8 Ways to Prepare your Vacation Rental Home for Guests

Winter in East Kootenay can mean only one thing: tourism. And many of those out-of-town visitors will be renting guest homes to make the most of the skiing and snowboarding the region has to offer. If you’ve decided to take the plunge and take on renters in your guest home this season, here are eight tips to ensure you and your guests are a happy as possible. 1. Prepare a “Master List” for Your Guest Whether your guests are from out of town or from out of the country, chances are they’ll need some time to become accustomed to their new surroundings. You can help them out by preparing a list of important information, like the physical address of the guest house, garbage and recycling pick-up days, emergency contact information and security passwords. For a personal touch, include directions to the local grocery store, hardware store, hair salon and your favourite restaurants and bars. Include any information about rules. Is there a part of the house that’s off-limits? Do the neighbours have a habit of calling in a noise complaint if there’s partying past 11? Now is the time to let your guests know. 2. Prepare a “Master List” for Yourself Keeping an inventory is not a sign that you find your guests untrustworthy. Rather, it’s a way to avoid disputes over items that may have been lost, damaged (or yes, stolen) while you’ve been away. Putting together a checklist also ensures that your guests have everything they need to enjoy their stay. Perform a quick inspection of major appliances and furniture in the house and note their condition. If there are valuables in the house, like artwork, make a note of them; anything that’s truly irreplaceable should be taken with you or locked up. Consider taking pictures of the rooms in your house before your guests arrive. 3. Stock your kitchen — but keep it simple People rarely expect to eat off fine china — especially while they’re on vacation. So feel free to stock your kitchen with lots of inexpensive dinnerware, including all the necessary cooking and baking tools. When it comes to dishes, white is ideal. Unbreakable is even better. (Don’t forget to stock some wine glasses and a decent corkscrew.) 4. Help your guests prepare for their guests Unless you explicitly say otherwise, you should expect that your guest house will be hosting a large group function at some point in the season. Lots of chairs and/or patio furniture, a large table, extra bed linens and an inflatable mattress will help your guests roll out the welcome mat for visitors. 5. Keep bedrooms clean, bright and white Sleeping in an unfamiliar setting can be a bit uncomfortable at first. You can help your guests adjust by keeping the tone of your guest bedrooms as neutral as possible — no crazy colour schemes or knickknacks on the night table. Simple white bed linens look clean and can be bleached to maintain their radiance. 6. Help your guests keep the space clean Let’s face it — messes happen. But if you give your guests the tools they need to clean up after themselves, it’s less likely the damage will be permanent. Stock cleaning supplies like paper towels, all-purpose cleaning spray, air freshener, a vacuum cleaner, mop, dust pan and broom. Put slip covers on your sofas and mattress covers on your bed. Leave plenty of space in closets and cupboards for guests to store their things. 7. Buy a housewarming gift It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; a basket of festive goodies or a bottle of wine goes a long way toward making your guests feel welcome in their home-away-from-home. 8. Think of the little things Throw in some board games, movies, toys and sporting equipment to help keep your guests entertained. If your guest house has a BBQ, fill up the propane tank and clean the grill.

Five ways to clean for your boat or camper using vinegar

Keep a bottle of white distilled vinegar on your boat or in your camper van, for the ultimate multi-purpose cleaner. It’s economical, readily-available, effective and it is kind to the environment.   1. A splash of vinegar on a damp cloth will help you clean and shine the galley sink or camper kitchen counter tops. 2. Smelly drain? Pour 1 cup of baking soda down, then one cup of vinegar. Leave the bubbles to work for five minutes, then rinse with hot water. 3. Pump vinegar through the sewage system to clean away mineral deposits and to deodorize any nasty smells. 4. Use one part vinegar and two parts water to wash windows – this is especially effective on PVC boat windows which can be damaged by cleaning products containing ammonia. 5. Vinegar will remove mildew and mould from canvas shades or boat walls – wipe gently with a cloth soaked in vinegar.   Don’t be a land lubber – contact Goldstar Cleaning Services for a personalized quote to clean your Fernie, Sparwood or Cranbrook home so you can spend more valuable free time on your boat or on the road in your camper.  

