Ruined towels, how to charge

Guests that checked out after a 1 week reservation left our place awesome but completely ruined one of our good hand towels and matching wash cloth. Almost looks like they used them to scrub with bleach, which I purposely do not leave around to avoid this. I also leave plenty of cleaning cloths under all the sinks so somewhat perplexed why they would use nice towels for cleaning. They were gray and now they are pink. Two of a set of 8. I do have a deposit set for my place. My hubby believes since they ruined the set and I can not buy them individually —set cost me around $40–I should charge for the set. My take is no way should I do that and no way would the platform reimburse that.
Percentage wise the 2 are worth around 8 dollars. I am on the fence whether I should even bill for it. What say the forum?

Could be one of the acne / face washes with a bleach in it - washers and hand towels are a cost of doing business. This is why I have white towels…


I agree with @Debthecat’s assessment.

I would chalk it off as to the cost of doing business, as I don’t think it was intentional. Several years ago I did the same thing to my own new expensive (blue) towels; it was a result of a face cleanser that included Salicylic Acid.

Since then (and for my guests) I only use white towels.

There are MANY topics (from a year or two ago) on this. Here are just two that discuss your situation.


Just went back and read some from afew years ago. Thanks for your input

I agree with those that say damaged towels are the cost of doing business. Pros to white towels, others swear by dark towels to hide different stains. Just plan on replacing some every year.

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I have a whole house rental so I personally don’t charge guests for minor breakage or damages. I don’t think it’s worth the bad review they will surely write. Also consider if you would host them again. If so, billing them for $8 might not get you a return booking or a recommendation of your place to friends and family. I would just write it off on my taxes. You can mention the damage to them in a private comment.


Another one here who says that the loss of a few towels here and there (and the odd broken glass, the garbage disposer-mangled teaspoon, the badly-stained sheet etc.) is the cost of doing business.

In the olden days (the last century) this was how the hospitality industry worked - your nightly price reflected the fact that there would be occasional damages and items that needed replacing.

Your insurance was for anything expensive that was damaged or destroyed.

Then along came Airbnb and hosts started to simply trust to luck that nothing would be damaged and, that if it did happen, the host could charge the guest the few dollars needed to replace the item.

But that’s not how it works. (Or should work).

Charge a proper nightly fee that is painstakingly calculated from your annual costs and your projected occupancy rate. In your calculations, include absolutely everything including a good sum for contingencies, repairs, breakages and damages. Then you’ll a) sleep at night and b) not take any time worrying over the loss of a few towels or a couple of broken plates.

Imagine a restaurant - they have broken glasses and crockery, stained tablecloths and napkins, equipment breakdowns … but they don’t charge the guest for these - directly. Stores have a financial allowance for ‘shrinkage’ i.e. shoplifted goods.


I’m also in the “no charge” camp. Raise your price $2 a night and buy a new set of towels every few months with the money.


I just charged a family $80 for the ruined towels, the filth, and the ripped leather couch (the back where the cushion attaches). She wanted to send me Target gift cards, but I filed with VRBO and voila! got the money.

White bath towels, hand towels and one face cloth. I swear they must have changed their oil with two of them, green marker on four of them, and clearly took some of them on their boat out on the Reservoir. This renter was a PITA and I’ve got her on my do not rent list (course she’ll never come back…)

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And what are you supposed to do with those? Is she assuming this is where you buy your towels? That’s bizarre…

She probably received a Target gift card last holiday and was going to regift it.


Ahhhh OK. That makes more sense! Glad you got the cash - Target is so overpriced for most Airbnb staples.

I agree with towels etc just a cost of doing business. I charge a little extra on my cleaning fee every stay, this accounts for supplies as well as any damaged or missing small items.

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@Mountainhost No way I would try to get a guest to reimburse me for $8. If they offered to pay for them, though, I’d certainly take them up on it. But I’d mention it in a review. Not really harshly, but I’d like to know if a guest is careless with the host’s stuff.

I would stay away from “sets” of things like towels. It seems like a poor idea in a hosting situation. That doesn’t mean you have to have a hodge-podge of mismatched stuff, but buy towels that can be replaced individually. For example, Costco sells packs of white towels that other hosts tell me wash up really well and almost all stains come out of.

I use colored towels myself- they are co-ordinated, but not a “set”. The green “set” has one sage green bath towel, one softly patterned one, also in sage green (I did have 2 matching ones, but a guest took one on a booze cruise and brought home a different green towel that was so threadbare it went in the rag bag), a somewhat different shade of green hand towel and an avocado green washcloth.

The rust color “set” has 2 matching bath towels (neither have gotten ruined yet), beige hand towel and beige washcloth.

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Thinking of combining my gray towels with white towels that can be bleached when stained and phasing out the gray towels so I can wear out the ones I have—maybe faster than I planned it seems after the last guest—and not make a big investment all at once. Like the individual towels at cosco idea but of course its a 2 hour trip down the hill.I probably rely on amazon too much because of it, ergo the sets of towels.

Same with me.

Costco hotelier towels are available for purchase on their website. Shipping is sometimes free. Looks like currently there is a shipping charge but if it’s cheaper than your gas to travel and saves your time, it may be worth paying.

Looks like there is an option to create a bundle of towels, hand cloths, etc.

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Great info. I need to get my cosco card updated now!

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Wow, that’s a great deal. Thanks for sharing.


HI from Australia. From travelling to NZ and using fellow Air homes, Ive discovered that other hosts are experiencing the same ‘Pink’ towels. We believe it could be from fake tan. Ive just recently had a young lad use our apartment and he was using acne cream. The light blue towels now have to be used as rags as they are light pink in lots of places. As he was staying for a few weeks, i just kept them clean/refreshed and did not lend him any other of my other towels during his stay. This way the profit i made on his visit simply paid for 2 new towels. This was they only way I could get past the disappointment of them being ruined.


Maybe hosts should start giving guests a choice when they check in- “Do you want the set of stained, theadbare, but clean towels that you don’t have to worry about ruining and paying for, or do you want the nice fluffy ones that you’re going to be really careful with?” :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: