Kitchen cleaning / justification for cleaning fee

Our new studio has a small kitchen (2-Burner induction stove, sink (duh), microwave, oven, refrigerator and pots, pans, cooking utensils.

In the rare case the guests only prepare tea or coffee there little to be done when going through the drawers except some dustballs hiding in there. But god forbid they actually use the pots and pans it’s straight to a deep clean of the entire kitchen. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Perhaps 1% of our guests have left the kitchen clean in the sense that the glassware, silverware and cooking utensils were actually washed with soap, meaning the were no food remnants or grease left on them. All other guests give the used cooking tool a quick rinse from afar and often place it straight in the drawer to drip and stain the drawers inside.

I have no expectation whatsoever that the guest will leave the kitchen the way they found it - spotless. Our cleaning fee has to be justified and we still clean everything even if the guests properly washed the dishes etc.

I’m just baffled that quite a lot of listings in our area do not charge a cleaning fee with a competitively priced nightly rate. They still receive tons of 5 star reviews in regards to cleanliness but just alone the cleaning time for the kitchen is almost exceeding our cleaning fee.

I wonder how you all do it with your kitchens: Washing out all appliances, empty most or all drawers, clean dirty utensils, clean drawers, clean cabinets/shelves/countertop/sink etc. - How can you still price your accommodation competitively and/or not even charge a cleaning fee?

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I only have a kitchenette and provide paper and plastic ware but it still takes time to clean out the toaster oven, microwave, and refrigerator. Not to mention cleaning the bathroom so that it’s sparkling and changing out the bedding, vacuuming, mopping, etc. I do bring the rate down to $75 a stay because I don’t have the full kitchen. I think some folks might be in really competitive spots and factor in the cleaning into their rate or clean themselves (I do) and don’t realized that they deserve the fee too.

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Is that your average nightly rate - and no extra cleaning fee?

We’re located right next to larger Swiss city, an airport as well as the border to Germany. In 2021/22 we just kept rising our nightly rates and were fully booked. Since middle 2022 prices fell off a cliff here. So many competitors opening up shop here it’s not even funny and naturally they price so low just to rake in their first reviews so that the nightly rates dropped to below $40 (sometimes without cleaning fee). THAT was unheard of more than 2 years ago. We’re between $50-$80 (plus $30 cleaning fee) during special events although it ‘should’ be even more as hotels are in the triple digits (no kitchen).

We clean ourselves and we prepare the place the way we would like to see it as a guest - always striving for 5 star reviews. So cleaning times are way longer than what a ‘professional’ would do but I highly doubt that the cleanliness would be on the same level.

We found that disposable plates, utensils, and ‘glasses’ made the place cleaner and easier to manage. Guests also appreciate that the utensils they are using are always ‘new’.

You might get the occasional ‘boomer b**ches’ that think ‘real’ items are the only things they will eat/drink off but the tradeoff of having simple ‘throw away’ vs. handling and seeing/smelling your food remains for a few days in an enclosed area will make guests happy.

When I started hosting I didn’t charge a cleaning fee but after a few messy guests, I started charging a cleaning fee. I agree with you, a messy kitchen takes a lot of time.

In the European Airbnbs we’ve stayed so far we’ve never seen disposable plates, utensils and glasses. Maybe we haven’t seen enough, so for us it was ‘obvious’ to also offer regular dishes etc. with the assumption in the back of our minds that guests have the courtesy and respect to clean up after themselves - or at least clean their dishes.

To me, as a guest, it’s a token of appreciation to clean up before I leave as a thank you for the hospitality. Many guests just see Airbnbs as a ‘private extension’ of hotels where next to no one would bother to collect all the bedding, sheets, towels and trash - especially when a cleaning fee is charged.

We only had one guest inquire about the cleaning fee after he received our check-out list which includes a request that guests do a quick run through the rooms with a broom. After explaining all items of our cleaning routine it seems he understood that it was a little more comprehensive than just mopping the floor.

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… and honestly, it’s not even so much more work if it’s actually messy compared to just some guests who are just putting everything back after a quick cold rinse without soap. We then still have to wash all those items plus the shelves and drawers which are wet and stained which is hardly less work than a normally used and uncleaned kitchen.

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I have trouble understanding that. Wouldn’t you still have to clean all the floors yourself? What do you gain by having the guest sweep the floor before they leave?

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I suppose my upbringing is somewhat responsible for this rule. As previously mentioned, I personally, consider it an appreciative act which I value if the guests would do the same.

