Providing a clean and tidy space will make your guests feel comfortable in your home from the moment they arrive. A clean place demonstrates your commitment to providing a high standard of hospitality and will make your guests feel welcome and at ease.
Some hosts choose to cover the cost of a professional cleaner by including a cleaning fee.
Cleaning fees help hosts account for any extra expense they incur in getting their place clean and tidy for incoming guests.
The fee is charged once per trip – not as a nightly fee. For example, if a listing has a cleaning fee of $100, the guest does not pay $100 per night – they pay $100 only once, regardless of how many nights the reservation is for.
Consider carefully how much you charge because a big fee can make a one or two night stay very expensive. Getting your cleaning fee right means not losing money by charging less than it costs to have your place cleaned and turned over. Getting your cleaning fee wrong risks losing potential reservation requests because your prices are perceived as too high.
Because the cleaning fee is included in the total guest payment and host payout, Airbnb’s service fees apply on this too. For hosts, this is 3%.
To add a cleaning fee to your listing:
Cleaning fees are not automatically included when making a Special Offer, which should be an all-inclusive price. Keep this in mind if offering a prospective guest a Special Offer for your place.
The Guest's Perspective
In search results, guests see a total price inclusive of the cleaning fee (+ Airbnb service fee), to get a better idea of the total cost for the stay.
Below is a sample listing from a search for a place in New York for one night. It quotes a nightly price of $200 total:
When a prospective guest clicks on the question-mark icon next to the total figure, or visits the listing page itself, they see a line item breakdown of the total cost:
Whilst the nightly rate is only $100, adding the cleaning and service fees brings the total to $200. Each of these are listed as separate line items in the price breakdown. The key takeaway here is that you should not over-charge with your cleaning fees. Doing so may potentially scare off potential guests that would otherwise be interested in your place at a reasonable price.
These potential guests may never even make it to your listing page if they were put off by perceived over-pricing when your place was displayed in search results. Remember that the cleaning fee component of your total price is not displayed by default. It is only once the guest clicks on the price breakdown or visits your listing page (if they get there at all), they know how much of the total cost relates exclusively to your cleaning fee (vs. the nightly charge for the place itself).
If we compare the total cost for a 1-night vs. 2-night vs. 3-night reservation, we can see that the cleaning fee represents a larger share of the total cost for shorter stays:
Whilst the length of a guest’s stay is outside of your control, the cleaning fee is not – it is determined entirely by you.
Therefore be aware of the dangers of inflating your cleaning fee as a means of making a quick buck. Whilst you may get away with charging more than the cleaning actually ends up costing you, the additional income you’ll receive needs to be weighed up against the risk of losing prospective guests that perceive your place as too expensive and never end up booking.
Additionally, guest perceptions that they’re being taken for a ride through an exploitation of the cleaning fee may be enough to scare them off consideration of your place when deciding where they want to book.
In addition to keeping things honest, rarely will a small inflated cleaning fee justify the lost income of additional bookings that would otherwise have come through, but never eventuate.
How Much to Charge
So how much should you actually charge? It’s important to remember that whether you pay for a cleaner or do the cleaning yourself, there is a cost (either financial or your personal time) associated with each.
Cleaning fees have become a common feature across most listings on Airbnb. Hosts that do not add a cleaning fee typically compensate with a higher nightly price. Therefore so long as you keep your cleaning fee honest and reasonable, the mere fact of simply having a cleaning fee should have minimal impact on the likelihood of getting booked.
Try keep the cleaning fee as close as possible to the actual cost of getting your place cleaned.
If you’re doing the cleaning yourself, another method for determining your cleaning fee is to do a search on Airbnb for comparable listings (same home type, room and bathroom numbers) in your same neighborhood / city, and seeing how much they’re charging for their cleaning fee. Try not to venture too far north of whatever these cleaning fees are. You will want to make sure however that the reasonable value of your personal time factors into the final cost you arrive at.
An emerging service that’s becoming increasingly popular for Airbnb hosts are cleaning companies that provide their services specifically for short-term rental properties such as those listed on Airbnb. As an “on-demand” service you’re able to call upon only at the times you have bookings and need your place cleaned, they are a useful and handy service to keep up your sleeve. The downside however is the lack of familiarity with your cleaning and turnover preferences that inevitably results from ad-hoc visits by different cleaners each time.