Cleanliness is a key factor to consider when owning and maintaining a vacation rental home. Travelers are looking for a tidy, comfortable place to stay, and owners want to keep their rental in great condition for as long as possible. But cleaning a house or apartment can lead to a whole host of environmental concerns: unhealthy chemicals going down the drain and polluting the air, the overuse of disposable products, and the frequency with which you have to clean a home that welcomes new tenants weekly, to name a few. Here are seven tips that will help you go green and clean at the same time.
1. Before purchasing cleaning products and other items for your home, consult GoodGuide, a comprehensive online info center that rates products based on the greenness of the chemicals they contain and the way they are manufactured. This resource covers dish soap, laundry detergent, air fresheners, coffee and tea, appliances, tissues, toilet paper, and more. Your careful choices will help keep your guests—and the surrounding environment—healthy, whether they are settling into a vacation routine or cleaning up at the end of their stay.
2. Supply rags, sponges, cloths, and brushes for cleaning so that guests don’t feel compelled to go through a roll of paper towels in order to tidy up. Simple, friendly instructions on keeping these materials clean and dry will make them last longer.
3. Offer a clothesline and clothespins so that renters can easily dry towels, bathing suits, and laundry without using any unnecessary electricity. Let the sun and breeze do the work of a dryer—or, if the weather is not so balmy where you are, consider drying racks or an indoor clothesline.
4. Provide lots of screen doors and windows that can be opened effortlessly. These will help whisk away stuffy air and odors in a much healthier manner than chemical air fresheners can. In some locales, carefully planned ventilation can even avert the need for energy-guzzling fans and air conditioners.
5. Opt out of the antibacterial soap hype. The FDA has found that these cleansers do not prevent sickness any better than regular ones, and even have the dangerous effect of promoting “super germs” that are increasingly resistant to antibacterial products. Stick with the simple cleansers and your guests will be just as happy.
6. Setting up a compost bin will not only keep extra waste out of landfills; it will also prevent the garbage from getting smelly and cause guests to go through fewer plastic garbage bags. Composting at a vacation home can get a little complicated, especially if you will not be around to monitor the system you have set up. So this green option is best for committed owners who have the time to show new guests the ropes, tend to the compost pile every few days, and make use of the rich soil in a nearby garden.
7. If you hire a cleaning service for your rental home, make it an eco-conscious one.
Picking a cleaning company with green values protects your guests’ health as well as the workers’ wellbeing, and prevents your vacation home from becoming a dumping ground for dangerous chemicals and wasteful practices.
Joanna Eng is a New York-based writer and editor who covers travel, green living, food, careers, entrepreneurship, and more. Her travel experiences have ranged from hostel hopping in Mexico to staying with distant relatives in China to renting a beach apartment in New Jersey.