Some guests are like little angels. They leave beds made and dishes done and recycling strictly organised into piles of paper and plastic. Others leave so much mess you wonder if they’ve ever seen civilisation at all.
Here’s the thing though: either way, you’re going to have to clean the place (or hire someone to clean it). Linens will always need changing and bathrooms wiping down, so the question isn’t so much whether you should charge a cleaning fee (you should) but how much to charge.
Here are few things to think about when calculating your vacation rental cleaning fee:
What kind of listing do you have? Is it a full property, or a private room? Does it have a shared bathroom or shared kitchen? It’s natural that you should be charging less for shared spaces as it’s not really fair to expect one guest to bear the whole cost of the cleaning. If it’s an entire property being rented out, the cleaning fee will obviously be higher.
Larger properties take longer to clean. The number of beds will also make a difference: changing linens on two sets of bunk beds, for example, involves more time and more washing than two doubles. It’s perfectly reasonable to factor these things in when deciding how much to charge.
Type of cleaning service
As for how your cleaning gets done, you have a few options.
- Hiring a professional cleaner:
If you’re hiring a professional cleaning service, the best bet is to pass on their fee exactly to your guests. This way you’re never out of pocket, regardless of how long the guest stays. The cleaning fee may seem high in relation to, say, a one-night stay; but if you don’t pass on the cost you’ll have to subsidise it yourself, which can start to cancel out the value of booking those shorter stays in the first place.
- DIY cleaning:
If you’re managing the cleaning yourself, the cost is a little harder to quantify. The biggest expense here is actually your time. Our suggestion would be to put an hourly rate on your time and work out the average time spent to do a cleaning. Calculate your cleaning fee at (hourly rate x hours spent) + (cost of materials + supplies).
If you’re new to hosting and don’t yet have an idea of how long a cleaning normally takes, one tip is to have a look at other similar-sized properties in your area and see what they are charging. Use this as a basis. After your first few bookings you’ll have a better idea of the time and supplies needed to do each cleaning.
Remember, while it’s tempting to consider doing your own cleaning as a way to keep prices down and bookings up, you don’t want to end up out of pocket. Most guests understand that cleaning is a necessity in any vacation rental and, as long as your fee is reasonable, won’t be put off by it.
- Hiring a Property Manager:
Another path you might go down is to hire a property manager. Property managers take care of many or even all aspects of your vacation rental so that your time is completely free to focus on other things.
Depending on your agreement with the property manager, they might look after hiring and scheduling cleaning and maintenance services on your behalf. They might also look after the pricing of your property. You might like to talk to them about cleaning fees and work with them in determining the best fee, or you could leave it up to them to manage it for you.
One often-unrecognised benefit of property managers is that they can get bulk rates. Some property managers develop relationships with cleaning companies and, because they’re using their service for multiple properties, are able to negotiate discounts on cleaning fees. As the owner, it’s all about weighing up the cost of the property manager versus the benefits they can supply you with.
Finally, one thing to bear in mind is that cleaning fees can impact how your nightly rate appears in search results.
For example, if your property has a rate of $100 per night plus a cleaning fee of $100, search results on Airbnb will show $150 per night if searching for a period of 2 nights (the cleaning fee gets split across the number of nights).
If the same property shows up in a search for 5 nights, the daily rate will display as only $120 per night.
Though, as stated above, you still want to cover your cleaning expenses even on short stays, it’s worth being aware of how this type of calculation can influence the way your property appears on different platforms. If you rely mostly on very short stays and your cleaning fee is having a negative impact, you may like to readjust your pricing slightly (you can experiment with nightly rates vs cleaning fees, for example) or find ways to reduce your cleaning costs.
On the whole, though, cleaning fees are a normal and accepted part of the vacation rental world. Regardless of whether you’re turning over the property yourself or hiring a professional, most guests will be willing to cover the cost if it means their own experience is the best, most comfortable one possible.
Looking to maximise the Return on Investment (ROI) on your Airbnb or Vacation Rental? Short of time every week to properly manage all the things that you need to do with an Airbnb or Vacation Rental?