Airbnb ‘Cleaning Fees’: The messiest misconceptions

aribnb cleaning fees

It was hard to believe two years ago that fighting dust particles would become such a hot topic in the vacation rental industry – and the world, at large.

However (and for obvious reasons) cleaning and ‘cleaning fees’ has become the point of conversations and many controversies over the last few months. This is especially the case where OTA giant, Airbnb is concerned.

The problem is, there’s a whole bunch of misconceptions about Airbnb ‘cleaning fees’. The term itself is frankly a fallacy – unbeknown to too many guests and aspiring operators.

So, we’re here to clear up any industry ambiguities; and lay down all the facts (in the most polished fashion, of course).

Airbnb Cleaning Fees Don’t Actually Exist

This will come as shocking news to some. But the irony about the ‘problem’ with Airbnb cleaning fees, is that they don’t actually exist.

The OTA explains, in an admittedly roundabout way, that cleaning fees are set by hosts; and this is entirely dependent on their property, their competitors, or whatever the host feels like charging for that particular stay.

These fees are then added onto the total cost of a guest’s reservation; and does not count towards a deposit, nor is it refundable.

With no official Airbnb Cleaning Fee Policy in place, it is entirely up to the property manager to factor-in cleaning costs (or even adequate cleaning standards). As such, it is the host’s responsibility to manage this entirely – making it the host’s cleaning fees, and technically, not Airbnb’s.

Rising Cleaning Fees (and Rising Complaints)


clean house

With higher expectations of cleaning standards – thanks to another ‘C-word’ that we’re tired of mentioning – it’s no surprise that cleaning fees have catapulted, across the board.

In fact, a recent report by hospitalitynet claimed that the hotel and vacation rental industry is now operating in a market known as ‘Generation Clean’ – where health and safety has a profound influence on the traveler psyche.

Airbnb hosts are therefore under immense pressure to maintain cleaning standards – but this, expectedly, comes at a cost.

Cleaning fees are set on Airbnb to help hosts cover the additional expenses of cleaning a property, after guests have checked-out. Unlike most hotel companies, these hosts will unlikely have the luxury of an in-house cleaning team, and will need to outsource the task to a professional company (or perhaps, buy the supplies and clean it themselves).

So, why are hundreds of angry guests taking to the internet to complain about “Airbnb’s” astronomical cleaning costs?

Many sources claim that ‘the lack of transparency’ from the OTA is the biggest issue at-hand. Guests are often shown a ‘base rate’ which could be doubled or even tripled by the time the host’s cleaning fees and Airbnb’s service fees are added on.

One such Tweet (as reported on Fox 5) from an Airbnb guest, claimed that they were given a two-night rental fee breakdown of $198, which then increased to $413.95 due to the additional costs. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why tempers are running high.

Who’s Really Responsible for Cleaning-Up the Vacation Rental Industry?


hero man

While Airbnb has promised to review cleaning fees on several occasions, the fact remains that they are not the root cause of the issue.

The OTA, as well as experienced Airbnb guests, claim that issues regarding cleaning fees are best addressed with the hosts themselves, who are the only people who can reduce the costs (or waive them completely).

The trouble is, with such a dominant ‘middle man’ controlling the booking journey, making reliable contact with an Airbnb host is a mission within itself. Hosts are therefore advised to set ‘reasonable’ cleaning fees; and take guests (and the standard at which their property is left in) into account, when taking the additional payment.

Guests should always refer to the total price of their reservations – which will include any cleaning fees, and Airbnb’s service fee, and divide it by the number of nights they’ll be staying, to see if it’s within their budget.

A simple Google search of ‘Airbnb cleaning fees’ – followed by the plethora of articles that will instantly load-up on your screen, immediately tells you how seemingly misunderstood the vacation rental industry might be, when it comes to understanding Airbnb’s role in cleaning policies and costs.

In layman’s terms, the OTA does not set the numbers – and has very little control in negotiating them with guests. Making us question if the term ‘Airbnb cleaning fees’ itself, should be abolished from the hospitality dictionary?

We’ll let you decide.

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