Airbnb cleaning fees can be brutal. Here’s how to cope

Sally French

Between the higher prices and the reduced service, the hotels have come under a lot of criticism lately. But in the debate between hotels vs. AirbnbsThere are common Airbnb fees that you probably won’t find in hotels, at least not yet: cleaning fees.

Hidden travel costs as cleaning fees are commonplace on Airbnb. They are explained as one-time charges pocketed by the host to cover the cost of cleaning their listing. The cleaning fee is in addition to the base price and service fee (which Airbnb pockets).

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But why are Airbnb cleaning fees so high — or are they? How much is the Airbnb cleaning fee?

A June 2022 NerdWallet analysis looked at data from 1,000 Airbnb reservations in the United States with check-in dates in 2022 or 2023 across a range of locations, sizes, and quality. The analysis only considered “whole” properties, as opposed to part of a shared home.

Let’s take a look at what we found about the dreaded Airbnb cleaning fees.

How much is the Airbnb cleaning fee

Cleaning fees vary wildly, ranging from $0 to several hundred dollars. The median cleaning fee per listing for a one-night stay was $75, according to NerdWallet’s analysis.

Of the listings analyzed, 14% had no cleaning fee at all. With these stays, the base rate not only includes the ability to lay your head on that pillow, but also to have it cleaned, much like a hotel.

And while the median cleaning fee is $75, it’s important to understand the cleaning fee versus the larger cost of renting the home. A $75 fee to clean a 12-bedroom ski cabin might seem like a bargain, but a $75 cleaning fee for a mere 400-square-foot studio might seem outrageous.

The median cleaning fee of $75 represents approximately 25% of the total price paid for overnight stays in the accommodations analyzed. In fact, 34% of listings had cleaning fees between 20 and 29.99% of the list price.

About a third of the listings had cleaning fees amounting to less than 20% of the price. Surprisingly, 8% of listings had a cleaning fee of 40% or more of the total price, assuming you were only staying one night at the Airbnb. And some outliers are particularly mind-boggling.

With that in mind, NerdWallet compared the cleaning fee to the base price.

Most low-cost Airbnbs have low-cost cleaning fees, hence the large cluster of dots in the bottom left corner. Admittedly, some expensive listings have high cleaning fees, hence the results on the opposite side of the chart.

But then there are a few highlights. There is a $1,000 listing with a $0 cleaning fee. There is a $304 listing with a $300 cleaning fee.

And then there are the odd cases where the cleaning fee is above the base price.

Depending on seasonal rates, you might end up paying more for cleaning than for your stay.

Here’s an example: a four-bedroom Airbnb in Scottsdale, Arizona. Prices vary by night, with summer stays generally costing much less than during cooler seasons. In July, you can book a night for just $151. But the cleaning fee is set at $239, which means July’s $151 per night rate comes with a cleaning fee of $239, far more than the base rate itself. During Christmas weekend, the same listing has a nightly rate of $408. This makes cleaning costs still high, but much more acceptable.

The problems with Airbnb cleaning fees

Finding an ad in your price range can be difficult

Cleaning fees can be difficult to analyze and calculate list filtering by complicated price. Maybe you have a budget for accommodation of €200 per night, so you should set your filter to show houses with a maximum price of €200. But by doing so, you might end up paying more, because you might find a lovely house for $100 per night with a $150 cleaning fee. Likewise, you could overlook a $210 per night house with a $0 cleaning fee.

There is currently no way to filter Airbnb rentals based on cleaning fees.

You may still have to clean up after yourself

Just as hosts can set their own prices and fees, they can set their own house rules. It’s not uncommon for hosts to ask guests to take out the trash, run the dishwasher, or start a wash with the towels and sheets.

There’s no rule that Airbnbs can’t do both – charge a cleaning fee and require light housekeeping. This caused outrage among some travellers.

You will be “listed” as a guest

Since hosts can give reviews of travelers, there is some pressure to be a good traveler and follow departure cleaning protocols, as a bad review could jeopardize your ability to book future Airbnb stays.

Contrast that with hotel stays, which generally don’t require guests to have an account or positive reviews to stay. Unless you’ve done something really wrong, a major hotel chain won’t ban you, even if you’ve tracked sand all over the floor and left towels strewn everywhere.

One way to reduce Airbnb cleaning fees

Stay longer. As the cleaning fee is a one-time fee, you will pay the same rate whether you stay one day, two days or two weeks. Thus, if the cleaning costs amount to 25% of the rate for one night, they go down to 12.5% ​​of the rate for two nights. Spread a $150 cleaning fee over a two-week stay, and the cleaning fee only comes out to about $10 a day. If you only stayed one day, you still owed $150.

In general, Airbnbs tend to be much cheaper for long-term stays than hotels. But for short-term stays, it’s almost always cheaper to stay in hotels — and cleaning fees are a big reason why.

If you can design your trip to stay at one Airbnb for multiple days instead of staying at multiple Airbnbs over the same period, you’ll almost always save money.

When planning the trip, choose a home base. If you’re planning a multi-week road trip in California, you might opt ​​for an Airbnb in Orange County, as it’s about 100 miles south of Santa Barbara and 100 north of San Diego, so get to both in one day. . It’s also an even shorter drive to Los Angeles and Temecula.

Say you visit the canyon-filled recreation areas of Arizona and Utah with national park tours in Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. It might make more sense to book an Airbnb for longer in Kanab, Utah, which is roughly in the middle of the three parks.

Airbnb cleaning fees are brutal for short trips. On the contrary, knowing that you can spread your cleaning costs over an extended stay could be an incentive to treat yourself to a slightly longer vacation.

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