Hi Guys, what are you using for a smart keypad? I want to...
Hi Guys, what are you using for a smart keypad? I want to have a keypad that can integrate with the Airbnb app and be able...
There is now a HUGE number of people who are fragrance-sensitive or have MCS. I'm one of them.
The odours of conventional cleaning products, air fresheners, dryer sheets, etc. make me sick. They give me headaches, burning eyes, feelings of tightness and tingling, respiratory irritation, heart palpitations, nausea, dry mouth and many other symptoms. I've had more than one vacation ruined by fragranced bedrooms that were making me ill. Surveys indicate that about one-third of the population in the US and other countries is fragrance-sensitive or has MCS or prefers fragrance-free spaces.
Please AirBnB stop ignoring this incredibly large group of people. You currently have filters for 13 different accessibility features. Could you PLEASE add another one, "fragrance-free"? Fragrance-free properties actually exist, it's just that you can't easily find them, at least not on the airbnb site itself. (Google search can be used as a workaround, but it's far from perfect.) Thanks!
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I can see why you would think that, because you are probably picturing the people who would use this feature as entitled white ladies who put too much faith in Gwyneth Paltrow's take on medicine. In truth, they are people with conditions like MCAS who need to travel and are grateful for any accomodations that aren't a total assault on their bodies. Because of that, as long as the host makes the accomodations the say they will (e.g., no scented products and cleaning with safer products) they can expect very positive reviews.
For example, the only fragrance free Airbnb I know of is near Sedona, is always booked, and has great ratings.
In my own experience, I have managed to find a number of hosts who were willing to work with my medical issues, and we have always been on good terms because the accommodations I asked for were relatively easy (see above) and even though I wasn't perfectly comfortable, I felt much better then I would have in an ordinary hotel or Airbnb. But a fragrance free filter would have saved me SO MUCH work contacting hosts and explaining my medical needs.
The only time I have ever heard of a person leaving a bad review was when a woman was repeatedly assured by a host that the room used unscented laundry detergent and no scented air fresheners, which turned out to be completely untrue.
As for the other points like the healthy bed (i.e. A bed that doesn't off gas the VOCs that trigger our symptoms), those are things that would make a space even better for many, but I don't think anyone would expect those things just because a place is listed as fragrance free.
I think you are also underestimating the prevalence of these conditions because people with them usually don't mention them. People who report any degree of problems with fragrances are about 20% of the population (mostly headaches and such) and severe sensitivities are about 2%. That means a number of hosts may already be practicing fragrance free cleaning of their properties, but are unable to communicate it with the large numbers of clients who would love to rent such a space. At one rental I checked out in 2021, I spoke to a cleaning lady and asked if she could use mostly vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda to clean. She replied that those were all she used because her son was "sensitive to chemicals."
I've been asking for this for years. They don't care. It would be so easy to add it as a filter, but when is life with MCS ever easy? Thanks for the post.
I like this idea. I can see this being a great option. Something along this line is great for guests. I am allergic to many scents and I can be miserable! I would love to know this without asking the host.
I just wanted to thank you all for your comments on this matter. It's been really insightful to read all of your perspectives, and I've made sure to pass on all your feedback and suggestions to our teams!
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Emilie, I would be glad to compile a list of actions hosts can take to begin to qualify as fragrance-free and chemical-free. Unfortunately, one cannot use "air freshener" plug-ins, deodorizers, fragranced trash bags, Lysol, Tide and Downy* for laundering one day and then make a switch to fragrance-free products. All linens, the mattresses, carpets, draperies, upholsteries, etc are permeated with fragrance. There are products to "help" strip odors from washable cottons, but synthetic blends (think mattress covers w elasticized skirts and fiberfill) are still going to contain fragrance after a year of laundering. Mattresses, rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture? Still goina be fragrant.
*Fabric softeners, even fragrance-free versions are highly toxic and emit an odor as offensive as synthetic fragrance.
Just wanted to share an example. Today I asked a host on another STR site the following question:
I was wondering if upon request you could clean your cabin with water and perhaps unscented and natural cleaning products only. We don't enjoy the smell of conventional cleaning products, air fresheners, etc.
Notice that I said nothing about MCS or anything that suggests a medical issue. I downplayed the issue as one of mere aesthetics, hoping to avoid raising red flags. This is the 1-line answer I just got:
We're sorry but we cannot accommodate your request.
Seriously, to all the people who have responded here and registered their opposition to a fragrance-free filter: you feel that it is reasonable to burden people like myself with the frustrating labor of having to make these kinds of "cold calls" to innumerable hosts to find the fragrance-free needles in the haystack, and to burden hosts with the annoyance of having to reply to these kinds of questions?
