How to set up ethical and profitable cleaning fees?

You already know that a good first impression will be the key for a good connection with your guest during his stay, and it will be the path to good comments. To please your guest you will have to provide a spotless bedroom and a clean and tidy shared area. It will make your guests feel comfortable from the moment they arrive. A clean place demonstrates your dedication to making your guests feel at home.

Platforms like Airbnb allow you to set up a “one-time” cleaning fee. It is not a nightly fee. In other words, if a listing has a cleaning fee of $20, the guests do not pay $20 per night, but they will pay $20 on top of the night price, regardless of how many nights there are in the reservation.

Cleaning fees are not mandatory, especially if you take care of the cleaning yourself. But they can be an important criteria if you have it done by a cleaner. These fees will help you to cover any extra expense that is necessary to get your place nice and tidy before your guests arrival, and after their departure.

It is very important to get it right. It means not losing money by under-charging your guests. But getting your cleaning fee too high create the risk of losing potential requests for having over-charged.

Let’s have a look at everything you need to know about how to set and use your Airbnb cleaning fee that will be accepted by your guests.

Cleaning fees from a guest point of view

In Airbnb search results, guests see a nightly rate that covers the total cost of the reservation, and includes the cleaning fee.

To do so, Airbnb divides the cleaning fee by the number of nights in the reservation. Then they add that number to the nightly rate.

For one-night reservations, a low cleaning fee is attractive:

To make it clearer, let’s use and example from Airbnb. I have searched for a place in Paris for one night, and I am presenting you here the information we see on the search results page. As you can see, on the search results page (left) it quotes a nightly price of 112€.

listing for a private bedroom in Paris
listing for a private bedroom in Paris on Airbnb – short term rental

When we click on that listing, here is the information displayed:

listing for a private bedroom in Paris on Airbnb - short term rental
listing for a private bedroom in Paris on Airbnb – short term rental

This page breakes the price into parts. On the right part of the page the guests see a nightly rate of 88€ and the cleaning fee of 6€. So Airbnb can advertise 112€ because they add these costs ! Actually some other service costs and local taxes are also included in that price, as shown in the price breakdown.

For a private bedroom, you should not be over-charging for your cleaning fees. Doing so could scare off potential guests that would otherwise be interested in renting your place.

These potential guests may never even consider checking your listing page if they were put off by perceived high price. Remember that it is only when they arrive at your listing page that they know how much of the nightly cost relates to the cleaning fee. But what is true for a one night rent, can turn into a strategy to get longer reservation…

For several-night reservations a higher cleaning fee can be acceptable:

The calculation described above can be applied to bookings of more than one night, where the true nightly price (without any additional fees) becomes less clear. but the beauty is that a higher cleaning fee will not be perceived the same way.

For the exact same listing, let’s have a look at the nightly price that is displayed on the search results page for different booking searches of one, two and three nights:

  • 1 Night: Cost Per Night = 112€ (88€ per night + 6€ cleaning fee + 18€ local tax and fees)
  • 2 Nights: Cost Per Night = $108 (( 88€ per night + 6€ cleaning fee + 34€ local tax and fees ) / 2)
  • 3 Nights: Cost Per Night = $107 (( 88€ per night + 6€ cleaning fee + 51€ local tax and fees ) / 3)

As you can see, a nightly fee of 107€ (for 3 nights) is better value for money than 112€ for the exact same place. The pricely-based attractivness to your listing is maximized with longer stays. The impact of a fixed cleaning fee is diluted over additional nights. With this in mind, you can put a higher cleaning fee to discourage one night stays and enhance longer reservations.

It is a fact that the duration of your guest’s stay is outside of your control. The cleaning fee however, is within your control, and is fixed by you. Among the travelers who visit your areas, you will look more attractive to the ones who will stay longer.

Though, be aware of the dangers of inflating too much your cleaning fee as a way to make a quick dollar. Charging more than it actually costs you can be ok, but the income you’ll get from it needs to be weighed up against the risk of losing guests who get the feeling that your place is too expensive.

