Airbnb Cleaning Fees: Changes, But They’re Not Going Away
Almost everyone hates Airbnb cleaning fee – those pesky charges added to your vacation rental bill that are supposed to cover the cost of getting the place ready for future visitors. Travelers don’t like the expense and hosts don’t like to charge them either.
Dennis Shirshikov, an Airbnb host who owns a rental property in upstate New York, says cleaning fees are the most common complaint he receives from guests.
“We are strongly considering cutting them,” he says.
And Shirshikov could get what he wants. Airbnb is about to roll out big changes this won’t end cleaning fees, but could make them more transparent to guests and encourage hosts to reduce or waive them altogether.
WHAT ARE THE AIRBNB CLEANING FEES AND WHAT THEY COST
Airbnb cleaning fees are one-time fees pocketed by hosts to cover costs such as laundry or restroom cleaning between guest stays. They are separate from the base price and are in addition to any service charges or charges for optional add-ons.
A June 2022 NerdWallet analysis of 1,000 Airbnb reservations in the United States with check-in dates in 2022 or 2023 found that the median cleaning fee per listing for a one-night stay was $75.
But cleaning fees vary widely. An Airbnb spokesperson told NerdWallet that cleaning fees average less than 10% of the total booking cost at properties that charge for them. Meanwhile, NerdWallet’s analysis revealed that the cleaning fee was around 25% of the total price paid. In fact, nearly 40% of listings had cleaning fees ranging from 20% to 29.9% of the list price.
And on a few listings, the cleaning fee was higher than the nightly rate.
WHY AIRBNB’S CLEANING FEES ARE SO IRRITATING – AND AIRBNB’S PLAN TO FIX IT
Cost aside, Airbnb cleaning fees can seem particularly brutal just from the way they are presented. Airbnb’s search page displays the rate per night on most interfaces in large bold letters, obscuring the total price. Thus, the total price, presented in lightly colored letters, can be easily overlooked.
To add to the confusion, nightly rates often don’t add up to the full price anyway. A listing with a rate of $40 per night may total $90 due to a $40 cleaning fee and a $10 service charge. Another listing with a rate of $60 per night might turn out to be cheaper – $73 in total – if it has a $13 service charge and no cleaning fee. A traveler with a budget of US$50 might be seduced by the US$40 registration, only to owe more than if they had booked the US$60 registration.
But that’s set to change in December when Airbnb plans to roll out a toggle so travelers can opt-in to having search results show the full price, including all fees. Users who do not enable full price display will still only see nightly rates.
In November 2022, the company also adjusted its search algorithm to rank listings based on the best total price rather than just considering the nightly rate, which may prompt hosts to reduce or waive cleaning fees.
WHAT IF THERE ARE NO CLEANING COSTS?
A minority of listings do not charge a cleaning fee. Airbnb reports that 45% of listings worldwide do not charge this fee. Yet only 15% of the listings available in NerdWallet’s analysis had no cleaning fees. The disparity is partly due to the fact that NerdWallet only looked at listings in the United States, while Airbnb’s count is based on listings from around the world, where fees are less common.
Shirshikov says he would prefer to quote a final price that includes cleaning costs for two reasons. First, he suspects customer satisfaction would increase, and second, he thinks customers would leave the place cleaner.
Airbnb has warned hosts that cleaning fees can backfire by creating unrealistic expectations about how much guests will offer to help with checkout.
“With higher (cleaning) fees, guests can expect to walk away from your accommodation at checkout as they would from a hotel room,” according to a note posted on the website. Airbnb before the cleaning changes take effect.
This is exactly what Shirshikov experienced.
“If they pay a cleaning fee, sometimes they leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months,” he says, adding that he came back to find food all over the floor. and drinks spilled on the beds.
IF EVERYBODY HATES AIRBNB CLEANING FEES, WHY CHARGE THEM STILL?
For hosts who clean the rentals themselves, the money can cover the cost of cleaning supplies. Often this money is simply passed on to professional housekeeping services who take care of the cleaning.
Sebastien Long, founder and CEO of Texas-based short-term rental company Lodgeur, says he thinks the average cleaning fee of US$75 is pretty low.
Factoring in staff salaries, supplies and replacement items, Long says he estimates it costs about $22 to turn over a hotel room. If Airbnb hosts outsource the work, Long estimates, it could cost $175 to clean a two-bedroom apartment, including $100 for the cleaning company, $50 for laundry services, and $25 for supplies. such as coffee or mini toiletry bottles.
Cleaning costs for Airbnb hosts are often higher than for hotels because they probably can’t take advantage of the economies of scale. For example, hotels have commercial size washing machines. Also, listings are usually spread geographically, so there is the inefficiency of traveling miles between properties. And short-term rentals are usually much larger and have more space to clean (like kitchens) than hotel rooms.
But other hosts are using the fee simply as a way to squeeze more money out of guests, clearly overcharging cleaning fees, a practice Airbnb warns against.
“Aim to use cleaning fees to cover cleaning costs — not to earn extra money,” according to a 2021 note from Airbnb to hosts.
And then there are hosts who charge cleaning fees and always ask guests to clean up after themselves. This too will probably end soon. Along with more transparent cleaning fees, Airbnb said it also plans to require hosts to post cleaning requirements on the listing before guests book. Customers will also be able to leave feedback on the checkout process.
Airbnb also clarified that payment requests must be reasonable. On your next Airbnb stay, if the host is receptive to the changes, you may not need to vacuum or strip the beds. The only things you’ll have to do are turn off the lights, throw out the trash, and lock the door.
For now, however, Shirshikov says he’s sticking to the cleanup fee, as he doesn’t know if users will activate the toggle.
“I would like to see how many people are actively activating full price display,” he says. “Unless customers are using it, it won’t matter much to how we set prices.”
NerdWallet performed an analysis of 1,000 Airbnb listings (including taxes and fees) with check-in dates in 2022 or 2023. The analysis looked at base prices as well as other fees such as cleaning fees for stays of one, seven and 30 nights, also broken down by reservations made 3 days, 4 weeks and 47 weeks in advance. The data was collected for 10 regions in the United States and covered properties with a maximum capacity of two guests versus six guests.