May 4, 2020
In preparation for the arrival of post-COVID-19 travelers, the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) are recommending that existing cleaning programs be updated to include even more robust sanitization and disinfection protocols. We have provided you with a summary of their suggestions to use in conjunction with any states, county, and municipality regulations your properties may fall under. Click Here to see VRHP recommendations in full detail.
Disinfection & Sanitization
- The currently available WHO information suggests that respiratory droplets can last up to 3 hours in the air.
- The New England Journal of Medicine found that the COVID-19 virus can survive up to three days on hard metal surfaces and plastic and up to 24 hours on cardboard.
- A timeframe of 3 to 24 hours between the last exit from a property and the next entry is reasonable if the business needs can accommodate longer wait times. Waiting for the majority of airborne droplets to settle (at least 3 hours) is the safest course of action.
- Ensure the use of all personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, disposable gloves, and, in some cases, splash goggles for any entry into a property, even after the 24-hour waiting period. Requiring splash goggles to cover the eyes and a mask that covers the nose and mouth and creates a good seal against the face for any entry to a property within the 3-hour timeframe for respiratory droplet settling.
- The CDC defines cleaning as “the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.”
- Disinfection is a separate step that should come after If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned prior to disinfection.
- Sanitizing refers to reducing the number of germs to a safe level by cleaning.
- Disinfecting refers to killing nearly 100% of germs on surfaces or objects, according to the CDC. As virus particles can settle on surfaces after disinfecting be careful advertising that properties are “100% disinfected”. Instead, use language that says your company is using disinfecting products and/or that you are using a disinfection process.
- Staff should dispose of gloves and use hand sanitizer when finished and BEFORE entering their vehicle and before touching the steering wheel.
- All staff should continue proper handwashing protocols throughout the day and should avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. The CDC handwashing guidance is at https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html.
Use Personal Protective Equipment
- Wear masks and disposable gloves. Train all staff on correct mask and glove usage.
- Gloves should be changed between properties and also between certain in-property tasks. Hands should be washed as soon as possible after gloves are removed.
- Always wash hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, throughout the day but especially when gloves are removed. According to the CDC, “If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.”
- Once a mask is moist or wet it is no longer effective. Discard disposable masks appropriately. Cloth masks should be placed in a sealed plastic container to be disinfected later.
- Splash goggles provide the best protection against air movement across the eyes. Splash goggles are different from regular safety glasses in that they provide a seal that protects your eyes from the air and/or liquid.
Cleaning Agents & Products
- Here is the EPA list of products with “Emerging Viral Pathogens AND Human Coronavirus claims for use against SARS-CoV-2.” https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
- Check your existing products against this list and also work with your preferred supplier(s) to obtain additional products as needed.
- Read product dwell times. Dwell time is the amount of time needed for a product to “sit” on the surface and kill the viruses and microbes.
- Use disinfecting products on all surfaces and pay attention to high-touch areas, including doorknobs and handles (inside and out), lockboxes, keypads, railings, telephones, light switches, remote controls, chairs arms, appliance handles, buttons, and knobs, toilets, bathroom fixtures, hangers, touch screens, and playsets/toys, etc.
Cleaning & Inspections
- Extra cleaning time should be added to turnover timeframes. How much time depends on the property. The two major factors in how much time is needed are:
- The amount of time required to sanitize/disinfect high-touch areas that may not have previously been rigorously cleaned on every turn.
- The amount of time for particles to settle after the last person leaves the rental.
- The latest information tells us that it can take up to 3 hours for larger COVID-19 particles to fully settle to the ground. Waiting longer is likely the safest course of action and 24 hours between the last exit and the next entry is reasonable.
- If the business need requires entry to a property sooner than recommended, VRHP/VRMA strongly advises that that staff strictly and judiciously follow all PPE best practices (wearing a mask, gloves, and/or other protective gear such as splash goggles) and follow all cleaning and disinfecting best practices to ensure the safety of your guests and your staff.
- If a property is large and requires more than one person to complete cleaning in the time frame you have established, staff must ensure that proper social distancing protocols are followed (by remaining at least 6′ apart at all times and wearing masks and gloves).
- Ideally, guests should check into a property 18-24 hours after the property has been inspected (post-cleaning). Remote check-ins, where guests go directly to their properties and not into a vacation rental office, is preferable.
- Do Not shake linens and bedding. This will release viral particulates into the air.
- To date, there is limited information regarding how long the COVID-19 virus can live on fabric or other soft surfaces.
- Most soft surfaces can only be sanitized.
- Using a pressurized pump sprayer to distribute a sanitizing product across all soft surfaces is best. Be sure to know the limitations of your product and that it is safe to use on the soft goods in the property.
- Staff should remove gloves after removing the dirty linen and securing them in bags. Hand sanitizer should be applied and fresh gloves put on before putting the clean linen on the bed.
- Ensure that all pillows have pillow protectors on them and the mattress has a mattress pad covering it. These items can also be sprayed with a product for soft surfaces.
- Blankets, comforters, or other top-layer bedding should ideally be removed for laundering and replaced with a freshly washed item.
- Linens and bedding should be professionally laundered, at the correct temperatures and with the correct chemical chemistry for proper cleaning and sanitization. If you only have the option to launder in the property, allow extra time to ensure drying at the highest setting the linen will allow.
Indoor & Outdoor Trash Removal
- Gloves and masks should be worn at all times.
- Be aware of sharp and jagged pieces of glass or metal that could cut the individual as they are carrying the bag.
- Never use your hand to push “compact” the trash bags. Always use an engineering device such as a stick, shovel, rake, etc.
- Use a disinfecting product on the trash can/bin and place a fresh liner or bag inside.
- All guests should vacate the property for the maintenance tech to enter. Entry, when guests are present, should be discouraged.
- Technicians should wear gloves and masks at all times, disposing of those properly after exiting and putting on new before entering the next property. In addition, VRHP/VRMA strongly recommends that anyone entering a property less than 18 hours after guests have vacated the premises should wear splash goggles.
Make Your Efforts Public
- Place signage in or on the property, “This property has been properly cleaned and sanitized for your arrival”.
- Create a page on your website or blog that outlines what you are doing to clean, sanitize, and disinfect and keep guests safe.
- Send an automated email to your guests and include all you are doing to clean, sanitize, and disinfect to ensure that properties are safe.
- Consider adding a sentence to each property listing description stating that your properties are clean and safe for arrival and ready for the guests’ vacation.