Incensed or not

I don’t allow smoking in my downstair’s rental. I occasionally smell incense wafting up through the floorboards. It doesn’t bother me as I burn incense myself upstairs though tend to go for the more woody ones rather than flowery smells guests like. My only issue, and question, is does it bother the next guests? I’m inclined to let it pass as I am going for a relaxing vibe. Guests can smoke on the terrace but not inside. I’ve never had a guest complain about residual smells (incense, smoke, kitchen or pot but cats/dogs yes). Have you had a guest complain about smells? How did you remove them (the smell not the guest)? Did you comp them?

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If it’s a heavy, sickly odour then yes. We’ve been to the odd place over the years where there was the lingering stink from some cheap shit. Although, to be honest, it wasn’t something that we’d mark down for.


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I’m severely allergic to many scents both natural and artificial. For me it would be more than just an inconvenience, I would have to be relocated.

You might also wonder if they are burning the incense to cover up the smell of weed.

As a safety precaution I don’t allow ANYTHING to be burned in my STR. That could be one way around the burning of incense.

In regards to removing the smell, an ozone machine works well but they are very dangerous and you nor any pets can not be in the area and after the timer ends, you still can’t enter the space for a while. If you buy an ozone machine, read up on the directions carefully.


Yes, I’m extremely allergic to scents. Fabulouso will give me a migraine and an asthma attack. Most incense causes headaches and trouble breathing/allergies. Even if you burned it only upstairs, I’d have to leave.

This. I don’t want candles or anything burning in the house. I’ve marked guests down when I’ve found residue.

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I don’t like it when guests use any kind of fragrance, burned or not. I’ve just this weekend tossed the remaining bit of a scented body wash I used to put in the airbnb for the guests. They must like it because they use it. But the smell has become too disagreeable for me.

I have a repeat regular who uses too much perfume and some of the worst have been men slathering on something icky to me. Trying to control personal fragrance use crosses a line for me so I put up with it. Once I’m sure a couple smudged my room. But I just aired out the room and let it go.

Nor can I control how the next guest will react to any lingering scent so I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. I use no fragrance added products; that’s all I can control.


I received a scented Eau de Toilette and body wash as a present from a good friend. She spritzed me before I could stop her. Cue headache and stuffy head inside 15 minutes. Regifted to someone later that evening who complimented the fragrance.


This! ^^^^^^^ Unscented French milled soaps…


Where I worked in an open plan office, the next desk over, the new starter who sat there had an amazing supply of cheap perfume she must have bathed in. By the end of the week, i would be sneezing, red eyed, headache and bloody uncomfortable. I got my self moved to another location…how do you say - please don’t wear crap perfume in a work environment…?


No, no one has complained about a previous guest’s smells – incense, candles, cannabis, tobacco – but that is because I wash everything down and then set out a bowl of whatever potion I’m into at the time for smell removal. Vinegar works (let it simmer on the stove), and coffee grounds do too. I check the internet for tips.
I have a cushion of two or more days between guests. I’m finding I cannot handle turnarounds that are quicker than that, thanks to my day job. So there is airing-out time.
Mine is a small space that doesn’t take as long as bigger places to de-scent, but I am annoyed every minute of it.


I used to attend a yoga class where the instructor walked around putting a dab of lavender oil on everyone’s forehead during the corpse position relaxation at the end. As we all had our eyes closed, the first time she did it, I wasn’t prepared for it at all.

I detest the smell of lavender and had to ask her never to do that to me again. It was bad enough just smelling it in the air, but it was an open air facility, so not as bad as it could have been. She was really surprised that anyone wouldn’t like the smell of lavender.

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I don’t either, and safety is one reason. Another reason for banning incense and candles is that they soot up the ceiling, and if the walls absorb the odor, painting might be needed.

For STRs you might not notice, but when I was managing 700 units of rental housing in a previous life I saw (and smelled) the result of long term use of both.

