The latest government guidelines indicate that the current holiday restrictions may will be lifted sometime during July. This easing of ‘lockdown’ will be welcome to many and hopefully allow holiday property owners and operators to start welcoming guests again, will you be ready? To help combat the risks posed by the COVID-19, here is a compilation of a coronavirus special cleaning tips for holiday cottages.
Many people will be naturally nervous about venturing out and away from the safety of home again. Owners have always taken great pride in ensuring their properties are always safe and cleaned to a very high standard. However following the outbreak of the coronavirus it is even more important than ever to reassure guests that additional measures, strict cleaning and disinfecting procedures are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Our Pledge to You – “We Will Help Keep You Safe”
It is highly recommended to make a clear Covid-19 statement on your website of your additional cleaning procedures and special measures that you have taken to ensure a clean and safe environment for your guests.
Include any additional measures that you are taking including disinfecting your properties to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This will help give confidence to your guests that they can enjoy their stay with you without concern.
From what we understand people can become infected by COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces. In a holiday home there are many such surfaces which will need to be paid special attention to. These include additional cleaning, sanitisation and effective disinfecting of all high-contact areas including kitchen work surfaces, door handles, plug sockets to TV remote controls and light fittings.
Cleaning Tips & Suggestions
Here are a few suggestions and coronavirus cleaning tips for holiday cottages to help ensure a clean and safe holiday environment. These are taken from the government guidelines website, the World Health Organisation & advice from several specialist cleaning companies.
Please Note: These tips and ideas are of a general nature and should not be treated as official guidelines
- Clean, Sanitise & Disinfect – Clean properly first with warm soapy water, then sanitise with disinfectant all high-contact touch points areas. This includes tables, chairs, kitchen work surfaces, door handles, light switches, remote controls, toilets, sinks and rubbish bins. Do not forget to clean the house keys and wipe down the keypad on the way out etc.
- Disinfectant & Bleach – Use diluted bleach solutions where appropriate for the particular surfaces. Follow manufacturers’ guidelines and ensure a contact time of up to a couple of minutes to kill off all viruses, germs and bacteria. For simplicity it is recommended a dilution of 50ml bleach per 450ml of cold water for visibly clean surfaces such as touch points.
- Ensure Good Ventilation While Cleaning – Keep the windows open to allow good ventilation both during and after the cleaning process.
- Laundry – All laundry including bed linen, towels and bedding to be washed to Government advised standards above 60°C+ temperature to kill all known bacteria and viruses.
- Carpets & Upholstery – Carpets and upholstery are porous, which means they are less hospitable to viruses than non-porous surfaces however they still need cleaning properly. Steam cleaning is recommended and effective against germs on carpets and furnishings. Fogging also has proven to be popular as it creates very fine droplets of atomised liquid, for this reason they can penetrate deep into porous surfaces effectively disinfecting the areas.
- Disinfectant Misting & Fogging Machines – Some owners are looking to sanitise and disinfect properties using misting (200 microns) and fogging (10 microns) machines via very fine droplets. Foggers and Misting machines have used recently in to disinfect schools and hospitals. These methods are excellent though can be costly and can be used in addition to deep cleaning the property to the revised COVID-19 standards required.
- Remove Items That Cannot be Cleaned Easily – Remove decorative scatter cushions or covers that cannot be washed on a high temperature
- Reduce Cross Infection – Remove guest board games, DVD’s and books and similar such items for now. These are all very difficult to ensure there is no cross infection. A simple friendly apology that these are not available for now will suffice and be fully understood.
- Provide Additional Cleaning Products – Provide plenty of cleaning and sanitising products such as antibacterial hand sanitisers (with at least 60% alcohol content), disposable gloves, antibacterial wipes, bleach and disinfectants. Also make additional cleaning supplies available while guests are staying at your holiday home.
- Additional Guest Information – Pop up a few friendly signs and notices throughout the house or in your welcome notes and guest information notes reminding them to be extra hygiene aware and to ‘wash their hands’ regularly.
- Protect Your Cleaning Staff – Make sure your cleaning staff are safe and taking the correct measures to protect themselves as well as your holiday properties. Ensure they are using the correct approved PPE and following approved procedures and checklists.
For more useful information and guidelines for cleaning and additional procedures to help reduce cross infection please visit the www.gov.uk website
Additional Measures to Help Reduce the Spread of Coronavirus
- On-line or ‘Self Check-in / Checkouts’ – explain additional procedures in your welcome email with automated text updates
- Install key safes with automated texts of the key codes etc.
- To avoid personal contact, leave a friendly welcome message / card and update all your ‘Guest Information’ to reduce questions or unnecessary call outs to the property
- Install hand sanitisers and show clear guidelines in any public areas such as reception areas
- Cashless payment procedures to help reduce person to person contact for any extras
- Update your ‘Google My Business’ page listing with your latest COVID-19 statement
Cut the Risk of Legionella
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal pneumonia caused by the legionella bacteria which can build up in standing water left for any length of time.
Holiday cottage owners and managing agents have a responsibility to ensure the property is free from the risk of exposure to legionella. As many properties have been unoccupied for quite some time they are potentially at risk. as any standing water presents a risk of ‘Legionella’ bacteria accumulating. This risk is higher in showers, as any contaminated water droplets can disperse the Legionella bacteria via the spray heads
To cut out the risks of any Legionella build up:
• For properties left for any reasonable length of time it is a good idea to flush the water system out including everything (kitchen sink, hand basins, toilets, etc. from both the hot and cold taps too.
• Showers that have not been used for a week or more, run hot and cold water through the shower hose and showerhead for a full 2 minutes. Keep the showerhead submerged in a bucket to ensure no spray escapes onto walls etc.
• Disinfect the showerhead by removing it and then submerging in an appropriate disinfectant cleaning solution. Then run the water through the feeder hose for full 2 minutes. Showerheads should be regularly disinfected about four times a year.
• Legionella positively thrives in temperatures of 20°C and 45°C but is killed off at temperatures above 60°C. Make sure the hot water in the boiler or hot water tank is set to a minimum of 60°C.
Advise Guests of Your Enhanced Cleaning Measures & Precautions Taken
Put out a clear statement on your website home page or create a pop up so it can be seen easily by prospective visitors and guests who have already booked who may be concerned. You are looking to protect their health and make a safe environment for them to enjoy their holiday. Highlight your commitment to help achieving this goal.
Here is a good web page example of special cleaning measures and procedures taken by ‘Gwel-an-Mor Holiday Park’ in Cornwall. This helps inform their guests of their commitment to raising standards even higher in light of the coronavirus – https://www.gwelanmor.com/covid-19-keeping-you-safe/.
Explain that the measures that you are taking have all been implemented for your guest’s safety and health. This all takes additional time and resources, any delays or reduced facilities are all as a result of you taking your guest’s wellbeing seriously and following Government guidelines.
Keeping Your Guests Safe & Healthy Summary
These shared ideas and tips are simply helpful recommendations for holiday cottage owners and operators to help keep guests safe and healthy. They are cleaning guidelines and potential additional procedures that could be implemented in your business and not to be regarded as official guidelines.
For Additional Resources and Useful Information Visit:
- UK Gov.uk – Covid-19 decontamination in non-healthcare settings
- World Health Organisation – Operational considerations for COVID-19 management in the accommodation sector
- CDC – Center for Disease, Control & Prevention – Cleaning and Disinfection for Households
- ASSC (Association of Scottish Self Caterers) – Cleaning Protocols for Self Catering & Short Terms Lets