Is it total wreck Airbnb madness when you go on vacation? Do you get charged an extra cleaning fee because your family trashed the Airbnb? Let me guess, you already paid a cleaning charge and thought you were covered right?
Well, don’t worry, Airbnb cleaning expectations are easy to manage if you follow the house rules. Who knows, maybe the super host even has a print-on-demand book for your Airbnb that shows Airbnb guests how to leave the place.
Listen: Total Wreck (Airbnb Guest Leaves the Place a Mess)
Watch: Total Wreck (Airbnb Guest Leaves the Place a Mess)
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
What to Do When the Airbnb is Left a Wreck
Oh, no, the Airbnb was a wreck. What are we going to do? Now, somebody wrote in to the show and they asked this question. She said, “I’ve cleaned for a Superhost owner for almost a year. We have a great relationship. It’s a three-bedroom and a bunkhouse, kid-friendly and recently dog-friendly rental. For the first time just yesterday, I walked into a total disaster.
Cheeto fingers, chocolate milk, footprints, and frosting on the couch and dining room chair covers, which I had just washed three days before. Now there wasn’t a surface in the house that wasn’t touched. There was food mashed into the rug and little pieces of chewed carrots and potatoes all over the yard. And there were muddy dog prints all over the couch and the outdoor couch. And to boot, they were 45 minutes late checking out.
I sent pictures right away to the homeowner who sent them to the guest and their response was, ‘Well, maybe your rules should be a little bit more clear, and maybe you shouldn’t state that your property is kid-friendly when apparently you have a problem cleaning up after them.’
Is There a Rule About How to Leave Your Airbnb?
So here’s my question. Can you suggest an all-encompassing rule to show how you would leave the house when you check out or you will be charged extra on top of the cleaning charge? How can you word a common sense/decency/respect rule?”
Well, the easy answer and the all-encompassing rule is to leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it. And in Airbnb, it could leave Airbnb a cleaner place than when you found it. Now, there are two things that I want to share with you real quick. The first is for the family and then the second is for you as the cleaner or the host.
The Family Has the Responsibility to Clean After Themselves
So the first one is for the family. When you go to an Airbnb, it is your responsibility to clean up after yourself. Now you can say, “Well, we’ve got lots of kids. There’s too much going on. We don’t have the ability to do that. It’s not our job,” yada, yada, whatever. You can make all kinds of excuses. But I want to share this with you.
I’m from a family of 19 kids, and we did go stay at lodges and we went camping and we went to different places as a family growing up. When we left, we had rules in place. And so we broke up all of the meals and I would be assigned a certain number of meals. And I knew exactly when it was. Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Thursday lunch, whatever. I knew exactly what my meals were.
I was responsible for making sure the food was there, the food was prepared, the food was presented and the family was fed. And then the meals, the dishes, everything was cleaned up and all the food was put away at the end.
How My Family Cleaned After Ourselves on Vacation
Now, when we arrived, and this is at a park, this is at a campground, this is at Airbnb’s, this is wherever we went as a family, everybody would be in charge of different things, lots of different things. “Angela, you’re in charge of the picnic coolers.”
And what that meant was I’m responsible for packing everything we’re going to need inside the picnic coolers. I’m responsible to make sure that they get inside the vehicles going to the park or the Airbnb. I’m responsible for taking them out of the cars, taking them into the property. And I’m responsible for if we need ice on an ongoing basis, to keep ice inside those coolers.
When we get ready to leave the property, my job is to make sure that those coolers, if we have a way to clean them out, are cleaned out and they’re empty, or if they’re still full and they have food in them, it’s still my job to make sure that everything that’s supposed to be in there is in there and that they’re back in the vehicle when it’s time to leave.
Everyone Had Responsibilities in My Family
Now, I don’t have to carry them by myself. I can always ask for help. I can ask for other people to help me pack them and whatever, but my point is, everyone had responsibilities. So if we went to a public park, for example, one of my brothers might be in charge of the garbage. So when they get to the park, their job is to find the garbage.
Where’s the garbage at this location? What does it look like? Is there stuff strewn about? And if it is, we are going to clean it up, even if we didn’t do it because we’re the last ones here. They’re going to think we did it. So we’ve got to make sure that it looks nice when we leave. So where’s the garbage, and then any garbage that happens on our clock, he’s responsible for.
