Do you make rules about candles and other scented products?

This is a new one for me, but our current guest is apparently very fond of highly scented candles. Our property is strictly no smoking – it’s in the listing, it’s posted with a little “No smoking on premises” sign, and it’s in the house rules notebook. I had to remind him not to smoke in the apartment (part of our home) or yard, and he was apologetic and compliant (now he stands in the street to smoke). But now he’s burning these rank candles.

I don’t have a rule posted or formulated about candles, and it’s never been an issue with our previous guests over the last 4 years of hosting. We provide battery powered lanterns for power outages, and there’s no need for candles. I actually have some sensitivity to scented products and my goal is always the the rental is fresh and doesn’t smell like anything when you walk in. Nobody has ever complained of stale or moldy smells, so it’s not like the apartment stinks and he’s trying to cover that up. My son thinks he’s smoking pot and trying to cover that with the candles.

I tend to be fairly minimalist about house rules, but I swear the last month’s batch of guests are making feel like I need to create commandments and safe guards about everything. We’ve had the folks who turned off our house furnace (access door is in their area), the guests who decided to rearrange the configuration of my duck coop, the Mormon family who apparently found the presence of the coffee maker and coffee canister to be offensive so set them outside in pouring rain during their stay. The petty thief. And now stinky candle guy.

I feel like the short term rental gods owe me a nice, appreciative, low-drama guest or two for June.

But I digress. Do you spell out a no candle rule? Can I get away with expanding that to no scented sprays and plug ins and stuff? Anyone know a good way to get rid of scented candle stench in textiles (I have several wall hangings and quilted pillows in addition to furniture and bedding).


Unfortunately my insurance won’t allow an open flame. Please don’t use any candles or other flammable items


Yes, we have a rule of no open flames in the house or within 6’ of the structure outside. Many STRs have such a rule.

You can buy an ozone generator to get rid of most smells. Read the instructions; no living thing (e.g., plants) can be within the area.

Yes, you rule could also say “No scented sprays or air freshener type devices are permitted.”

We also have a rule against moving furniture and plants. You could expand that to include ‘and items within the home or outside.’ Your rules might also prohibit touching the furnace or its settings. Our scheduled message before checkout includes the statement that everything needs to be in its original placement.


Please respect that this is a scent free rental. Due to numerous recommendations from guests, we request nothing scented be used while you are here. Thank you for respecting this minor ask, as many people can have severe reactions to assorted scents.


You can only say that if you have specified this in the listing . @mollimac

You must have a very bad horoscope at the moment, lol. You can certainly spell out rules in your listing and in whatever signage isn’t too tacky. As for this guest, you either need to approach the guest now and accept whatever impact that has on your review or deal with mitigation after he leaves. Sprinkling baking soda on some things, then vacuuming can help. If you do approach the guest you could always ask if there is indeed some offensive odor that he has noticed in the unit that he is trying to counter.


I have rules that no candles or incense may be used. I do it for two reasons - safety but also because I am very allergic to scents.


Yes, I have a rule that you can’t use anything inside that is designed to be burned. That covers: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, joints, candles, mosquito coils and probably a few other things.

We had someone use a mosquito coil on a plate on the nightstand next to the bed in the master bedroom once. It fell off in the middle of the night and burned the wood floor. Fortunately it didn’t catch anything on fire - it just left a coil mark on the floor.


Many hosts have rules about candles, mostly because of the fire hazard. In the case of this guest, I’d suggest talking to them and asking them not to burn the scented candles due to your sensitivity. I have found the words “I need your help” to be disarming, at least it was in my years of teaching high school students.

I’m not sure adding a bunch of house rules is the solution. Rules should be for the situations that are common. So no smoking, vaping, smudging, incense or candle burning can be one rule. Saying don’t steal or put the coffee maker outside shouldn’t be rules.

You need to guest proof the space. Access doors need to be hidden or locked. Closets with host supplies can be locked. I don’t have any textiles in my rental except for bed and bath linens. Drapes were replaced with shutters, carpet with tile and extraneous throw pillows were removed. My rental is small and I have mostly one night guests but maybe you can take a few steps.

Anecdotal evidence is that guests have become more problematic so you aren’t alone.

For ridding a rental of smells, some people swear by ozone machines but no people or pets can be in them when you run it and you have to let it air out afterwards.


We don’t have a rule about it because I try to keep my house rules slim, but we’ve not had a problem with it either. I might add one if it happened a lot. We do provide several battery-operated candles but not sure if that has prevented the real ones or not.

For our monthly rentals in our other 2 apts, I do have a no candles rule in the lease, because our home insurance requires it be in there. Personally, I don’t care for the soot and wax splatters that come with them. I don’t mind most scents but if I was going to ban scents I’d start with the scent of broccoli cooking.


It says in our communications "No open flames of any kind, such as grills or candles. "… aw sh%^%$## I need to put this in the actual listing verbage!!


When the broccoli first makes that smell turn it off and eat it crunchy…

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So you don’t have a rule not to submerge the appliances in water? Or use the coffeemaker while in the bathtub? Or outside in an electrical storm?

Of course we don’t say not to submerge the refrigerator. Common sense. But the coffee maker?

What about the hair dryer? Again, do not submerge in water. Don’t use in the tub, or while sleeping. [Same with our knives, which we also warn as ‘sharp.’ ]. We instruct guests not to leave the TV projection system on, except in use, and that remote controls are not dishwasher safe [and should not be submerged in water, or swallowed (a choking hazard).]

Guests need adequate instructions. Otherwise, how could they possibly know?

It is a kind of crazy thing. A guest does some ‘stupid’ thing that we thought everyone knew. So gradually our rules, or at least the House Manual becomes longer and longer as we point out what we thought all the world knew. Not to impose a fine but maybe to have support with CS reps at Airbnb (are we writing for the guests or Airbnb CS?) and mostly just to forestall some kind of ‘incident’ at the risk of looking silly or overbearing to a normal person. But the takeaway is that most of these accidents are a cost of doing business, and the art of hospitality is to find the happy mean, which is why we still advise not to submerge the coffee maker, or try to swallow its plug in an electrical storm while sleeping.


I think my tenants would feel weird about me busting into their apartments and doing that. I’d rather bust in for their bacon anyway.

(it’s the smell of them cooking broccoli that is offensive, it doesn’t bother me when I’m cooking it :grin:


Yes. Strict house rules specify no burning ANYTHING: scented or unscented, includes barbecues, outdoor/indoor candles, incense, smoking, vaping.

Apart from real fire risks, so many guests with perfume/smell allergies, now we use only non-scented detergent, dryer fresheners, and spray products like fabreze.


I absolutely HATE the smell of Fabreze. is there an unscented one that you use?


Same here and we say so in our listing.

We don’t use any dryer sheets; we use wool balls instead.

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There is an unscented version, but honestly, no one should be using Febreze at all, it’s toxic.


@RST I just added the mention of candles to my House Rules today, as the previous Guest left her scented candle behind. I added it to the section on “Smoking” stating “the use of candles or any item with an open flame is strictly prohibited due to potential fire hazard on the property.” I would definitely add something to your House Rules just in case another Guest should take it upon themselves to want to use one again.

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Actually, my cleaning team showed me that water works just as well!

They spray lightly and smooth the fabric with their hands.

Amazing. All that cheap scent for nothing!

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