Just completed my first hosting stint - reactions to condition in which the guests left my house?

Hello Air Hosts.

My first-ever guests just checked out this morning after a five day stay. There were six of them (I think), they rented my 3-bed, 2-bath single family house while I was out of the country on business.

My poor girlfriend has been cleaning the house all afternoon, and after hearing and seeing pictures of some of the “damage,” I had some questions about the general etiquette I should hope to expect from renters in the future if I ever decide to host again.

Obviously, we totally expected to have plenty of cleaning and straightening up to do, but some of it seems a little questionable to me so I wanted to bounce this off of everyone to gauge how reasonable/unreasonable I am being.

Here are some of the things we found:

  • Dirty boxer shorts left on bathroom countertop
  • Dishes washed, but poorly - everything had to be rewashed
  • They clearly cooked with a lot of oil and there is a sheen of it over every surface of the kitchen
  • Outdoor rug has what appears to be BBQ sauce stains on it. So does one of the patio seat cushions
  • Cigarette and cigar butts found in planter beds even though an ash tray was provided
  • They used metal to stir whatever they were cooking in my non-stick pans and they left scratch-marks
  • A handful of other sucky things along these lines

I should note, I am an exceptionally clean and particular person, and I fully acknowledge my oversensitivity to a lot of this kind of stuff. Also, while I did leave a house rules/tips&tricks sheet, on which I specified cleanup and check-out procedure, it really only said to clean dishes and kitchen, and strip the beds. I guess I naïvely assumed that they would otherwise make an effort to leave the place as they found it (which was spotless).

What do you guys think - is this totally standard? Should I update my house sheet and be more specific about cleaning up upon check-out? Should I try to get myself a prescription for Xanax?

PS - I totally understand that I can charge a cleaning fee and get a cleaning service in there to do some of this dirty work to spare me and my girlfriend, so no need to point that out. I am living and learning in real time here. I am really just looking for reactions to the guests etiquette and how much I should temper my expectations.

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Welcome to the joys of renting! What you’ve just experienced is something you’ll have to get used to because in my experience those things are normal. I’ve learned that you just have to go into the house and expect that there will be many things you don’t like and lots of cleaning. Then appreciate those that really do make an effort to leave things nicely for you. I always write and thank people profusely for leaving it nicely so they will continue to do that in other houses they stay in.

I’ve had SO many items left in our home. I just re-home or throw them away if nobody has claimed them within 2 weeks.

We have a policy of leaving the kitchen and bbq the way you found it. If you do too, then charge them for having to rewash your dishes and clean the oily substance (I get that a lot too). Then again, you should make sure that you don’t “nickel & dime” the guest. If there is a LOT of extra cleaning I’ll charge (when they obviously left lots of additional cleaning) otherwise, just spend the time, or charge more to cover that expected cleaning. I’ve learned to realize that the floors need to be cleaned regardless of whether the guests left them really dirty of just a little.

We also have a policy of “no evidence of smoking” or there will be a fee to clean up after that, too (especially if someone were to smoke inside!). Once again, if it’s just a couple of cigarettes butts it’s not worth charging, but everything added up might make is worthwhile to charge extra if you’ve noted that in your Rules.

As far as the metal scratches, I’ve changed all of my cooking utensils to plastic or wood for the reason you stated. Then again… nobody seems to read when I ask them not to put the nice olive wood utensils in the dishwasher… ugh!

I didn’t used to charge a cleaning fee - now I do. It takes 20 man-hours to do a changeover for 10 guests. Sometimes if there is time in-between groups we’ll have just 2 people do the cleanup. If there is a same-day changeover I need a team of 5-6 people that need to be paid (even if they are friends - they appreciate the the extra money). You need to put on your “cleaners hat” and pay yourself and your girlfriend to clean up. If you don’t pay your friend she will tire of having to clean your home very quickly. It’s a boring, time-consuming task that has value.

I now specify what is included in the standard cleaning by leaving a Check-Out list with what is expected, and it notes how much the hourly rate is if we have to clean the kitchen.

Good luck with your new venture!

OH dear. These guests totally disrespected your home I think. Were they young? In the future you may want to be VERY specific about how you expect your home to be used and then left upon check out.

You must charge a cleaning fee, even if it some token amount. This cleaning fee would have paid your girlfriend for her time in cleaning up after these clods. A cleaning fee and security deposit also help underscore that you mean business. And speaking of that, you need to have some firm house rules in place about additional guests. And about parties or events. In my rules I am clear. ONLY your authorized and approved party allowed in the apartment or on the property. No parties or events. Quiet time at XX hour. Please respect our home and our neighbors.

You must be absolutely clear in your expectations.

Also if you are not present you MUST install exterior cameras and disclose to guests that “these are installed for,your security.” That should deter a lot of bad behavior.

Leave them a bad review.


Did you have much back and forth texting before you approved them? The reason I ask is because I rent through Airbnb our desert place that’s 100 miles away from where I live. In my texting I gradually hit all the major points in a casual way: How many people? No smoking. No extra guests. Neighbors will appreciate quiet. No over drinking…etc. All of this is in the listing and house rules, but it helps to have them acknowledge beforehand and puts these issues in their little heads

There is your review!


The aggregate is pretty bad form, and not usual.

I had a guest where I had to scrub down the entire kitchen and clean every dish again. However, everything else was fine.

I would include a house manual and go through some highlights with each guest so there’s a clear expectation (e.g. you allow smoking but cigarette butts must be put into the ash tray - not your hydrangeas or whatever). I know you shouldn’t have to do this but everybody has different standards (and some people seemingly were raised in a barn).

I always re-enter our flat with one eye open and half-expect it to be in a state. I’m normally pleasantly surprised that most of it is OK.

