How Uber Drivers Can Protect Themselves With The Cleaning Fee

Today, I want to share a great video from Youtuber munchkym covering an important topic we don’t cover too often: The cleaning fee. Most riders will leave your car just as nice as when they came in, but when a mess is made you’ll need to know what to do.

Take a look at munchkym’s video, then scroll to the video transcript below if you prefer to read. If you’d like to subscribe to her, you can find her channel here.

When you’re driving lots of passengers, you’re bound to have some issues. This video is specifically about cleaning fees, but there is also a damage fee that you could be assessed. In Lyft, they fall under the same category but in Uber, it’s a separate inconvenience fee, which could be up to $250. However, I’ve seen lots of drivers reporting that their claims were denied because they were called normal wear and tear.

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What the cleaning fee covers, and how to protect yourself

Now, for the cleaning fee, the types of damage that are usually covered are things like mud, puke, urine, spilled food or drink. I have actually seen one person get a cleaning fee for water. But then other people had the same kind of thing denied, so you never really know.

The first thing that you need to know is how to protect yourself. Seat covers and floor mats are the biggest things. These protect your actual car from these specific types of damage. It is a lot cheaper to replace some $60 seat covers than it is to replace your seat.

Another way to protect yourself is be aware of the passenger and look for the warning signs. If your passenger is falling asleep or they’re having difficulty speaking, these could be signs of alcohol poisoning, which usually result in puking. If they start to roll down the window, this could be that they’re looking for a place to puke. Do not let them roll down your windows. I keep my windows locked because I do not want anyone rolling down my window to puke. Although it is tempting to let them puke outside, what will usually happen is they will not get it all the way outside and it will go inside your door. Puke inside your door means that you have to take the door apart in order to clean it, and this atrocious. You do not want that, it is a huge hassle and can be very expensive if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

The two best ways to protect yourself from messes

The two biggest ways that I protect myself are, one, I have a huge trashcan. This nice big trashcan has super cheap liners and I clip it on. This way they’re not going to accidentally puke inside the trashcan, they’re going to just get it in the liner. And when someone pukes in my liner, I make them take it with them. I don’t want that in my car. I’ve got more liners in the bottom of the basket. That trashcan sits right at the feet in the middle seat in the back. The majority of the time, my car isn’t filled up so it’s not a problem. Sometimes I’ll move it to the trunk, but if people have been drinking, I’ll make one of them hold it. Whoever’s most drunk.

Another way I protect myself is by having puke bags available. Although I was pretty comfortable with my liners, I actually had some samples sent to me and these are amazing. These puke bags are by Vomex, they’re a bit pricier than some of the other puke bags out there, but they’re significantly better. The biggest thing is that they’re huge. They’re basically the same size as my trashcan.

The best thing to do when you think someone might puke is you pop it open and you ask them to hold it. Sometimes they’ll be annoyed by it, but if you remind them that there’s a cleaning fee if they puke, they usually don’t mind. These are pretty cool ’cause they pop open, kind of like those cloth Frisbees. Like I said, they’re huge. You can definitely fit your whole face in there. It’s hard to miss. And they have a little strap to hang around the offender’s neck. How convenient. You’re basically like a horse with a feeding back.

Anyway, these are like $5 each, I think, and way better than having to clean your car. And if it doesn’t get used, it’s pretty easy to just fold back up and put back in the box. Wrap this little strap around here. Stick that thing in there. Like I said, Vomex sent me these free samples, they didn’t pay me otherwise. I told them if I liked them, I’d promote them and I was surprised to learn I actually liked them. So, here they are. I have three, so I keep one in my door and one in the back pocket of each seat.

To protect yourself from non-puking, do not let people bring food or drink into your car. This also protects you from a really hefty ticket if they happen to have alcohol. Depends on your state but an open container could be your responsibility. Protect yourself the best you can.

What to do when a passenger makes a mess

If the terrible tragedy happens and someone does puke or pee or spill their drink, the first thing you need to do is take photos, a bunch of photos, a ridiculous amount of photos, maybe even video. The more you have, the better it is. For Uber, you can get up to $150, but you are not guaranteed to get any of that. If you do, it could be as low as $20. Lyft, it’s the same situation, but theirs actually goes all the way up to $250. If you report this issue, you may not be allowed to take rides until you’ve proven that it’s clean. This is when having both apps comes in handy because if you report it on Lyft, you can still drive for Uber and vice versa.

This fee is charged to the rider, it is not paid by Uber or Lyft, so be aware of that when you are requesting this fee. Some drivers do what’s called vomit fraud where they claim that a passenger has puked in their vehicle, but they did not. This is obviously atrocious and anyone who does it should be canceled immediately. Situations like that make it harder for other drivers to get the claims that they need.

In order to actually request the cleaning fee, you need to go into the app and find the specific ride, where you’ll go down to the help section and find the specific aspects, and then submit the ticket. You also can always submit the help request via the phone or their websites.

Tips for getting your car cleaned

When it comes to getting it cleaned, if you can’t do it yourself, you can contact a place to get it cleaned. However, if you do tell them that it is vomit, you will be charged a lot. Bodily fluids always have a higher fee. If you’re going to do it yourself, I recommend a heated rug cleaner. I got one when I got my dog, so that was really helpful. Mine was like 80 bucks and a tax write-off.

I hope this was helpful. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I also have a website now, which is kind of cool, I’m selling a board game. You can put things in the comments, but that’s not the fastest way to reach me, and YouTube’s notification system is not very good, so I can’t really hold conversations in the comments very easily. Email is the best. I also recently started actually using my Instagram, so if you want to follow me at some places, there’s some things in the description.

If you’d like to generally support my content, I do have a Patreon account. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far, I really appreciate that. It’s nice when people value the work that you’re making, and so, I appreciate that, as you know, because I message all of you.

As always, drive safe and have a lovely day.

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