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Are Airbnb Cleaning Fees Out of Control?

Are Airbnb Cleaning Fees Out of Control?

Every time I see online discussions about why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now, my blood boils. It’s like people don’t take even two seconds to think about how long it takes to clean a house.

In fact, let me tell you about this article I was about to be quoted in, in the Washington Post. The thesis of the article was that Airbnb cleaning fees were too high. Some of the quoted experts were an Airbnb host and a hotel manager from third world countries. One of the quotes disputing me said something like ‘cleaning fees should be the same anywhere.’ My eyes couldn’t roll any more dramatically. I sent a scathing email back to the well known journalist which killed the story.

Listen, I get it. The cleaning fees seem high. But, wages in a developing country are obviously lower than places like the United States and Canada. A housekeeper who is insured costs $30 per hour in major metropolitan areas.

A Realistic Look at Airbnb Cleaning Fees

My house has 8 queen sized beds. How many hours do you suppose it takes to wash, dry, and make 8 queen size beds? Do you want my housekeeper to wash everything on quick wash? Absolutely not. Two beds worth of linens can be washed with each load, meaning a minimum of 5 hours just to get those 4 loads completed.

Then you’ve got towels both for the bathrooms and kitchens. Plus, post and pans and dishes, floors, toilets and showers, cleaning out the refrigerator, taking out trash, replacing light bulbs, wiping down surfaces. You can easily see how cleaning a house would take two people an entire day. That’s 16 man hours at $30 per hour.

Instead of asking why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now, you should be realizing that an Airbnb host is likely subsidizing the cleaning fee for fear that you will think the real cost is too high.

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The Hidden Mess in Airbnb Kitchens

Airbnb kitchens are a major element of why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now. Your rental’s kitchen, being the heart of the abode, accumulates messes you wouldn’t believe. From grease splatters to crumbs in crevices, guests culinary adventures can leave a challenging cleanup.

Why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much in 2024?

I have shown up to my rental and every single dish, cup, pot, pan, serving platter, and piece of silverware had been put back dirty. It looked like my guests had used everything and licked it clean before returning it to the shelf. Every item in my kitchen takes 5 entire dishwasher loads to clean. I want my next guest to arrive with clean items instead of wondering if someone licked them and put them back.

Average Cleaning Fee: The average cleaning fee incorporates the labor required to tackle these hidden kitchen messes. Understandably, the fee supports not just a good cleaner, but a licensed and insured team providing professional cleaning services.

Cleaning Supplies and Costs: Professional-grade cleaning supplies play a pivotal role. They ensure cleanliness to the highest standard, but also add to the cleaning costs. Kitchens often need specialized products, from degreasers to sanitizing agents.

A thorough kitchen cleanup is non-negotiable for hosts who pride themselves on spotless spaces. This attention to detail justifies higher fees but also promises you a hygienic cooking space upon your arrival. A pristine kitchen awaits thanks to the diligent efforts often reflected in your cleaning fee.

Breaking Down the Cleaning Process

Even when you book a one-night stay, your experience hinges on finding a clean and welcoming space. To achieve this, hosts incur various expenses, often justifying why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now. The process is thorough and designed to meet high cleaning standards.

Firstly, the turnover between guests requires a deep cleaning, not just a superficial tidy-up. Cleaning companies or individuals hired by the host must ensure the entire space is sanitized and spotless for the next guest. This includes a wide range of tasks from laundering linens to wiping down all surfaces.

Breakdown of Typical Duties:

  • Bedrooms
    • Make beds
    • Clean mirrors and television screens
    • Dust and vacuum
    • Open and wipe down every drawer
    • Sanitize high-touch areas, such as doorknobs, nightstands, and remote controls
  • Bathroom:
    • Disinfect toilets, showers, and sinks
    • Replenish toiletries and towels
    • Mop floors
    • Clean mirrors and glass surfaces
    • Remove every single hair
  • Living Room:
    • Take off every cushion and vacuum out couch
    • Clean under and behind all furniture
    • Wipe down mirrors and televisions
    • Spot clean furniture and sit in each seat to ensure it is not broken
    • Sweep floor
    • Sanitize high-touch areas such as remote controls
  • Dining Room:
    • Remove dirty dishes and trash
    • Wipe down table and sideboards
    • Spot clean dining chairs and ensure they can still be sat in
    • Clean mirrors
    • Dust and vacuum
  • Laundry Room:
    • Disinfect washing machine
    • Wash sheets and duvet covers
    • Wash all bath and kitchen towels
    • Wash throw blankets
    • Clean out all vents and traps
  • Kitchen:
    • Clean every single dish, cup, pot, pan, serving platter, and piece of silverware
    • Deep clean the microwave and oven
    • Clean range hood and top of fridge
    • Wipe down stove, countertops, and inside every drawer
    • Remove all items from refrigerator and freezer and wipe down
    • Thoroughly clean sink and faucet
    • Mop floor
  • Outside:
    • Check the yard for dog poop or cigarette butts
    • Clean outdoor furniture and BBQ
    • Get pine needles off trampoline and play structure
    • Wipe down mailbox
    • Disinfect front door handle and wipe down front door
    • Clean front windows
How can deep cleaning make an impact in guest reviews?