A simple checkbox coupled with a legal disclaimer could avoid it all, and everyone would be happier.
If they cannot accommodate you didn’t want to stay there it was super scented anyways
this is what I ask
“I have allergies to certain laundry products can you tell me which kind you use?”
then if it’s a scented one I move on to the next. Pictures of laundry products in the listing would avoid this whole conversation …
Amen. The response to this need is pitiful and makes booking a nightmare. Wish people cared more.
There is a precedent for such 'soft accommodations': many restaurants now offer gluten-free options, but most of them have a gluten-free disclaimer in the menu. The gluten free disclaimer basically says that they make a best effort, but cannot guarantee that contamination won't occur, and that people who are injured by gluten order these items at their own risk.
There - problem solved. People who need gluten-free food can get it. No one is getting sued, and no one eats for free by claiming that their digestion is upset and that the food contained gluten.
Fragrance-free would work exactly the same way. Participating rentals would not be "fragrance-free". They would be "fragrance-free*", and somewhere it would say:
*host cannot guarantee that the facility is fragrance-free and neither host nor AirBnB can be held liable if guest determines that the facility has fragrance.
Perfect. May I nominate you to serve as our "legal disclaimer" advisor?
Yes! I would never expect a place to be 100% fragrance free I just want to stop wasting time talking to super scented hosts
You're quite right about 100% fragrance free being impossible. What if you have back to back guests and a super fragranced person turns up first? As a host, you would be obliged to turn them away, or you risk breaking your fragrance free commitment to your next guest. I don't run a BnB, but I had someone staying and almost one month after they have left, their scent is still impregnated in the entire apartment.
It's difficult, because some people are so impervious to the fact that they are heavily scented that they may well think they are "fragrance-free" I have thought about this, because I have thought about getting into a fragrance-free hospitality business, as I cannot travel much anymore myself due to sensitivity. I thought about writing something like "If you don't know for sure that you're fragrance-free, then you're not" or "If you don't have a very clear idea what fragrance-free means, please don't book this property as you may be turned away."
Has anyone else thought about it?
I'll just add while I'm here that for me using airbnb or any "sharing" accommodation as a guest is out of the question until they deal with this issue. I can only use quality professional hospitality that has been tested and that I know will stand over a promise. Even so, despite hotelier best effort, there's always some lingering smell in a hotel room. (It is usually fabric softener scent in the wardrobe or drawers)
Thanks, Keith! Astute post. A Cape Coral, FL homeowner had to stop listing her home on her independent site because guests were not abiding a VERY meticulously crafted agreement. I personally use the phrase, "If you are not sure if (blank) is fragrant, please enlist the nose of the most sensitive nose YOU KNOWS!" Have employed this for online purchases, even items listed as "new with tags." No guarantees. Sometimes I need to donate new purchases too fragrant to put in my washer, but cannot even put them in my vehicle for months! Once bought an antique rocking horse on Etsy so fragrant I had to open the box OUTSIDE (deemed it highly fragrant without ever opening it). I left box outside, moved horse onto a screened covered porch for a few days, then carried it to garage where an exhaust fan runs 24/7. Owner was mystified and had no idea why the package was fragrant. A year and a half later it's still in garage, but no longer offensive.
This is an extremely intriguing and interesting topic. In over 6 years of hosting I have just come across this for the first time with a recent guest, so it is very topical for me.
I have looked it up on Wikipedia where it describes MCS as 'an unrecognised and controversial diagnosis' and states that 'MCS is not recognised as an organic, chemical-caused illness by the World Health Organisation, American Medical Association, nor any of several other professional medical organisations. Blinded clinical trials show that people with MCS react as often and as strongly to placebos as they do to chemical stimuli; the existence and severity of symptoms is seemingly related to the perception that a chemical stimuli is present'.
It also does not appear to be listed as a condition on SIGN, which is the main healthcare guidance authority in Scotland, which is my domicile.
Strong smells are certainly an unpleasant recurrent issue, and they can be quite an issue with short turnarounds when previous guests have left smells in the apartment, especially having to open the windows for a long time in the cold winter months. Smells can be very hard to get rid of, and are as problematic for a successful turnaround for new guests as when previous guests leave a big mess. Perfumes, after-shave and bacon are the main culprits ! However I don't feel that I can dictate what people wear or what they cook when staying at one of my places.
