posted on November 3rd, 2017

Turo host detail guide

If you’re a host looking for ways to get the most out of your Turo listings and boost your business, it pays to avoid negative reviews. A potential guest might see a negative review and skip over your listing, opting instead for a car with a five-star average — now you’ve lost the booking! And a surefire way to bag a negative review is to hand your guest the keys to a dirty car.

Your car might not have to be as spotless as a hospital operating room, but keeping it clean is an easy way to provide a great experience for your guests.

Together with our detailer friend, Bob Phillips, we’ve created this quick guide to help you care for your car and tackle Turo hosts’ most common problems with cleanliness. Bob has been in the detailing world his whole life, and his company P&S Detail Products is the official detailer for some of the biggest shows at Monterey Car Week. So he knows what he’s talking about.

Earning those five stars doesn’t have to break your back or the bank. Here are five tips for keeping your car clean and your guests happy.

1. Suck it up

Get in the habit of giving your car a quick vacuum between trips. Vacuuming the interior only takes a few minutes and is essential to making people feel comfortable in your vehicle. If there are crumbs, dirt, or sand on your seats and the floor, your guests will notice immediately.

People tend to track in mud or sand with their shoes. Take out your floor mats and vacuum the seats, floors, and any cloth surfaces that might collect dirt. A handheld dustbuster will do the trick. Consider getting some rubber all-weather mats if you live in a place where snow makes an annual appearance. Also, don’t forget to check your trunk for dirt or trash.

2. Wipe it down

There’s really no need for heavy duty specialized cleaning products to keep a clean interior. Skip the upholstery shampoo and Windex, and grab a do-everything surface cleaner to simplify interior cleaning and save money.

Use this one product to wipe down every hard surface you can see — door panels, seats (leather, cloth, and vinyl), center console, dashboard, and windows. If you’re in a rush, simply hit all the touchpoints that attract the most grime like door handles, cup holders, and the steering wheel. Wipe it down, and that’s it! One step only.

3. Wash regularly

According to Bob, “the secret to cleaning a car is to just stay on top of it.” If you’re washing your exterior with any regularity, it’s an easy job every time. If you can do it once a month, you’ll be golden.

To wash your car at home, you need a bucket, a mitt, a sham, water, and soap. You can wash the whole car with just those five things. Lather up every area of the car with the mitt, rinse it off, and wipe it dry with the sham. Do it often enough and your car’s paint will thank you. You won’t have to think about waxing and polishing nearly as often.

4. Get a car wash membership

If all this washing and wiping sounds like too much, consider leaving it to the professionals. Save yourself the time and effort and take your car to a local wash or detailing business. Detail shops are extremely thorough and will let your car be its best self. But the cost of these washes can quickly add up if you get them done regularly. Fortunately, many wash and detail spots now offer memberships that include either a handful or unlimited washes per month. These memberships can be especially useful if your car is frequently rented out and tends to dirty up quickly.

The membership price and level of detailing vary from business to business, so be sure to shop around for the best deal in your area. Many detail shops offer memberships for as low as $15-50 per month that provide basic interior and exterior cleaning. Some places offer multiple membership tiers, but the cheapest package will be enough if you’re shooting for two-to-three monthly washes.

Many of these memberships are only good for one car each, so it might not be worth the cost if you’re commanding a large fleet. Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask around to see if you can strike a package deal with your neighborhood car wash — you’ll never know unless you ask. If your budget can handle the overhead, the right car wash membership can save you a ton of time and work.

5. Smoking

While smoking is forbidden in all cars shared on the Turo marketplace, it still occasionally happens, and it’s a real bummer. The good news is, unless the owner (you) is a smoker, the stench shouldn’t be too hard to kill with a bit of effort.

Without addressing the source of the odor, scented sprays and fresheners are futile. Wipe down every interior surface with a wet towel (Bob recommends terry cloth over microfiber), and we mean every surface. The headliner, seats, floors, mats, center console, door panels, everything. Then use a different towel to wipe it all dry.

The seat belts are a crucial area people tend to forget about. Much of the belt is hidden inside the side panel, but because they sit right up against the smokers’ bodies, they trap a lot of the smell. Clean the seat belts! Buckle them in and pull them all the way out to wipe down the whole belt.

For a smoke-busting cherry on top, you can use a chlorine dioxide odor bomb after the wipedown. It releases chlorine dioxide gas that oxidizes the smell-carrying microorganisms of not just smoke, but any strong odor (pets, mildew). Again, this works by targeting the source of the smell, not by covering it up with other smells. A decent kit costs no more than 20 bucks, so maybe keep a couple around just in case. There’s a lot more that can be done to kill extremely stubborn odors, but the wipedown and chlorine dioxide combo is a relatively easy strategy that should work.

Steven is an avid car guy and editorial assistant at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.