Tips for cleaning your campsite as you go

Follow Goldstar Cleaning Services’ tips on  cleaning your campsite, so you can relax and enjoy your weekend at the lakes  or in the backcountry around Cranbrook, Fernie and Sparwood and throughout the East Kootenays ! 1. Pack it in – pack it out Take two garbage bins and bin liners and set it up near the food prep area for garbage and recycling – you will find cleaning your campsite a lot easier when you are collecting garbage as you go along. REMEMBER – unsecured garbage attracts bears and other wildlife to your campsite. Take all your garbage to a bear-proof bin every evening, use a bearproof canister, or follow these instructions on how to put it out of a bear’s reach in a tree. Bears have been known to pull doors off car doors to get to garbage stored inside. 2. Pack a lidded plastic crate with household cleaning supplies. When you’re pouring wastewater directly into the environment, it’s even more important to use biodegradable cleaning products. Cleaning products checklist
  • Broom, dust pan and brush
  • Green, biodegradable dish soap, tea towels, washing up brush and a sponge.
  • Biodegradable hand soap and hand towels
  • Wet wipes (for cleaning the body and for cleaning surfaces) and hand sanitizer
  • Barbecue cleaning brush and utensils.
  • A 5 gallon jug with a tap and a dish tub – set up the jug on the edge of the picnic table, and the tub on the bench underneath the spigot, for an instant kitchen sink, perfect for cleaning dishes or muddy hands!
3. Save time by cleaning the campsite before you unpack As soon as you arrive, brush away any loose stones, sticks or leaves from your campsite area, wipe down the picnic table, clear away any garbage from the fire pit and clean the grill. Set down an old tarp under your tent before you set it up, and put a newer tarp inside your tent. Not only will this make it more cushioned to sleep on, but it will be a lot easier when it comes to cleaning the tent at the end of your trip. 4. Keep the dirt out of your tent or camper to make cleaning easier Keep a lidded plastic crate and a mat next to the entrance of your tent or camper – set a strict ‘no shoes inside’ rule. Remember to put the lid on the crate if it looks like rain, and every time you leave the campsite in case it rains while you’re out! 5. Don’t leave the washing up until morning Cleaning your pans and dishes will be a lot easier if you do them immediately after eating. Half-fill the pans with water and put them on the heat while you are eating, to get warm dish-washing water and loosen any food residue. Use this hot water to clean your plates and cutlery, then rinse with cold water. Plan your meals so you use as few pans as possible during your trip, and you will spend less time cooking and cleaning.   Bonus Point: Goldstar Cleaning Services can deep-clean your Fernie, Sparwood or Cranbrook home while you are away, so you come back to a fresh, clean house! Contact us for your personalized quote.

How to keep your barbecue clean so it’s always ready for your next party

 A barbecue is the perfect way to enjoy a summer evening – don’t let your smoky, unclean grill drive your friends and family off the deck and into the house. Follow Goldstar Cleaning Services’ tips on keeping your grill clean so that it’s always ready for your next party. 1. Get the right cleaning tools – and use them It’s easier to clean off the grill while it’s still hot, and before all the little bits of meat have burned and dried on it, potentially causing foul odours next time you grill. In mountain towns like Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford the smell of food on barbecues can attract bears into your neighbourhood, so it’s particularly important to get them clean. The most effective cleaning tool is simply a stiff wire brush to clean down the grill each time you use it. A long-handled brush will make it easier to get into all the nooks and crannies without risking burning yourself. Replace it every year to stop the wire bristles getting blunt and bent out of shape, making it less effective at cleaning.   2. Steam clean If you forgot to brush down the grill after your last barbecue, or if you’re only just getting into the habit of cleaning it, chances are your grate has some pretty heavy-duty burned-on food waste that may even be causing foul odours or smoke. To loosen off the debris, take a scrunched-up newspaper, soak it in water and put it on the grill over a low flame for around 20 minutes, with the lid closed. Keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t stay on so long that all the water evaporates.
This will loosen off all the burned-on food, allowing you to clean it as above.
  3. Oven cleaner A chemical oven cleaner can also be used to loosen food scraps. Take off the cold grate and lay it on some sheets of newspaper, then spray with the oven cleaner, making sure to stand upwind so you don’t breath in the fumes, and use gloves to prevent skin irritation. Leave for 5-10 minutes and then use a wire brush to clean.   4. Inside the barbecue If you use lava rocks or ceramic stones, take them out and soak in a bucket of water with a squirt of dish soap to loosen off any grease drips or food scraps. Use an all purpose kitchen cleaner and wipe the bottom of the grill clean, being careful with any gas outlets. Replace rocks or stones after cleaning them with a scouring sponge if necessary.   5. Protect your grill from the elements Extend your barbecue’s shelf-life by keeping it covered with a heavy-duty, shaped cover that will keep it protected from all the elements. Choose the grill’s location so it isn’t under any drips or snow slides from the roof. This will also make the head chef’s life a lot nicer! If you don’t use your barbecue in winter, move it into a garage or shed.

