Advice requested for a better house sitting experience

@HelloOutThere our most recent sit was in a fabulous quirky historic property that had once been 2 separate houses and a post office. It was over 3 floors with different floor levels and entrances on both the bottom and middle floors (set on a hill). My sons bedrooms and bathroom were on the top floors, my bedroom and the main bathroom were on the middle floor, and the living areas and kitchen were on the bottom floor. It was quite an experience for the boys transporting the vacuum cleaner around the 3 floors and up and down all the steps between rooms!


Hi there,

Whatever food you have still in your fridge before you go is good enough.The idea is that the sitter has something to eat so there is no rush to go to the store or order take out.

Naturally you will have coffee (to match your coffee maker) and tea, bread, butter, milk, cheese and some fruit. Usually there will be staples like sugar, flour, oil etc. and leftover mustard, ketchup sauces, right?
On my first sit, my pet owner left a gift card for the local grocery store.That was so kind and then I knew where to shop too!



It isn’t just about how a sitter leaves your home. It’s also about how your home is presented.

We arrived at a sit to find used sports socks on the kitchen bench, toothbrushes and other toiletries on the vanity (no room for our stuff), wet towels in the bathroom and used soap in the shower (we always provide new wrapped soap for our sitters, and shower gel/body wash too), and no room in the fridge (heaps of “leftovers” and things that would spoil in a month-long sit) or in the cupboard for our stuff.

We do sits and have sitters too. We’ve also done over 45 home exchanges.

Generally, homes for exchanges have been cleaner and better “ready” for guests than pet sit homes. Over 25 sits now.

@Kelly had a really good point about letting sitters know where the cleaning products are kept, and how to use them.
I’ve had to buy sponges, spray clean and dustpan-and-broom in order to clean.

We are well aware of differing standards of “clean” and just tend to roll with it, and leave a place cleaner than we found it.


Sounds to me like you just had a bad apple. I always leave the house cleaner than when I arrive but in on case I was only there for a few days and the house was left very dirty. So even though it was cleaner upon my exit, I did not spend the entire day cleaning.

I think the past reviews should tell you a lit

1 Like

from a sitter perspective- we’ve completed 10 housesits this year and we ALWAYS leave the place extremely clean- and what you’ll notice is that is mentioned in every review we have. All the sits we’ve done were clean when we arrived- except one- and in hindsight when we looked at reviews for them, no one mentions the home being clean- they only talk about how sweet the animals were- so that’s a little red flag we now watch for, as that matters to us.
Like other mentioned- be specific in your listing if you have habits you’d like to see maintained, cover things in the interview/call/passdown.


:100: agree with this

1 Like

It sounds like you just got one sitter that just wasn’t as good. It seems like the vast majority of sitters and homeowners are wonderful, conscientious people. That’s why this concept works. But, of course, there will be the occasional bad one. As a sitter, I don’t need to be told to clean, to me that’s obvious. Sitting includes taking care of the home and leaving it as clean (or cleaner) than I found it. And all of my reviews mention that I left happy pets and a clean home. So, I suppose you could look in the reviews for mentions of cleanliness.

I also hope to arrive to a clean home. I’ve done 8 sits so far and 6 of those were sparkling clean when I arrived, one was reasonably clean, and there was one so dirty I had to do significant cleaning before I even brought my stuff into the house. I left it far cleaner than I found it, but I only cleaned the rooms I was going to use. Then I cleaned them again when I left as I normally do, but I certainly wasn’t going to do a deep clean of the entire house. So, 1 out of 8 sits was bad. All we can do on both sides is screen as best we can, read reviews carefully, and hope for the best. But, I would bet at least 95% of sitters and homeowners who use THS are wonderful. If you find sitters you like, hopefully you can have them sit again. I’ve got repeat sits already set up from some of my early sits.


@SunshineAndAloha either you misunderstood my comment or perhaps replied to me in error? I was responding to another member’s post about the normal end of sit clean in a big house. There was no issue with cleanliness, just multiple levels to vacuum as we would at the end of any sit.

I was recently in a home with a vomiting cat. Poor kitty!

But, could she ever throw up on a hardwood floor? No. Had to be the carpet in the homeowners master bedroom.

I ran out of cleaning fluid on the last day of the sit :disappointed:

You can bet that if I were to go there again, that bedroom door would be shut until the day before the HOs arrived so it could air out a bit. And it would be free from the smell of cat puke and cat puke cleaning fluid!

