Cleaning guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
From sanitizing to stocking the right supplies, here’s what you need to know.
In early June, we launched StaySolution’s enhanced cleaning protocol to help hosts prepare for evolving guest needs during COVID-19 and beyond. We started with hosts in the U.S. and will be rolling out access to other countries and regions.
We know that many of you continue to host right now, whether that means opening up your home for longer stays, welcoming local guests, or offering housing to medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response. If you’re continuing to host, it’s important to revisit your cleaning routine to make sure you’re doing what you can to protect yourself and your guests.
We want to help, so we’ve put together some guidelines based on insight and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Why cleaning is more important than ever
Cleanliness has always been top of mind for hosts and guests. But it’s even more critical as we all aim to reduce the spread of infection. According to the CDC, it’s possible for someone to contract COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface—like a doorknob or light switch—and the virus may live on some surfaces for several hours or even days. That’s why it’s essential to clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces often, especially between reservations.
Note: The U.S. CDC recommends that people wait 24 hours, or as long as possible, before entering a space occupied by a person who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Hosts partnering in our Frontline Stays program are required to wait 72 hours between reservations—this includes the 24-hour waiting period, time to properly clean and sanitize all areas accessible to the guest, and an additional buffer.
The difference between cleaning and sanitizing
When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, it helps to understand the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning is the act of removing germs, dirt, and impurities (like when you use a soapy sponge to wipe off a visibly dirty counter or stovetop). Sanitizing is when you use chemicals to reduce the number of germs and bacteria. By cleaning first, then sanitizing, you can lower the risk of infection.
Follow these cleaning guidelines
Here are some guidelines to follow when cleaning your space between guests. If you work with a cleaning professional, instruct them to use this list, too.
1. Wear protective gear while you clean. Personal protective items like disposable gloves, aprons or gowns, and facial coverings (like homemade or purchased masks) can provide additional protection. Make sure to wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
2. Ventilate rooms before you clean. The CDC recommends opening outside doors and windows and using ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the space before beginning to clean and sanitize. Learn more about how to properly ventilate before cleaning from the CDC.
3. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after each cleaning. Use soap and water, and wash for at least 20 seconds. If that’s not possible, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Learn more about proper hand washing
4. Clean, then sanitize. Use detergent or soap and water to remove dirt, grease, dust, and germs. Once the surface is clean, spray with a disinfectant. Let it stand for a few minutes, then wipe—and if you’re not using paper towels or disposable wipes, it’s best to use a new cleaning cloth for each guest.
5. Avoid touching your face while cleaning. To prevent the spread of germs, the CDC recommends not touching your face, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands—so pay extra attention when cleaning.
6. Use the right disinfectant. Most common household disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as cleaning solutions with diluted household bleach or at least 70% alcohol, are believed to be effective against the coronavirus. Pay special attention to frequently touched surfaces, like light switches, doorknobs, remote controls, and faucet handles. (See our full list of surfaces to sanitize at the bottom of the page.)
7. Don’t forget about sofas, rugs, drapes, and other soft, porous surfaces. Carefully remove any visible dirt or grime, then clean with the appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. If possible, machine-wash items according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
8. Wash all linens at the highest heat setting recommended by the manufacturer. That includes bed sheets, mattress covers, hand and bath towels, kitchen towels, and blankets. Remember to wear gloves when handling dirty laundry, and take care to avoid shaking laundry, which could increase the spread of germs.
9. Clean and sanitize laundry baskets and hampers. If possible, consider using a liner that is either disposable or that you can throw into the washing machine.
10. Empty the vacuum cleaner after every cleaning. You should wipe down the vacuum cleaner with disinfectant, along with appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine.
11. While restocking your supplies, take a moment to check expiration dates. And remember to never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning solution that can release toxic gases that are dangerous to inhale.
12. Line trash cans. Placing bags into trash bins will make it easier to dispose of tissues and other waste.
13. Dispose of or wash your cleaning supplies. If you’re using paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and other disposable cleaning supplies, take the trash out after you’re done. If you’re using cleaning cloths and other reusable products, make sure to machine-wash them at the highest heat setting appropriate for the material.
14. Safely remove any cleaning gear. When you’re done cleaning, immediately remove any protective outerwear like gowns, gloves, or masks, and dispose of them or wash accordingly. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds afterwards.
Helping guests protect themselves
Like you, many guests will want to take extra steps to reduce their risk of infection. You can help encourage social distancing by offering self check-in and checkout. Consider installing a key lockbox or smart lock with a keypad. You can also minimize person-to-person contact by avoiding routine maintenance during your guest’s stay.
To help guests maintain a higher standard of cleanliness and hygiene, make sure your space is well-stocked with the essential amenities, and consider adding a few extras. Things like:
- Hand soap
- Paper towels
- Toilet Paper
Be sure to stock plenty of extra towels and sheets, especially for guests who are staying for more than a few days. You can encourage guests to clean up after themselves by leaving disinfectants and other cleaning supplies for them. You may even want to print and share the above cleaning guidelines so that if they decide to clean or wash linens, they can do so according to the CDC’s guidelines.
Telling guests about your enhanced cleaning routine
Guests will want to know about all of the additional steps you’re taking to reduce the spread of infection. So it’s a good idea to mention your enhanced cleaning routine in your listing description. If you do, please be careful about the words you choose—while it’s okay to say that you’re taking extra care to sanitize your space due to COVID-19, you can’t make unsubstantiated claims, like calling your space “COVID-free.”
We hope you find these cleaning guidelines useful as you navigate hosting during this difficult time. We’ll continue to update our recommendations as the situation evolves.
*This content is based on publicly available information from the CDC. The CDC does not endorse this content or StaySolution. StaySolution makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to this content provided for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
Checklist of items to clean and sanitize
- Light switches
- Remote controls
- Fan and lamp chains
- Window sills and window handles
- Ironing boards and irons
- Garbage and recycling bins
- Cabinet handles and pulls
- Appliances: oven, toaster, pressure cooker, coffee maker, etc.
- Condiments: oil, salt and pepper shakers, commonly used spices and containers, etc.
- Kitchenware that isn’t dishwasher safe: ceramic bowls, kids’ plasticware, etc.
- Hard-backed chairs
- Faucet handles
- Showers and tubs
- Shower curtains and doors
- Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and soap dispensers
- Hangers and luggage racks
- Vacuum cleaners
- Washer/dryer units
- Portable cribs and playpens
- High chairs
Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.