COVID-19 and Cleanliness: A Higher Standard for Vacation Rentals

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
April 28, 2020

A guide to new standards of cleanliness — and confidence — needed right now

Since day one, Evolve Vacation Rental has required that all of the properties we manage meet four standards: safe, clean, as-advertised, and ready for guests. These days, the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak make cleanliness and safety even more important. In fact, we need to raise our standards to create the right experiences for our guests. Our success depends on it. 

No one is certain how the COVID-19 crisis will unfold. We do know, however, that the impulse to travel is strong and will return. When travel resumes, guests will likely have higher expectations. We believe that they’ll see private homes as a reassuring choice for lodging — but they’ll also want to know our homes are cleaner and safer than ever. It’s up to all of us to make that happen. 

We’ve asked our owners and cleaning partners to prioritize safety for every guest experience. Every guest who books an Evolve home should understand immediately that we’re taking cleanliness very seriously and feel confident that they can count on our homes to be 100% ready for their arrival.

Learn and apply all local requirements for cleaning and safety

Whether you’re a homeowner or a professional cleaning provider, it’s important for you to understand what restrictions or guidelines are in place in your area. For example, cleaning staff may be required to wear a mask while working in the home. 

As you know, rules and recommendations differ by area and are updated frequently, so there’s no one correct answer nationwide. It’s up to you to know the local guidelines, apply them correctly and consistently, and stay up to date on changes. As a foundation, please review this CDC guide to cleaning and disinfecting a home. Then check with your local government for specific guidelines in your rental area. Owners, be sure to consult with your cleaning partner to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Plan now for the return of travel and bookings   

There’s a lot of uncertainty about travel right now, making bookings more unpredictable. Combine that with the reported shortages and longer delivery times of cleaning and safety products and you need to start planning now for later bookings. 

Take inventory now so you can replace supplies as needed before bookings bounce back. If you’re a cleaning business, think about if and when you want to add new homes to your roster; that may mean more supplies. Most of all, be sure everyone understands the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing chemicals

Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for cleaning products. However, this list of disinfectants from the EPA and frequently asked questions about disinfectants are a good place to start. Your local suppliers may also have recommendations for you. Be sure that everyone cleaning a home understands: 

  • The instructions for use on the label of the product
  • Any precautions needed for safe use and application 
  • How long product needs to stay on surface for effective disinfection (dwell time)
  • Any potential cross contamination with other chemicals

Perform “deep disinfections” prior to every arrival  

Every rental property needs a “deep disinfection” before (and between) welcoming guests. This is the most important of our standards to raise for the duration of the COVID-19 situation. 

Our recommendation is that any deep disinfection be performed by professionals with the training and proper supplies for the task (owners likely do not have). Here are some things to keep in mind during any cleaning. 

High-touch surfaces 

Be sure to disinfect all areas likely to have been touched, including (but not limited to):

  • All handles: doors, cabinets, closets, windows, faucets, etc.
  • Any railings: stair railings, decks, etc.
  • Switches and buttons: lights, remote control, front door lock keypad, garage door opener, etc.
  • Frequently used appliances: microwave, TV, coffee maker, washing machine, etc.
  • Frequently used kitchen items, including supplies under the sink
  • Arms of chairs, sofas, and outside seating
  • Toys, puzzles, playing cards, etc.

Dishes and flatware 

Clean all dishes and flatware (not just what was previously used) after every checkout and be sure to use any available sanitizing setting when using the dishwasher. 

Bedding, blankets and pillows 

Special care should be taken with bedding, linens, and other soft materials, such as: 

  • Make sure all pillows on beds have pillow protectors 
  • Use duvet and duvet covers or triple sheeting rather than a plain blanket on top of beds
  • Wash all blankets and comforters after every checkout; use commercial laundry or appropriate strength chemicals for home laundry  
  • Eliminate all extra pillows and blankets around the home
  • Place extra sheets and/or blankets in a plastic zipper bag with a plastic tie so cleaners know they’re already clean and are ready for use

Prioritize safety for the housekeeping team   

Safety is not only for guests — it’s for everyone involved in the guest experience. Make sure housekeeping teams understand that this higher standard of cleanliness is the “new normal” and that sessions may take longer, may involve personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, and methods may change over time. It’s for everyone’s well-being. 

Obviously, the minimum is that all cleaning team members should be trained in proper hand washing and anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 should not work. But Evolve standards are not about minimums; they’re about professionalism. Owners, make sure your cleaning partners:

  • Provide cleaning teams with necessary PPE, up-to-date training on products and methods, and proper disposal
  • Open windows for ventilation while cleaning 
  • Make sure cleaning team is maintaining physical distance inside the property
  • Do not enter a home if guests are still in-residence and distancing is not possible

Our guests are counting on us 

If you’re an existing Evolve homeowner or service partner, we’ll be there with you, answering questions from interested travelers, coordinating check-ins, and making things right for our guests if anything is off. We’re also doing all we can to minimize the COVID-related impact on your bookings and business. But none of it will matter without our owners and partners taking our core standards—safe, clean, as-advertised and ready for guests—more seriously than ever. 

Thank you and stay well. 

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