COVID-19 cleaning

When the time comes for vacation rental hosts to welcome guests back with open arms, expectations in a post-COVID-19 world will be very different. The overall cleanliness of a property, how cleaning and disinfection is carried out between bookings and how this is explained to guests will become hugely important in order to secure bookings.

It makes sense for hosts to be well informed about why COVID-19 is important and how to ensure it is done properly to give every guest peace of mind. The TravelNest team has reviewed the latest thinking on this topic, and here we summarise the best available information from trusted sources such as the NHS, the UK Government, Which and Airbnb.

Why is COVID-19 cleaning so important for vacation rentals?

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These COVID-19 infected droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of other people. The virus spreads when people transfer these infected droplets from their hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.

Whilst it is unclear exactly how long the Coronavirus can survive on surfaces, The World Health Organization says that it could be anything from a few hours to a number of days and that survival depends on the type of surface e.g. hard/soft, humidity and temperature. The UK Government has confirmed that research on viruses in the same family as Coronavirus suggests that in most cases, the risk is likely to be significantly reduced after around 72 hours.

As Cameron Boal, VP of Marketing at TravelNest says:

In the post-Coronavirus world, owners and guests will have new expectations about vacation rental cleaning standards. Owners should be prepared to share their changeover process and list of cleaning procedures to give guests peace of mind.

How should my property be cleaned to minimise the spread of COVID-19?

Start now by updating your existing cleaning protocols to ensure that the right measures are being followed to minimise the spread of Coronavirus (and other germs too.) If you use contract cleaners, ask them to tell you about the enhanced measures they are taking. 

We recommend putting together a comprehensive cleaning checklist that can be followed by your team. Lodgify provide a useful example you can download here.

In a nutshell, in addition to your standard cleaning procedures your team should be carrying out the following:

Washing their own hands before and after starting each clean, following the recommended guidelines for handwashing, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This video shows how hands should be washed. Cleaners should also wear disposable gloves, which should be thrown away after use.

– Cleaning, then disinfecting with recommended products. When it comes to protecting against COVID-19, it is important to know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes visible dirt and dust, whereas disinfection is designed to remove germs by using chemical products like household bleach, alcohol solution and disinfectant. Which provides a useful guide that explains which cleaning products are most effective in combating Coronavirus and which ones to avoid. 

Focusing on high-touch surfaces in each room. 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. 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.

Switching to disposable cleaning cloths and paper towels. If mops are used to clean floors, use one for detergent and a second for rinsing.

– Washing linens at the highest recommended heat setting and washing any reusable washcloths and dusters at a high temperature after each use.

Should I leave cleaning supplies at the property?

For guests, having easy access to cleaning supplies at the property provides them with extra peace of mind. As well as providing them with the basics such as washing up liquid and toilet rolls, it is a good idea to provide things like soap (with refills available), hand sanitizer as well as plenty of tissues or antibacterial wipes and kitchen roll for guests to use.

If they are staying a bit longer than a couple of days, guests will appreciate access to a selection of household cleaning products such as recommended kitchen and bathroom cleaners plus disposable sponges and things like extra tea towels. You could also provide additional towels and bed linens so they can change them over themselves, as well as plenty of washing powder too.

Be sure to check stock levels at every changeover and top up supplies regularly.

How should enhanced COVID-19 cleaning procedures be explained to guests?

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 sharing information about enhanced cleaning at key guest communication points including:

Your online 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.

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.

At the property itself: 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 guests can find them.

Summary

As guest expectations are likely to change in a post-COVID-19 travel landscape, it makes sense for owners and hosts to ne as prepared as possible. Putting measures in place to enhance your cleaning and communicating this effectively to guests will go a long way towards giving them the comfort and peace of mind they need to book a stay in your property.

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