What To Know About Airbnb Cleaning Fees
Confused by the news about Airbnb cleaning fees? Here's what you can expect when booking your next vacation rental.
No one likes fees. The word evokes vague charges and too much fine print. Even when the fees are totally legit, like Airbnb cleaning fees — you want a clean place to stay, right? — it’s annoying when there’s no consistency or standardization.
Kirsty Vitarelli, owner of this Berkshires retreat, likens Airbnb cleaning fees to booking a flight. “It gives you a certain price, and then they add on taxes and fees and baggage and all the extra bits,” Vitarelli says. “What you see at the very beginning isn’t necessarily what you end up with at the end of the transaction.”
That can be frustrating for guests and hosts alike. Guests can’t reliably search by price, and, as Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky says, hosts don’t always know the fees Airbnb adds. Sometimes, Chesky says, “hosts tell us that they’re not aware of what guests are paying because as you know, we add a guest service fee on top of the price that hosts charge.”
Recently, Airbnb instituted changes to their search function to address the confusion over cleaning fees. Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Airbnb Cleaning Fees?
Airbnb cleaning fees pay for readying the property for the next guest after you leave. Unless hosts clean their property themselves, which the Vitarellis tried but quickly decided against, this fee goes to the cleaning service hired by the owner.
Renee Brandon, who owns this Texas beach escape with her husband Russell, says her service launders the sheets and towels, wipes down surfaces and cleans the floors, showers and countertops. Airbnb’s enhanced five-step cleaning process, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, also includes sanitizing all surfaces with approved disinfectants.
According to AirDNA, a website that compiles data and analytics on the short-term rental market, the 2022 average cleaning fee for a one-room shared space in the U.S. was $47. A five-bedroom (and up) house cost $333.
How To Set Airbnb Cleaning Fees
Airbnb hosts completely control what they charge for cleaning services. “We pay $200 and charge the guest $200,” Brandon says. “We do not make anything in the cleaning process.”
Brandon says that while guests have so far been happy to pay the fee, she requires a two-night minimum stay so it doesn’t take such a bite.
Vitarelli offers a similar perspective. “We have a flat fee for every stay,” Vitarelli says. “Our cleaner sets the price. That’s how much it costs to clean the house, top to bottom, and get it ready for the next guest.” Whether you stay 10 days or one night, all guests pay the same $75 fee.
What’s New with Airbnb Cleaning Fees?
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Cleaning fees have taken a beating recently. Stories of exorbitant, or at least perplexing, charges, sometimes higher than the nightly rate, have fueled social media trends about Airbnb’s fees in particular.
Even when hosts established straightforward cleaning fees, until recently potential guests perusing Airbnb listings would only see the nightly rate on the main page and map search. So let’s say you found a place within your budget per night and clicked to reserve. Only then did you see the total cost, including cleaning and service fees. In some cases it added several hundred dollars, busting your budget.
In response to this frustration, Airbnb launched a toggle on their search bar that allows potential guests to filter searches by total price (before taxes), including all fees. Chesky announced the change on Twitter last year, and the new setup deployed shortly after. For guests, the update provides a complete breakdown, including all fees. For hosts, it allows more flexibility to give incentives and discounts.
What About No Cleaning Fee?
Most Airbnb properties in the U.S. — nearly 85% — charge cleaning fees, according to AirDNA, so they’re not likely to suddenly disappear. Someone has to clean the property before the next guest, and hosts will not eat that cost. Vitarelli says if they didn’t charge a cleaning fee, they’d add some or all of it to the nightly rate.
Though most U.S. hosts charge cleaning fees as a separate expense, anecdotal evidence of increased bookings after nixing the cleaning fee and raising the nightly rate exists. Chesky said last year Airbnb’s algorithm favors all-in pricing, so expect more hosts to move in this direction.