Do your guests really need three bottle openers? What about all those trinkets on the bathroom vanity? Chances are some of the things you’ve been holding on to are just taking up valuable space. And although clearing clutter may be time-consuming, overwhelming, or even emotional, it can go a long way toward making your space more comfortable for guests and more manageable for you.
Whether you welcome guests in a private room or an entire home, get inspired by these host tips for tidying up.
Even if you don’t take a minimalist approach in your personal life, it’s helpful to embrace one when you host. “I find that the less clutter there is, the more clean and tidy the space looks,” says host Kath from Albany, Australia. And guests care a lot about cleanliness—according to Airbnb data, it’s one of the top reasons for a negative review. Less clutter can also make things easier to clean between stays since there’s less to dust or put away.
Most guests need a place to put some of their clothes, toiletries, and other personal items. So if your own wardrobe has spilled over into the guest’s bedroom, it might be time to let a few things go. “If I haven't used it or worn it in a year or two, it gets chucked,” says host Sarah from Sayulita, Mexico. You may want to free up even more space, especially if you welcome guests for long-term stays like host Jessica from Seoul, South Korea. “I’m sure they’ll have books, souvenirs, family pics, and their own ‘clutter’ of stuff they want to keep on the bedside table or desk or on a shelf,” she says.
Kitchens and bathrooms need to be super functional, and yet they’re often the first areas to accumulate unnecessary items. “I personally don't like it when it looks like everything in the kitchen in the listing is from a jumble sale or stuff that was discarded from elsewhere,” says host Alexandra from Lincoln, California. Think about what guests will really need in those spaces, and remove the rest. Most will appreciate a bottle opener in the kitchen, but they likely won’t need a banana slicer. Conditioner is a nice amenity in the bathroom, but guests probably don’t expect to have four different brands to choose from.
Sometimes, guests leave behind perfectly usable supplies (think plastic bags, canned food, or condiments). You might be tempted to hold on to these, especially if they’re unopened. Keep in mind that guest leftovers can add up and that future guests may not feel comfortable using them. Host Michelle from Chicago only keeps “sealed-as-originally-purchased” food and drink items, like “bottled water, soda, single-use condiments, etc.” Consolidating certain things can also help control the clutter: For example, move extra plastic bags into one dispenser, or combine salt from different containers.
You don’t want guests to miss out on all the wonderful amenities you provide simply because they can’t find them. Host Kelly from Austin, Texas, says to “let the space dictate what is there” and not the other way around: “So, if the shelf can artfully hold five towels, then you should not own six towels.” Go through linens and other supplies regularly, and donate or discard anything that isn’t in great shape. Once you’ve streamlined your amenities, think about the best way to display them. Host Chantal from Yvignac-la-Tour, France, has a guest-dedicated cabinet: “It's got everything from small water bottles to toilet paper … all arranged by shelf and category in separate baskets.”
“Everything in the room should have a purpose with no clutter or unnecessary frills,” says host Kelly from Austin, Texas. “Having said that, it doesn't mean the room shouldn't be stylish or have a lovely, warm, cozy feel.” Of course, there’s no one-size-fits all approach to this—the right balance can depend on your space, property type, and host style. But here are some guidelines to consider:
With these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to a tidier, more welcoming space guests will love. Happy decluttering!
I have been a host for 38 years and with Airbnb since they began. The old wisdom was if it was your home for part of the year, personal items as in children’s art or photos were important as they remind guests that they are in someone’s home. I understand that Airbnb has grown tremendously but please remember that for many of us this is still a “home share”. When you set up the expectation of a sterile, bought for rental condo then that is what guests expect. We clearly describe this as our home and also have lots of photos with our pets present yet more and more we get comments like “you have a cat?” Or “ This is your home?”.
I would like a lot more support from Airbnb when I loose a star because someone assumed the amazing master bedroom was a separate apartment even though it says it is a room in our home 5 times in the first paragraph of the description.
We find that the guests very rarely, if ever, read our house manual. We leave type-written notes taped to the walls and label everything. Seems to work.