1. Carry out a risk assessment
Before you implement any new cleaning procedures for your holiday property, the Association of Scottish Self-Caterers recommends carrying out a risk assessment. The aim of this is to identify the COVID-19 related risks in your property and plan what you’ll do to minimise those risks. Enhanced cleaning procedures will form a large proportion of your approach.
A handy risk assessment template can be found here.
2. Consider how much time you'll need
Enhanced cleaning procedures are likely to take longer, so it may no longer be possible to check guests out in the morning and welcome new guests in the afternoon. You may also want to leave the property empty for a period of time between guests.
At the time of writing, there are no legal requirements to do this, although this could change. Some channels e.g. Airbnb, have introduced new Cleaning Protocols for hosts, which recommend waiting 24 hours after guests leave before entering the property.
3. Provide protective clothing
Whether you are doing the cleaning yourself, employing a cleaner, or using a professional cleaning company, it is imperative that staff wear the right clothing and have access to hand sanitizer and soap when cleaning your holiday property. This should include disposable gloves, plus an apron and mask. All of these items should be thrown away after each clean, and a new set worn for each subsequent clean. Remember to stock up on these items so you don’t run out.
We also recommend switching to disposable cleaning cloths and paper towels and using one set per room. If mops are used to clean floors, use one mop for detergent and a second to rinse.
4. Ventilate the property at every clean
Well ventilated buildings can also help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by improving airflow. Ask your cleaning team to open the windows in your property while undertaking cleaning, to ensure a good flow of fresh air circulates throughout the property.
This will help to reduce any airborne COVID-19 virus particles in the property.
5. Clean, then disinfect
When it comes to protecting against COVID-19, it is important to know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Whilst cleaning removes visible dirt and dust, disinfection is essential in combating COVID-19. Disinfection removes germs through the use of chemical products like bleach, alcohol solution and disinfectant.
To help your stock up on the right cleaning products, independent consumer body Which? provides a useful guide to the cleaning products that are most effective in combating COVID-19 and which ones to avoid. The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises the use of diluted Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) at 0.5% to regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, kitchen surfaces, and bathroom surfaces.
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6. Focus on high-touch areas
In general, pay close attention to door handles, light switches and horizontal surfaces throughout the property. In the kitchen, clean and thoroughly disinfect sinks, worktops, cabinet doors, and handles and kitchen appliances including fridges, ovens, kettles and toasters, and wipe down tables/dining chairs too. We also recommend putting all cutlery and crockery on a high-temperature dishwashing cycle at every clean.
In the living room, cover high touch areas such as TV remotes and pay attention to soft furnishings like cushions, rugs and throws. Machine-wash them if possible, or wipe down using a recommended cleaner. In the bathroom ensure that sinks, taps, bath/shower areas, and mirrors are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
7. Pay attention to bed linen and towels
The Association for Scottish Self-Caterers has released specific guidelines relating to bedlinen and we recommend following these closely. Bedlinen should not be shaken in case virus particles are spread into the air. Linen should be bagged and removed from the property immediately and washed on the highest recommended heat setting. As well as wearing gloves to remove bedlinen, gloves should be removed after stripping beds and replaced with new gloves before putting clean linen on the bed.
Treat towels, bathmats, tea towels and any other removable linen items in the same way as bedlinen.
8. Don't forget outside spaces
As well as implementing enhanced cleaning measures inside your property, don’t forget about the outside.
Ensure that your cleaning checklist includes disinfection of external door handles, entrance systems, stairwell banisters, light switches and well as any children’s play equipment, outdoor furniture, BBQs, high touch areas on outdoor hot tubs, key safes, garage doors and handles.
9. Wash hands after every clean
Ensure that your cleaners wash their hands thoroughly before starting to clean, and also when they have finished each clean. Ensure your team follows the recommended guidelines for handwashing, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This video shows how hands should be washed.
10. Give guests a checklist of your cleaning procedures
It’s important to let potential guests know about the enhanced steps you are taking to ensure the cleanliness of your vacation rental property. We recommend doing this:
On your listing: Whilst it is important not to declare your property ‘COVID-19 free’, start by updating your description to mention any enhanced cleaning e.g. “This property is professionally deep cleaned after every stay, and we’re taking extra care to disinfect high touch areas between stays and provide a selection of recommended cleaning products for guests’ use.” Finally, do not use words such as ‘Coronavirus’, ‘COVID-19’, ‘quarantine’ or ‘self-quarantine in your listing titles – the majority of channels do not allow this.
As part of your guest communications: You could include information about how the property has been cleaned before each stay as part of your guest communications e.g. in your welcome email and any further emails you send with arrival details/directions to the property.
In the property: If you don’t already have one, consider adding a noticeboard somewhere visible in the property. This should highlight essential information about how the property has been cleaned alongside other important information such as WiFi details, check-in/check-out times, if cleaning supplies are provided in the property and where these can be found.
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