Makeup stained towels- am I being petty lol

Hey there!
Any secret treatments for mascara streaked white towels? Like… everywhere :rage:

More background: We’ve invested in upgrading to nicer high quality white cotton towels for guests. So in our listing we have a blurb about how makeup/skin products often permanently stain so we provide black wash clothes + complimentary makeup wipes as damaged linens or towels will incur extra charges (the wash clothes and wipes are kept right next to the sink, super obvious).

We’re going to try everything to get it out but is it petty to charge the guest if we can’t?

Okay, this is absolutely true - in many years of hosting I have never had towels (or anything else) permanently stained by guests. I’ve never come across anything that won’t wash out. Sometimes the item will have to be soaked several times and washed several times but I’ve never lost an item due to stains.

I use Oxy and wash items in cold water. Everything is white and I don’t supply makeup wipes or black wash cloths. But some damage is inevitable and is the cost of doing business.

Yes, there are marks sometimes but Oxy + cold water + perseverance will win in the end. :slight_smile:


I wouldn’t charge. It’s “cost of business.” It’s irritating AF though.


Haven’t been doing this as long as @jaquo, but likewise have never lost any items to stains of any kind. We do not use white anything – we’re not a Marriott and white does fit our “look”, but regardless, have never had anything that wouldn’t soak-and-wash out.

Linens ARE a cost of business – take them as an expense on your taxes…


I always find, on this forum, that you guys never want to charge guests because ‘it’s the cost of business’


Add it in your rules that make up stains to towels, bed linen etc will come at a cost

Mention again and check in (if possible)

Then bill them!


It’s not a case of that at all. The point is that most of us don’t want to nickel-and-dime our guests by charging guests for every cheap broken glass or marked wash cloth. That’s not what many of us see as hospitality.

It is a case of charging properly calculated nightly prices that allow for replacement drinking glasses or whatever once in a while and having proper STR insurance to cover the large stuff.

Just my opinion but to me charging guests for every little thing is so 1950s Blackpool boarding house landlady.


To me, it’s like having children- if your kids break or ruin something because they were being wild or doing something they knew they weren’t allowed to do, they are taken to task for it. If it’s just a matter of them being kids and therefore not aware, a parent just chalks it up to having children.

Same with choosing to be in hospitality. Some things the guest should be taken to task for, others are just what happens when you choose to do strs.

If you feel you have to charge a guest for a stain on a pillowcase, then you aren’t charging enough for your accommodation.


So… is uncleaned up projectile drunk vomit the color of greenish yellow stomach bile all over six towels, two hand towels, three washcloths and a bathmat that even after soaking in OXY, bleach, three kinds of detergent, Dawn and Shout considered the cost of doing business? Is pink hair dye, black hair dye or red hair dye business as usual? Topped off with dragging a hose in from outside to wash walls of a shower down and attempting to get vomit pieces out of the jets of a sauna tub. Asking for a friend.
P.S. I am wondering if some of the people that have no issue getting things out have one and two night turnovers with an 11 a.m. checkout and 4 p.m. check in with five full cottages up to three bedrooms? If I hadn’t attempted the vomit stains myself I would have had to pay my housekeeper four extra hours, plus the garden hose time. Not being a smart ass but seriously wondering if we are comparing apples to oranges with regard to the size of units.


No one is saying that guests who do such things as you mentioned shouldn’t be charged for damages- not sure how you came to that conclusion.

As I used to tell my teenagers, if you aren’t mature enough to get to the toilet or outside when you’ve imbibed too much, you aren’t mature enough to drink.

There’s a difference between guests totally disrespecting your place and the things you provide, and wanting to charge guests for a small stain on a towel or sheet that you can’t remove.

It’s you who is comparing apples to oranges.


I would have to as well since I can’t even imagine dealing with all that as an Airbnb host. However, if I had that kind of rental I’d set the price such that most things are covered.

I’ve had blue hair dye once and tattoo ink once and yes I got the stains out with extra work.

That said this does sound like a party worth some extra charges.

Yes, you have a point. Many of us are in the orginal Airbnb host role of renting out a room in our home or maybe a guest house on the property. Because we are there odd things are less likely to happen on top of smaller/fewer units. Other people are running a property management business on a larger scale.


I was saying apples to oranges with regard to people that rent out a few rooms in their house as opposed to entire cottages and homes.

I was wondering how much the people that had all that time to treat towels and sheets multiple times had. I have a washing machine and dryer in each cottage and I leave stain treating oxy for makeup and blood, etc. I am forgiving about menstrual blood because as a woman I know that many times that is not preventable, but I still expect for someone to at least put the Oxy on it if not at least start it in the wash so that the stain does not set… I am not forgiving about lipstick, hair dye, cosmetic base as I provide both makeup wipes and cosmetic wash cloths. We are in Florida and near a sports complex and I always politely ask the mothers to either bring their own towels from home if their children will not be showering at the complex as red mud does not come out of anything. The washing machines are right there.

We also host many bridal parties for whole weekends. the makeup is absurd even when asked not to use the white towels and cloths for it.