Additionally, we have had multiple instances where guests were leaving lumps of hair behind and as a host we do see everything, but still, as a civilized human being I would try to clean up such intimate droppings simply out of courtesy towards the host, even if it’s a hotel.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going all in whenever there is a diarrhoea riddled toilet waiting for me to be cleaned - but the same way, we added a little reminder to the checkout list to ask the guests to give the toilet a good brush before they leave.

Also like I mentioned before, there is no expectation whatsoever that we think the guests should leave the place as a clean as they found it. But a somewhat respectful treatment of the living space and what they leave behind is still appreciated.

Not to forget that about 50% of our guests do not follow the checkout rules although many of our regular guests actually do clean our place out of respect before they leave and we thank them for that. For them it’s a matter of course.

I would roll my eyes at such a reminder and feel disrespected. Especially if I am paying a cleaning fee. I’m a guest, not a child. Most people will take care of obvious things like a streaked toilet or a clump of hair. Those that don’t probably won;t be influenced by a note.

My last guest forgot to flush. Shrug I can flush and I clean the toilet regardless. It’s my job.

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Yes to the first question. Plus cleaning all cutlery and crockery. Even if the guests have done the dishes and put them away, there’s often a stray cornflake on a bowl or a coffee-ring in a cup.

Unless there’s evidence that the guests haven’t used the kitchen at all, the chances are that the oven will need cleaning, as will the microwave, fridge and dishwasher. All kitchen cupboards and drawers need to be emptied and cleaned.

Cupboard doors have to be cleaned inside and out even if there are no immediate stains or marks.

Coffee machine, toaster, kettle, pans, utensils - everything. It seems like a lot but it’s not once you’ve got into the rhythm of things.

As for the second part of the question, I do charge a cleaning fee (more than the fee for one night) and it’s one of the most expensive in the local area but I always get 5 starts for value.

This is because I see the cleaning fee and the preparation fee. It’s not there to clean up after guests when they leave. It’s to prepare the apartment for the incoming guests.

This includes fruit and snacks, a bottle of wine. the bottles of mineral water, the fresh flowers (often foliage for the garden that costs me nothing).

It includes toiletries, bathrobes, tissues, ‘in case you’ve forgotten anything’ bowl and croissants, yogurt, cereal and fruit for their first breakfast. There are plenty of other ‘extras’ too.

The apartment directly below is one that I co-host for six months or so of the year. It’s the same layout, the same view, the same location, the same outdoor area, the same parking facilities etc. etc.

And it’s half the price of my two. But both my apartments are booked back to back year-round. My neighbour only gets spasmodic bookings.

Luckily people don’t always select places because they are at the lower price scale.

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I do think you’re right. It’s just that we had quite a lot of guests who were leaving the place behind pretty messy and we didn’t do our due diligence in screening or filtering our guests as we do now.

Many just abused our offer to use the terrace in the garden to sit at the table smoking and drinking alcohol 20 hours a day, all day long for example. We did feel like that we need to start treating our guests like kids by imposing such questionable ‘rules’.

While I personally believe in quality over quantity (and in our cases the nightly rates) I’m extremely hesitant to raise our prices to what we would like them to be.

When the market offers comparable-sized accommodations for $40 a night, I couldn’t see how we could just drop the cleaning fee?!? We have a 2 night minimum for that studio, so roughly $80 (net revenue) which still kind of has to cover our 3 hour cleaning time (not as fast as a professional - but perfectly clean).

Our place is located in a very quiet corner close to the city center on a single home property. So no noise from other apartments, very little traffic. We have a lot of vegetation around and the views from both studios is just trees and garden. Many guests value the tranquillity which next to no other accommodation in our city has, as the vast majority are located in large apartment buildings or right next to major roads with lots of traffic.

We’re still in the process to fully fine-tune what we offer to our guests and the rules we impose on them. I agree that too many rules are annoying although I do see many similar rules at other Airbnbs as well, which doesn’t bother me as all of the rules usually make sense and I have no problem at following them.

You must get very different sort of guests than I do. I think my guests (of all ages, not "boomer b*tches, whatever that’s supposed to mean) would be shocked and dismayed if I provided them with throw-away kitchen gear. Aside from the fact that many people are environmentally aware these days, who wants to eat off a plastic fork? I’m providing a kitchen for guests to use, it’s not a fast food joint.

And I don’t understand “seeing and smelling food remains”. How does disposable plates and cutlery with food all over them in the garbage can solve this?
I have a compost pail with a tight fitting lid. None of my guests has had any issue using it, and most of them have a compost pail at home. Throwing food-covered disposable dishes and utensils in the garbage can would just attract rodents and insects.

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Me too but nevertheless I don’t have any rules other than no smoking indoors and no parties.