Kids of Any Age Can Participate in Cleaning Up
Now, I don’t know the age of these kids. They’re probably young. And so I want to suggest that kids at any age can also participate in this activity. There are different chores and different tasks that they could be responsible for the whole time that they’re on the property. So as a family, I recommend that you create some kind of program so that you don’t leave the house in disarray that’s going to cost your family extra money.
Families Stay at Airbnbs for Two Reasons
So for the homeowner or the host or the house cleaner, this is for you. I want you to stop for a second and realize that families that come to Airbnb come for one of two reasons. They come for pleasure, they’re on vacation, or they come from emergencies. Now I say that because I’m also from a large family and I know that when we traveled, it was either we were making this great big vacation that’s something fun that we’re looking forward to, or there’s an emergency.
Someone was in an accident. They’re on the way to the hospital. One of the parents is staying to work. We’re going to pack all the kids in the car and we’re going to go stay somewhere. They’re making an Airbnb reservation at a rest stop somewhere along the way.
So when they get there, their inclination is to fight for the child’s life and get them to the emergency room as quickly as possible. There’s usually some chaotic thing. Somebody running through an Airbnb with Cheeto fingers is the last thing on their mind. I’m not trying to make excuses for them, but I’m saying as a house cleaner, you’re going to run into a lot of unfavorable situations.
There Might Be a Reason for Their Attitude
So when you have a situation like this, and this just sounds like it was neglect, and then there was an attitude on top of it, and the attitude on top of what is very possible, again, not making excuses, but it’s very possible that their child is somewhere in a hospital, fighting for their life. And they’ve been reprimanded in a multiplicity of ways because of the behavior of their kids. And they’re just struggling to survive the next two hours.
Then they get the Airbnb that’s like, “You left our place dirty.” And they’re like, “Whoa.” Do you know what I mean? It’s possible that spouting off at you and that attitude was nothing more than desperation. We’re trying to survive the next two hours right now.
The House Cleaning Industry is About Hospitality
So I want you as a house cleaner to just stop for a second, realize that the house cleaning industry is a hospitality industry. You’re going to run into a lot of ugly stuff. You’re going to run into a lot of messy stuff.
If this is not the kind of business for you, please get out because you’re going to run into a lot of things that are going to demand your compassion and kindness. And as an Airbnb host, when you open up your home, you’re going to get a lot of that that comes in. So you have to be able and be willing to accept that to some degree.
I Would Recommend Keeping a Kid-Friendly Place
The third thing that I would recommend, and this is not for either one of you, but this is specifically for the host. What I recommend is if you have a kid-friendly place, there are ways to inspire kids to clean. Kids love stories. They love their own choose-your-own-adventure. What you could do is create your own choose-your-own-adventure book that goes along with your Airbnb property.
There are places like BookBaby, and I will leave links in the show notes so that you can, if you want, print a four-color book that has pictures of your home, and you can tell a story, and say, “There was a family that came to stay, and this is what it looked like when they got there. And then all of a sudden there were Cheeto fingers.”
And then you can have like a little emoji that’s like, whoa. This is bad. And you can add things in there to the picture to make it a great little storybook. This means you came and you had a lovely stay. This means it costs you more money.
You Can Leave a Storybook for the Kids
You can have this little storybook that you can leave. And it’s a hardcover, four-color printed storybook. You only print one copy or two copies or three copies. My recommendation is that you leave one next to the beds in every room so that the kids can have a bedtime story. And it’s, “Oh, look, I was in that room today. I was in that very room.”
But the story can be of somebody who was like a superhero who went through and they made sure that they picked up all the garbage and they picked up all the toys and they put everything away. They opened all the drawers and they made sure that nothing was left behind.
Who’s going to go around and check up and pick up all this stuff? And make it a fun, interactive book where they’re like, “Wait a second. I want to be that person.” And they go through and they do the things that they saw in the book. But you have to illustrate it because we have lots of people that come and stay, and they don’t all speak English as their first language.
I love the picture book because then everybody in the family gets to read it. And even adults that read it totally get it. We understand there’s an extra cleaning fee on top of the cleaning fee that we paid if we leave Cheeto’s fingers and dog paws all over the couches. So there are ways of doing that.
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