In some units we had to KILZ the walls to get rid of incense odors, and everywhere candles were regularly burned, the soot was there. Sometimes it wasn’t visible until you swiped the overhead with a damp sponge, and textured walls and ceilings meant a paint job.

Since the leases and rental agreements forbade it, and we notified them that if they did so the cost of repainting would be taken from their deposit, they had no grounds to protest.

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This would make me sick. I would not allow anything to be burned. My former healthcare employer banned all fragrances because you never know who has a serious problem with them. One worker ended up in an ICU because a coworker used an almond scented product. A headache and a little congestion are one thing, but this can get serious.

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I had a female boss in the 90s who used a perfume which gave me headaches. We hated each other so I saw it is biowarfare. I once mentioned it to her that I was allergic to her perfume and her response was “you don’t expect me to change my scent for you do you?”. Since we basically avoided each other it was only once a week team meetings I had to put up with.

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What would be a short but polite way to say to potential guests that sometimes previous guests burn incense or light scented candles so they shouldn’t book if they are allergic to it?

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Everybody thinks that their favourite scent should be everybody else’s favourite scent. It’s like I love Brussel Sprouts but I don’t shove them down other people’s throats.

I’m laughing so hard. I grew up close to Wautaga Sour Kraut company. In the fall at cabbage harvest time, the air was heavy with the smell of cooking cabbage. Since then the smell of anything like cabbage including Brussels sprouts to me is AWFUL.

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True story. A hospital I worked at had a “no perfume” policy for employees. It wasn’t aggressively monitored & basically it went ignored until:
A patient’s visitor got on a crowded elevator & had a severe reaction to someone’s cologne/perfume & died.

So many jackasses don’t realize or maybe don’t care what they they may be doing to other people.


Scents are very personal. What I like may be disgusting to someone else. I enjoy a slight whiff when passing by someone who is wearing an appealing fragrance. It can be gag-worthy standing near someone who has put on wayyyy too much.

So many people I’ve met have reactions to perfume that I no longer wear it - I think that goes for all scents. It doesn’t affect me other than whether or not I like a scent.

To get back to @JamJerrupSunset question… when imagining the smell of a place when walking in… a strong incense smell brings images of a cheap place that is trying to cover up something worse. It would seem less clean to me. Thus, if I were charging a premium I would consider it a firm “no” to burning incense.

That being said, if there were another stronger scent that may be unappealing to some (i.e. cooking spices) I would use an aromatherapy machine (essential oils like: eucalyptus, lemon, sage, orange, peppermint) that would remove some odor and leave a more appealing scent after trying to air out the smells from the previous guests.

If your rates are on the lower side, I’d say you go ahead with however you personally would do things. If that includes allowing burning incense, then state it in your listing: “If you suffer reaction to scents, please be aware that we do not restrict the use of scents, including incense.”

My go-to scent removers, when necessary:

  • If you have carpets: sprinkle with baking soda or scented baking soda product. Allow to sit for an hour to absorb odors and then vacuum.
  • someone once left a bottle of odor neutralizer - something like Nilodor (but specifically for smoke). It was amazing at removing/absorbing the smell of cigarettes (guess that’s what they did in my house despite our no-smoking policy).
  • I use Melaleuca products for cleaning, and their “Sol-u-Mel” is amazing! It can be used not only for cleaning, but it is a deodorizer when just sprayed in the air (diluted). It is natural and safe.
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As someone else replied above, all scents can give me headaches. It doesn’t matter if they’re natural, organic, or completely manmade. Our home-share listings (when we’re open) say no to any strong scents and no to any open flames.

Over the years, we’ve had issues only twice with guests and strong scents. Once, a man’s cologne. The other time, a woman’s perfume. I asked them both, nicely, to stop using it. They both did.

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Essential oils almost always cause me to have severe headaches. Eucalyptus (and cedar) scents give me bronchitis-like symptoms.

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Good to know, and I’m sorry to hear that!
How are you with strong cooking smells?