Live-in hosts: Ever considered hiring someone for cleaning? Why not?

Live-in hosts. I see many hosts do the cleaning and laundry themselves. Have you ever considered hiring someone for cleaning? If not, why not?

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It would be great to have someone clean and do the laundry. The problem is the cost. The going rate to clean a house in my area is more than my nightly rate.


@EllenN What do you mean? Are you saying that an hour or two of cleaning would cost more than you are charging for the whole place? How come? What if they would clean only the spaces intended for guests (+ bathroom/kitchen if shared).

Our guests have access to the entire house with the exception of my bedroom. I have to keep the entire house clean. The bedroom and bathroom are the easiest part of my cleaning routine. I don’t know of any housekeepers who will come just for an hour or two. In Los Angeles, that wouldn’t make sense. Most cleaning people live in the more affordable outlying areas of the city. Often, they don’t have cars. As public transportation is inefficient here, they would be spending as much time commuting as they would be spending working.

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@EllenN I understand. Thank for your clarifying this point. I rent out a whole apartment in a metropolitan area so I was eager to understand why don’t more people use some sort of help for cleaning.

It’s also difficult to find someone that you are positive will be as obsessive about cleaning as you are.
I finally found a cleaner that can fill in for me when I am gone. She is OK with making $85 for a studio apartment, No laundry. That is what I charge the guests.


@konacoconutz So, if I understand correctly, the cleaner is charging you $85 per turnaround? Sounds a lot!

No, That’s my cleaning fee. That is what I charge guests. So I pay her $85 to make sure the room is PERFECT, and I mean PERFECT. There’s a stove and fridge in the room too. It takes me a good 4-5 hours to get the studio, patio and yard the way I want it.

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@konacoconutz I agree with you. It’s hard to find the cleaner you can trust and who know the consequences for the host if they don’t do their work properly. When I hired my cleaning lady (she retired early and has lots of time) I spent 10-15 mins after each cleaning to inspect (before the next guests arrived). You won’t believe what I found at the beginning… She just wasn’t used to my standards. I took pictures and took care of those things myself on the spot (little stains here and there on the floor, mostly hairs that she didn’t notice,…). But, then I showed her the pictures. I explained her that I will have zero tolerance for not-perfect cleaning. I let her know that if I get negative review for cleanliness, we’ll be out of business pretty soon and so she will. I also created a detailed checklist for her and make her go through the list each and every time she was cleaning, to make sure she didn’t forget something. Sure, in her eyes I was a weirdo, an over-demanding guy. With my help, it took her about two weeks to get accustomed to the 5-star hotel standards. But, it payed off handsomely. Now, I can trust her and only occasionally I check up on her. I had no complaints from my guests whatsoever. All of my reviews for cleanliness are 5-star which is what I want.


I think some cleaners might have been used to getting away with semi-ok when cleaning VRBO, where owners are not rated with stars fro cleanliness.


But I understand, you don’t live in your studio. It’s not a house where you live, right? As @EllenN pointed out, getting the cleaner to regularly clean the whole place (the house) might get costly.

I’m one of the people who run a cleaning and management service here in San Francisco (

In SF, the law requires that you only host in your full-time permanent residence. As such, all of our customers live at home and we do their turnover cleanings.

In some cases, we only do the cleanings when there are weekday same-day checkins since they are at work and can’t do them. In other cases, they just want consistent cleaning and not have to worry about whether it’ll be done or done well so they just have us do all their turnovers.

In some cases it’s just a guest room, in others it’s an entire apartment when they’re out of town, and others it’s an in-law suite which is used full time for guests but is part of the hosts home.

Room rates relative to cleaning fees here are high, so the cleaning fees aren’t really that big of a shock to the guest.

The problem with most cleaning services is that they’re really not designed for short-term rental turnovers… They like to have regular schedules and usually have 2-3 hour minimums in order to amortize travel time between jobs.

In our business, as you all know, you may have many turnovers in one day, another day may have very few. People sometimes get bookings months in advance and sometimes the night before. For each listing, the amount of time the cleaning takes is known, but some are only an hour and most cleaning services won’t do them.

The other issue is the turnover window. Usually the earliest checkout time is 10am and latest checkin time is 4pm. The average is 11-3.
For a regular cleaning company, having to do 20x 1hour turnovers in doesn’t work for them. They usually staff for 8 hour shifts.

It’s a complex problem to solve.
As far as rationale, there are lots of reasons to hire a cleaning company even if you live in your listing–one I mentioned was consistency. Another main one is exhaustion. It’s really quite a lot of work, especially if you allow short stays/1-night bookings. You could have a week you only have one turnover and another week you have 6. Some days you’re tired or busy and you may cut corners on the turnover. You might get lucky and the guest doesn’t mind, or you get the guest that notices every little thing that you skipped.

While professional cleaners may not get it right every time either, the likelihood is probably higher that they will.

