Offering Guests to Self-Clean. Save on cleaning fees / Allow more back-to-backs

I occasionally offer guests to self-clean my 5 bedroom home in Bowral, Australia.

Originally because I had to deny a early check in request due to can’t get cleaners in for a back to back, but then I began to trial this more. Seems guests are surprisingly keen for it, and today I have a RECORD of three guests in a row, who are all self-cleaning after each other.

Guest Neil: Can we arrive a day earlier? Answer: Yes, for FREE! If you self-clean
Guest Lisa: We want to check in early. Answer: Yes, free if you self-clean. She was happy with just that, but is now even more delighted to come a day earlier free.

I wonder if others have considered this? Or would dare even ask?
My experience is most guests are delighted, several keen and adopt, some say no thanks. I’ve not had anyone horrified at being asked if this was of interest.

The benefits: You can save on cleaning fees, as the guest cleans for you, in return for earlier check in, or often an earlier check-in day even, if there are no other guests. You also can take guests where you may not have been able to accept bookings, especially for back to back.

You need to clearly explain the scenario, that you can’t be responsible for how much mess there may be, so buyer beware! You need to ensure ample linen and towels. Self clean may be ‘I will make my own beds but won’t do laundry’, though most guests seem happy to do everything. You don’t need to discount their cleaning fee mind, though this is another possible variant. Rather, you upsell the check-in benefits in return for cleaning.

It’s not usual to have back to back self-cleans, so this record of three in a row is unusual. Preferably not too many in a row though, as a ‘proper clean’ ensures all all is in order, and that we are not running out of toilet paper and so on.

But interested in others views. I am even considering adding this to my listing as a ‘service’ or benefit, to make it more widely considered and used. Seems efficient, and gives guests a new option they didn’t have. If they don’t want, no worries, but it may work exceptionally well on both sides.

Would you dare? Maybe from my post here… will you try this innovative approach? Or is it unthinkable, knowing the mess new guests may face! As a traveller, I’d be delighted if I could filter ‘Accept self clean’ on Airbnb to save money, or check in way earlier.

It seems like it’s working for you, which is great but I personally wouldn’t dare.


Wouldn’t dare? I am guessing you mean would not dare offer to everyone all the time? But what about this specific scenario. Can we move our booking one day earlier?

Answer A: Sorry, we have guests checking out the day before, and can’t get the cleaning done back-to-back in time. So we can’t offer the day earlier.

Answer B: As above, but add 'Well, one option we occasionally suggest, and no problem if it doesn’t suit. But if you were comfortable to self-clean on arrival, we can not only offer you the day earlier, but offer it FREE. We have ample linen, so if you were ok to make your own beds after guests and accept some cleaning of the place on arrival, then you can stay a day early, AND save money. That could work for both of us, but if not comfortable I totally understand, though it means unfortunately we can’t accept the request to check in a day early.

By ‘Would not dare’, does this scenario not seem reasonable? As in not offer it all the time, but if you are faced with having to deny a date change, vs offering the date change free to the guest (and you save the cleaning fee) as the only option that works… is it still something you would not dare?

As a guest, I would far prefer to at least have the option. If I wasn’t asking for a date change it may be slightly different, but If I found out later I COULD have checked in a day earlier if given such choice, I would be sad if I wasn’t even given the option.

Anyway, very interesting to hear others points of view on this… as it seems to becoming slightly more of ‘a thing’ for my listing. Am I really the only one so creative?!

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Anytime you take something out of your control you are adding to your risk. Unless these bookings are not on Airbnb you are taking a risk of a bad review, a cancellation, a full refund. So some people “wouldn’t dare” because they are risk averse or prefer to be in control of their listing.

I think Airbnb problems are way overstated. People only go to forums to complain, but most stays go without a problem. So if you are desperate to maximize income you might find this is worth the risk.

No, @Annet3176 on this forum also does this and no doubt many others not on this forum.