Oh sorry. I think I was just posting to the main thread. Or I thought I was, I didn’t mean to specifically respond to you :upside_down_face:

1 Like

Fully with you on this one @mars
Personally we would love the opportunity to connect with a past sitter before beginning a housesit and would absolutely enjoy passing on relevant info/tips about sits we’ve completed. Some of that would be about the sit itself (house, pets, owners) and the other would be about the local area, tips for finding the best shops, attractions, transport options etc. A Housesitter and Homeowner see the world through slightly different eyes so that opportunity to engage can add significant value and therefore enhance the success of a sit for both sitter and owner.
No reason why it couldn’t apply to both Homeowners and Housesitters
And yes it would have to be done with consent to avoid any privacy concerns. ‘All’ it would need is a tick box in the sitter profile and some mechanism on the site (perhaps in the review field) to make the connection happen?

1 Like

How much money do you leave for an emergency fund, and does it vary with the sit length? Seems like a great idea.

1 Like

We usually leave a few hundred dollars. This time it was 300 for a nine weeks trip. It’s just in case they run out of food and litter for the cat which shouldn’t happen because we leave plenty. For the vet emergencies the vet has the sitters names on file and they have our credit card info, so no money necessary for that.


@mars: as @ofajab said, I like your idea.

And yes, it’s probably been brought up before. But perhaps the TH staff have other priorities … or the right person hasn’t championed the idea. I think it could help in many ways:

  • a more robust network of sitters and PPs,
  • sitters should be more prepared for a sit and so the sits should go better,
  • and it’s another differentiator from Airbnb and other sites (unless another site already has this)

While I’m writing, to the OP (@Lukas316):

I think everyone would agree with you. So maybe sitters get distracted? There’s a lot going on for a sitter coming into a new environment: my focus is first on the PPs and the pets, and I sometimes forget to take “before” photos to help me remember. It’s easy to take a clean place for granted, and if it gets gradually untidy on a long sit, they may not realize it. Subconsciously, they may be used to hotels/Airbnbs where you don’t clean up. Or maybe they forget where to put something back and don’t want to mess that up. Similarly, maybe the vacuum is tricky and they don’t want to mess something up. Some vacuum settings are meant only for carpet and not hardwood, for example.

You specifically mentioned vacuuming in the first post; if it’s that important to you, I would simply be direct and overcommunicate:

  • In the Welcome Guide, say, “Before the end of the sit, please vacuum any rooms used.”
  • Contact your previous sitter (who didn’t vacuum) and ask, “What can I do so future sitters vacuum before they leave?”

That is a really kind gesture. My experience mostly has been that nothing is left, or at least nothing is said about if food that can go off be eaten or not. I need to be more specific in future sits. I always take my own coffee and basics then shop when I’m there but it is far more thoughtful and friendly if pet owners are clear and say “hey this is for you!”

@Lukas316 I am a sitter. But I will offer this advice from being a long term Airbnb host.

Don’t assume that anyone has the same standards, common sense, experience etc as you. Be specific and detailed about everything while trying not to write a huge tome as a welcome guide.

Cleaning: please leave it as you found it and hoover, wash up dishes, take out the trash, wash the towels, etc.

Kitchen: welcome to use perishables, condiments, etc.

My welcome guide for guests actually had to include instructions not to place plastic items in the oven. Yes it happened. It also included super specific instructions about locking up. Guests would walk out of the apartment door and go out through the garage door and leave both unlocked. Then there was the specific instruction to not run the HVAC while the windows were open in summer. It goes on. All of these instructions came from my experiences.

I’ll just add here too that I have two laminated departure checklists for use with a dry erase marker.


@anon42826925 I had to chuckle when you mentioned someone leaving windows open while running the air conditioning. It’s absurd, but that kind of thing does happen. Two+ years ago, upon returning from a trip in early winter, our sitters had windows open and the heat blasting away.

Go figure!

1 Like

@KenandMary1998 my tolerance has grown and grown being an Airbnb host. What did irk me though is that the Swedish couple who put the plastic tray into the oven then complained about the cost of the replacement grills saying that they were much cheaper at home. It was a junior sized oven with specially sized grills that weren’t readily available or in generic form.

The lady who ran the HVAC with the windows wide open in July when the temperatures around 104° F was Turkish. I realized that I needed to leave more explicit instructions that the unit must be turned off if the windows were opened. Americans love their AC. Others not as much. It may just be that she didn’t realize that it would strain the system.

Explicit instructions are good.


I have done that :scream:

When I needed to put food in safe spaces where the cats and the poorly trained dog could not get to it (every cupboard in the kitchen was full with clutter).

And then I was going to turn on the preheat… I caught myself just in time!