Cooking oil, super dirty pans - is this normal

I had guests in my home for 10 nights. Overall, they kept most of the house fairly clean, I’d say average. The kitchen is another matter. My relatively new fry pans had a cooked on, black goo on the bottom of all three. Not just a little, but pretty much covered the entire bottoms. There was cooking oil/grease splattered on and all around the stove, countertops, microwave etc. The top of the stove have yuk on it. They used a lot of my pans, which is to be expected, and they washed the insides, but the outsides were filthy and they didn’t put any away (which under the circumstances was a good thing). I spent hours cleaning those pans and I’m still working on cleaning the kitchen. I’m mostly concerned with the cooking smells left behind. I have all of the windows open and the fans on. The last time I had a similar smell in my home, it took weeks to get rid of most of it and the smell never did completely go away. I have a forced air unit and I put 3 Bounce laundry sheets in the air return vent. Speaking of vent, that’s what I’m doing here, venting. I gave them an honest review, which I hate to do because they were nice people, but I don’t want another host to have to go through this.

Some guests cook less and are super clean. Some are messy and slobs. It evens out. Normal: No. To be expected: Yes.

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I learned on this forum to put out a bowl of vinegar on the counter, and it works.


I would charge them for new pans and extra cleaning. Sounds like they just did not care.


Before I started with Airbnb, I had some longer-term renters (3 months) that did the same thing. It was a recently-retired couple. The wife was Thai and she pan-fried a LOT. The wall behind the stove, the underside of the cabinets, the bottom of the microwave, etc were covered with a layer of grease/oil. The top of the refrigerator and the insides of some of the cabinets had a layer of oil. The top sides of the ceiling fan in the adjacent family room were sticky with oil. The skillets all had brown food stains on the outsides and the lids to the skillets had the same stains on the insides. I had planned to list the house on Airbnb right after they left, but the whole house smelled so strongly of garlic that I wouldn’t risk it. Also, I didn’t actually notice the grease on the top of the refrigerator or the ceiling fan blades until another 2 months after they vacated. By then the grease had turned rancid and was very difficult to remove. I threw away two inexpensive aluminum non-stick skillets and cleaned the stainless skillets with oven cleaner. It took a lot of cleaning to remove all of the grease from everything, but I did it. I also tried all kinds of recommendations to remove the strong garlic smell, but nothing worked. In the end, I think it was just time. They left in June and it was October when the smell had dissipated enough that I though it would be safe to bring in new furniture.

BTW, their plan after leaving my rental was to travel around the US and Canada staying at Airbnbs for 2 to 4 weeks at a time while sightseeing.

I probably won’t charge them, but if I wanted to charge them or someone else in the future, how would I go about it?
Also, should I be charging a security deposit? I’m currently charging a $55 dollar cleaning fee. I feel that covers washing the towels, sheets, vacuuming, cleaning the floors bathrooms, and kitchen. My house rules state that the quests are responsible for washing their own dishes.

Thanks for the advice

This is exactly why it’s important for us all to give honest and factual reviews. You see, another time they might request a stay at a place where there is no kitchen access or a place like mine which has meagre cooking supplies. The fact that they were good guests in other respects would be the important thing in that case, not the condition of your pans.

The sad fact is that anything you leave out and available for guests might get damaged, broken or stolen. Please note that this is not a cynical viewpoint but one developed over many years. It’s up to us to minimise that risk. For example, if I left ten pans available for guests I can’t really complain if they are all used. If I leave twelve towels, ditto. If I expect guests to do the dishes but don’t leave dish soap then I have to expect a pile of dirty pots.

The good thing is that the messy stove, greasy splatters and the cooking pong only happen once in a while - but it does happen. Just think about the other guests who left everything in immaculate condition and the cleaning doesn’t seem too bad.

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I have a line in the house rules section of the listing that spells out checkout instructions: “It’s easy: just follow the short checkout checklist in the cottage, and leave the cottage in good shape. This means that no damage has been done to the house or its contents, nothing is missing, and no extraordinary cleaning is required.”

I recently made a claim in the resolution center and got reimbursed for extra cleaning when guests left my kitchen a quagmire: grease on every surface, pans with burned bottoms, sink full of dishes, etc. I had my cleaning helper give me an invoice for 3 extra hours and attached photos. You can’t photograph the smells, though. Sigh. Yes, vinegar left out for a day helps. But we don’t always get time for the smells to dissipate. Why people don’t use exhaust fans baffles me.

I was fortunate in this case that the guest agreed to the charges. . .I don’t know what would have happened if Airbnb got involved. But it’s worth a try.

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I agree 100%. I left an honest review. I do expect everything to be used but I don’t expect anything to be ruined. In this case, nothing was but I’m now on day 2 of cleaning and need to be finished in 4 hours! Gotta run…


I would not only be concerned about the baked on goo, but also the fire hazard.

I hate it when they cook! I had one guest that must have fried food non stop. There w as grease all over the stove top, kitchen cabinets and walls. I had to use Easy Off on the bottom of all the frying pans because they were coated in burnt oil. It was disgusting. So, yes it happens. I much rather rent out to older folks that can afford to dine out. I noticed the younger folks in their 20’s are the ones that cook a lot.


What if we add “no frying” to our house rules?


There was a lively thread about this last year. Opinions were all over the place. Bottom line it’s your home, rules defined by you.

I’m a “frying supporter” but others are not. The real issues to me seem to be clean up the kitchen &cookwear well after use.

The odor might be from grease inside the exhaust fan and/or vent pipes. If its possible to take a look you might be really grossed out! Obviously cleaning the filters is a first step, I run them through the dishwasher very so often.

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I have given up putting quality pots and pans in mine. I look for serious specials and replace them every 12 months. The lack of care astounds me.


That’s what I do. Costco is my friend. I’ve had burnt on food and scratched up pans and dirty pans left in the oven. My favorite guests are the ones that really just want a refrigerator to put a few beverages and snacks in. I really hate people that make a big pan of bacon the morning they’re checking out (especially since I don’t eat meat).

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I do not eat meat either, so ya it’s grosser for us:(


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Me too! I replace at least one set of cookware per year between my two condos. This year a friend helped me unpack this year’s replacement cookware cuisinart 8 piece stainless steel that I purchased on Woot for $79. She kept saying “these are really nice to put in a rental…”. I didn’t understand her concern. Then I saw them in a department store for $189!!! I got a deal. I hope the pots & pans are still there at the end of summer.

(WOOT is a super discount site affiliated with Amazon. Also Amazon has an open box site for deeply discounted items)

@Annet3176 Maybe you should swap the new set for your personal set this time!

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I just edited my house rules. I ask them to enjoy the kitchen, to cook, but NO FRYING, or cooking anything with strong scents. I hope it helps

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