How Much Should You Charge for Vacation Rental Cleaning?

Lizzie Griffin
Lizzie Griffin

February 19, 2024

Cleaning fees: Guests complain that you use them to increase their profits, but without them, there’s a lack of transparency that can be equally frustrating for your target audience. This leaves you managing a fine balancing act:

You need to set a fair price that’s aligned with the vacation rental cleaning charges in your local market and reflective of the work done and the costs involved.

In this article, you’ll see: 

  • The key factors that a reasonable cleaning fee considers
  • A 7-step process you can follow to set the fee for your vacation rental properties
  • An example cleaning fee calculation
  • How to simplify cleaner payments with Breezeway
  • A real-life example of positive guest messaging on mid-stay cleans
  • Tools you can use to track cleaning work and the cost of supplies
  • How to make your operations more efficient to reduce costs and manual tasks

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Vacation rental cleaning fee: What does it cover?

The vacation rental cleaning fee encompasses various services aimed at maintaining cleanliness and comfort for guests before, during, and after their stay. Here’s what the cleaning fee generally includes for most short-term rentals (STRs):

  • Coordination and execution of professional cleaning to maintain property standards
  • Linen management, including washing, changing, and preparing beds with fresh linens for incoming guests
  • Comprehensive cleaning of bedrooms, which involves making beds, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping as required
  • Sanitation and tidying of living areas, including dusting, vacuuming, and straightening
  • Kitchen cleaning, covering the cleaning of floors, countertops, restocking basic supplies, and the cleaning and basic maintenance of appliances
  • Detailed bathroom cleaning, focusing on disinfecting surfaces, polishing fixtures, and restocking toiletries and essentials
  • Proper disposal and management of trash and recycling according to local regulations

Also, your cleaning fee can cover the use of advanced cleaning tools, like professional carpet cleaners, floor buffers, and ozone generators, which can be especially useful in neutralizing the smell of cigarette smoke. 

This fee can play an important role in helping you consistently uphold your brand standards so every guest arrives to a hygienic and welcoming property.

Pro tip:
Make sure your cleaners don’t miss a spot—we took over 800 different housekeeping checklists to create this cleaning guide for your STR operations.

Download the cleaning checklist

Key factors when determining cleaning fees

When setting the cleaning fee for your short-term rental, several key factors come into play. Understanding these can help you determine a fair and competitive rate that covers your costs while remaining attractive to potential guests.

Property type and size

The cleaning fee can vary significantly based on the location of your property, its type (such as a beach house, a family home, or a unit within an aparthotel), its size, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. 

For example, a large beachfront property may incur higher cleaning costs due to sand removal and the maintenance of outdoor spaces, compared to a small city apartment. Similarly, larger properties or those with unique features like hot tubs or pools typically require more cleaning time and maintenance.

Market rates

To ensure your cleaning fee is competitive, research both what local cleaning services charge and the cleaning fees set by other short-term rentals in your area. This helps you understand the going rate for professional cleaning services and how your peers price their cleaning fees, allowing you to adjust your rate to stay competitive within the market.

Be sure to look at properties of similar type and size, ideally with similar amenities, and targeting the same kinds of guests and stays.

Pricing models: Hourly rate, fixed fee, percentage of cost of stay

Consider different pricing models for your cleaning fee. Some property managers opt for an hourly rate based on the estimated time it takes to manage a clean, while a fixed fee could be best if you compensate housekeepers on a piece-rate basis. 

Alternatively, you can charge a percentage of the cost of the stay, which can align the cleaning fee more closely with the rental price. 

Of course, you’ll need to choose the model that best reflects your cleaning needs and market expectations—and we talk more about cleaning fee models and the differences between them below.

Stay duration

The duration of a guest's stay can influence the perception and acceptance of the cleaning fee. 

For longer stays, such as those by digital nomads or guests staying more than a week, consider setting a cleaning fee that represents a smaller proportion of the total cost. For shorter stays (1-3 days), ensure the cleaning fee does not disproportionately increase the overall cost, which might deter potential guests.