How a security check can help reduce your vacation home insurance premium

Most insurance companies now require a signed report showing that an empty vacation home has been checked once or twice a month during the off-season.

Goldstar cleaning crews will combine their housekeeping visit with an insurance security check, and record the date, time, and results of their visit so you can send a clear record to your insurance company.

This means you get to enjoy your vacation time without worrying about cleaning – and it could save your house insurance premiums from rocketing if you need to claim repairs.

Security checklist

Goldstar cleaning crews routinely check for:

• Open or unlocked windows and doors all around the building

• Signs of an attempted break-in or vandalism

• Lights or appliances that have accidentally been left on, causing high energy bills and a risk of fire.

• Broken or incorrectly programmed heating systems, which could cause your pipes to freeze in winter

• Sounds or signs that there might be a water leak or damage

• Early signs of rodent or pest infestation

They also:

• Flush each toilet and scrub the water line to avoid build-up of limescale

• Check all lights to make sure no bulbs have blown

• Can carry out deep cleaning tasks, such as carpet or furniture steam cleaning

Potential damage

Goldstar owner Jill Barclay has seen firsthand the damage that can be caused by a small problem that is left unnoticed for weeks.

“I knew one client who started using our services after a pipe in their basement burst, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

“When they last visited the home it would only have been a small drip in the water filtration system that they didn’t notice, but during the summer the pipe burst, flooding the entire basement.

“Unfortunately because they hadn’t used any kind of security check contingency plan, the insurance was cancelled and they had to cover the huge cost of the damage themselves.”

Rental peace of mind 

When you rent out your vacation home, it’s particularly important to make sure everything is in good shape before your renters get there, says Jill.

“At another of our client’s homes, snow had piled up against a plexi glass barrier around the deck, causing it to shatter and making it unsafe to use.

“We came round to check the vacation home ahead of a rental, and were able to clean it up and get it replaced before the renters got there, which meant the owners didn’t have to cancel the booking or deal with poor reviews of their rental vacation home.”

Contact Goldstar now to arrange for a personalized quote to clean and check your home.

How to clean up stains with household products

When red wine spills on a carpet or you get blood on your white shirt, there’s no time to spare – keep these stainbusters in the cleaning closet. 1. Hydrogen peroxide Not only is hydrogen peroxide a great green cleaning product, it can remove stains like coffee, tea and blood from fabrics. Blot it on the stain, let it activate and bubble for a few seconds and then blot with a paper towel. You may need to repeat to remove as much of the stain as possible, then wash the clothing as usual. 2. Lemon juice A squeeze of lemon juice will remove rust stains that can get into clothes from working in the garage. 3. Vinegar White distilled vinegar attacks grass stains in clothing – just rub into the stain, leave for a few minutes and launder as usual. 4. Baking soda To remove a wet stain from a carpet, make a paste with three parts baking soda to one part water, spread it over the stain, leave it overnight to dry and then vacuum out. You can also put half a cup of baking soda in your washing machine load to brighten whites and increase the stain-removing power of your detergent.   How to use stain removers • Apply a stain remover as fast as possible to stop the stain drying or sinking in. • BUT if the item cannot be easily replaced, test on a hidden area first before trying any new products on it. • Use a paper towel to dab any excess from the stain (never rub – it will only rub the stain deeper into the fabric) • Apply the stainbusting product and then let it sit for at least 30 minutes before laundering as usual or dabbing it clean with a wet cloth.   When to use professional dry cleaners Goldstar Cleaning Services is a depot for Prestige Dry Cleaning – drop off and pick up items at 1591 10th Ave, Fernie. You need to get an item professionally dry cleaned if: • You have tried a stain remover, and washed it as normal and the stain is still there. • The item is fragile or is marked dry clean only. Get it checked professionally as soon as possible after the stain is caused – the longer you wait, the more likely the stain will not be removable.

