Cleaning Conundrum: Dirty Socks & Cleaning Fee - Need help!

Cleaning Conundrum: Dirty Socks & Cleaning Fee - Need help!



I'm in a bit of a pickle and need some advice. I've had a sweet streak of about 150 nights with no issues. Now, I've got a guest who's padding around my main floor in white socks and they're coming up dirty. Yep, didn't see that coming!


So here's the lowdown. A guest checked into my property and raised a concern about the cleanliness of the floors. I checked with my cleaners who swear they did the job. They even went back for round two at my request to reckless the floors.


Throw into the mix the recent hazy conditions due to Canadian wildfires over here in Denver, likely stirring up more dirt and particles than usual, and mentioned to the guest but didn’t get an acknowledgment.


A couple of hours later, I get a sock-selfie from the guest (pic below), still unhappy and not too keen on paying the cleaning fee. You can imagine my face.


So, I’m all ears. What do you guys think? Is the guest just trying to wiggle out of the cleaning fee? Should I bite the bullet and let the fee slide to avoid a scathing review? Maybe knock off $50 from the $230 fee? Or should I get the cleaners back in for a hat trick, even though it might not mean squeaky-clean socks for the guest?



13 Replies 13
Level 10
Placencia, Belize

A few things came to mind instantly: the guest is probably a fastidious sort that is probably no fun to host. Secondly - why would a $199 a night place have a $230 cleaning fee. Is this correct? That would be 38% on a minimum 4-day stay. This could be causing you a lot of business.


Upon further thought - why would a guest make a federal case over cleanliness? Is this because they found the $230 cleaning fee way too exorbitant? If so, why did they book your place in the first place if they found the cleaning fee so objectionable?


P.S. There are two hot issues with guests today, which certainly includes Airbnb guests: the presence of cameras and (you probably guessed it) - exorbitant cleaning fees. Just a thought.

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your feedback. I currently utilize the smart pricing feature, and the lowest rate is $199. However, in this case, the guest actually paid $275 for their stay. Regarding the cleaning and laundry expenses, you are correct that the fee is $230 (or more precisely, $234), which is what they charge. 100% of the cleaning fee goes to the company.


This particular reservation included a total of four guests. Considering the offering of a 3-bedroom accommodation, the rate of $199 per night presents an exceptional value and can be considered a remarkable deal.


Kinda make me think something might be off with the smart pricing feature...

Level 10
Placencia, Belize

Ah @Ari49608 that explains it. Yes it is an exceptional value at $199, unfortunately it illuminates the high cleaning fee that much more. This 'company' may appreciate knowing that today the subject of cleaning fees is a sore one with guests. And on further thought.....


I mentioned this price/cleaning fee disparity to my wife (who has run many hotels) and her opinion was that if possible they shouldn't be there in the first place, especially with an STR (which is different than a hotel) because it may suggest that the place will only be cleaned if the guest paid for it as an extra. A most interesting point and as a direct result I am dropping mine as we speak, even being just an insignificant 3% of total charge.


Have a good day.

Level 10
Greenville, SC

@Ari49608  In Maui, we actually have this exact issue. Excellent cleaner, vacuums and then mops all the floors. A few years back, a guest complained her socks were dirty.


We live in a beach environment, and all kinds of particles float up from the beach, not to mention the mud and sand that the guests themselves bring in. Your guest might be sliding around in the dirt from their shoes. How long after check-in was the pic taken?


Also, we had our popcorn ceilings removed and the ceiling redrywalled in 2018. Ever since then, our coffee table gets a sprinkling of small white particles every few days. There is a unit above us. Either those particles are coming up from the beach, or perhaps movement upstairs disturbs the new ceiling. Who knows?


I’m starting to wonder if this kind of thing might not be uncommon in certain locations. I’m a little leery of your particular guest, though. See the other dirty sock(s) on the floor in the pic? It’s as if they had a party taking socks in their hands and wiping them around the room. Unless this is something like a fabrication lab where they are making microchips and you have to wear a spacesuit to enter, you are bound to pick something up if you wipe your white sock all around the room. This reminds me of guests that move out stoves and refrigerators in the hopes that they can find proof that might warrant a refund.


In any event, you might be comforted to know that I’ve never had any other sock whistleblowers contacting me since that fateful day in 2019. This guest did not ask for a refund, by the way.


Now that I’m through expressing my cynicism, and to answer your question, in all honesty I would 1) offer to reclean the floors, and if they don’t want that, 2) offer a gift certificate or to pay for a dinner for the guest. It’s usually a good idea to try to appease a guest, no matter how absurd the situation. No cash refunds, though.


