This is a long debated topic in various Short Term Rental Hosting groups… to have plugin scented air fresheners or not?

Must you disclose this in your listing if you do?

Why is it a big deal?

Dar's Inn Air FreshenerYesterday my partner and I had dinner with family… on the way there, he was driving my car and seemed to be having an escalating sinus attack. Not terribly unusual for him, we stopped at Shoppers Drug Mart and picked up Advil Sinus or some such similar drug. It took a good half an hour to kick in, which seemed possibly long so I had the idea that something in (my) car was triggering him! I unplugged this essential oil diffuser that plugs into the cigarette lighter (ok I am showing my age when I talk about a cigarette lighter – not sure what they are called today) and his sinuses appeared to settle down – was that due to the drugs or taking away the smell in the car? BTW I would have thought the smell was natural as it came from a mix of essential oils but I cannot comment on the quality of the oils or how natural they are – all I know is that it is a mix called Happy Brain and it boosts my spirits in the carĀ  whenever I get a whiff!

Fast forward 15 minutes or so when we arrive at our destination. When the front door opened, I could smell “Glade Plug-ins” or similar. Whoa! Sure enough, my partner’s head pretty much exploded – runny eyes, nose and general feeling of congestion and overwhelm! The host was kind enough to unplug the scent and explained why they used it… Not too long after those pesky sinuses settled down.

A couple of hours later my partner used a family member’s vehicle to run an errand… and bam! His head exploded again! Guess what? There were also air fresheners in that vehicle! Get inside and things calm down a bit (fortunately his sinuses to seem to calm down quickly). But the night was not the same… he was drained/fatigued and felt nauseous.

Dar's InnHe’s a flake right? I mean who else reacts to scent in such an over the top way? Only paleo, vegan, gluten free, granola eating, snowflakes, right? Wrong! My partner is a construction worker who had plenty of fakey scenty things and all kinds of horrific cleaning products in his home before moving in – we have slowly gotten rid of most of them but he still happily wears cologne and scented deodorant. Our laundry soap and dryer sheets are all scented… there is something about “air fresheners” that appears to trigger him now.

Hosts have experienced guests requesting to be moved to a new accommodation because of “plugin air fresheners” or similar. When a guest needs to be “re-homed” for what Airbnb determines is a legitimate reason, hosts lose money for any remaining days of the reservation – so if it was two weeks and a guest had to move out after a couple of hours, many hosts would not be able to re-rent their space in such a short period of time – all because of a stupid air freshener!

So what is the answer? Don’t use them? Some hosts swear they are needed to cover up musty smells, etc. Some guests like them. There are two options for hosts: 1) Disclose that you use scented air fresheners in your establishment (house, condo, etc.) so that guests have the option to avoid your listing if they will be triggered or 2) Don’t use them! You may think that guests have the responsibility of asking or disclosing their allergies but many people (like my partner) may not have known that they would react this way. As a guest I immediately unplug such devices in all rooms and tuck them away in a drawer or something – once they are unplugged I am ok but not everyone will recover this quickly.

If you choose to go the disclosure route, we all know that many guests don’t read, so I suggest you disclose the existence of air fresheners in the following (multiple) ways:

  1. Add a picture of your air fresheners with the rest of your photos. Under the photo, add a note in the caption area that you are willing to unplug before guests arrival or guests are welcome to unplug. Specify if you expect the air fresheners to be plugged back in upon checkout.
  2. On the Airbnb platform there is an area for “limitations” – you could disclose certain scents that are present in your house that you are attempting to cover up such as new paint, a damp basement, etc. While you don’t think it is much of a limitation, what you are really doing is providing multiple opportunities for a guest to not select your residence for their short term stay and making sure they do not have a leg to stand on if they ask to be moved to another listing due to scented products in your home.
  3. On the Airbnb platform there is an for “things you should know about this home” – add it there too! While 3 places seems like overkill, it is a small amount of work to avoid losing out on two weeks of pay if a guest requests to be be moved or cancels upon arrival and checks into a hotel!