For me, it’s not a case of being brave enough or daring to do it. We have all known from when we were kids that first impressions matter a lot. I like my guests to enter to fresh flowers, soft music playing, a bowl of fruit, the AC at just the right temperature and so on.

This is because I want those guests to become repeat guests. So when guests arrive, they see only what I want them to see. I want the first impression to be fantastic.

Many hostel-type accommodations in Europe do the self-cleaning thing (or they used to) but for STRs it doesn’t seem at all professional.


I don’t see it as maximising income, as to date the sole reason I offer it is where the guest request can’t be accommodated (without them self-cleaning). So I hadn’t previously thought of it as a way of making money directly. Anyway, allowing a guest to check in a day earlier for free … still costs in energy, supplies and wear and tear use of the house, so the savings on cleaning is balanced by additional costs to an extent… so it’s more been to the benefit of the guests… as an alternative to say no to their date change or early check in requests.

But curious on risk. If the guest has clearly accepted to self-clean on arrival, and you made it clear you can’t be responsible for what mess etc, I don’t see what risk there would be? They can’t complain about the mess on check-in if the Airbnb thread shows they know this is the deal on arrival? Doubly so if it’s only to their benefit, if its offered as the only alternative solution to help accommodate their needs. On what grounds could they ask for a full refund if what you offer is exactly as described (Need to clean after previous guests if you want to arrive early) and they have directly accepted that deal? So long as the deal is clear, I think there can’t be any real risk.

Completely agree on first impressions, and so far I’ve never offered it other than as the ‘only solution’ to guest requests. I guess I see it that for me, saying ‘No you can’t check in early at all’ or ‘No you can’t arrive a day earlier’ is worse than saying ‘I can’t do it with my usual standards, but there IS an option if you really wanted to and are comfortable to self clean’. First impressions are important sure, but years ago I could not accommodate an earlier date change request, and they just cancelled. I wish back then I was smart enough to at least offer the option in such cases. And I do make it clear there will be messy beds and no neatly rolled towels and fresh flowers lol, as in I make it clear it WON’T be the usual high standard first impression, but if that is better for you than being told ‘No’, then at least you can decide!

There’s always another booking or another guest. If you are getting three back to back in a row it seems like there is plenty of demand in your area for your kind of rental. But you like doing it this way, it doesn’t matter how you view the motivation. The trade off is not having to worry about the cleaning and you won’t until something goes wrong. I admire you, I think most people here over worry.

They can complain about anything they want. There’s another thread from a day ago of a host in CA who makes it absolutely clear that power can often go off at his rental. Sure enough, a guest arrived for the US Thanksgiving holiday and power went off in the middle of making dinner. They are unhappy and checked out. The host gave a refund although they don’t think they needed to. Most of us think Airbnb would have given it anyway.

Why do we think that? It’s just based on anecdotal evidence, but as I already said, people come here to complain. The worst case scenario is going to be if a guest leaves the place in such poor condition that it’s virtually uninhabitable. No one on holiday is going to spend their first day of vacation cleaning blood or cleaning the refrigerator and hold you blameless. It’s not the nature of vacation rentals.

Or I could be completely wrong. I do hope you keep us updated on this periodically. Given how many people report problems with cleaners, maybe more folks need to use your solution. Or maybe it’s a cultural thing, unique to OZ.

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It seems to be an innovative solution that’s working for you. Here at our airbnb, in a suburb outside of Chicago in the US, we’ve committed to the covid cleanup protocols, which involves a more thorough cleaning, wiping down surfaces with antibacterial cleaner, etc. I think your place will end up missing those extra steps, most likely.
But if it’s working for you? Nice.


I’ve never been approached about days that weren’t open on my calendar. I will keep this in mind as a possible solution if the situation ever arises.

If I were a guest who accepted this arrangement, I would be uncertain how to rate on cleanliness. I wouldn’t feel like I could justify a 5. Do you have a way that you handle that?