Thanks for sharing your experience from Maui! I took your advice and had our cleaner go back to clean the floors once again, but even after that, the guest still complained and insisted it wasn't good enough. What's even more disheartening is that our cleaner mentioned the guest was rude to her, which really upsets me.

It's truly puzzling to understand how simply walking around the room in white socks could result in such a significant amount of dirt accumulation, especially after the floors were thoroughly cleaned not just once, but twice. Based on the circumstances, I can't help but wonder if the guest might have actually gone up to the rooftop without wearing any shoes, and now they mistakenly believe the dirt on their socks originated from the wood floors.

Dealing with such situations can be challenging, but I appreciate your insights and support, and fingers crossed we won't encounter another "dirty white sock enthusiast" in the future! 

Level 10
Bergen, Norway


 These are my light grey socks worn for two days. No marks. And my floors have not been cleaned for almost a week in the middle of pollen season. The socks have also been to a house where people smoke heavily inside. Walking around a kitchen. Your floors need deep cleaning. 


Since they are wooden they should not have excessive soap. Water and vinegar should be enough. And do not soak the floors. That will keep them dirty.

Thank you for replying. Those light grey socks are looking mighty clean!  Agree the floors need a deep clean, and I have already contacted a professional cleaning company to ensure they receive a thorough and refreshing treatment.

Level 10
Victoria, Australia

@Ari49608 little known trick here Ari. Always leave cleaning supplies for those guests . I would be laughing but as you know its no joke. I  personally would go down there with my own white socks and a mop and check it out.I would also have the guest show me any other areas they consider not clean and show them where all the cleaning supplies are and check if they have been wearing shoes in the house and also get them to show me the other socks and offer to wash their socks and then put them in the dish washer. ha ha . Its a big old bluff but you could ask them if they do this 'sock test ' after they clean houses or every time they stay at an Airbnb. I do not think airbnb are interested in giving them a cleaning fee back for them having dirty socks . Tell them they can wear their slippers in the house or their shoes if you allow it. Tell them about some of the gross things people have left in your house. Check the sheets , the fridge and the shower and toilet . I do not think guests realise just how much cleaning a home takes between each guest . Maybe you need to check the cleaning a little more often or have a more hands on attitude or a co host. then you would recognise what is happening... H

Level 10
Victoria, Australia

Oh and Ari  pop a little message in the review to warn other hosts. Something like , 'this guest requested the cleaning fee back because his socks were dirty'..H

Thanks for your response and wil do. 

Level 10
Swannanoa, NC

@Ari49608  What are you using to clean the floors?  Depending on the products used, you can still get dirty socks.


My housekeeper uses an ammonia based cleaner with a regular mop first and then REWASHES as she goes out the door with hot water and a microfiber cloth on a swiffer type mop.  Still not going to guarantee clean socks.


If this guest is that persnickety, and assuming that the socks were not dirty to begin with, agree on a time for you or your cleaner to come in and rewash all of the floors.  DO NOT just send a refund.  (Then don't ever allow this guest to book with you again).

Thanks for the reply and for the tip. The cleaner uses Murphy’s Oil wood cleaner. Perhaps that's no good. 


The only place I can think of where you might be able to walk around with white socks and not get dirt on them is an aerospace cleanroom or something.  


I asked my cleaner to do a deep clean on the floors next time around, so hoping this is just a particular guest and a flash in the pan. This has never been an issue with almost two years on the platform and over 150 guests. 



Level 10
Swannanoa, NC



From the Web:


Murphy's Oil Soap [MOS] is made up of Sodium hydroxide, Water, Sodium tallate, Citronella oil, Lauramidopropylamine oxide, and Tetrasodium EDTA. The chemical names don’t matter exactly but it is important to note that Citronella oil, a vegetable oil, is a listed ingredient. It does not represent a large percentage of MOS but it is present. The reason this is important is because of the way MOS works. It is a water-oil emulsion that is temporarily stable, meaning that in its liquid state oil is suspended in water. Once, the MOS is applied to the floor, the water in that compound begins to evaporate. Once, the water evaporates off the floor or “dries” then all that remains are the other chemical ingredients found in MOS. Essentially this all just means, that every time you put down MOS you are leaving a shiny but oily residue on the floor especially if MOS is not properly diluted, which it typically isn’t.


Murphy’s Oil Soap is designed to safely remove dirt, grime and residue while still being gentle and not leaving any residue behind. It should be used sparingly, however, as too much soap may leave a dulling film on the wood if not rinsed away thoroughly.


Make sure to rinse with clear water after each use and dry the floors with a soft cloth for best results.

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