A spring cleaning checklist – for any day of the year

Whether it’s May or November, sometimes you just get that feeling that it’s time for a spring clean of your house and possessions. Your ‘spring’ clean should cover all the annual tasks that will keep your home well maintained over the years, and also catch up on any cleaning that you have been putting off for the last few months. Get your home looking clean and smelling sweet with Goldstar Cleaning Services’ spring cleaning checklist. Floor care Unless you have a strict maintenance routing, your vinyl or linoleum flooring will need to be stripped, scrubbed and then re-finished once a year. Wood floors may need to be sanded and re-finished, especially in high-traffic areas. To avoid unnecessary wear-and-tear on your wood floors, there is no need to wash them with anything harsher than water and vinegar. Windows Take the screens out and hose them down in the yard. Wash the windows and frames inside and outside, using 1 part distilled white vinegar to three parts water and a squirt of dish soap. Wipe clean with newspaper – it’s the best – and cheapest – material to use because it doesn’t leave behind fibres. Wall and ceilings Mix one part ammonia to two-parts water to spot-clean any scuffs, handprints or food grease from your walls in high-traffic areas like the kitchen, stairs and around door frames. Don’t spot-clean your ceiling – the clean patches will just show up how dirty the rest of it is! Either leave it as it is, or wash the whole ceiling with the ammonia and water mixture and a long-handled mop. Carpet and rugs Check what material your carpet and rugs are and ensure you use the correct cleaning solution for them. If your carpet or rug is generally clean, but has some stained patches, spot-clean them. If your carpet or rug is very grubby,  rent a steam cleaner to deep-clean it. Baseboards Ideally you should dust baseboards once a month – if you haven’t, wash away any built-up grease with one part ammonia added to two parts water. Choose semi-gloss painted baseboards if you want them to be low-maintenance and easy to clean. Light fixtures Stick any removable glass or plastic parts such as shades or cords in the dishwasher, or scrub with one part ammonia added to two parts water to remove dust and grease. Don’t forget to dust your ceiling fans before you use them again! Houseplants Away from the wind and rain of their natural environment, houseplants can get coated in grease, dust and grow mold that may cause allergies. Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth and clean pots or trays. Appliances Take a deep breath and pull out your appliances from where they sit all year. Wipe around the sides and vacuum the floor. Vacuum any vents that may get clogged with dust, reducing the lifetime of the applicance. Put a cup of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher, and run a cycle to clear any stuck food that may cause odours, or soap residue. Put ¼ cup of vinegar in your coffee machine jug, fill to the top with water and run a cycle to remove any mineral buildup. Unscrew the shower head and soak it in vinegar overnight to clear any limescale.   Get in the professionals Goldstar Cleaning Services’ experienced cleaning crew can provide a professional, thorough cleaning service for your home or business premises. Contact us to arrange a visit and to get a personalized quote.