One approach you can take is to establish a total cleaning fee based on your market research and divide it by the number of days in a typical stay, giving you a fixed daily cleaning fee. You’ll see an example of how this works within the step-by-step process below.

Cost of supplies

High-end properties or those with special features may require specialized cleaning products, affecting the overall cost. Likewise, if you accept large parties and smoking, you may need more extensive cleaning per turnover. Consider these costs when determining your cleaning fee to ensure it accurately reflects the expenses incurred during the cleaning process.

By considering these factors, you can set a cleaning fee that is fair, competitive, and reflective of the value and experience you offer to your guests.

Breezeway supply management dashboardTrack supplies to have clear visibility of your cleaning costs over time.

Step-by-step process to calculating your vacation rental cleaning fees

Now that you’ve seen the key factors at play, put it all together to establish your own cleaning fees. Here’s a breakdown of how to do it in seven steps:

  1. Evaluate your properties: Assess the size, type, and location of your STR. Larger properties or those with unique features (like pools, grills, and other communal outdoor spaces) typically require higher cleaning fees.

    Property: 3-bedroom beach house in Florida
    Size: 1,800 square feet
    Type: Beachfront single-family home
    Location: Siesta Key, Florida
    Unique features: Private deck overlooking the beach, hot tub, pet-friendly

  2. Research market rates: Investigate what 5 local services charge for cleaning similar properties and what 10 similar STRs in your area are setting as their cleaning fees. By averaging those rates you’ll have a range of what’s acceptable pricing within your market, noting that fees can also be affected by guest type and length of stay.

    Average cleaning service rate: $173 per clean. Average STR cleaning fee: $169 per clean.

    Combining Service & STR Rates:
    Based on the research, the combined average cleaning fee range for similar properties in Siesta Key is $166-$176.

  3. Select a pricing model: Decide whether you will charge an hourly rate, a fixed fee, or a percentage of the total cost of the stay. Consider the pros and cons of each model based on your property's specifics, cleaning needs, and ideal guest type.

    For example:
    • An hourly rate might work well when there are mid-stay cleans with variable cleaning requirements.
    • A fixed fee is appropriate for consistent, predictable cleaning tasks across bookings.
    • A percentage of the total cost of the stay may align well with luxury properties where guests expect premium service and price isn’t a key factor in their purchasing decision.

    The cleaning requirements are consistent and predictable, fixed cleaning fees are most common for other STRs in Siesta Key, and we want our model to be simple for guests to understand and budget for. So, we’ll opt for a fixed fee.

    Pro tip:
    You can use an operations management platform to track tasks and pay cleaners for completed tasks. 

    For example, Breezeway’s mobile app makes it easy for housekeepers to accurately record the time spent on each turnover. Then managers can easily manage and process payments right from their Breezeway account to effortlessly manage tasks all in one dashboard.

    Breezeway mobile appYou can use Breezeway to get an accurate picture of what it takes to get each unit guest-ready.

  4. Calculate supply costs: Tally the cost of cleaning supplies needed for your property, taking into account any special amenities that require specific products. 

    Breezeway makes it easy to track your use of supplies so you can keep an accurate record of costs and billables—which means if these costs change significantly, you can adjust your cleaning fee accordingly to ensure it covers your expenses and remains competitive.

    General cleaning products (multi-surface cleaner, disinfectant wipes, etc.): $20 per clean
    Kitchen & laundry essentials (dish soap, detergent, etc.): $10 per clean
    Beach & outdoor items (broom, deck cleaner, pool chemicals): $15 per clean
    Total estimated supply cost per clean: $45

  5. Set your fee: Based on your research, chosen pricing model, and costs, set a cleaning fee that reflects the value and cleanliness standards you offer. 