So my point is that depending upon where you are located, how many linens you have to wash, what the activities your clientele tends to be doing during their stay that trying to say that cleaning a little blood from a scraped knee off a sheet in say, London or San Francisco, might be a little different than cleaning the mud off of sheets from three pre-teen boys playing baseball five days in a row with a Southern momma that wears more make-up than a kabuki actor and drinks too much wine because being the only woman in house with four men makes her feel like it is too much to take her make-up off at the end of the day just might pose different challenges.

As far as raising prices to compensate for the “cost of doing business” we are super hosts and at the very top of the price our market can handle.

I have just decided today after spending three days getting smoke out of a cottage that hosted some European wanna be royal who decided the rules didn’t apply to him that I am going to start charging a deposit. Smoke, makeup, projectile vomit, ketchup in bed on a silk comforter, mud, grease on towels from a biker at Bike Week in Daytona last week…yep it has been a month! Haha!


Hi KKC, I was actually being sarcastic about asking for a friend. I was actually asking for myself…hehe. We have a property built in 1924 that is a three bedroom, three bath house, 2 two bedroom one bath cottages and two one bedroom cottages. They range in size from 500 s.f. to 1200 s.f.

I love managing it and honestly it seems to happen in spurts, but the labor attempting to stain treat and attempting to mitigate the damage before it happens feels crazy some days. 98% of guests are awesome! I have decided to build a $200 a month linen replacement budget item into our next price increase which will happen soon as we happen to lose $75 to $150 a month in linens that will either take more time to treat than is feasible or just wear and tear from the constant washing.

Oh and P.S. I am there every day! :slight_smile: I clean every other weekend in order to let my housekeeper have those weekends with her children. It is also a good way to see what needs addressing.


Totally agree! In our specific case it was all 4 large new bath towels that are smeared with black streaks (I assumed mascara but actually considering how much there is- probably hair dye)


Yes, I knew that’s what you were saying. I just was trying to point out that comparing all the towels being covered in vomit and other stains that shows the guests’ total lack of respect, with what most hosts consider the cost of doing business, which I think means chalking up the occasional stained towel or minor damage to normal wear and tear, was a misinterpretation of other hosts choosing not to nickel and dime guests.

The kind of damages you are talking about is something I think most hosts would pursue compensation for.

And yes, I would assume that many guests tend to be less respectful in an entire house listing than in a host-occupied one. And the more guests your place accommodates, the higher the potential for mess and damages.

Some hosts have chosen to limit max guest counts to 2 or 4, even if they could easily accommodate 4 or 6, finding it worked out the same financially because there was less damage. And less stress for the host.

Your idea of building in a replacement cost for your next price increase is a good one. If hosts have a separate fund set aside to cover damages they don’t feel worthwhile pursuing guests over, xx amount from each booking, it won’t feel so maddening to have to keep replacing things or waste hours trying to get a stubborn stain out.


Like the song from Frozen says “!et it go.” Happy guests are free advertisement. They tell their friends and family about the awesome Airbnb they stay at which leads to more reservations. You charge them and you’ll get bad publicity on their social media account. So “let it go.”

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We used to have white bathrobes, face cloths and hand towels but found that the stains were getting them to the “rag” pile much too often! We have switched to a taupe color and that has alleviated some of the issue, as well as fitting the color scheme better. Some guests prefer the white as it gives them a sense of cleanliness, but they are actually far and few between.
As for those commenting that after several soaking and treatments the stain comes out, I feel that that is so time consuming, and not practical if you are paying for housekeeping.
I generally do not charge for a towel or a broken glass etc, as I feel that accidents happen; but excessive disregard for my property definitely requires a stern review and/or a damage claim. I do charge a little more for my cleaning fee than what I am charged, so that small increase allows me to be a little more forgiving!


I assume you are talking about not calling guests out for minor stains or damages.

Because the type of guests who do what @PPIC was describing, I couldn’t care less about them being happy and recommending to family and friends. I would never want to see them again, nor their friends and relations.


I have contemplated the colored linen idea but have wondered about guests expecting white linens. Frankly, I am not germaphobe and as long as I can tell something has been washed I don’t care if it was bleached or the hottest water. Of course I know a lot of people are very germaphobic and I go above and beyond with my place of business to make sure that not only do they feel secure about our linens but that they actually can be secure with them being clean.

My biggest pet peeve is to come behind one of the staff that has mixed towels and sheets together in the dryer, which by the way I request for them not to do because you end up with a wad and all it takes for a towel or pillow case to sour is a few minutes wadded up wet in the corner of a sheet, dried later and then the first menopausal woman that wakes in a night sweat has a sour pillow case or someone takes a long lovely shower and dries themself with a sour towel and has to get back in the shower and hopes the next towel doesn’t smell sour when they get out.

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I know some hosts advocate for all white and that it is supposedly perceived as cleaner, but of course they aren’t cleaner- washed towels and sheets are clean no matter what color they are.

Personally I’m not interested or concerned about pandering to perceptions based on faulty ideas. I use colored towels and sheets and have never had a guest complain or express doubt that things were clean.

But every host just has to do what works for them. There isn’t any right or wrong about it.

@HudsonNY - I used to have this happen at our home, and I tried many different towels and even makeup wipes (which I hate to use!) Knock on wood but we haven’t had it happen again since buying these types of wash cloths, and putting them in a nice basket with soaps. Seems to get the hint across. Good luck!