How to keep your house clean when you have a pet

Pets make great companions – but they can make a terrible mess of your house! This is Goldstar Cleaning Services’ guide to reducing the impact that your beloved puppy or faithful cat has on your home, vacation home or   Dealing with pet fur The reality of getting a pet is that you will have to deal with pet hair – a lot of it. If you really don’t think you can learn to live with it, or if anyone in your home has allergies, you could consider looking into a non-shedding, hypoallergenic breed. If your pet is a prolific shedder, try to remove loose fur before it hits your floor or couch, by grooming them regularly, especially in spring when they will shed their winter coat. Consider booking them into a professional pet groomer, or invest in a good tool like the Furminator to remove as much of the fine undercoat as possible. Also invest in a good lint roller to help you remove fur from furniture. If your cat or dog has a favourite spot on the couch, invest in a washable throw rug to protect your upholstery. Laminate or hardwood floors are easier to keep fur-free than carpets, or if you need carpeting, consider a short-pile carpet which is easiest to vacuum.   Dealing with wet pets Keep a pile of old towels in your mud room and dry off your pet after a muddy walk to stop them bringing mud and the aroma of wet fur into your home. If your carpet or couch begins to smell of wet fur, wait until it is dry, sprinkle baking soda over it, leave overnight and then vacuum out.   Prevent damage and destruction Clip your pet’s claws regularly to avoid scratching on hardwood or laminate floors. Make sure your pet has plenty of exercise and toys to keep their chewing or scratching instinct away from your possessions. Keep a basket in the corner of the room to tidy toys away.  you can even teach your dog to put his or her toys away!  

Five people you need to know if you own a vacation home in Fernie

Don’t spend your valuable weekends and vacations cleaning, mowing grass or waiting for the plumber to arrive. Having a contact list of reliable and trustworthy service providers at your fingertips is key to enjoying the most time at your vacation home. Contact any one of these Fernie-based companies for reliable, efficient service that will give you more time on the trails.

1.A housekeeping and laundry company

Goldstar Cleaning Services takes pride in offering customized service arrangements for private residences, vacation homes and condos. Whether a home serves as a rental unit or is used exclusively by the owner, Goldstar provides professional, reliable house cleaning services you can trust.

Goldstar offers:

– Weekly,-bi-weekly, monthly cleaning – On demand rental turnover cleaning – Seasonal Deep Cleaning – Move Out-Move In Cleaning – Security Checks – Linen Laundry Service – Project Cleaning – Party Clean Up Ask friends or family to pay for Goldstar to clean your vacation home after they use it, or buy a gift certificate for the vacation home owner who always lets you stay in their place for a cheap vacation. Our crews are insured, bonded and experienced so you don’t have to worry about anything – just leave all the work to us so you can enjoy your stay! Contact us to arrange a personalized quote!

2. A maintenance company

From time to time your vacation home will need maintenance work – avoid spending your weekends up a ladder, or shopping for renovation supplies, and keep a handy man’s number handy. Russ Waswick of Total Maintenance can handle anything from emergency quick fixes, to outdoor repairs or repairs to furniture and fixtures. If you need professional repairs, he can also arrange for a local electrician or plumber to visit your vacation home during the week, so everything is ready for your visit. Call Russ Waswick at 250-423-7128 or 250-423-8722 or email

3. A landscaping and snow removal company

Spend Fernie’s epic powder days on the trails, not shovelling snow or lugging the snow blower out of the garage. In summer, avoid dirty looks from your neighbours and keep your lawn and yard tidy, without spending all weekend on hard labour duty. Mow and Snow is the Fernie company to contact if your lawn looks like a meadow when you show up each weekend, if you need some landscaping work done during the week, and if you want to get your driveway cleared ready for your ski weekend. Call Duncan at 250-423-1665 or

4. A hot tub repair and maintenance company

You’ve rented out your vacation home for top dollar over the holiday week – then the guests call – the hot tub is on the blink! Make sure you know to call when this ski vacation home staple is out of order, to avoid having to refund any rental fees. Alpine Spa is an established name in Fernie, offering hot tub repair, maintenance and installation. Spend your vacation languishing in bubbles, not up to your elbows in cleaner! Call Vic toll-free at 1-888-680-3370 or email

5. A personal concierge service

For everything you don’t want to have to think about during your vacation in Fernie. Let Shannon Tacaks of Pure Property Management help you by stocking your fridge, pantry or bar prior to your arrival, or simply taking care of the loose ends to ensure that your stay in Fernie is relaxing and full of fun. Her services include: tee-time bookings, key holding, pre-arrival house preparation, child-minding & pet sitting. Fun fact: Shannon is a marriage commissioner and can legally pronounce you husband and wife! Contact Shannon at 1-250-278-3463