I know it sounds a bit careless but I like to think that people are mostly civilised and well-behaved. Over the years, I’ve only once been disappointed.

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As a ‘normal’ human being this should be enough and I would love to end up with a listing that only includes those two.

I don’t know your hosting situation. We live in our single family home which has one studio in the basement and one above the garage which is attached to the main building. So, this is where it starts already that we don’t allow 24 hour self check-ins as we want to know who is on our property and not to annoy our neighbours with guests scouting around the property at night in order to find the entrance as it happens so often - regardless of the accuracy of the instructions as some guest just ‘don’t read’.

We have a terrace with a table and chairs and a beautiful garden which seems to attract guests like flies to d**die. It wouldn’t be so much of an issue if we didn’t have intoxicated guests who start playing with our daughter’s toys which I find quite inappropriate. Same applies to the table on the terrace. While some guests act normal and enjoy a quick coffee in the morning sun before starting their day out and about, we also have quite a number of guests who seem to be free of any travel itineraries and just decide to create a hangout zone where they believe they can smoke and load up piles of liquor bottles on the table.

If we rented out an apartment somewhere else where we don’t reside, I would care less honestly. But since our 6 year old daughter should have the right to play in our own garden without being exposed to intoxicated folks we try to find the thin line between telling guests what they can and cannot do without making them feel like children.

It’s hard to explain as we have a bit of a special situation.

Same here. I have no cleaning instructions for guests (and no cleaning fee), but there is a broom and dustpan in the guest quarters as well as some cleaning equipment under the bathroom sink. I point these put to guests when checking them in and say “I don’t expect guests to clean, it’s just for your own convenience, if you don’t want to walk around on a sandy floor (I live in a beach town) or need to clean something up.”

All the guests leave their room and bathroom clean and tidy. Some even tie up their garbage bag and gather up any plastic water bottles, etc, bring them downstairs and put them in the big garbage can and recycling box.

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Correct me if I’m wrong but you’re offering in-home hosting, right? I dare to assume that in the vast majority of cases the guests tend to be very understanding and respectful towards the host and the premises, no?

That’s why it is important to us when we welcome guests, to do that personally and to put a face to the place where they stay. We give them the tour, answer questions and make sure that they can reach out to us at any given time of day in case they need help or have questions.

However, since they can leave our place without saying goodbye in person, they already tend to leave the place (particularly the bathroom) in a less than ‘clean’, as you stated, condition.

I also believe that this is even worse for accommodations that are ‘remote’ with self check-in where the guests have no idea who their host is.

Yes, in-home hosting. Guests share my kitchen, which some make good use of, and some tend to eat out. They all clean up after themselves in the kitchen.

But the guest space is accessed through an outside entrance and they have their own bathroom. So if they are the type of guests who eat out and have lots of activities planned, I may barely see them during their stay and am often unaware of whether they are home or not, because almost none of them have vehicles- they walk into town and back.

Definitely I think guests tend to be more respectful when home-sharing, although I have certainly read home-share hosts’ experiences that are the opposite. Some started out sharing their kitchen and nixed that after guests leaving dirty dishes and counters, as if the host was their mommy or personal maid, or helping themselves to the host’s food. Or some guests living like pigs in their rooms, ignoring a “no food in the bedroom” rule, with dirty take-out containers and dirty dishes they took from the kitchen piling up.

Similar, although I realise that it doesn’t sound to be at first.

I live in a small complex of eleven apartments. Of the two rentals, one is right next door to me and the other diagonally opposite, so I can see what’s going on. (I work from home).

The outdoor areas are shared.

So I’m on the spot to keep a close eye on what’s going on.

Although when I started in this business in the UK in the early 1980s (I am SO old), it was a home-sharing scenario. In my home I had three additional bedrooms so offered bed and breakfast accommodation. Most guests were in the area for work reasons or medical reasons - I was near to a specialist hospital. Most guests were male and usually under thirty.

Here in Florida, most guests are tourists and ages range from teenage to people in their eighties.

Quite a variety over the years!

We had a cleaning fee of less than 1/2 of one night, but have released it and are inching our nightly fee up to where we earn the same amount. We have a two night minimum weekends and the lions share of our guests are two nights. I guess guests just aren’t messy here as we have continually almost no mess. The occaisional burned pan or lingering smell but my request of “tidy the kitchen” is always observed unless, forgiveably, they must have been in a rush, which may have happened less than ten guests out of 400.
We do meet and greet and command respect for our space directly. Also we have the expectation that they will be respectful, clean and nice. I think my attitude goes a long way in a good direction opposite being paranoid about cornflakes.

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