Rental Cars – Return Clean or Else! Five Tips to Avoid Cleaning Fees

Last time we talked about saving money by avoiding extra rental fees, but one particular area bears closer attention, and it can also save money on hotel and other property rentals. I’m talking about the cleaning fee that is usually written into every rental and lease agreement, and which can sometimes be quite high, and sometimes isn’t even justified.

I once rented a car to transport a handicapped man and his dog to a destination. I cleaned the car before it was turned in, but I missed a couple of dog hairs that had fallen to the carpet. I was then informed that I would be charged a $150 surcharge because they would be deep cleaning, deodorizing, and treating it for fleas. I was truly taken aback – this was not a luxury-type vehicle but a very utilitarian one, and the animal was very clean and well-cared for and certainly didn’t have fleas, but the manager insisted it was standard policy.

Rental Cars

Not all companies are that particular, but the fact remains that for some of us, accidents DO happen, especially when traveling with pets or children. It pays to be prepared, and prevent any problems that have associated fees when turning in a rental car, checking out of a hotel room, or returning any other rented property.

  1. Don’t smoke inside (or request a smoking rental). Even if you open a window or take other precautions, the smell of the smoke will get into fabrics, carpet, upholstery, etc. and may incur a hefty fee.
  2. Be prepared. A simple container of baby wipes can clean small messes quickly and prevent them from setting.
  3. Take along bags. A kitchen garbage bag, or even store shopping bags are useful to corral drink cups, soda cans, food wrappers, and protect carpet in the case of muddy shoes.
  4. Use kid-safe containers. If your children are small, bring along drink cups and snack containers meant to minimize messy spills.
  5. Be aware of pet issues. Keep your pet crated, if that is practical. If necessary, make sure you at least vacuum any loose hair. Your pet should be clean and odor-free, and of course should not harbor fleas.

And in the case of pet accidents, follow these car upholstery cleaning tips. Highly successful cleaning company The Steam Team recommends cleaning up pet urine right away by blotting with white towels. Continue blotting until no more wetness can be felt. Next, prepare a solution of 2/3 water and 1/3 white vinegar to use on a fresh towel to clean the area. Afterwards, continue blotting to remove all moisture. They do not recommend using spot-cleaning solutions or detergents, but if you have a machine of your own, you can flush the area with plain water.

I hope these tips will help save our readers money, and keep their rentals cleaner and more comfortable, making travel that much more enjoyable.