TBH I would probably just let that booking go. I agree with @KKC: “There’s always another booking or another guest.”

My home is in the country, it’s not a suburban place, and most booked by large groups / families / weddings. So I am not so comfortable with three in a row being self-clean, and it’s not that common to even have one, but seems slightly more so. It’s honestly become more ‘a solution’ to a problem than ‘an opportunity’, though I am increasingly wondering if we could have this. Imagine suggesting the whole idea of an Airbnb decades ago. Folk would think you are crazy. Who would stay in some random persons private home! You can’t trust the cleaning etc unlike a commercial hotel… well, maybe this is similar - extending the offering.

Re Covid, The risk of the virus from surface contact is really not an issue. I think fear is real virus lol. And libraries that were banning books being used or wiping them down have seen the light and stop such activity. So for sure we want to clean well, and I’m sure local policies in some places may still ‘require’ onerous medical grade cleaning, and Airbnb has Covid cleaning policy etc… SO self-cleaning WILL NOT address this if that was a concern, and I accept it is by some and that’s quite fair of course. But again it’s about what do you advertise. If you were worried enough about a place being fully sanitized for your life risk acceptance, then self cleaning would probably give you the heebie jeebies! For me, I’d have no problem at all though.

Still, it’s a great point to bring up Geoff and Amy.
I am not saying Self cleaning is without issues to consider… as you highlight validly, but so long as both parties are happy to accept, then so be it!

So far it has ONLY EVER been offered by me where an existing booking wants to arrive a day early, or check in early, and I can’t handle the back-to-back cleaning in time.

So I have not opened the calendar to ‘encourage’ bookings I know I can only accept if they self-clean, but TBH I wonder if there is scope for this in a Airbnb filter control. Surely many folk would be delighted to have options like this.

But funny comment mica555 on guest rating of cleanliness for self clean lol. Rating themselves! I would prob see the rating being done on long term cleaning. So I’d hope such guests (Not super common mind, just odd I now have 3x in a row!!) would feel ok to mark me down if the windows were dirty, or grime on the door that’s been there for weeks… and not mark me down for the shower glass having shampoo on it from the previous guest. I think most have common sense, and besides, it’s not been a problem. TBH, guests who I accommodate with this offer are so delighted, because I solved their problem in a way or saved them money if checking in a day early free… that they all seem to give good reviews as a result anyway.

You are welcome to dismiss it as funny, but I intended it as a serious concern


No, I agree it’s a serious concern. It’s funny as I hadn’t realised this one, that the guest rating the cleaning would be rating themselves if they ARE the cleaner lol. It’s kinda funny I think. Like asking someone to mark their own exam and grade themselves.

  1. causing laughter or amusement; humorous.
  2. difficult to explain or understand; strange or odd.

I guess I was meaning more the second one here (a bit strange/odd), but also the first. It’s unusual, but also mildly amusing. Self cleaning rating on self cleaning lol

I agree though, language can be unclear sometimes

Are you an Airbnb host? Are these bookings on Airbnb? If so, there are 3 parties involved. You don’t seem to be acknowledging that. How long have you been hosting?


I think if your guests do ok - then it’s ok. I just wonder if you’re still inspecting between guests and doing some kind of pre-checkin cleaning to ensure the place is acceptable. What are you doing if they don’t clean properly? And how do you handle linen? I’m asking the last question as my cleaners have struggled to do the linen within a reasonable amount of time ( and I don’t even allow same day turnovers).

Lol? If someone who has been staying there has Covid, and then other guests check in right after, they could very well contract Covid, from the air in the place.
If you signed the Covid cleaning protocol, then you lied. If a guest claims they contracted Covid at your place, and that the host asked them to clean from the previous guests themselves, I’m pretty sure Airbnb would delist you.

And if you have guests who cause damages, and you aren’t inspecting the place yourself, how would you know which set of guests caused the damages?

