Getting guests to leave the house as they found it

Hello all! I’ve been an airbnb host now for almost a year. For the most part, things have gone well. We own a second home in the lakes region of NH that we use to vacation in, and we’ve decided to rent it on airbnb to help pay for it. We live 3 hours away, but have set up a home automation system to let folks in when they arrive, and I do my best to be as communicative as possible before their stay and let them know that if there are any issues or questions that they can contact me at anytime. My cleaning person, who lives right next door, helps keep me informed if things ever get out of hand or rowdy.

That being said, I have a question regarding guest check out. Our cleaning person mentioned a lot of times people don’t take out what they bring in. They leave behind a lot of half used food, etc. In my house manual I’ve asked folks to leave the house as they found it, but maybe I need to word it a little differently to encourage people to throw things out so she’s not sifting through all the food in the fridge before the next guests arrive? It’s a good sized house and so she’s got a lot of work to do already - I want to try to make it a bit easier for her to get the turnover done without her having to deal with people leaving stuff behind. Thoughts?

Thanks a bunch!

The request to leave the house as it was found is vague and open to interpretation. It would make me nervous. I would wonder if that meant that I was supposed to wash all the linens and remake the beds, clean the refrigerator, vacuum the floors, etc. I think you should be specific. That said, I think it will be difficult to get compliance on removing leftovers from the refrigerator. Our guests leave leftovers in the refrigerator all the time. I believe this is because it’s so easy to forget to clear out the refrigerator. You might consider putting a sign in the inside of the front door.


Thanks Ellen!

I do have specific instructions with regards to the linens (maybe I should have mentioned it! lol) I ask them to leave anything that was used on the floor so the cleaning person knows what’s clean and what’s not. You do make a good point though, and I guess I could just specifically ask, or leave a sign on the fridge, asking people if they wouldn’t mind disposing of any food they brought in that they didn’t want to take home. We do offer our guests some basic condiments like ketchup, mustard, etc, so those would stay.

I appreciate the insight! :slight_smile:

I don’t think a sign on the refrigerator will help as guests don’t usually go to the kitchen when they are checking out. As I mentioned, leftover food is easy to forget. I can attest to this as I’ve many times left it in the restaurant. Therefore, I suggest again that if this is important to you, you should leave a sign on your front door where guests can’t miss it.

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The door they would likely go out of is off the kitchen, or the dining room. The front door is far away from the driveway so it never gets used. When we’re up there, we often go out the kitchen door. I guess I could add it to both, or when I check in with them the morning of their check out, I could include a polite reminder of what is expected for check out - linens on the floor, clean out fridge…?

How you approach it depends on what half used foods guests are leaving behind. Because you leave leftover condiments, guests could be doing the “pay it forward” and leaving items for the next guest to use. They might be thinking they are doing a favor.

Now if they are leaving leftover dinner in tupperware that the housekeeper now needs to clean, etc. - that is completely different and not acceptable.

If your housekeeper does not want any kind of leftover such as: half carton of eggs, unopened yogurt, opened box of ice cream, or even a frozen pizza that was never opened - then note in the departure checklist that all food items they brought must be disposed of in the trash.

Please keep in mind that I am a scrounge and not ashamed of it. So I enjoy going through perfectly good food and discarding what I don’t want…lol. I think one time I had a guest leave a pot of Broccoli cheddar soup and she said she didn’t want to throw it away because she hates to waste. I let it go since they were just a couple and they took great care of the place. Although I knew she just didn’t have time to scrub out the pot before checkout. That was okay though…because they were running late and also left a pile of freshly cooked bacon they didn’t have time to eat…lol.

One time I had a caterer text me (week long stay) with 6 guests and ask if my partner and I would like them to leave the leftovers or to dump them. We opted to let them leave it…and boy did it take an extra hour to go through everything and wash all the containers - but it was worth it - probably $75 worth of food. I received all kinds of goodies that she cooked, and that had never been opened. Wheels of Brie, etc.

I then noticed guests were dumping perfectly good food and thought “wow - I would have eaten that.” So now I add to my departure checklist that guests can leave condiments/goods if they think the next guest will find it useful.

