Cleaning Fees: The Dark Side of Vacation Rentals – Are Hosts Asking Too Much From Guests?

Vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing. What began as a cheaper, more convenient way to find a place to stay is turning vacations into work. More and more guests are finding that Airbnb hosts are not only charging cleaning fees but are also asking guests to do some basic chores while they are on vacation.

A new study shows that most people don’t like that.

A new report found that guests did not like it when they were charged cleaning fees while also being asked to clean. In fact, 74% believe it’s wrong for vacation rental hosts to ask guests to clean while also charging a cleaning fee.

As for property policies, the same report found that  69% of respondents are less likely to rent a property if a host has strict rules, and 1 in 4 have decided not to rent a property because of the cleaning requirements.


Jaydee, who runs the site, Mom Blog Life says, “We used to use Airbnb exclusively for stays around the world thanks to bargain deals where we could have access to a kitchen to save on eating out for all our meals. These days, Airbnb cleaning fees and service fees add up fast. On our last stay on a ski trip, we paid a lot for a small cabin and were asked to strip sheets, wash dishes, and load the washer, even though they charged us a cleaning fee. The next time, we decided to stay at the local hotel instead for less money and no cleanup. We definitely look at all our options now before deciding what is most cost-efficient and easiest.

Switching Platforms

Some travelers are switching to different platforms because of what they see as onerous requests from Airbnb hosts. John Dealbreuin, who shares financial advice on his site, Financial Freedom Countdown, says, “I’ve switched to alternative accommodations such as vacation rentals, serviced apartments, and hotels that offer transparent pricing and clear cleaning expectations. For example, Vacasa sets its own cleaning fees, which are more accurate and reasonable than Airbnb’s system, which currently allows the hosts to set cleaning fees without any cap. Also, cleaning fees are waived on Vacasa rentals booked with Wyndham points making it my first choice.”

However, despite bad experiences, some still prefer AirBnb, JayDee says, “We still find Airbnb is often worth it for groups bigger than 4”.

Do Your Research

Mikkel and Dan Woodruff travel often, as detailed on their blog, Sometimes Home, Mikkel says cleaning fees matter when they book.

She books with that in mind, “When looking at Airbnb options, we most definitely take cleaning fees into account. For example, if we’re staying in a city for three nights and the Airbnb nights versus hotel nights cost the same, yet there’s an additional $100 cleaning fee for the Airbnb, it’s often not worth booking the Airbnb. However, if the fee is minimal for x-number of days and still makes the booking worthwhile, we’ll book it.”

She suggests doing your research before booking long-time stays, “Additionally, when considering long-term Airbnb rentals, like month-long stays, we’ve learned to look at the cleaning fee but also message the host to see what that includes. For example, do we need to replenish toilet paper ourselves throughout the weeks there? Do cleaners come each week or never within the four weeks? We’ve had it both ways in our experience, so it’s best to consider the fees, know what you’re getting into with eyes wide open, then decide if you want to book or not.”

Don’t Mind the Cleaning

Some travelers don’t mind doing some chores for their hosts; Alicia from Travels with The Crew says,  “I might be in the minority, but I don’t mind throwing towels into the washing machine or doing my dishes when leaving an Airbnb. The cleaning fee is for major cleaning, and I’m sure it is hard to get a house flipped for the next guest without starting a load of laundry.”

Read More Articles From A Dime Saved:

This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.

Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.