaven in our great United States – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If you live in the US and haven’t visited Grand Stand, you should make amends right away! Trust me, you will not regret it!

Myrtle Beach is one of the most famous vacation spots in the country for a good reason – and this leads me to my story. All my friends and relatives were constantly amazed by the fact that in my 39 years of living in Myrtle Beach, I had never been involved in any hospitality-related business. My first teenage jobs were babysitting and cashiering at my local grocery store. Then I went to Chapell Hill and the Univesity of North Carolina, and after a short stint as a wannabe stage actress (turned waitress) in California, I moved home to the endless beachline at home. Ever since, I have worked as a house cleaner – first for a local company, then as an independent contractor.

I cannot say I stayed away from tourist-oriented properties on purpose – it just happened that way. I prefer to build a relationship of trust and respect and, dare I say, of friendship with my customers. You can hardly achieve it in the somehow impersonal, hectic, result-oriented world of the Myrtle Beach hospitality industry.

That explains why I was a bit leery when I got the call from Jeffrey, a super-successful Airbnb host looking for a regular house cleaner. “Mary told me great things about you and that you live relatively near my location. I’m not going to lie – it is a lot of work because the flow of visitors is constant. But I am willing to pay you a premium over your regular rate, especially if everything Mary told me is true.”

The Mary in question is my first cousin and childhood bestie, now a district manager for the biggest car rental company in Myrtle Beach. She is also my most relentless promoter and quite unapologetic about it. To be honest, I was on the fence about Jeffrey’s offer. On the one hand, I liked the more casual, hassle-free tempo of regular house cleaning.

But the thing was, I needed the money. As with everything else, Covid was a game-changer for the worse. I lost a substantial portion of my long-term regular customers – some had financial difficulties, others simply didn’t feel comfortable letting an outside person in their home, especially one who had contact with dozens of people every day. I could still make ends meet, but I couldn’t afford to be so picky about my customers.

Jeffrey and I agreed to meet so he could show me the condo at River Oaks Drive, right next to one of the best-known golf courses in Myrtle Beach. I had seen my fair share of high-end properties around the resort, but the condo was still very impressive! It was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom rental unit with all the household amenities you can desire. It had an amazing kitchen and a cozy small living room with art-deco furniture.

From a visitor’s point of view, it was close to perfect. From a cleaner’s point of view, it was a lot of work. Cleaning an Airbnb property has its own rules that differ from regular house cleaning. The attention to detail is heightened; for example, there is no room for error or overlooking a tiny stain behind the shower stand. But my main concern was the time requirements – I couldn’t see myself cleaning the place thoroughly in less than three hours and worried about how that might interfere with my other regular visits.

I told Jeffrey that much, but he assured me he was not taking short-term bookings. “I have no interest in single or double-night visits – it is not worth the hassle. I have a minimum booking policy of three nights, but most of my guests rent the place for at least a week, and during the peak of the season, I’ve had families who stayed for ten days or even two weeks. Besides, since you are a local, you know everyone comes between late May and early September. You won’t have much work, if any, after Labor Day.”

I could see why Jeff was so successful at his job – he was a natural-born salesman. We shook hands and agreed to give it a try. I am not going to bore you to death with cleaning details. Suffice to say, I had one of the busiest summers of my life. But Jeffrey was true to his word – there wasn’t a single booking for less than eight days. After the initial body blow of taking on such a huge assignment AND keeping my regular customers, I managed to find my rhythm. By mid-August, I had adjusted my schedule to perfection – just when the bookings began to slacken off.

It was a priceless experience, mainly in terms of time management and testing my limits. Now, I can’t wait for next summer and the extra checks from my Airbnb condo cleaning!