It is difficult to prove that a small inflated cleaning fee fires back in a loss of opportunity of some reservation. The best thing to do for you is to test for a while with a very reasonable cleaning fee. After a while, when you have many good comments, you can increase it slightly. My best advice is to test and then analyse the consequences it can have on your future reservations !

What must be cleaned?

When it comes to what needs to be cleaned in the private bedroom you rent, Airbnb advises owners to do the following things:

  • Clean the bedroom and every room that your guest can access during their stay. Focus your attention to the bathroom and kitchen.
  • If you provide sheets and towels , make sure they are freshly-cleaned.
  • Pay attention to small details that show extra consideration: wipe the mirrors, dust the bookshelves, and empty the bins.
  • Make room in the closet or dresser so that your guests can unpack easily and store their clothes.

How much should you charge?

As discussed before, the cleaning fee for your place is not where you will make millions. It is wise to keep the cleaning fee realistic and as close as possible to actual cost.

What you should consider if you clean your private bedroom yourself?

A good idea is to benchmark what other owners do in your area. Do a search on Airbnb for similar listings (same type of place, numbers of guests, and number of bathrooms) in your neighborhood or city. See how much the listings that have a lot of comments are charging as their cleaning fee, and you should adjust your fee to theirs.

If you are doing the cleaning yourself, try not to over-charge. Make sure however that the reasonable value of your personal time is gathered into the cleaning fee you arrive at.

What if you outsource the cleaning of your listing?

Many property management services are emerging as a consequence of the popularity of short term rentals. They are cleaning companies that provide services specifically to clean and manage Airbnb places. If it is perfectly acceptable for managing houses or flats that are entirely dedicated to short term rentals, it is not really suitable for a private room in your own place. I have detailed the reasons in a previous article about property management.

Here is an example of prices charged by an american property manager called Properly 139:

  • Studio: $95 for 1 cleaner taking 5 hours
  • 1 Bedroom: $125 for 3 hours
  • 2 Bedrooms: $175 for 5 hours
  • 3 Bedrooms: $200 for 3 hours
  • 4 Bedrooms: $250 for 5 hours

This may be a useful base for pricing the cleaning fee for your own place.

What is usually included for these prices?

All Rooms:

  • Dust picture frames, lamps, ceiling fans, woodwork, furniture, baseboards and shelves
  • Mop all floors
  • Vacuum the carpets
  • Remove cobwebs
  • Vacuum sofas and chairs, including under cushions
  • Empty and clean all bins and recycling containers

Kitchen:

  • Clean counters, appliances, tables and chairs, cabinets
  • Scrub and clean the sinks
  • Clean and put away dirty dishes
  • Wipe and sanitize backsplashes and counter-tops
  • Clean the stove top
  • Empty and clean refrigerator interior and exterior
  • Clean microwave and oven
  • Mop the floor

Bathrooms:

  • Clean, scrub and sanitize the tile walls, shower, bathtub, toilets, sinks.
  • Clean vanities, mirrors and backsplashes
  • Mop floors

Bedrooms:

  • Strip off the bed from the dirty linens
  • Prepare the beds with fresh linens
  • Clean side tables
  • Empty bins

Extras:

  • Laundry Service
  • Oven cleaning
  • Freezer Cleaning
  • Window Washing
  • Exterior Sweeping or Cleaning
  • Cabinet Cleaning
  • Carpet Treatment or Deep Cleaning
  • Furniture Treatment

How can you modify your cleaning fee on Airbnb?

Hosts can set up and modify a cleaning fee for their listing from Your Listings > Manage Listing >Pricing, in the Additional Pricing Options section.

After it is saved, the cleaning fee will be added to each new reservation booked from that moment on. None of the existing reservation will have applied the new cleaning fee.

Best practice tips

Make sure to have enough time to clean your bedroom and shared area. It is especially critical when you have back-to-back bookings.

It is a wise idea to leave cleaning supplies accessible to your guests: you give them the ability to tidy up after themselves. Especially for clumsy ones who will take care of spills and accidental messes. You’d be surprised at how often guests leave their host’s place in a better condition than their own homes. They are probably cautious for the good review you will write about them…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *