Airbnb Stain Removal & Prevention Guide

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If you’re managing an Airbnb or Vrbo, you’ll inevitably have to deal with stains. Whether it’s a spilled drink, some pasta sauce, makeup stains, or one of a hundred other things, your guests will find ways to remind you that “accidents happen.” No vacation rental is safe from the messes that can leave stains.

To help you be prepared to tackle any stain that comes your way, we’ve created this Airbnb stain removal guide. Whether the stains are on your towels, bedding, carpet, or furniture, the information in this guide will help you know how to handle them, so you can keep your Airbnb looking clean and spotless.

How to Remove Stains

Here are a few general rules to follow, pretty much regardless of the type or location of the stain in question:

  1. Attempt to remove the stain as quickly as possible – When it comes to stain removal, “the sooner, the better” pretty much always applies. This can be difficult since you may not know about the stain until your guests leave and you’re doing the cleaning and turnover for your next guests. You might consider providing a stain remover in a cleaning supply closet or cabinet for guests who are conscientious enough to try to remove stains themselves.
  2. Identify the type of stain – Different types of stains respond to different removal methods. Try to find out what type of stain you’re dealing with before attempting to remove it.
  3. Blot, don’t press – Rather than pressing the stain, which can often make it worse, you’re generally going to want to use a rubbing and/or blotting motion. See the chart below for more on this.
  4. Use cold water, usually – For most stains, cold water is more effective than hot or warm water. See the chart below for exceptions.
  5. Spot test, if possible – If you’re trying a new stain removal method or product, you might try spot testing in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t have adverse affects.
  6. Don’t dry until you’ve removed the stain – Last but not least, one of the most important rules of stain removal is that you don’t try to dry it until you’ve removed the stain. The heat of the dryer will most likely cause the stain to set in permanently. Try again multiple times to remove the stain before drying.

Helpful Tip: Provide separate makeup removal towels to avoid getting stains on your white towels. Check out our post on the best towels for your Airbnb for more info.

Stain Remover Products

In addition to DIY stain removal mixtures, here are a few stain removal products you might consider having on hand for whatever might come up. These are just a few of the many stain remover products on the market, and it’s worth trying several to see what works best for you.

Stain Removal Chart

Here’s a handy stain removal chart created by Molly Maid.

Stain removal chart
Download this PDF from Molly Maid

To remove any stain, simply identify the type of stain in the chart above, and then follow the instructions for each removal method in the order the numbers appear.

Makeup (which is missing from the chart above) is one of the most common stains you might encounter as an Airbnb host. Whether it’s foundation, lipstick, or mascara, try these tips to remove it.

Preventing Makeup Stains on Your Towels

Even better than knowing how to remove stains, is preventing them in the first place. While it’s probably impossible to prevent any stains from happening ever (aside from maybe wrapping everything in plastic, which we don’t recommend), there’s at least one easy way to significantly lower the chances of stains on your towels.

One of the most common ways guests can stain your towels is by using them to remove their makeup. So a simple solution is to provide them with separate towels for makeup removal. Check out our post on the best Airbnb towels, where we cover this idea in more detail.

The Little Black Towel – Megan Graham Beauty

These towels come with the word ‘MAKEUP’ embroidered right on them, but you can even take it one step further and post a sign instructing your guests to use the darker towels to remove their makeup.

But if there is already makeup on your Airbnb towels, you’ll just have to do your best to remove it and hope for the best.

Another tip from Sandy Watson on TikTok is to simply place a printed instructions card on top of your towels. Include text letting guests know that you pride yourselves on offering premium bedding and towels, and ask them to please be mindful of that when using your towels. It’s a simple trick that she says has surprisingly paid off.

Why Use White Towels and Bedding?

If white towels and bedding can so easily stain, then why use them in the first place?

It’s a good question, and some hosts actually do choose to use darker towels or bedding in their Airbnb, Vrbo, or other vacation rental property, since these fabrics don’t show stains as easily as their white counterparts.

White Airbnb bedding

But many Airbnb guests expect white towels and sheets when staying in an Airbnb. After all, you won’t find anything but white sheets and towels in any hotel, and white towels and bedding are increasingly common in vacation rentals as well.

There are at least two good reasons hotels (and many Airbnb hosts) choose to use white towels and sheets.

First, white linens give off a much more expensive, luxury feel.

And second, you can wash all your whites together without worrying about colors running together. You can also use stain remover products like OxiClean to keep them looking immaculately white and clean.

How to Whiten Your Sheets

Using a stain remover product like OxiClean is a great way to keep your white fabrics clean, white, and free from stains.

But if your white sheets or other linens start to yellow over time, you can try using laundry bluing to help keep them looking bright white and new.

People have been adding bluing to rinse water for centuries. The practice consists of washing whites with a small amount of diluted, biodegradable blue powder or liquid.

Mrs. Stewart’s Concentrated Bluing Liquid

Probably the most popular bluing agent available today is Mrs. Stewart’s. You’ll find these instructions on the back of the bottle:

  • Step 1: Dilute the bluing liquid. Mix up to 1/4 teaspoon of concentrated bluing liquid in a quart or more of water.
  • Step 2: Add diluted bluing liquid to wash water or final rinse.

It’s important to note that bluing is not meant as a stain remover. You should attempt to remove any stains before using bluing to whiten your sheets or other linens. You can find more instructions and info on the Mrs. Stewart’s website.

And here’s a video outlining a step-by-step process you can use to keep your white bedding and towels clean and stain-free.

@sandy.watson Guests are looking for WHITE bedding + towels when booking an Airbnb 👉🏻 here’s how you keep them looking brand new and stain free! It’s easier than you think 🧐 #airbnbcoach #airbnbhosttip #iloveairbnbhosting #bookingtips #hospitalitytips ♬ original sound – Creative Investing | Airbnb

What if Stains Won’t Come Out?

If you feel that a stain is egregious and has been caused by a guest’s negligence or disregard for your property or rules, you always have the option to request to charge the guest for damage.

The guest may disagree, and depending on the situation, Airbnb may side with you or with the guest. If the stains are minor, Airbnb may consider them to be ordinary wear and tear and will side with the guest.

Ideally you can avoid this situation altogether by simply managing to remove any stains you come across in your Airbnb.

Here’s a quick recap of how to remove stains:

  • Attempt to remove the stain as quickly as possible
  • DON’T DRY IT until you’ve completely removed the stain
  • Try to identify the type of stain, and follow the instructions in the stain removal chart to know which removal method to use
  • Use a whitening product like OxiClean to keep your towels and bedding as white as possible

Worst case scenario, you’ll have to replace your towels, sheets, or (hopefully not) furniture.

Unfortunately, this is part of the risk of running an Airbnb or vacation rental. But if you follow the advice in this Airbnb stain removal guide, you should be better equipped to handle whatever stains you may encounter.

Other Airbnb Hosting Resources

As an Airbnb host or vacation rental property manager, removing stains is just one of the many things you have to think about. So we put together these resources to help you host like a pro.

Vacation Rental Marketing Guide for Hosts

The Ultimate Airbnb Host Checklist

This guide to hosting includes both a comprehensive Airbnb inventory checklist, along with a checklist for managing your day-to-day Airbnb operations.

Airbnb Towels

The Best Towels for Your Airbnb

Having quality towels can mean getting more positive reviews from your guests. Check out the towels we recommend for your Airbnb or vacation rental.

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