Hosts may set their own cleaning fees based on the size of the property and the required tasks. A larger home or one that permits pets typically involves more extensive cleaning, which can increase the fee. As guests, your comfort and health are at the forefront, and ensuring a pristine environment is key to the success of short-term rentals.

The Cost of Professional Cleaning

When you book a vacation rental, the cleanliness of the space is a priority. Airbnb recognizes this and ensures that hosts maintain a high standard. As a result, the cleaning fees on the platform may be significant. Professional cleaning services are commonly utilized by hosts to prepare their space for guests. These services have fees that reflect labor costs, supplies, insurance, licensing, operating expenses, and the time required to clean.

In recent years, there’s been a renewed focus on cleanliness, especially in popular destinations like New York City which had an Airbnb bed bug outbreak. Whether it’s an entire home, a private room, or a luxurious property with a hot tub, Airbnb guests expect the absolute best. Higher cleaning fees are also a reflection of increased demands for cleaning due to health and safety concerns. Cleaning companies pass on excessive cleaning costs onto hosts which in turn get passed right on down to the guests that caused the extra cleaning.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has acknowledged the importance of clean spaces for guests. When the cost of a vacation climbs, you might notice cleaning fees becoming a larger portion of your booking total, a messy line item that causes a lot of people sticker shock. Now you understand why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much. The fee covers the effort to deliver a safe, clean, and welcoming environment. It can vary greatly depending on property size, location, and cleaning complexity.

Is professional cleaning necessary to attract Airbnb guests?

Why Higher Cleaning Fees are Justified

When you book a stay, you might notice why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now and wonder about the justification behind these costs. Enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented in many properties to ensure your safety. This rigorous process requires additional time and effort from hosts or cleaning services.

  1. Fair Living Wage: Fair living wage is critical for sustainability in the hospitality industry. Cleaning fees contribute to providing a fair wage for those who meticulously prepare the accommodation for your stay.
  2. Flat-Rate Cleaning Fee: When hosts charge a flat-rate cleaning fee, it transparently reflects the actual work required irrespective of your length of stay. This can help manage expectations and explain the sometimes higher-than-expected cleaning fees.
  3. Justification for the Fee: The justification for the fee lies in ensuring a comfortable and clean experience for every Airbnb guest. So much cleaning goes into preparing each space, and these fees help cover the comprehensive efforts of cleaning teams.

While the total cost of your vacation climbs with these fees, consider the value they add. Quality cleaning ensures a welcoming and hygienic environment, enhancing your overall travel experience. The cleaning fee is a one-time charge, clearly outlined in the cost breakdown, which helps you understand the full cost of your stay without surprises.

Benefits of Higher Cleaning Fees
Ensures enhanced cleaning standards
Supports fair wages for cleaners
Contributes to the transparency of total costs
Provides a consistently clean and welcoming space for each guest
An image of two professional cleaners making a bed.

Comparing Airbnb and Hotel Cleaning Standards

When you book a stay, cleanliness is expected, whether in a hotel room or an Airbnb listing. Hotels often have a dedicated housekeeping staff that maintains a standardized level of cleanliness across all rooms. These standards are supposed to be consistent but regularly miss the mark. In the last hotel I stayed at there was blood on my pillowcase and the time before that there was a half eaten ice cream cone in my freezer.

In contrast, Airbnb hosts are responsible for cleaning their listings. This means that cleaning standards can vary greatly from one Airbnb to another. Some hosts clean the property themselves, while others hire professional services. The absence of industry-wide regulation for private accommodations contributes to why some properties forgo cleaning fees and other’s seem to have excessive fees.

Either way, cleaning fees are transparent in Airbnb bookings, listed separately from the rental cost, taxes, and service fee. The flat-rate charge for cleaning is set by hosts and can reflect the effort needed to meet guest expectations. The average Airbnb cleaning fee may include costs for professional cleaning services, which continuously rises as cost of living increases. In comparison, hotels often incorporate cleaning costs into the room rate or, in some instances, itemize them as part of resort fees.