    Align with the upper end of the Siesta Key market to reflect the added value of the property's unique features.
    Total Cleaning Fee: $178

    Now you can choose to apply this as a flat fee for all stays or use this figure as a base from which you calculate a fixed daily cleaning fee:

    Most stays are for 7 days, therefore 178/7 = 25.4
    Daily cleaning surcharge = $25 per day

  6. Communicate value: Clearly explain what the cleaning fee covers in your property listing, highlighting the thoroughness of cleaning and any special features or equipment used. Transparency helps guests understand the fee's justification and can help them have confidence in the quality of your service.

    Here’s a real-life example of clear, positive messaging on mid-stay cleans from Vunique Vacations in Siesta Key:

    Want to stay with us longer than 2 weeks? Great! We just ask that you coordinate a day and time with us so we can have a mid-stay clean performed every 2 weeks during your stay. There is an additional cleaning fee required for this and we would be happy to provide you with a quote prior to booking. Linens and towels can also be laundered mid-stay for an additional fee as well. We are passionate about maintaining our homes and providing a transparent guest experience, so we appreciate your cooperation on this

  7. Review and adjust: Periodically review your cleaning fees in light of guest feedback, changes in market rates, your cleaning process, and supply costs. Be ready to adjust your fee to stay competitive and fair.

Select a pricing model: Decide whether you will charge an hourly rate, a fixed fee, or a percentage of the total cost of the stay. Consider the pros and cons of each model based on your property's specifics, cleaning needs, and ideal guest type. 

For Example:

By following these steps, you can establish a cleaning fee that’s justified by the property's characteristics and market conditions, ensuring guests understand the value they receive in exchange for the cleaning fee they pay.

Automate operations to price more competitively

As we’ve seen, you need to carefully balance the cost of managing turnovers, deep cleans, and mid-stay cleans with the fees of your local competitors. 

This means that to remain competitive yourself, you need highly efficient operations that consistently deliver the quality your customers demand while minimizing errors like missed cleans, sending cleaners to the wrong property, or mixing up linens.

An operations management solution will help you achieve this. For example, Breezeway:

  • Connects with your booking software to automate cleaning schedules based on your customized rules
  • Allows you to create digital cleaning checklists with photos you can also use to manage remote inspections of each clean
  • Streamlines cleaner payments, eliminating the hassle of juggling multiple systems for tasks and payments 
  • Includes supply tracking software so you never run out of stock or fail to record billables for the homeowner
  • Automates linen packing reports to ensure cleaners always pick up exactly what they need for each task
  • Has a user-friendly mobile app for cleaners and a centralized portal for all your guest and team messaging

With these tools and automations, you can be responsive to last-minute booking changes, deliver a better guest experience, and implement scalable processes across your business—so you can grow your portfolio without adding to your workload. 

Furthermore, you can keep the costs of your cleaning operations down without compromising the quality of your service.

Breezeway STR operations management platformBreezeway has multiple solutions for your STR operations and better business efficiency.

Learn more:
Five Star Management Group in Ohio started using Breezeway to switch from a paper-based system for managing housekeeping, maintenance, and inspections.

Result: Five Star has drastically reduced the time spent on scheduling tasks, saves money by tracking inventory, and spends less on training.

You can read more about Five Star’s partnership with Breezeway, how it manages task assignments, and the impact on operational efficiency:
Read the case study

Efficient ops for vacation rental cleaning fees

When you set an STR cleaning fee, it should cover your costs while aligning with the cleaning fees of other similar properties in your local market. You can arrive at a fair price your target guest is happy to accept by:

  • Researching market rates
  • Tracking fluctuations in the cost of your supplies
  • Using STR software to track housekeeping time and costs
  • Being transparent and positive about your cleaning fees in your messaging and terms

You can bring those costs down, reduce your management workload, and minimize human error by automating your processes. In doing so, you’ll be able to deliver better quality and consistency across your turnovers, auto-share cleaning schedules based on your latest booking information, and manage inspections remotely.

Automate your cleaning and management processes
Use Breezeway to schedule and assign tasks, make savings on your inventory, and run remote cleaning inspections.

Book a Demo