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Airbnb and Washing Dishes: Rules for Hosts

As an Airbnb host, it is important to have a very detailed house manual at your property that lists all your house rules for your guests. My house manual includes check-in procedure, internet and TV information, local information, and most importantly- check out procedure.

Every host’s check-out procedure will be different, but most hosts, myself included, expect guests to do a basic cleanup of the rental before leaving. As a Superhost, one question my fellow hosts ask me all the time is, “what about the dishes?”.

Should Airbnb Guests Be Required to Wash Their Own Dishes Before Check-Out?

Generally, the answer to this question is yes. Most hosts and guests agree that guests should wash their own dishes before checking out and follow any other check out procedures required by the Airbnb host.

When considering a rule about dishwashing, it is important that hosts ask themselves these questions:

  • Is there a dishwasher in the rental?
  • Do you charge a cleaning fee, if so, how much?
  • Do you pay a cleaning service, or do you clean your own rental?
  • What is the checkout time?

These variables will play into your decision on whether you require your Airbnb guests to wash their own dishes.

Do You Have a Dishwasher?

Depending on your property and the size of your rental, you may decide to add a dishwasher to your space. This usually isn’t an issue for a full house rental with a normal sized kitchen, however, if your space is an apartment, cabin, or tiny house, a dishwasher may not be feasible.

The overwhelming consensus, is that if your rental has a dishwasher, it is a no brainer to make a rule that your guests should load their dirty dishes in the dishwasher and start it before they check out. Most guests will also see this as a very reasonable request. As a host, you just must be sure that you keep dishwashing detergent stocked for your guests to use.

A dishwasher doesn’t always solve this issue though. I have talked to hosts who still run into issues with the dishwashing rule even when the unit has a dishwasher. Some common issues can include:

  • Guests forgetting to start the dishwasher or not rinsing dishes before loading causing food to dry and get stuck to dishes
  • Running items like pots and pans through the dishwasher that should be handwashed

For these reasons, hosts who have dishwashers don’t include loading and running the dishwasher in their house rules. Having the convenience of a dishwasher can allow a host to save time, make sure all dishes are cleaned properly, and that nothing goes into the dishwasher that isn’t supposed to.

Airbnb Dishes

I have a dishwasher in several of my rental properties. In these properties, my house rules do include loading the dishwasher, however I ask that my guests do not start the dishwasher. This way, when I go to clean my rental, I can check what is in the dishwasher and how it was loaded. I think this way is convenient for both the guest and for myself.  

Are you looking for the perfect dishes for your Airbnb rental? Read our top picks for the best Airbnb dishes HERE.

Cleaning Fees

It is common to hear from guests that if they are charged a large cleaning fee, they feel they shouldn’t have to do any sort of check-out cleaning or chores after their stay. Hosts generally have a very different opinion about this.

The average cleaning fee for a rental is $65. This is in addition to the nightly rate. In a larger, more expensive rental, some cleaning fees can be $100 or more. Most hosts see this fee as covering their time and expenses to prepare the rental property for the next guest. Whether it is hiring an actual cleaning service, or paying for cleaning products, hosts generally feel that a cleaning fee is fair.

I have heard some hosts differentiate between “picking up” and “cleaning”. “Picking up” is what a guest is expected to do. This includes throwing away trash, picking up around the rental, and doing dishes. These are small tasks that are mostly seen as a common courtesy and an attempt to leave the space the way the guest found it. “Cleaning” however includes the big tasks like vacuuming, mopping, wiping down counters, and washing linens and towels. These are the tasks covered by the fee.

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Many hosts have experimented with their cleaning fee rate and although the average is $65, I like to keep my cleaning fee at $30. I have found that this rate is sort of a “sweet spot”. Guests aren’t paying enough to feel like they can do zero cleanup, and I am still being compensated for any extra cleaning or supplies I need. With a lower cleaning fee, it is reasonable to asks guests to do their own dishes whether that involves loading a dishwasher or handwashing.

Pros of a Cleaning Fee
  • Compensates a host for extra time or supplies
  • Allows a host to invest in a cleaning service
  • Ensures guests that the rental they are staying in will be clean upon arrival
Cons of a Cleaning Fee
  • Makes guests feel like they are not required to do any cleaning
  • Could lead to less bookings due to increased rate
  • May find your rental in worse condition

Do You Wash Dishes Yourself or Do You Use a Cleaning Service?

Whether or not you have your guests do their own dishes upon checkout may depend on whether you clean your rental on your own or hire a cleaning service.

Generally, those who hire a cleaning service don’t require their guests to do any dishes. This is because they charge a higher cleaning fee to cover the service and therefore don’t expect as much cleanup out of their guests.

Hosts who clean the rental on their own, usually have the rule that their guests need to wash their dishes or at the very least, rinse and leave the dishes to soak in the sink. This saves a host time when prepping the rental for new guests.

Many hosts I have talked to said that they don’t trust hand washed dishes and either end up inspecting all the dishes or rewashing them if they aren’t clean enough. This had led some hosts to just throw out the dish washing rule completely.

I do not use a cleaning service for my rentals so in my rentals that do not have a dishwasher, I ask that my guests wash their own dishes but leave them on a drying rack that I provide. This way, I can easily inspect the washed dishes to make sure they are up to my standard of clean.

Does Your Check-Out Time Leave Guests Enough Time for Dishes?

When determining if it is fair to require your guests to wash their dishes, you need to consider your check-out time. If you have an early check-out time like 10:00am or earlier, you can’t expect your guests to complete too many cleaning chores.

If you would like to make sure your guests wash their dishes and follow the rest of your check out instructions, I would recommend making your check-out time 11:00am or even noon. This keeps your guests from feeling rushed on the morning of their departure.

Final Advice

Everyone has a different standard of “clean” so whether you require your guests to wash their own dishes or not depends on a lot of factors and your own personal preference as a host. I have the found the most success in charging a low cleaning fee and asking guests to do basic clean up before they leave – which includes their dishes. I also have realized that I need to have realistic expectations for what cleaning looks like on vacation and sometimes, be ready to re-wash some dishes myself.

Ryan Drew- Contributor
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Ryan Drew- Contributor

I'm an Airbnb Superhost sharing my Airbnb journey and tips that I've learned along the way.

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