Here is a simplified breakdown comparing the two:

AspectAirbnb ListingsHotel Room
Cleaning StandardsVary by host; not regulatedStandardized
StaffingHost or hired serviceDedicated housekeeping team
Visibility of FeesTransparent, listed separatelyIncluded in room rate or resort fees
Median Cleaning FeeCan fluctuate widelyGenerally consistent within a hotel brand

Your experience with cleanliness can differ significantly depending on where you stay, and understanding these differences helps manage your expectations and budget accordingly.

The Impact on Guests and Hosts

The rise of cleaning costs on Airbnb has left potential guests and hosts navigating a challenging marketplace. As a guest, you face transparency concerns with the total price display. Cleaning fees often appear as separate from the nightly rate, leading to an unexpected price jump once you proceed to booking.

Meanwhile, Airbnb hosts justify these fees due to the increased standards for cleanliness. For hosts, a property’s upkeep is paramount, but the higher fees can attract negative reviews from guests who don’t anticipate the additional cost. This friction challenges hosts to balance competitive pricing with maintaining high standards for sanitation and guest satisfaction.

Your understanding of why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now is essential. An informed perspective helps you grasp the financial pressures on hosts that result in these charges. High cleaning fees also impact the perceived value of Airbnb listings, influencing your decision as you compare Airbnb prices to traditional hotel options. Airbnb spokespersons have commented on the variable cleaning fees, emphasizing the need to maintain high standards for short stays and longer guest stays alike.

While these fees might seem excessive at first glance, they are often justifiable. After all, ensuring a clean, safe, and welcoming environment for every guest is one of the most important things for both Airbnb hosts and guests.

An image of a professional cleaner going through her cleaning supplies.

Navigating Airbnb Listings and Fees

Navigating Airbnb listings and fees can seem overwhelming, especially when you see that Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now. Last year Airbnb began showing a breakdown of taxes, their own fees, and which owners charge cleaning fees. Here are some insights to help you navigate rental property fees:

  1. Understanding the Base Price and Cleaning Fees: Some properties offer an attractive nightly rate but there is a separate cleaning fee. A toggle button on Airbnb’s search box lets you view the total cost of the stay upfront, avoiding surprises later.
  2. The Role of the Property Manager: The property manager or host sets the cleaning fee. They consider the total cost to clean and maintain the property, especially for short-term-rental guests. This includes everything from laundry to restocking essentials like toilet paper and light bulbs.
  3. The Impact of Flat-Rate Charges: Many hosts now charge a flat-rate cleaning fee. This is good news for guests staying longer as it becomes less and less impactful to the total price.
  4. Social Media and Feedback: Social media platforms and forums like Tugbbs provide valuable insights from Airbnb guests and hosts. They often discuss cleaning fee trends and offer tips on finding rentals with reasonable cleaning fees.

The cleaning fee is an important, though sometimes messy, line item in your Airbnb reservation. Unlike hotels who can wash linens in their commercial size machines, hide stains in their wild printed carpet, and instruct housekeepers to do the bare minimum, Airbnb owners typically take a lot of pride in providing a very clean place for you to rent.

Fun Fact: I’ve stayed in an Airbnb where I found a bra stuffed in the couch cushions.

Providing a Clean Airbnb

As an Airbnb owner I want to provide the absolute best place for you to stay. So yes, that means extra charges for cleaning. My standard cleaning fee is $297 which I subsidize, since my cleaning staff generally charge me $400 to $600 depending on the condition of the property.

While a hotel room can turn over their space between 11am checkout and 4pm check-in, my Airbnb simply can’t do that. Even just doing the bare minimum that timeframe would be impossible. My rates and availability reflect an empty night between all booking so that my guests can arrive to a clean home.

The knee jerk reaction for extra expenses like cleaning fees is to think hosts are just being greedy. But, I can assure you that we don’t pass on additional costs until it becomes absolutely necessary. We know how it looks. I hope this has given you some insight as to why Airbnb cleaning fees cost so much now and you can understand the financial aspect of charging those fees.

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FAQ: Why Airbnb Cleaning Fees Cost So Much Now


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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  1. Clive says:

    Wow, what an eye-opening read! As someone who’s used Airbnb frequently, I’ve often wondered about the steep cleaning fees. This article provides invaluable insight into the meticulous process hosts undertake to ensure a spotless stay. One aspect that’s often overlooked is the impact of guests’ cleanliness on these fees—being mindful of leaving the space tidy can actually help keep cleaning costs down for everyone involved. Thanks for shedding light on this important topic! Thanks