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Vrbo and HomeAway Cleaning Checklist Enhanced to face COVID-19 coronavirus (vacation rental cleanliness)

vrbo homeaway cleaning checklist
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The vacation rental cleanliness topic is a hot one, as travel bans get lifted across the world. We have already reviewed Airbnb’s Enhanced Cleaning Initiative and 72-hour Booking Buffer, as well as VRMA’s SafeHome cleaning checklist and guidelines.

Vrbo has released its own Vrbo / HomeAway cleaning checklist called “guidelines for owners and property managers for enhanced cleaning and disinfection of vacation rentals.” Here are a few takeaways:

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  • Expert advice: Just like Airbnb, Vrbo is relying on third-parties to come up with its standards. While Airbnb is following Ecolab‘s recommendations, Vrbo is using the “Cristal International Standards” from the international certification and training company Intertek Group.
  • Booking buffers: Airbnb’s Enhanced Cleaning Initiative contains a 24-hour time buffer between stays. Its “Booking Buffer” calendar availability feature even goes up to 72 hours between booking. Vrbo recommends “letting the property remain empty for a total of 24 hours after previous stay checkout“.
  • Outsourced cleaning: If using an external or professional cleaning company, communicate expectations and plans for cleaning and disinfection standards, and get periodic confirmation that they are being followed by the company contracted
  • Guest communication: Communicate to travelers on measures implemented, both pre-stay and during the stay, via listing content and property information booklet

Vrbo and HomeAway Cleaning checklist (COVID-19)

vrbo homeaway cleaning checklist

General advice

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has created a need to take additional cleaning and disinfection measures to help prevent its spread and help ensure the safety of travelers and partners.

Vrbo and HomeAway partners are encouraged to:

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  • Use accurate, reputable sources of information including the WHO, the CDC, and local authorities
  • Make sure to follow local regulations, where applicable
  • Have a proactive plan to manage and minimize the risks associated with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and similar events, such as a prevention of spread of infection plan
  • Implement an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of the property between stays
  • If using an external or professional cleaning company, communicate expectations and plans for cleaning and disinfection standards, and get periodic confirmation that they are being followed by the company contracted
  • Communicate to travelers on measures implemented, both pre-stay and during stay, via listing content and property information booklet

Key cleanliness guidelines

Support for guests:

  • Support good hand hygiene for guests and anyone involved with the property by providing sufficient hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap products at property entry points and key areas, and also encouraging handwashing regularly with water and soap for at least 20 seconds
  • Implement social distancing policies during check-in and check-out, and during any interactions with guests, staff, local community. When possible, encourage minimizing these interactions
  • Recommend removing shoes when entering the property and leaving them at the entrance (if possible, outside) 
  • Inform guests on how they can contribute in prevention, and actions to take if they identify symptoms (refer to WHOCDC or local government resources)
  • Consider providing cleaning and disinfecting products for guests to use, along with instructions; antibacterial handwash and additional personal hygiene products are also nice to have on hand for guests
  • If guests clean the property themselves, be sure to assess the results and the overall cleanliness of the property and to implement an additional cleaning if necessary; regardless, implement disinfection as described below

Cleaning and disinfection

A. Equipment 

Cleaning tools and personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Cleaning equipment should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use to minimize the risk of contamination
  • Cleaning products, personal protective equipment (PPE) and tools should be in good condition and supplied appropriately for the size and usage of the property
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) typically includes disposable single-use gloves, masks and shoe covers, as well as reusable eye protection
  • Any single-use equipment should be disposed of safely after use
  • Cleaning equipment typically includes brushes, sponges, microfiber rags, and mops with replaceable heads
  • All equipment should be fit for purpose, and approved or recommended by the local authorities

B. Cleaners and training

The considerations below apply to professional cleaners, or anyone cleaning or maintaining the property:

  • Should be trained on how to use and care for and properly dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Should be trained on properly using cleaning, disinfecting, and chemical products (e.g. germicides) and on safe waste disposal
  • Should always use fit-for-purpose PPE during the cleaning process
  • Single-use PPE should be safely disposed of to minimize risk of contamination
  • Should avoid touching their face during the cleaning process, as well as any unnecessary contact with surfaces, including personal belongings
  • Should implement enhanced hand hygiene (washing both hands and forearms for at least twenty seconds) before and after removing gloves