Now the guests are starting to do that instead of throwing away. Yes, I know I added it for my selfish self, but I do think guests also appreciate not having to buy full condiments, etc. Of course I will not leave guests an opened jug of milk, or ice cream. But if it is a box of individually wrapped ice cream popsicles, an unopened box of cereal, etc. someone eventually uses it.

Some of my guests text me and proudly let me know all the items they left too. :smile:


Many guests say this to me when they leave. And like you, I use it all myself :slight_smile:

We’ve had some wonderful cheeses, fruit, drinks (including wine, beer and vodka), gourmet frozen items (I fondly remember a brie and sun-dried tomato tart) and lots more. The only thing I don’t whisk away for our use is leftover Chinese. Although leftover pizza is gratefully received :slight_smile:

I wonder why the cleaner doesn’t see it as a perk of the job? I do.


As I don’t eat meat; my dogs love it when guests leave meaty leftovers.

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If I get over to clean on back to back day and discover a “cold” pizza box on top of the trash…then I have been known to pull it right out and microwave to eat. Not during fruit fly season, but other seasons when not an issue. I pretty much know they just transferred that box from the fridge. I don’t get access to the “good” pizza that they purchased an hour away. My small town doesn’t have great restaurants overall. And nope…still not ashamed of my behavior :smile: :joy:


You are a girl after my own heart. I’ve often munched on a guest’s leftover pizza when doing a turnover. We hosts needs to keep our strength up and free food is a great way to do it!


This is my sentiment exactly and I get very annoyed to find unopened food in the bin. I also have some condiments in the fridge - 90% not bought by me - and the following guests use them nearly all the time! People are not, in general, afraid of margarine that’s been opened, or someone else’s chili sauce in the fridge door.

The simplest solution is to tell your cleaner they are welcome to anything left behind (toiletries, etc as well), that they can leave anything unopened that they don’t want, and that the fridge is part of their job - because they are doing housekeeping for a let, not just cleaning :slight_smile:

Because if I’m candid it seems like a petty thing for someone to complain about. It doesn’t take an hour to pick out half a dozen unsuitable / opened items left behind in a fridge, it takes less than a minute.

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I’m in Colorado. I get “leftover” pot (in various forms, including edibles) because they can’t take it from our legal state to their non-legal state :wink:


I gladly eat a lot of the food left by my guests :mask: I have a dozen organic eggs from the last guests… and some apricots …


That would irritate the hell out of me. Marijuana is so stinky.

Only when it’s not in a container. No one has left joints lying around and they have all been kind enough to ask me if it was ok for them to leave behind the goodies. I personally do not care for marijuana but many of my friends do.

I’ve been known to eat up leftover stuff as well! Thing is, we’re three hours away so I can’t just pop in and grab all the stuff. Maybe it was just this particular guest that left a lot and she noted it when she let me know about the condition of the house. It is possible that maybe she just expects everyone to leave it super clean so her job is easy :stuck_out_tongue: who knows!

Thank you all for the input! Sometimes it’s just good to hear what others do in certain situations with regards to all the stuff we encounter as hosts :slight_smile:

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I specifically put it in my instructions to leave their leftovers if they wish. I have found whole, untouched, cooked chicken from the deli, cheeses, breads, bags of salad, and more goodies in the trash. It pains me…

DH is thrilled when they leave ice cream novelties, tubs of frozen yogurt, or a frozen ice cream cake (this past Sunday).

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I lovvvve guest leftovers and often get a stash of organic items. But lately an inordinate amount of guests have left kale. Ughhh, just no… What does anyone see in kale? It’s usually always so bitter and there is just no way to cook it or eat it to make it palatable.

Go ahead, kale lovers of the world, pile on. :smiley:


You can make a fruit smoothie with it, and not even taste it…but it’s loaded with vitamins. Especially if guests leave organic yogurt too. Mix it all up with crushed ice and you will never know the difference.

We sound like a bunch of big adult kids disappointed when you go trick or treating, and you receive a box of raisins or an apple. No…just no…lololol. :joy:

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I think the kale salad craze is a bad idea. In my view, kale needs to be cooked. Try this recipe and you might become a convert.

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