How to set up a rental vacation home that will be easy to clean

Renting out your Kootenays vacation home in Fernie can be a great way to earn extra income – as long as you don’t waste your earnings fixing it up after tenants have left. Goldstar Cleaning Services offers housekeeping, security check and janitorial services for vacation homes and this is our guide to making your vacation home experience run smoothly.   Mudroom and entranceway Create some cubbyhole storage spaces so everyone has their own place to store shoes, jackets and sports equipment. Rubber flooring is a great choice to minimize damage by skis, ski boots and bikes.   Kitchen Stick to basics. The more kitchen equipment there is available to your guests, the more they will use – which means more chance of items getting damaged, and more mess for your housekeeping company to clean up. Encourage your guests to wash up as they go by providing the same number of table settings as your house’s maximum occupancy, plus two (in case they invite the housekeeping staff to dinner). So, if your condo sleeps six to eight, provide no more than 10 sets of tableware. Don’t put all your old kitchen gadgets or small appliances in your rental vacation home – they will just gather dust or get broken. Do buy good quality, hardwearing appliances – a self clean oven is worth the investment. Leave some empty cupboard space for guests to store groceries. Do provide dish soap, tea towels, cleaning cloths, bin liners and a washing up brush to help guests keep the area clean. If you have a dishwasher, provide tablets so guests aren’t tempted to use dish soap that will clog up your appliance. Keep placemats and coasters near eating areas. Living areas Declutter – vacation homes with many trinkets and moveable items take longer to dust and tidy. Resist temptation to fill shelves with the board games you haven’t used for years, or your old VCR collection. Don’t move your old white suede couch to the vacation home – choose quality furnishings that will be easy to keep in immaculate condition – this will help your vacation home maintain a higher rental value. Remove all personal photographs – your guests are paying for a home away from home, not a reminder that they are in someone else’s house. Create a binder with local visitor information, including your expectations of how guests should leave the vacation home and how to report any maintenance problems or emergencies at the property.   Décor Leave your personal preference for black walls and striped wallpaper for your own home and decorate your vacation home in keeping with the location. Ski condos should have a modern lodge feel (but go easy on the antlers and ski furniture) and beach or lake houses need to be light and airy. Make sure high-traffic areas are painted with good quality, wipeable paint. Choose flooring that can be easily cleaned – dark carpets, light hardwood or laminate flooring are ideal. Avoid floor rugs.   Supplies Give your guests access to an all-purpose cleaner, cloths and paper towels, floor brush and small vacuum cleaner so they can clean up any small spills during their stay.   Have a lockable cupboard so you can stock up on toilet paper and cleaning products that can be easily accessed by housekeeping.   Washrooms Put a toilet brush, hand soap, hand towel and air freshener in every washroom. Resist temptation to leave dozens of lotions and potions that have to be moved every time the room is cleaned. Provide a few essential items like shampoo and body wash in a cupboard if you wish. Buy two small, machine washable bath mats and keep one with your spare sheet and towel sets.   Bedrooms Spend a night in each of the beds to see what your guest’s experience is like, and make changes to mattresses, room layout, window coverings or furniture as necessary. Consider replacing pillows once a year so they remain in the best quality condition. Get two sets of bedding and towels of the same pattern for every bedroom in the house, to make changeover day simple.   Housekeeping Vacation homes always need to be kept in immaculate condition ready for the next potential paying guest. Goldstar Cleaning Services offers a turnaround service for vacation homes, including a laundry service. We can also do security checks for insurance purposes. More information on vacation home cleaning options.   Family and friends If you let your family or friends use your vacation home, ask them to cover the cost of getting the property cleaned by Goldstar Cleaning Services at the end of their stay. A Goldstar Cleaning Services gift certificate is also the perfect thank you gift for a friend who has lent you their condo or vacation home.   Thinking of buying a vacation home in Fernie? Contact Fernie Vacation Properties to view one of their ski hill condo properties.