Top 11 Insider Tips on how to get your home ready for Airbnb

I have been a host on Airbnb for 2 years now and will remain one for the foreseeable future. Even if at some point I stop renting out my own home, we are the process of renovating the cottage on the farm for exactly that purpose. There are many pros to putting your property on Airbnb, but there is also a lot of preparation that goes into it. Here are my personal top 11 tips on how to get your home ready for Airbnb.

It’s important to first determine the type of accommodation that you offer. We only make our home available for booking during the Easter and Christmas holidays. We tend to be away during those times anyway and this way we know the house is occupied (diminished security risk) and we get an income from it – bonus! It’s a big job packing up a home – especially with 3 boys! – so it has to be worth my while. For that same reason, we also don’t accept bookings of less than 3 nights. If however, you have a smaller place or the property is not your primary home, then it’s much easier to be flexible with your bookings.

So how do I secure all of our personal belongings, create closet space and open up our home to strangers? Easy!

Image Ed O’Reilly for Ideas

TIP #1: Declutter

No-one likes to fight their way through the clutter! Make way for your guests and clear desks, counters, tables, bedside tables, and dressers.

TIP#2: Only lock away your most valuable things

Airbnb is built on the principle that you stay in someone’s home, so it’s totally expected that there will be personal things like photographs, artwork, and any number of other things that you adorn your home with. Unless it’s priceless, leave it where it is. It probably adds to the look and feel of your home and someone else will most likely treat it with the respect it deserves.

TIP#3: Clear some closet space

If you have double wardrobes, then try to cram everything into 1 for the duration of your guests’ stay. If that is not possible, then invest in a few clothing rails with fabric hanging shelves and position them in front of wardrobes.

TIP#4: Lock with cable ties

Not many of my wardrobes and cupboards have keys, so I end up cable-tieing everything. It’s a friendly way to say: “this is my personal stuff, please don’t open”. Here’s what I lock: pantry cupboard, drinks cabinet, 1x closet in every bedroom, linen cupboard, chest of drawers, dressing table and my walk-in.

TIP#5: Clear out your bathroom

Our bathroom cabinets have open shelves with baskets. Nothing could be simpler: I throw everything in there and stack them on top of each other in the laundry baskets which I store in my walk-in closet. Granted, the walk-in is a life saver come pack-up day, but you can easily store this in another cupboard or even in the garage.

TIP#6: Invest in Airbnb linen and towels

I bought separate sets of bedlinen and towels that we use for guests only. It’s all white which makes cleaning really easy and makes the bedrooms look fresh and inviting. Our bed linen gets packed away in the (locked) linen cupboard so that when we return, I just pull all of the bed linen off and put ours back on. I also always take it to the laundry to be washed and ironed – it’s just too much to get through a domestic washing machine in any reasonable time! When it comes to towels, bath sheets are always a better choice. It’s not essential, but I have a white bath sheet and a small white towel for each guest, as well as a separate set of dark coloured hand towels for each bathroom.

TIP#6: Buy a separate set of bathroom products

A nice touch is to offer hand soap and lotion, shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner to your guests. I bought a set of luxury products for each bathroom in the house which is only taken out when we have a booking and then replenished and safely packed away again afterward. And make sure that you have enough toilet paper and toilet spray or a perfumed reed diffuser for your guests for the duration of their stay.

TIP#7: Put together a cleaning kit

Unless you want your guests to leave your home in a tip, put some cleaning products in a caddy in the kitchen where they can clearly see them. Dish washing liquid, a small container with washing powder (just in case), surface cleaner, toilet cleaner, glass cleaner, sponges, dish cloths, bin liners and dishwashing machine tablets if you have a dishwasher. Also make sure that you have insect spray as well as insect repellant, insect coils or citronella of some sort in your caddy if the season requires it.

TIP#8: Make sure that you have braai necessities (totally essential if you are in South Africa!)

If you offer braai facilities, make sure that you have fire wood or charcoal, braai tongs, grill, fire starters and matches handy.

TIP#9: Local attractions and instructions

Put together a file with everything your guests need to know about your home: emergency numbers, security codes, neighbour’s numbers, and any weird and wonderful things that will help them enjoy their stay. It’s also nice to put in something about yourself, and if you plan to host regularly, you can also add a guest book. Guests tend to leave brochures and pamphlets of local attractions which can add some further reading to your file.

TIP#10: Clean up! 

This may seem obvious, but make sure that you home is in an immaculate condition when guests arrive and 9 out of 10 times, they will leave it in an immaculate state when they leave.

TIP#11: Welcome note and gift

This is again not essential, but it definitely is a lovely touch. I always write a message on the chalk board in the kitchen to welcome our guests and leave a box of chocolates for them on the table. It’s a small thing that makes all the difference!

I’d love to hear your tips on hosting with Airbnb – please drop them in the comments below!