It certainly sounds like a very nasty condition and suffered by a great many people, and I have every sympathy with those who are affected. Finding suitable places to stay must be a nightmare. However while it does not yet appear to be a globally recognised condition by the health authorities it cannot make sense for Airbnb to introduce new host rules in this area, nor expect compliance and / or punishments for guests who choose to wear fragrances in an accommodation. This would require a far greater shift in public awareness and compliance requirements across the whole global hospitality industry.
My recent guest had discussed her intolerances to animals and chemical substances with me in advance. I agreed with her how everything would be provided for her stay, and we went through things again when she first arrived. This all appeared to be to her total satisfaction. As other hosts have previously suggested this approach would seem to me to be the only way to go with this just now, at the least until such time as it becomes an acknowledged serious condition by the global health authorities, and worldwide hospitality compliance measures and public awareness campaigns would then be required.
Migraines are recognized and fragrances trigger migraines according to my doctor , as is asthma…so what does mcs have to do with anything?
I would suggest leaving medical debates out of this entirely, and see it as a social issue. There is a fairly large group of people who is made extremely uncomfortable by something that is quite common and many hosts think of as an unqualified plus.
Well-meaning hosts think they're doing guests a favor by spraying air freshener and using scented detergents and dryer sheet on linens, but for a group of people, the effect is the exact opposite of what is intended. Instead of feeling more comfortable, they feel less comfortable, and they may even be unable to stay in the place at all.
It shouldn't matter whether these people have a medical issue or what the anonymous authors of a website that anyone can edit think about it. It's should be a matter of simple humanity and compassion to address something that bothers a great number of people.
If AirBnB introduced a fragrance-free filter and sent out a few educational emails on the subjects, a lot of hosts would suddenly realize that spraying Febreze, washing linens in Tide and drying them with Bounce means that some people will be extremely uncomfortable in their space. They might even do a little reading and realize, even without the help of the global health authorities, that those scented products are harming everyone, and the environment, and decide to no longer use them.
Nothing could be simpler. Introduce the checkbox. Make compliance voluntary to address concerns about money-back abuse. Create awareness of why this is needed. We can create a better world and be kinder to each other without Wikipedia's permission.
@Brian450 You're not really engaging on the main challenge with 'fragrance free' which is that it is wholly subjective and cannot be objectively measured. Even 'fragrance free' cleaners have some scent. Baking soda has a scent and so does vinegar. Yes, hosts could check that they don't use plug ins or air freshener spray, list what cleaners are used, but beyond that, it is in the eye of the beholder, and this is the problem. If I check that my space is 'fragrance free' and then someone complains about fragrance, then I am the one on the defensive. This means that despite the fact that we don't use pesticides in the yard, don't use plug-ins, don't use odious fabric softener and could change from the Tide we use to something else, I would never ever list my property as 'fragrance free' because it is begging for some complaint down the road. I would also never recommend that any other hosts list their space as fragrance free for the same reason.
Actually it can be measured with an air quality monitor. Artificial fragrance emits VOCs.
Smell free and chemical fragrance free are two completely different things
"You're not really engaging on the main challenge with 'fragrance free' which is that it is wholly subjective and cannot be objectively measured. "
I already responded to this criticism. AirBnB could easily institute a policy for "soft accommodations". These are accommodations that are too subjective to determine objectively whether they were met or not. By checking the box for a soft accommodation, the host merely indicates a willingness to make a best effort, but does not enter into an enforceable agreement.
You are making my case for my by recommending that hosts should never list "fragrance-free" as a feature. Many are fragrance-free, but don't dare to advertise these because they fear abuse and liability.
That is precisely why we need official soft accommodations, so hosts can signal good faith without accepting liability.
The problem is the system of "defensive hosting" that we have now that does not permit hosts to advertise that their property is fragrance-free. The solution is to absolve hosts of responsibility for a fragrance-free claim so that the claim can be made.
@Brian450 you are not a host and therefore should not be posting here . Tell Airbnb not us . If any host wanted to do as you say they already have that capacity which if you WERE a host you might grasp . H
Wow! You can also inform me I am not a host and send me your airbnb fineprint advising non-hosts are ineligible to participate in Community Center. I first contacted airbnb on this issue SEVERAL years ago and was DIRECTED TO THIS FORUM by airbnb. Was directed here again by a building biologist who is licensed as Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist – EMRS and Environmental Consultant – BBEC to help build a consensus for airbnb on why this topic is relevant. I am also researching how to create a fragrance free* future listing. Won't be visiting you down under! I am from the Volunteer State where southern hospitality is a point of pride!