A lot of first-time guests on Airbnb are a bit confused when it comes time to complete their booking. “So my rental really only costs $40 per night but has a $35 cleaning fee? What does that even mean?!”
The Airbnb cleaning fee has perplexed many a customer (and even some hosts). What purpose does it serve, and why don’t they just bundle that into the total price like hotels do? Does it really cost that much to clean an Airbnb?
What is the Airbnb cleaning fee?
The Airbnb cleaning fee is a significant part of the overall cost of renting an Airbnb. The fee varies significantly between rentals, but can sometimes make up as much as half of the total price. The fee appears high to a lot of guests, but it is important to consider the hours of work that go into cleaning, restocking, and refurbishing an Airbnb in between stays.
Still a bit confused by Airbnb’s cleaning fees? Follow along below where I go in-depth to explain them to hosts and guests!
As a guest, you might be wondering…
Is cleaning fee included in Airbnb price?
Yes, Airbnb cleaning fees are included in the Airbnb price that you see in the search results. In most cases, when you click on a listing or go to book a listing, you will get a breakdown of the total price that you saw before. This breakdown will include Airbnb fees, the cleaning fee, taxes, and then the actual base price of the rental itself.
Some hosts choose not to have a designated cleaning fee and instead simply build that price into the overall price of their listing. For example, two different listings might both rent for $100 a night. Listing A has a $50 cleaning fee and a $50 nightly rate, whereas Listing B has no cleaning fee and a $100 nightly rate. You are getting the same thing for the same price; it is just advertised in a different way!
Hosts all have their own reasoning for charging the way that they do. Some feel it is important to be transparent about the cost of renting their property. Others have found that guests tend to leave the room cleaner when there is no listed “cleaning fee”. It varies greatly, and what is common in one place might not be in another.
Why are Airbnb cleaning fees so high?
The reason that Airbnb cleaning fees appear so expensive is that most people aren’t accustomed to paying any kind of a cleaning fee for a short term rental at all. Your typical hotel reservation might cost $150 on any given night. You don’t usually see a breakdown of where this cost comes from, you just assume that the business has done its own calculations to determine how much their services will cost.
On Airbnb, however, it is different. While some hosts do choose to use the “hotel pricing model” and not show a separate fee, many hosts do. This may be the first time that some guests have seen a concrete value placed on how much time and effort it is to clean a room (let alone an entire house!).
Many Airbnb hosts do their own cleaning themselves. Some do employ cleaning staff, which obviously comes with its own costs and other factors to consider. “Turning over” and Airbnb refers to the process of cleaning and renewing an Airbnb between stays. Sheets must be stripped, towels laundered, amenities restocked, bathrooms scrubbed… you get the picture.
This can take even the most efficient host hours to accomplish, especially when an entire house is being rented out. Even a simple bedroom and bathroom unit can take quite a while to clean and refresh. So, if you’re questioning why your Airbnb costs $75 and $35 of that is the cleaning fee, consider how much effort really goes into operating a mini-hotel!
Are you supposed to clean your Airbnb before you leave?
Yes, it is common courtesy to tidy up an Airbnb before you leave. Most hosts don’t expect you to do a full-on mini cleaning of your own while you’re on vacation or a business trip, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a few things to make their life a bit easier.
Aside from the obvious things you’ll have to do like throwing out any garbage and gathering your belongings, some guests will ask the host if they would like the guest’s help with anything. Some common requests are to place all like linens together (such as dirty towels in the bathroom, sheets on the bed, etc.) and sometimes to bag up their trash. Again, these things are not typically expected, but will definitely go a long way in the eyes of your host and help earn you a great review!
How do I avoid Airbnb fees?
Some fees on Airbnb are not avoidable at all. These include the cleaning fee (if the host charges one), a security deposit (if applicable), Airbnb’s own fees, and the price of the rental itself. However, you can definitely avoid paying extra fees on top of these by being a savvy guest and sticking to the host’s house rules.
First, be sure to read the fine print of your rental agreement… figuratively speaking. Hosts can implement their own various fees, and some of them to catch people by surprise. One such fee is the dreaded early check in or late check out fee. Hosts will establish these fees in order to give them enough time to clean between stays, but not all guests adhere to them very well. This can result in some hefty fees being applied to your stay, so make sure to stay on top of your check in and out times!
Another type of fee to look out for is a security deposit. Not all hosts charge these deposits, but if they do be sure to know when and why you might not get yours back. These deposits can also be very expensive, in some cases hundreds of dollars.
Can you negotiate prices on Airbnb?
It is possible to negotiate pries on Airbnb, but tread lightly if you choose to do so. Many hosts consider asking for an Airbnb discount a pretty big red flag, and some will decline a booking based on this alone. If hosts do offer a discount, this is usually explicitly stated in their description. For example, lots of hosts offer discounted rates during the low season or if they have an especially under-booked period of time.
If you’re planning on staying for a longer period of time (like several weeks) it doesn’t hurt to politely ask if the host offers any discounts for extended stays. Keep in mind that any discounts you might receive will likely be minimal, typically in the 10% or so range. Airbnb hosts don’t usually have a huge profit margin, so any discount you can get is a good one!
As an Airbnb host, you might ask…
How do I set up an Airbnb cleaning fee?
It’s as easy as editing your existing listing. On Airbnb, go to Your Listings and click Pricing. There is a spot for a cleaning fee, find it and select the Edit button next to it. Set your desired fee and you’re good to go! Keep in mind that it will only affect future bookings and not any that you currently have.
How much should you charge to clean a house?
Some people are hesitant to charge what they believe to be “too much” for their cleaning fee. I prefer to think of it this way: How much would I pay someone else to do this work? Most cleaners charge $20 an hour or more. You should pay yourself at least as much as you would pay someone else, if not even more! Value your time as a host and a business owner appropriately.
The average (and this is a wide average since the prices of Airbnbs vary so broadly) cleaning fee is around $50. Again, this varies wildly based on if you’re renting an entire home, a mansion, or just a spare bedroom. The best bet is to shop around for comparable listings in your area and see what they charge.
Still feeling stuck with some Airbnb cleaning questions? My Airbnb cleaning checklist has got you covered!
Do I leave a tip for Airbnb?
As a general rule, tipping an Airbnb host is not expected. They are considered the owners of their own business, and most people feel that since they have the ability to build in and set their own costs that tipping is unnecessary.
If you want to show gratitude to a host, a lot of guests will leave a small gift or a nice note behind. An even better way to show appreciation is so leave a glowing 5-star review. This will be immensely helpful to your host in the long run and helps to really show them that you’ve enjoyed your experience with them.
Apart from hosts, some guests do tip other Airbnb staff if applicable. For example, cleaning staff that the host hires may be tipped if you want. Also, if your host is acting as a tour guide (or facilitating any other services for you) a tip is usually appreciated.
What do I do if my Airbnb is dirty?
You should never have to worry about arriving in a dirty Airbnb! While oversights do happen, an Airbnb that has not been cleaned from the prior stay is unacceptable. If you suspect that your Airbnb has not been properly cleaned, don’t hesitate to contact your host about it. This should be done as soon as possible upon arrival.
If the host doesn’t respond in a timely manner, it isn’t unreasonable to request alternative accommodation. The Airbnb Help Center can assist you with this. If the host does respond and it seems that there has been an honest mistake, allow them the chance to correct it. Most hosts want the best for their guests, so if you’re able to wait for the rental to be cleaned or don’t mind being put up somewhere else for the time being, try to stay understanding and flexible.