We’re nearing the end of 2020 and millions of people (including this writer) are getting a little stir crazy. Maybe you’re looking to get out of the city for a weekend and tuck into a secluded cabin. Or perhaps you just want to get out of your house or apartment and find a place in a different neighborhood for a week or two. Regardless of your destination, it’s likely that you’ve browsed short-term vacation rentals to find the perfect spot. On the other hand, perhaps you’re an owner of a rental property considering reopening and you’re wondering about what precautions you can take to help keep yourself, your cleaning crew, and your guests happy and healthy.
Preparing Your Short-Term Vacation Rental for Guests
In addition to using cleaning and rental inspection checklists when preparing your rental for guests, the current situation requires taking extra measures to prevent the virus from spreading.
This is where a health and safety checklist comes in handy.
Safety and precautionary checklists for hosts and guests are indispensable assets, especially during times when public health is jeopardized. Following these guidelines will help you ensure that your property is low-risk and properly cleaned and disinfected during the pandemic.
It’s critical that you, your guests, and the cleaning crew are on the same page. The following are some general steps that you can include in your rental property checklists to avoid confusion.
- For property owners that are able to rent to multiple groups at the same time, consider temporarily closing common areas (fitness rooms, pool/hot tub areas, etc.).
- If you employ a cleaning service, be sure to leave detailed cleaning instructions and safety advice.
- Provide a safety vacation rental checklist for guests and keep it posted in a highly visible place.
- Update your welcome guidebook with information about coronavirus prevention and recommendations from national and local health authorities.
- Consider using vacation rental software to manage your property remotely.
Cleaning, Sanitizing, & Disinfecting
During this time, more than ever, it’s imperative to be detail-oriented when it comes to cleaning. While the overall condition of your rental property is important (as usual), special attention should be paid to surfaces, areas, and appliances that are subject to frequent use. Be sure that you and your cleaning team have a good understanding of the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. We’ve gone over this topic in detail here, but it’s an important one.
Cleaning with soap and water reduces the number of germs, dirt and impurities on the surface.
Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements.
Disinfecting is a term that’s regulated by the EPA. In order to be registered as a disinfectant, the product must show that it kills 99.9% of specified viruses or bacteria on a surface within a specific dwell time. To disinfect effectively, the disinfectant needs to be able to come into contact with 100% of the surface, so it’s crucial to clean the surface first, and then spray it thoroughly with the disinfectant and let it sit for the required dwell time found on the product’s label. A common mistake a lot of people make is spraying a surface with a disinfectant and then wiping it immediately afterwards. However, letting the product sit for the required contact time is critical.
Vital Oxide can be used to pre-clean surfaces before disinfecting under lightly soiled conditions. Clean and disinfect in two easy steps: First spray and wipe Vital Oxide to clean, then spray and leave behind to disinfect. Just make sure that you’re applying enough of the solution to remain visibly wet for the proper contact time. In cases where more frequent disinfection of surfaces results in possible buildup of dry disinfectant residue, a wipe down with a moist towel or microfiber cloth of surfaces that come into contact with clothing (chairs, benches, etc.) will prevent any possible discoloration of fabrics.
Here are some tips for cleaning and disinfecting your short-term vacation rental:
NOTE: In known cases of viral contamination, personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn to protect against viral exposure.
- Always pre-clean surfaces before sanitizing and disinfecting.
- To sanitize bed linens and remove any discoloration, stains or lingering odor, use Vital Oxide (½ cup to 1 cup depending on the size of the load) in addition to your regular laundry detergent. Vital Oxide kills 99.999% of bacteria and is also a powerhouse odor eliminator and stain remover. In between washing loads, it’s a good idea to disinfect your washing machine with Vital Oxide by spraying it directly into the interior of the washer and allowing it to dry.
- After cleaning, use Vital Oxide to sanitize soft surfaces like carpets and rugs, as well as food contact surfaces (such as cutting boards).
- Always pre-clean before disinfecting.
- Use an EPA-registered disinfectant, such as Vital Oxide.
- Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product, including following the appropriate dwell time.
- Practice routine cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, including tables, countertops, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.
Check-in and Checkout Procedures
Vacation rental property owners should consider offering self-check-in and self-checkout as an option so that guests do not have to interact with hosts at all. This will help both guests and hosts to feel more at ease as they will be able to enforce social distancing. In addition to offering self-check-in, here are some other steps that you can include in your rental property checklists:
- Clean and disinfect lockboxes with Vital Oxide and leave instructions for key exchange to avoid physical contact.
- If possible, completely switch to online payment methods to avoid physical cash/check payments.
What Can Guests Do to Protect Themselves?
Before traveling, guests should check with local guidelines and see what local health authorities are saying. Since the effects of the pandemic are at different phases around the world, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest guidelines.
Guests and hosts should communicate directly to go over check-in protocols and cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Guests can also take it upon themselves to clean and disinfect the area before settling in. Most rental properties should have cleaning supplies on site, but it doesn’t hurt to include a disinfectant product, like Vital Oxide, on your list of travel supplies. It’ll also come in handy while you’re traveling. Vital Oxide can be used to disinfect surfaces like grocery cart handles, your car steering wheel, restaurant tables, and more while you’re on the go.
In an interview regarding hotel safety, Dr. Scott Weisenberg, infectious disease specialist and director of the Travel Medicine Program at NYU Langone Health, said: “It’s a good idea to clean common surfaces if the person has not been assured that they’ve already recently been cleaned just to try to minimize the risk of getting it on your hand and touching your face and getting infected that way."
Here are some additional precautions guests can take upon arrival to vacation homes:
- Immediately open windows to encourage airflow. It may be unnecessary if the home has sat empty for a long period of time, but you want to lower the risk of encountering any airborne infectious droplets that may be percolating inside if someone has recently vacated the space. Airing the home out for the first few hours can also give you fresh air supply before running any air conditioning systems, which may otherwise circulate that stale air. Packing your home's air purifier or buying a new one for your trip is a good solution if there's also limited airflow in your new space (for instance if there are few windows or shared outdoor spaces with other units).
- Bring Vital Oxide with you to clean, sanitize, and disinfect high-touch points. Since we know that the virus can remain viable for longer on plastic and stainless steel, it’s a good idea to entirely disinfect high-touch surfaces in bathrooms and in the kitchen (especially if someone recently vacated the space). Consider also laundering linens and sanitizing other soft surfaces in bedrooms.
- Traveling with small children? Clean and disinfect the floors before letting them crawl around. Vital Oxide’s ready-to-use formula can be sprayed directly onto floors after cleaning to disinfect. Vital Oxide can also be used in this pre-cleaning step: for mopping, simply add one cup of product per gallon of water in a bucket and clean with a sponge, mop, or pad.
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) - Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols for Households
- Airbnb - Enhanced Clean Program & Guidelines
- VRBO - Guidelines for Owners and Property Managers for Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection of Vacation Rentals
- Vital Oxide - EPA-registered hospital disinfectant product