Spring Break Travel During COVID and Allergy Season: Is your Hotel or Airbnb Clean Enough?
While COVID restrictions are being lifted in many places around the world, officials are still warning those who will be traveling over spring break that Covid could be an issue. If you plan on traveling and you plan on staying at a hotel or Airbnb, please take my advice: be careful.
Keeping a hotel or other short-term rental sanitary and safe is always a challenge. Because of COVID, it is even more challenging. Statistics show that demand for rentals has climbed while available cleaning staff has fallen. As a result, corners are being cut when it comes to keeping rooms clean at a time when sanitizing is more important than ever.
Why cleaning efforts fall short
To serve our clients well and keep their guests safe, Well & Good Property Services created a comprehensive guide to fully cleaning a short term rental. Because of the demands of the rental industry, cleaning needs to happen quickly. We understood that when cleanings are completed by individuals who have been equipped with little to no process and less than adequate resources and supplies, the cleanings will not be done well.
Without a comprehensive process, even foundational steps can be ignored. For example, cleaners will often do everything room by room, creating a mix of clean and dirty throughout the home that is not optimal for cleaning. With our process, cleaners create a blank slate for optimal cleaning by entirely removing all trash and used linens from the room or rental unit before cleaning begins.
Another common problem that our guide addresses is the failure by management companies to provide all the supplies that their teams need to complete the job. From professional grade cleaning supplies and equipment to hotel level consumables such as soaps and paper towels, when cleaning teams have what they need they are able to focus on the task at hand and clean well rather than piecing together supplies from a disorganized supply closet.
Red flags to watch out for
Hopefully, you will not find yourself in a rental where it is obvious that it has not been well cleaned. Most of the time, even when the cleaning staff is struggling, the garbage will be empty, the linens will appear fresh, and the floors will be free of visible dirt. As an expert in this field, I know there are more effective ways to verify proper servicing and sanitization.
One of the most important things is finding out where the laundry was completed. If you are staying at an Airbnb and the laundry was completed in the home, the chances of it being put through a full cycle wash with hot water are next to zero. It just is not feasible from a time perspective to correctly complete that amount of laundry in a few hours.
Many short-term rentals do a quick wash/rinse of the soiled laundry in a residential machine, leaving it unsanitized to get it ready for the next guest. A standard element of our comprehensive guide is doing laundry off site using commercial machines. If the laundry is done onsite, that’s a red flag that it is not as clean as it should be.
Another red flag is incomplete cleaning of high contact surfaces, including doors and door handles. We all know door handles can host an extremely high amount of germs and bacteria but what a lot of people overlook is that when we close doors, we typically touch the door itself rather than the handle or knob.
To see if your rental has been well clean, look around the door handle and on the edge of the door for dirt, fingerprints, makeup, or food residue. If you find anything other than a clean surface, it is a tell-tale sign that the room cleaning may have been rushed, leaving the entire space not as clean or sanitized as it might look at first glance.
One more critical inspection you should make, especially due to the threat of COVID, involves the air vents. Are they free of dirt, dust, or debris? If there is dirt on the register covers, that could mean that the ventilation system is not being maintained. While once a month is a general guideline for how often HVAC filters should be changed, some have recommended more frequent replacement as a result of COVID. If the filters are not being replaced as often as they should be, the air quality is suffering.
Ask questions before you arrive
If you are doing your research online to find the perfect hotel or Airbnb, be aware that most places will look the same when it comes to cleanliness. Don’t trust the pictures; ask questions. Owners or managers should be able to tell you about the cleaning supplies and methods that they use to clean their rentals between guests. If they cannot tell you how they are ensuring the space is clean and sanitized, maybe they aren’t.
– Jonathan Wicks is the founder of Well & Good Property Services, the most comprehensive servicing company in the short term rental industry. Well & Good Property Services provide a standard of professionalism and process that truly benefits hosts, guests, its teammates, and the community.