FAQs: All About Those Cleaning Fees

Kitchen of a Lodgeur furnished rental apartment in Houston, Texas.
Lodgeur’s housekeeping team tidies up the kitchen so it’s spotless for your arrival.

AP and New Wallet published an article on the cleaning fees for furnished apartments, Airbnb Has a Plan to Fix Cleaning Fees, and interviewed Lodgeur’s founder about the economics of Airbnb cleaning fees.

Here are Lodgeur’s FAQs on cleaning fees:

What is an Airbnb cleaning fee?

Airbnb cleaning fees are additional costs charged by the host to cover cleaning expenses before a guest’s stay. They can vary based on a number of factors, laundry costs, size of the property, and who is cleaning the property (e.g. the host themselves, their staff, or a third party cleaning service). Ultimately, the cleaning fee covers the cost of ensuring that your temporary home-away-from-home is clean and inviting before your arrival.

Why do I have to pay a cleaning fee for an Airbnb but not a hotel?

Hotels excel in cost-effectiveness when it comes to their cleaning services. Most hotel guests book short stays, thus allowing hotels to calculate and incorporate the costs into nightly rates easily. In the wake of COVID, hotels have also largely eliminated daily cleans.

In addition, hotel room cleaners typically clean numerous rooms per hour by pushing a cleaning cart from one small room to another as guests check out. On the other hand, apartment cleaners require more time because they are cleaning full homes with kitchens and living rooms, before traveling across town to another apartment building for the next clean.

Who sets the cleaning fee? Why are they so different from host to host?

The host sets the cleaning fee, and it can vary from host to host due to their own individual policies, location of their property and resources available.

For example, a property located in a rural area might have different cleaning expenses than one located in an urban environment where the cost of labor is different. A host who pays a living wage to professional cleaners will have a higher cost than one who pays minimum wage or self cleans.

Some hosts use a professional laundry service to clean the bed linens and towels in hospitality-grade facilities, to maintain hygiene standards you would find in hotels. Hosts who self clean may need to squeeze an apartment’s worth of laundry into a rapid cycle to prepare the apartment for the next guest in between checkout and the next checkin that day.

The cost of a professional wash is higher than a panic wash (about $25 for a one-bedroom apartment in Houston) and will be part of the cleaning fee.

I’m only staying 2 nights. Why is the cleaning fee so expensive?

The cost of cleaning an apartment is the same whether you stay for 2 nights or 200 nights. Vacuuming, mopping and laundering the sheets will cost your host the same. Since the cleaning costs are only incurred once, your stay becomes a better value the longer it is.

Can I clean the place myself instead of paying the cleaning fee?

Unfortunately, no. Leaving an apartment by checkout time is a challenge for many guests and cleaning an apartment, washing the linens and preparing it for the next guest by 11 am is an unrealistic expectation. You likely don’t want to stay in a property that the past guest panic cleaned, wondering if the sheets were *really* washed. The cleaning fee ensures the apartment is clean and ready for your stay.

Why can’t the cleaning fee be included in the nightly rate?

Including the cleaning fee in the nightly rate would lead to super high rates for guests staying longer periods of time. A separate cleaning fee helps to account for this discrepancy fairly. Since the host pays for the cleaning each stay, the cleaning fee is charged once for each stay.

What should I expect to clean myself when I’m paying a cleaning fee?

In general, paying a cleaning fee means that the apartment should be clean and ready for you when you arrive and that the host or a professional cleaner will take care of all the cleaning when you leave. You either pay the cleaning fee or you are the cleaner – not both.

You should never have to clean the bathroom, kitchen or other common areas. The bedding and towels should be clean when you arrive.

While each host will have their own set of instructions, here’s what Lodgeur expects when guests check out:

  • If you’ve moved any furniture around, you should put it back where you found it. (Moving furniture is too much to ask of our cleaners, who may not be able to physically move the furniture.)
  • Put the trash in the trash can.
  • Check and check again that you haven’t forgotten anything.
  • Lock up the doors and close the windows when you leave.
  • Return your keys to the same place where you picked them up.

When is a low cleaning fee a bad idea?

If a cleaning fee is lower than similar properties in the same area, it’s worth considering why the fee is so low.

  • Is the laundry is being professionally and thoroughly cleaned?
  • Is the property being professional cleaned? How much time is being spent on the clean before your stay?
  • Are the cleaners being paid a living wage?
  • Is the guest expected to be the cleaner before checkout?

Is there a better way to save money on fees?

Yes! Check out our post for ways to save money on your next extended stay and our FAQs for booking furnished apartments.

Learn more about booking a furnished apartment:

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