Cleaning and disinfection process —

A. General principles

  • Cleaning and disinfecting are two different steps in the overall process, and both are required to lower the risk of contamination. The CDC defines these as follows:
    • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects, by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
    • Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
    • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
  • Prevent cross contamination by using specific equipment by area (room, bathroom, kitchen)
  • Plan the process to start with lowest risk areas (bedroom, living room) to highest risk areas (kitchen, bathroom)
  • Define a cleaning checklist to help ensure completion and keep records (these can be useful in case of guest complaints)
  • Ventilate the property during and after the process
  • If guests clean the property themselves, be ready to assess the results and the overall cleanliness of the property and implement a cleaning step if necessary, and a disinfection step in any case, as described below

B. Cleaning process

  • Clean with water and suitable detergent (WHO/CDC)
  • Use a detergent or soap and water, and leave to act for enough time, usually 3 to 5 minutes (WHO/CDC)
  • Rinse, dry, and wipe to remove all products
  • Clean and disinfect all cleaning equipment

C. Disinfection process

  • Disinfect using the appropriate chemical per area. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective for disinfection. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is available here. Additional resources are also available on the WHO and the CDC websites.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products utilized (concentration, application method and contact time, etc.). Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. 
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

D. Prioritize high-touch surfaces such as

  • Door handles
  • Controls and switches (e.g. light switches, cooking controls, television controls, fan pull chains)
  • Bathroom taps, toilet flush handles, toilet seats
  • Utensils, cutlery and crockery
  • Furniture such as chairs, tables, and parts of the bed frames
  • Children facilities such as bunk beds, toys, or play equipment (if not removed from property)
  • Linen, including those that appear unused
  • Refuse, recycling bins, and any waste disposal containers
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Guest information, brochures, menus

E. Review linen management

  • Minimize handling of used linen to minimize risk of contamination, particularly shaking it
  • Wash linen at highest temperature, and dry completely before storing
  • Clean linen should be stored and handled separately from used linen (and changed between stays)
  • Any other solid/bulk waste should be handled separately, and first

Timeframes: peace of mind for travelers —

To help travelers’ peace of mind, partners might want to consider avoiding back-to-back stays. This will help minimize the likelihood of contamination by allowing enough time for cleaning and disinfection. Based on the recent information available, here are some time considerations for partners to help minimize the likelihood of infection

  • Once guests have checked out, waiting at least 3 hours before entering the property for cleaning
  • Letting the property remain empty for a total of 24 hours after previous stay checkout, including cleaning above
  • Note: while time between stays could help minimize likelihood of contamination, it does not replace enhanced cleaning processes

Additional guidelines – for property managers and multi-unit rentals

For properties, partners, property managers, and multi-unit rentals where this is relevant and can be implemented, it is also recommended to consider:

  • Seeking third-party certification from an accredited hygiene organization
  • Implementing ways to check-in and check-out implementing social distance:
    • Self-check-in and check-out, not at an office
    • Contactless check-in and check-out (smart lock, keyless, app)
  • Implementing standard check-in and check-out times, and avoid early arrivals or late departures to minimize the possibility of disrupting the enhanced cleaning process Using a professional cleaning company
  • Communicating on minimizing non-essential interactions at property:
    • Maintenance teams unless urgent
    • Any other non-guests
  • Making PPE available to guests, especially masks, when going out of the property
  • Encouraging guests to self-monitor for symptoms, follow advice from local authorities, and to seek medical assistance where possible/available
  • Encourage application of these guidelines to shared/public areas
  • For partners offering food/baskets, consider minimizing or removing this service, or consider serving individually wrapped items

Listing content

Vrbo and HomeAway partners should display cleaning policies and procedures via:

  • Structured amenities
  • Property description
  • Property information booklet
  • Any other means reasonably available — such as door hangers, signs, or checklists on display

Vrbo/Expedia Group will monitor this content and reserves the right to remove any information that it deems to be inaccurate based on traveler feedback and other sources of information, including but not limited to direct interaction with the partner.

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Rental Scale-Up

Thibault is the founder of Rental Scale-Up. He owns vacation rentals in St. Barths and Bali. He also leads innovative projects for companies within the vacation rental industry. Feel free to reach out to Thibaut Masson on Linkedin.

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