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So to be clear, self-cleans are only ‘occasional’ problem solving for me, but all have been not just ok, but EXTRA good. Really. Guests seem delighted and enthusiastic, and fully understanding the deal. If anything, it’s uncomfortable that some have done like extra cleaning above what was mess from the prior guests!!

So I always have a FULL set of change over linen at least. I always say ‘Don’t feel obliged to do laundry, and you can just make your bed with the spare linen and that’s ok’… but so far almost all have done full laundry, and some folding so neatly!

I feel quite fine to have a self-clean on it’s own as there is always the spare linen ready. But I agree, if you have two self-cleans, if the first didn’t do laundry, it becomes a problem. I may get more linen, but honestly Its not been so common, yet somehow I now have three in a row. I do have a super large 15kg washer dryer and have made it very clear what the deal is. So let’s see how we go lol.

But I raised this thread, as cleaning and back to backs are a problem, yet they seem to be solved by this approach to a large degree, and it’s got me thinking.

And by cleaning I mean ‘Make your own bed’ and clean up mess in the kitchen as the basic. It’s not obviously mopping floors and doing windows, as 99% of the time the ‘mess’ is standard guest mess. So as long as we are regularly cleaning professionally, it’s all under control.

I’d also point out that self cleaning after a two night stay is different to after a 7 night stay (which is more concerning re mess). Most in my home in Bowral go to weddings (Bowral in Australia is a bit of a wedding capitol!) and come back to sleep, so maybe the ‘mess’ profile is different to others. Linen is the majority of mess to handle, so not a big issue.

TBH I have expected some self-clean results to find me ending up with double linen to wash, but so far all guests have taken it on themselves to wash the linen from previous, AND fold in some cases… a bit above and beyond, but there you go!

I don’t know if it’s cheeky to wonder about making this more of a thing, or maybe it’s just the guests I allow to self clean are those I am solving a problem for (check in date change or early check in)… not sure.

Maybe there could be something in offering a discount for self-cleaning is what I am thinking… as the discount would be less than the cost of cleaning… and the guest is already there, so it’s easy to do laundry etc. This is assuming it’s not a wedding party on their wedding night of course lol! But so far, I can report all bar one guest who just said ‘No thanks, we will be ok to check in usual time and prefer not to self clean’, all others have been very positive.

Bizarre that you think the linen is the “big mess” and that making the bed and wiping the kitchen counters constitutes basic cleaning.

It sounds like you have no idea the standards to which an Airbnb is normally cleaned.


Re Covid, the policy is requiring cleaning. So where you say ‘I can’t offer you to check in early, unless you accepted we can’t clean’, then this is the policy. That’s the whole point. So long as guests are made aware of the risk, then, if they really want to have the change and are ok with the risk, and it’s clear, then they KNOW there is no cleaning. This is not some ‘surprise’. The policy is in place to ensure guests who are worried about this stuff can feel safe. Those who are told there will be no cleaning after the previous guests know the deal, and I imagine zero of guests who worry about Covid from surfaces or recent ‘air’ being breathed by guests who left a few hours ago will be interested in self cleaning.

As I said, it’s not a common thing, only so far a solution to a problem. And guests are made very clear what the deal is, and it’s always so far been 'I can’t accommodate you, well, not unless… if you were comfortable… you understand that… ’ and so on.

We should not worry about things that are very clearly explained like this. It’s just an option, it’s not something that guests will ‘unexpectedly’ find they are required to self clean lol

Regards damages, you are 100% correct, you don’t know who damaged what. But my home is in a safe area, and nothing really damaged for a long time so far. It’s risk. But opening your home to others is a risk. Goodness, when Airbnb and Uber began, millions were rolling their eyes… But what about damage! What if they damage your house or car!!! Now we don’t worry… Self clean is like anything in life. Risk. Yes, they may break or steal and you can’t blame them directly if self-cleaning. Yet is this likely?

If it did happen a bit, I’d probably stop self-cleaning, but so far it seems to have delighted the guests who took it up. So it’s working for me, so far at least.