Residual smell after difficult guests

Hello all
I am currently waiting for a call from my present guests about when I can go up to our rental house to investigate a bad smell…the previous guests left the house in quite a state, worst aspect being both fridges left with offensive smelling food residue, I suspect raw meat and fish blood leaking. Both fridges cleaned thoroughly and the inners put through a hot wash in the dishwasher, I thought the smell had gone by the time the new guests arrived, but they asked me to come up yesterday. My husband and I cleaned the dining room again very thoroughly, there was indeed still a slight smell but we couldn’t find anything specific to remove, and the fridge itself didn’t smell or the curtains, dining chair cushions or floor
The last time this happened it was with a much older fridge, similarly hapless guests left a HUGE amount of animal blood in the fridge which had gone into the drip tray over the compressor, accessible by taking the back off the fridge. I hope his is the case so we can sort it out
I want to offer them some sort of compensation …if they ask for a full refund I will give it whatever we manage to do today, if they don’t ask for a refund I will offer them a future stay half price for the inconvenience
What do you all think?
Thanks in advance

For the guests, since you acknowledge there is a problem, I would offer them a full refund of their remaining nights IF they would like to leave. That takes the pressure off you to fix this immediately and gives you some time to have the space accessible to get into the issue. If they do not want to leave, I would ask them exactly what their expectations are for compensation and let them know the extent to which you are willing to address the problem while they are present.

I would wash the curtains even if you don’t think they smell- I have found curtains and fabrics retain smells even if they don’t directly smell bad. I’m not sure how to explain it but I would wash them. If you don’t have them already, air purifiers with true HEPA filters. And I started keeping OdoBan Odor Absorbers in every room in my Airbnb.


I would offer them a partial refund for their inconvenience if the smell is not that strong and it’s just a hint. If the smell is overwhelming, I would contact Airbnb and have them relocated. First ask guests what’s their preference.

As for the smell, do you have carpeting in the living room or dining room? If so, sprinkle baking soda, let sit for a while, then vacuum. Some food smells do linger and get absord by fabrics. Might be a good idea to remove and wash the curtains, just in case.


Thanks Ritz3 and JKW
I think disaster has been averted
We took the tray over condenser off the back of the fridge, it had almost nothing in it but it did smell a bit
I offered them £300 to go out for a meal, they were surprised and pleased
I went up with the cash in a card from a local artist, a print of the part of the beach with the best beach cafes and details about opening times, whether booking necessary, places I could recommend in town and 2 to avoid
By this time, 40 minutes after we removed the tray, the smell had gone - thank goodness!
If they ask for any compensation via Airbnb I will refund via them as well. It turned out only 2 of the group of 13 could smell anything intense as they had a particularly acute sense of smell
I’m just so thankful that we weren’t out of town!


It sounds like you provided great service and were generous.

I am curious- is your place geared towards people that hunt and fish? Seems unusual to have had an issue with fish/animal liquids in the fridge multiple times. If your place is advertised towards hunters/fishers, would it be possible to have an outdoor or garage fridge to exclusively be used for this purpose? It would still need to be cleaned but less worry about it stinking up the whole place.


Well we are in a seaside resort, we sometimes have people bring fish home from a fishing trip and cook them on the outside barbeque…I think this was more a problem of 2 sets of somewhat weird guests who both put raw products in the fridge in a leaky bag or whatever. Only twice in approx. 100 stays so not a common issue
Another funny one was scuba divers on their 3rd visit, the macerator toilet in one of the 3 bathrooms was making funny noises, my husband listened to it and watched it for a while and diagnosed a flat thing against the inlet, turned out to be a scallop shell!
Once again, glad we were around between guests to sort it out


Something to consider in future is a Ozone Machine but you need to be extremely careful. No human being, pet or plant can be in the unit (nor if it’s multiple floors) probably not those floors either. Read instructions carefully.

Having given all of the warning, they work great. I bought a car from a woman who smoked. (I got an amazing deal.) And I’m allergic to cigarette smoke. I treated the car about 4 times plus put in charcoal bags under the seats. You would never know there was a smoker who owned the car.

Again - warning - be sure to read the instructions and follow!


After reading about blood and animal fluids in the previous messages, I thank God I’m a vegetarian LOL It all sounds so gross!


Suggest you initiate a conversation on the Airbnb platform where you try to draw out written acknowledgement from the guests that they are now happy (for the record).

I think the pool of guests in England is not quite as reflexively “I’m entitled to a total refund” as guests in some [ahem!] other countries.


Clearly this is intended at Nigeria and Indonesia where ‘Ahem’ is a common surname.

But I think the USA has them both beat for litigiousness!


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I agree, just did a food hygiene course as we run a community centre, far fewer issues with vegetables!

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Thanks for the advice, I will consider it…might get in touch with the help centre anyway just to run the situation by them, have always had good service up until now

So far so good, since we started in 2019 we haven’t ever had anyone suggest a refund, even when there was a serious leak through a bathroom floor into the one below. A matter of time though, possibly

Thanks for the suggestion, it might not work for us as we often have a frantic same day changeover so there would be no time for the house to be unoccupied. I will consider this if there is a gap between guests after a disaster though. Generally I would want to get to the bottom of the issue - even with an ozone machine wouldn’t the smell return if the source was till there?

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This incident reminds me of a story I heard about a wife stuffing fish parts in all the curtain rods when she was forced to sell the house because of her divorce. The realtor noticed the smell but could not locate the source so the house just sat on the market.


Yeah, I first heard that story years ago. As I heard it, it was shrimp. And that the ex-husband had to sell at a loss.
Probably one of those urban myths, but funny all the same.


Yes, I heard this story…I did check very thoroughly for a possible hidden crab line

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