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Those things are pretty normal but it isn’t normal to get them all with the same guests. Often I have to rewash dishes because like you, I have higher standards than guests. Oil is pretty common too. There will often be stains but this is normally on bedding or towels. At least the cigarette butts were in planters and not all over the floor!

Unfortunately guests aren’t always respectful of other people’s property so like @CanadianHost we don’t have any items in the kitchen that could scratch pans.

I’m not being negative here (I hope!) but although your experience wasn’t standard, it’s as well to be prepared for the worst, unfortunately. Things will happen.

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Unfortunately a lot of what you describe just comes with hosting humans.

Actual damage like scratched pans and stains on the seat cushion are not acceptable, but the rest is to be expected from time to time.

Just make sure you’re charging enough to make it worth it. Also know that from time to time, you’ll have guests that are so clean and respectful that you’ll barely know they were there.


If that’s the case why is your ‘poor girlfriend’ having to do the cleaning…do it yourself :slight_smile: :frowning:


I was working all day, bringing home the bacon. I also gave her the $50 cleaning fee that I charged, plus I took her out to a nice dinner. Don’t worry about her – worry about the guests and their etiquette. That is what I am looking to gauge here.

Thank you for all the responses so far. Please keep them coming, it is great to hear all these different perspectives.


I felt others had covered off anything I would have said regarding your guests :slight_smile:

This is a forum so you will have people indulge in a bit of banter/side comments.

It was you who mentioned you were your cleanliness freak and had an oversensitive approach and said your ‘poor girlfriend’ had to do the cleaning.

Working from home brings in the bacon too :slight_smile:

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This is very interesting to me since I have been renting with Air and VRBO for three years and have never had an issue except some ruined towels from girls bleaching their hair (at least that is what I think they did).I think my advantage is that the apartment we rent is totally self contained but is the first level of our home therefore we are there and so maybe that inhibits people from leaving a mess. My house rule asks that guests live the River House as they found it and treated as they would their own. My check-out instructions just ask that they put the garbage out if we are out of town. We have never had anyone leave a dirty dish. We are now building a lakefront cottage and I am thinking of renting it out when we are not using it so I am wondering if we shall have issues with letting our whole house and we are off site.


Benzoyl Peroxide (acne medicine) can ruin towels - it will make big bleach type marks on color. Just had it happen last weekend - I asked the guest if she used Proactive (brand name of one popular treatment) and she said yes. I asked her not to use the color towels and instead to use some white towels I have specifically for this purpose. My mistake was not to confiscate the blue towels. She very ardently told me the next day that she was super careful not to use the face towels, but kinda didn’t notice that she ruined 2 large bath towels and the bath mat because the product runs down your body in the shower.

I chalked that one up to experience, plus I keep a large stock of towels. The ruined ones I bleached and they came out completely white so now I have new towels for my personal bathroom. However, just today when I was dusting I noticed that someone spilled some kind of food sauce all over the bookcase next to the microwave and didn’t mop it up, so there was a huge sticky mess. Nothing destroyed, but it’s just frustrating that people have so little respect for your home. It’s just sad that someone can be so thoughtless that they leave a puddle of spilled food when there were towels less than a foot away.

My personal favorite, which happens about every third guest: the drink container placed on the wood surface just next to the coaster.

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How much do you charge for your place? And these people where from where? Age? Just wondering. This lot comes across as rough.
Larger group behavior and impact tends to be dramatically different from say a couple or two couples. Nothing in that list is shocking, In time one learns to provide nothing but an ‘industrial strength’ facility and put away the nicer personal things. Also, in time, one becomes selective, after some experience (and disappointments). Good luck.


I think one of life’s dirty little secrets is that not everyone has the same standards of living as we do. What is clean to one person is filthy to another. A cigarette needs to be put out and a flower pot is as good as any place in which to do it to some. For others they would never dream of doing such a thing.

Your best bet is to delineate your rules to express your expectations of the guests. That might eliminate the less than tidy guest from your home. (It might not.) At the very least it will make things clear. If they don’t comply you can point out your rules. And you will feel better about having communicated your expectations.

Having said that I would strongly encourage you not to leave metal cooking utensils in the home. If they are there people will use them. OR take the nonstick pots and pans out and replace them with regular pots and pans. Just my opinion. Much less stress for the host.


The things that you described are pretty standard for me, for about 30% of the guests. 50% of the guests leave the place in great condition, and the remaining 20% fall in the middle. It’s kind of a wash for me.

My pet peeve is dirty glasses back in the cupboard, and of course the gross oil film from cooking without using the fan.

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I suspect the bigger the house - the bigger the groups - and the bigger the messes. I have closed off part of my rental house because I do not want big groups - concerned that the mess will be too much for me to deal with.

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Exactly. Part of that is because if you have more guests the thought among them is “of all of us whose job is it to clean up? If x isn’t going to clean up after herself I am not going to do it for her.” And if there are more people the job is substantial, meaning one of the guests has a big cleanup to do if it’s to be done right.

And in addition to AJ Martin’s comments below what about an additional charge per night for each guest over 2 or 4 in number? Even if only $10 each/ night that would help either pay for cleaning or to deter wear and tear.


This sounds like all boys. All of this is pretty normal. I have a rule of no serious cooking…no fish, curry, frying but it has not been an issue as my place only accomodates two properly.

If you are hosting 6 people at a time, your cleaning fee should be way higher…$150 at least which is just a few dollars per perso per night. Check out your competition, you may be surprised what they charge.

Also, what is your nightly charge? The more people pay, the better they treat a place…I have been renting for 30 years and all my tenant problems went away when I stopped trying to give people a deal because I could afford to do so.


:slight_smile: All good points! Fees and nightly charges eliminate a lot of riff raff.