Everyone hates Airbnb cleaning charges — those annoying fees that are added to your vacation rental bill to cover costs for getting the place ready to host guests. Hosts don’t like to charge them either.

Dennis Shirshikov is an Airbnb host and owns a property in upstate New York. He says that cleaning fees are the number one complaint from his customers.

He says that they are seriously considering cutting off their hair.

Shirshikov may be able to get his way. Airbnb will make big changes to its platform that won’t eliminate cleaning fees, but which could make them more transparent for customers. This would encourage hosts to lower or eliminate them altogether.

What are the cleaning fees for Airbnb and how much they cost

Airbnb hosts may charge cleaning fees as a one-time fee to clean their rooms between guests. These fees are separate from the base price, and can be added to any service fees or additional charges.

An analysis by NerdWallet of 1,000 U.S. Airbnb reservations that had check-in dates between 2022 and 2023 revealed that $75 was the median cleaning fee for a one-night stay.

Cleaning fees can vary greatly. NerdWallet was told by an Airbnb spokesperson that cleaning fees make up less than 10% of total reservations at properties that charge them. NerdWallet found that cleaning fees were about 25% of total price paid. In fact, nearly 40% of listings charged cleaning fees ranging from 20% to 29.9%.

On a few listings cleaning fees were more than the nightly rate.

Why Airbnb’s cleaning fees are so annoying — and Airbnb’s plan for fixing it

The Airbnb cleaning fees are not only expensive but can also feel extremely harsh due to their presentation. The search page for Airbnb shows the nightly rate in bold letters on all interfaces. This masks the total price. The total price is presented in light-colored lettering and can be easily overlooked.

Nightly rates don’t always correlate with total prices, adding to the confusion. A listing that has a nightly rate of $40 could cost $90 due to a $40 cleaning fee, and a $10 service fee. A $60 nightly rate listing could be cheaper, at $73 total, if it charges a $13 cleaning fee and has no cleaning fee. The $40 listing might tempt a traveler with $50 to spare, but they would still owe more if they booked the $60 listing.

Airbnb will soon offer a toggle that allows travelers to choose to see search results with the total price. This includes all fees. Nightly rates will not be displayed to users who do not toggle total price display.

In November 2022, the company also changed its search algorithm to rank listings based on the best total price. This is in addition to accounting for the nightly rate. This may encourage hosts to lower or eliminate cleaning fees.

What would happen if there weren’t any cleaning fees?

Only a small percentage of listings charge cleaning fees. Airbnb claims that 45% of global listings don’t charge these fees. NerdWallet found that only 15% of available listings didn’t charge a cleaning fee. This is partially because NerdWallet only looked at U.S. listings while Airbnb uses listings around the world, where cleaning fees are more common.

Shirshikov stated that he would prefer to include the cleaning fee in the final price. He believes that guests will be more satisfied and leave the place cleaner.

Airbnb warned hosts that cleaning fees could backfire by setting unrealistic expectations about how much guests will help them at checkout.

“Guests may expect to walk out of your space at check-out as they would in a hotel room with a higher cleaning fee,” according to an Airbnb memo.

This is exactly what Shirshikov experienced.

Why charge Airbnb cleaning fees if everyone hates them?

Hosts who clean the rental properties themselves might be able to pay for cleaning supplies. Many times, the money is passed to professional housekeeping companies who do the cleaning.

Sebastien Lang, founder and CEO at Lodgeur, a short-term rental company based in Texas, said that he believes the $75 average cleaning fee is very low.

Long estimates that it costs approximately $22 to clean a hotel room, taking into account staff wages, supplies, and replacement items. Long estimates that it would cost $175 to clean an Airbnb apartment with two bedrooms. This includes $100 for cleaning services, $50 for laundry service, and $25 for supplies such as mini toiletries or coffee bottles.

Because they are unlikely to be able to take advantage of economies-of-scale, Airbnb hosts often have higher cleaning costs than hotels. For instance, hotel laundry rooms are commercial-sized. Listings are often spread geographically so it’s difficult to travel miles between properties. Short-term rentals are typically larger than hotel rooms and easier to clean (such kitchens).

Other hosts charge fees to make more money, and they overcharge for cleaning, something Airbnb warns about.

According to an Airbnb memo to hosts in 2021, “Aim to use cleaning fee to cover cleaning costs – not make additional money.”

Then there are hosts who charge cleaning fees but still ask guests to clean up after them. This will also likely be discontinued soon. Airbnb also announced that it will require hosts to disclose cleaning requirements on their listing before guests book. Guests can also leave feedback during the checkout process.

Airbnb clarified that reasonable checkout requests are acceptable. If the host is open to making changes to your Airbnb stay, you may not need to vacuum or remove the beds. You will only need to turn off the lights, take out the trash, and lock the door.

Shirshikov said that he will continue to charge cleaning fees for now because it’s not clear if users will use the toggle.

He says, “I would like to see how many guests actively turn on full price display.” It won’t matter if guests don’t use it.

This article is by NerdWallet. It was originally published in The Associated Press.

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