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COVID-19 Cleaning

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The Ultimate Covid-19 Cleaning Resource

It is still hard for me to believe that just a few short months ago, I was set to have the most profitable summer on record at my Kauai vacation rental property.

Now? Well…

It’s a familiar story for almost everyone in the short-term rental industry, all across the globe: the perfect storm of covid-19 swept in, erasing our plans and leaving us only to hope that we can salvage our businesses and trust our local governments to begin to lift restrictions on responsible travel at the right time.

Hospitality will look different once we are free to move about the cabin again. Here’s the good news: as a vacation rental owner, you are strong and resilient—masters of the pivot and seekers of silver linings. We were problem-solvers before it was cool. 🤓

Onward we go.

The New World of Hospitality Best Practices

I know one of the top things on your mind right now is defeating “the invisible enemy” on your home turf.

Questions arise, like: How do I disinfect my vacation rental? What products should I use? Should I wait 24 hours between guests? 72 hours? Or do I go back to my usual check-in/checkout procedure? How do I keep my housekeepers safe in the process?

Like you, I definitely don’t have all the answers. But I know some people who do.

My sources include the CDC, the EPA, the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) and the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP). Each of these smart groups have generated tons of sane, balanced research and recommendations for keeping people safe and healthy in the hospitality industry.

Based on these sources, I prepared this cleaning checklist to pass on to my own professional cleaner or Airbnb cleaning service. And now I’m passing it on to you, in hopes that it eases some of your anxiety as we step into the new world.

By all means, please share with your peers, with your cleaner, their cleaning team, and of course with your guests to let them know just how prepared you are to welcome them.

Luckily, the house cleaning procedures that these collective organizations recommend are practical, fair and can be implemented easily. No hazmat suits required.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As you are likely well aware, covid-19 is a novel virus, which means the information we have about it changes almost daily. The recommendations provided by these sources will not necessarily be valid forever. Please click the links periodically to get the most up-to-date residential cleaning info.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO is the international body governing the infectious disease response on a globe scale. As we know, this is a global virus, so the WHO is excellent for obtaining the most recent information about the virus’s spread worldwide. Especially important if your vacation home gets a lot of international travelers.

There is also a specific section with travel advice, though unfortunately (as of this writing in May 2020) it hasn’t been updated since February.

Read the WHO’s coronavirus resource page.


  • Situation reports
  • Periodic WHO press conferences (live streams)
  • Up-to-date data on number of infected people worldwide
  • Status of research and development

The Center for Disease Control (CDC)

The CDC is a great foundation for your science-backed knowledge of the virus and its spread within the United States. They also provide a detailed list of best practices for cleaning offices, businesses, schools and homes. Apartment cleaning and house cleaning are also covered by the CDC.

Read the CDC’s resource for cleaning public spaces & homes (PDF)
(also included as an image below)


  • How to clean surfaces effectively
  • Behavior of virus on certain services
  • How often to clean/disinfect
  • How to make & revise your plan of action


CDC Covid 19 Cleaning

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has provided science-backed recommendations on disinfectants that kill the virus. This list is extensive and includes ready-to-use commercial grade products as well as sprays, concentrates and wipes that you can buy at your local Target or other big box store.

Read the EPA’s list of approved disinfectants to use against covid-19

Tip: read this list in conjunction with the CDC’s specific procedures for surface cleaning to cover all your bases.

Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) & Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP)

A combined effort of VRMA and VRHP, the “Safe Home” project expands on the CDC recommendations and makes them applicable to the short-term rental industry. This is the real “meat and potatoes” for a short-term vacation rental owner.

Scroll to the end for helpful tips on how to communicate with your guests about your cleaning procedures, cleaning checklist, and cleaning supplies, too.

You can also download a handy PDF of the guide at the below link to share with your cleaners.

Read VRMA/VRHP’s “Safe Home” cleaning guidelines for covid-19


  • Disinfection
  • Sanitization
  • Maintenance
  • Trash removal
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Recommended cleaning agents
  • Cleaning of soft goods, linen, and fabrics
  • Guest communication protocols

Vacation Rental By Owner (Vrbo)

Now onto the listing site/online travel agency (OTA) response to covid-19.

Vrbo-one of the largest vacation rental listing sites– has prepared a comprehensive list of recommendations for vacation rental owners, managers, and the cleaning team to use as a guideline to ensure the safety and satisfaction of vacation rental guests.

Read Vrbo’s cleaning guidelines for owners and property managers


  • Where to find reliable info about the virus
  • Key cleanliness guidelines
  • Social distancing at your rental
  • Encouraging guest hygiene
  • Cleaning & disinfecting process
  • Linen management
  • Procedures for multiple-property owners and managers
  • Guest communication


Airbnb (if you haven’t heard of Airbnb, you’re living under a rock 😆) is implementing its own list of protocols for owners, managers and hosts. When the new procedures are rolled out in May 2020, hosts will be asked to opt in. These procedures include a 24-hour buffer between guest departure and the start of your cleaning process. (That is to say, your cleaners cannot enter the property until a full 24 hours have passed after guest departure.)

If hosts choose not to opt into these guidelines, you can opt into a “Booking Buffer” of 72 hours between each reservation on their calendar, which will prohibit guests from booking at those times.

Airbnb Cleaning Handbook as of June 2020.

Local Regulations

Just a note here not to forget to do some of your own research! Many local governing bodies have implemented their own regulations and process/procedures for small businesses during the covid-19 crisis. Check them out and stay informed.

Other useful information

Here are a few miscellaneous resources that have helped me:

Cleaning supplies that should never be mixed, from Good Housekeeping.

How and where to store your cleaning supplies from the EPA.

And lastly, do stay in close communication with your cleaners and be clear about your expectations. When you get down to it, responsibility (and liability) for your property’s cleanliness—and your guests’ health and safety—falls on you, not your cleaners. If you live near your property or properties, this may mean checking in periodically to make sure the cleaning is up to your standards (and the CDC’s).

If you’re a remote host and don’t live nearby, keep an eye on your guest reviews. Ideally, they will specifically mention cleanliness, since that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now. If you don’t see cleanliness getting a shoutout in your reviews, it may be time to talk to your cleaners. Ask them to list their procedure and make sure it lines up with the latest info from the sources above.

Of course, also remember that it’s a scary time for your cleaners, too. Even if you’re in a low-risk area, the virus worry touches all of us. Let your cleaners know that you are willing to work with them, and that you’re in this together—as we all are.


  1. Joanne Studer says

    Thanks so much for all your hard work in rounding up this information Alanna. We can’t wait to getting back to hosting guests, hopefully in July, in the UK.

    Jo – The Crest Droxford UK

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