Cleaning and hygiene have always been a hot topic within the vacation rental industry, and since the spread of the coronavirus, this has become an even more critical subject worldwide. As a vacation rental owner, it is now more important than ever to ensure you are taking the correct precautions and measures.
In conversation with Francesca Tedde from Ammenthos, we discuss the best methods for cleaning and disinfecting your vacation rental.
“Ammenthos is a tourist company based in the North of Sardinia that was founded in 1987 by my parents Marina and Giammario Tedde. We provide full service for vacation rental management, including check-in, guest communication, property maintenance, and cleaning services. Over the years, we have also diversified into yacht, rental and laundry services. We have integrated our complementary services into an all-in-one solution to drive innovation in the local tourism sector, to provide maximum value for our clients and also to enhance Sardinia’s attractiveness as a travel destination. Today I dedicate most of my time and energy to Ammenthos. I perform general management activities and run operations and marketing.”
Francesca, how high do you believe the risk is of catching a virus in a vacation rental?
Francesca: The current situation that we are facing on a national and global level will inevitably influence our attitudes and behaviours towards cleaning. However, I believe that in general, the risk of contracting germs within a vacation rental is high. This is due to the frequent turnover of guests and staff and is not only specific to the current crisis period. While in the home, as in any other place, we are surrounded by bacteria, viruses and fungi, the home is different in that we can actively counteract this with proper, thorough cleaning. Vacation rental owners generally pay great attention to this topic as they know a clean and sanitized vacation rental is synonymous with quality and efficiency and is a driver of bookings and good reviews.
Can you clarify the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Francesca: Regular cleaning activities aim at removing dust and dirt from surfaces and objects. When we speak of disinfecting, we refer to the inactivation of pathogenic microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.). A standard clean will certainly help remove most dirt and achieve a satisfactory level of hygiene, but to truly obtain a healthy environment, you must also make disinfection a priority.
What methods can you use to ensure proper disinfection of your vacation rental?
Francesca: Studies suggest that the coronavirus can remain viable on surfaces from anything between 4 hours to 72 hours, depending on the material. Therefore, you should regularly disinfect surfaces using reagents such as 62-71% ethyl alcohol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite as these have all proven effective against other coronaviruses. While using these high-impact products, make sure to wear protective gloves and to dilute them correctly.
As of this year, Ammenthos offers the following disinfection and sanitization services which you should also consider:
Ozone sanitation is one of the most effective disinfectants. Its naturally occurring gas eliminates over 99% of bacteria, mould, fungi pollen and mites, and inactivates viruses. Moreover, it oxygenates and regenerates the air we breathe and neutralizes bad odours. While we have no definitive answer today as to whether ozone sanitation is effective against the coronavirus, it has been proven to be effective against SARS and certainly should be taken into consideration during this time.
Steam sanitation removes dirt from surfaces and dust from upholstery and can reach up to 10-12 cm in depth. Thanks to high temperatures, it kills all microorganisms that resist chemicals in a matter of seconds, leaving surfaces both clean and sanitized. It is also excellent against infections and pathogenic agents. Like ozone sanitation, steam sanitation penetrates difficult-to-reach areas, is eco-compatible and does not damage surfaces.
Where should you start when cleaning and disinfecting your vacation rental?
Francesca: Start by opening all windows to ensure the circulation of air and natural light. Put on the necessary equipment such as a gown, gloves and mask – this is particularly important both during and directly after the corona crisis. Then, collect excess waste and dirty laundry. There is no predefined order in which you should clean your vacation rental, but we recommend cleaning the more “personal” rooms such as the bathroom and the bedrooms first. In the bathroom, begin with sanitary ware, walls, glass and floors, and finally accessories. Remove dirty linen from the beds and clean the bedroom. Pay attention to mattress covers, carpets, bedspreads and sofa covers and replace and disinfect these regularly. After thoroughly cleaning the most “personal” parts of the house, proceed to the kitchen, living room and the outdoor areas.
Are there any areas of the home that you should be particularly mindful of while cleaning?
Francesca: Pay particular attention to items that are frequently interacted with by guests as these are most likely to transfer a virus from the outside to the inside of the house. These include handles (of doors, windows and drawers), handrails, bells and buttons, furniture, kitchen and household appliances, remote controls, air conditioners, TVs and hair dryers. Studies show that contaminated hands can transmit germs to up to 5 surfaces and infect multiple people through just one touch. Therefore, it is vital to disinfect these high-touch items regularly and thoroughly.
We also recommend replacing travel guides or magazines you may have in your vacation rental with shorter brochures that guests can take with them. This avoids multiple guests coming into contact with the same literature and thus reduces the risk of spreading germs.
What about clothing, linen and towels?
Francesca: We favour white linen as it is easier to wash in high temperatures. On white linen, you can use sanitizing detergents and disinfectants that could damage coloured fabrics and you can easily spot and remove stains. For pillows, sofas, mattresses and curtains, you should use appropriate cleaning equipment that can remove deep-seated dust and dirt, mites or animal hair. Steam sanitation can be of great value here.
Should you also disinfect your cleaning equipment after use?
Francesca: Absolutely! We replace all cleaning tools and equipment or wash them at high temperatures and use a new set of cloths and sponges for every property. We never use the same cloth for another apartment – this is a fundamental principle of our work as it helps prevent the spread of any germs.
How can homeowners offer extra protection to guests during their stay?
Francesca: We advise always keeping a set of cleaning products (detergents, disinfectants, sanitizers) at guests’ disposal. Make sure to implement a thorough cleaning routine, especially for high-touch items and surfaces, and inform your guests about the different cleaning and disinfection activities you have carried out before their arrival. I believe information is a powerful tool that can help the tourism industry recover faster after the COVID-19 epidemic.
Do you have any final tips or advice for vacation rental owners during this time?
Francesca: At the moment, it’s still difficult to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector. However, I firmly believe that at the end of this pandemic, people will want to enjoy the freedom that was taken away from them and will have gained a new appreciation for activities that they previously took for granted. We will want to travel more and discover new places and cultures. I would advise you not to lose heart during this difficult period and to use the time to organize and optimize activities and resources. Furthermore, I would recommend taking all appropriate sanitation measures to ensure you can offer a safe stay for your guests. It is a delicate time where nothing matters more than feeling safe and protected.
DISCLAIMER: These tips are just recommendations and are not official guidelines. Please always refer to the World Health Organization’s website for the latest health and safety protocols.
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