While I’m biased, I got into this business mostly because I was doing my own turnovers and just got sick of it. Now, even when there’s an occasion that we’re understaffed and I have to personally go out and do cleanings, I’ll have someone else clean my place while I’m cleaning another customers–psychologically this works out better. I do a better job for someone else than I do for myself, so while I’m doing the same work, we’re both getting higher quality cleaning.

One other reason to hire a company with it’s own staff is that they’ll worry about making sure you’re place gets cleaned. Individual cleaners or those contractor cleaners (like handy ) aren’t particularly reliable. Mainly it’s because they don’t understand the consequences.
If your regular weekly house cleaner misses a day and shows up tomorrow, that’s probably fine. if you’re turnover cleaner doesn’t show up, they can’t come tomorrow and everything will be fine if you have a guest arriving expecting a clean place.


@keith So are you saying that if one has a second apartment in SF which is NOT their permanent residence, they effectively are not allowed to rent it short term? Is this a norm in US or does that apply only to SF?

Secondly, being a host, I see a big advantage in having the SAME person clean the place each and every time. They are simply more efficient because they know the place. How do you make this happen?

Lastly, what would you recommend for cases of @EllenN who actually lives in the house, so effectively the whole house has to be cleaned (except for the owner’s bedroom perhaps)? This may cost a lot of money even if for example they are renting only a room or two with shared kitchen and the bathroom.


It’s a local law in SF, but quite a few cities have similar rules. Some don’t allow any stays shorter than 30 days unless it’s at an actual hotel.
You can read more about our law here:

It is usually better if the same people do the same cleanings when possible. In our case it happens a lot but it’s not guaranteed. Scheduling is done based on availability of cleaners which may not be available all of the turnovers. Another is location. We try to cluster cleaners jobs so there is minimal travel between them. If your preferred cleaner is also preferred by someone who lives on the other side of town, it’s not really possible for that person to do both in the same day (or at least not without them foregoing payment while they travel, or in our case, we pay while people are clocked in so we’d be paying someone to travel for an hour–we can’t pass that on to the customer).

in @EllenN case, she’s similar to me and most SF hosts. I live in my house, I have a sofa in the living room I rent out sometimes, and 2 other rooms I use for guest rooms. As such there are an average of 3-4 turnovers a week.

It doesn’t make sense to deep clean a kitchen 4 times a week. What I usually do is if one room is being turned over in a day, the room and bathroom are cleaned and the kitchen gets a touchup (if the stoves been used, it gets cleaned, otherwise just surfaces are wiped down).
If there are 2 rooms being turned over in the same day (that’s twice the cleaning fees and twice the time), then both rooms, the bathroom get the usual treatment and the kitchen gets a deeper cleaning (appliances wiped down, things on counter tops moved for cleaning underneath).

It’s clear from my listings that these are private rooms in a shared space so the expectation that common areas are perfect every time isn’t there.

for one of our customers we ONLY do the guest room and bathroom and the kitchen and living room (which are shared) are usually left alone (we also do regularly scheduled whole house cleanings for them, so the common areas are cleaned regularly but the turnover cleanings only cover the space that’s for the exclusive use of the guests).

So, it’s a policy thing. If you want the ENTIRE house (exclusive of the owner’s bedroom) that might require a cleaning (and related fee) that is more than would be reasonable to ask the guest to pay.

If the guest is renting a room in a apartment and not an entire apartment, is it reasonable they expect the entire apartment to be clean for their 2 day stay? If The guest would agree that it is, then they would also agree to a larger cleaning fee. In my experience most wouldn’t.

Guests are savvy enough to understand the fee. They know a $125 fee covers a lot more cleaning than a $50 one would.

The difficulty for the host is making clear what’s on offer and what’s covered. If you do that then whatever you decide will work out because the right guests with the right expectations will book your listing.

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OCD alert: I lay a torch on the floor to check where I need to vacuum, and all the dust and hairs show up immediately, just like low sunlight accentuate the ripples on desert sand dunes (can you tell I’m a photographer?). I also clean out all the filters on the vacuum after every use. I doubt any pro cleaner would go to these lengths. I try to get guests who stay 5-7 nights as that’s a good cleaning interval for me anyway.


@eyeborg what kind of a torch? I’m not sure I understand.

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Torch is Brit-speak for Flashlight!:wink: My partner uses the term frequently still, after 25 years in flashlight-land :confused:


Ha - only ten minutes ago this Brit said ‘torch’ to an American neighbour who didn’t know what I meant! And I’ve been in the USA for twenty two years).

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No I won’t hire anyone for reasons already mentioned. First it would cost more than I get for the room. Almost all of my guests are one nighters. Second, I’m sure no one would do it to my standards. Third, I’m retired and in good health so there is no reason to not “pay myself” to do it. I recently added a co-host and although I trust her, I still wonder if the room will be to my standards if she handles a booking.

Cleaners here make at least $20 an hour. I have two bedrooms and a kitchen/living area. The math isn’t hard. In this area airbnbs are thick - competition is fierce. I couldn’t make any more if I paid someone.

Besides, my kids do a chunk of it, making it a true family business - we are all invested in it’s success, and profits go into the home or their education. win-win.

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