It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our safety and cleanliness requirements for travel for the foreseeable future. But while hotels are great at delivering a sanitized experience with all of the personal attention you’d expect from a chain, boutique or luxury property, Airbnbs can be a bit of a draw: The company claims that 90 percent of experiences are positive, but for the other 10 percent, cleanliness and missing amenities are two of the biggest drawbacks. While it’s too early to tell how the pandemic will affect travel habits once it’s safe to do so again, it’s safe to assume that most people will be reviewing lodging options with a more critical eye before their next trip.
So what can you do to make sure your next rental is cleaned to pandemic-appropropriate standards when you arrive, and what’s the best way to clean and sanitize it so it’s safe for the next guest? Here are five questions to resolve with your Airbnb host before you book that will make you a healthier, happier, more conscientious traveler.
1. Does Your Property Have an Enhanced Cleaning Certification?
Airbnb launched an Enhanced Cleaning Initiative for hosts in the post-COVID travel era, following guidelines from the CDC and developed in partnership with former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivik Murthy. What this means for travelers like you: While not all properties are required to get this, those that do will be held to stricter standards, which indicate a more diligent approach to cleanliness. This includes the hospital-like sanitation standards required for COVID-19 prevention, including requiring the use of masks, gloves, and hospital grade disinfectants (more on that below).
2. Does Your Arrival Process Support Social Distancing Guidelines?
Though Airbnb is currently advising hosts who choose to comply with the newly-implemented cleaning standards to add that to their listing, it’s such a new requirement that not all properties are following suit. Messaging your host prior to arrival about self-check in and/or an arrival process that supports social distancing guidelines, such as entering via a private entrance, will help you ensure safety during your next stay. If that’s not possible and you must travel, confirm that there’s been at least 24 and up to 72 hours between guests. That way, you can ensure that no other guests have entered the property other than those who are cleaning it.
3. How Do You Clean/Sanitize After a Guest Leaves?
Even if a property doesn’t have an enhanced cleaning certification, there are steps a host can take to ensure their space is clean before the next guest arrives, including ventilating rooms, using disposable gloves during cleaning, and ensuring they clean and disinfect (no, they’re not the same thing!). Airbnb provides a comprehensive list for hosts: It’s wise to run through this with them to see what measures they take on a regular basis.
4. What’s Your Cleaning Policy for Guests?
Before COVID-19 changed our travel habits for good, your typical Airbnb check-out process might have involved gathering towels, sheets, and other soiled items and leaving them in a designated area for the host to clean after you leave. While this hasn’t changed, you’ll want to ask your host if there are any additional cleaning fees that are imposed upon checkout, and what their expectations are for when you leave.
5. What Products Do You Use to Sanitize Surfaces?
Though you’ll want to stash some Purell in your backpack to easily avoid germs at airports and on the plane, you’ll also want to make sure your host has plenty of supplies to maintain a germ-free home. The EPA maintains a comprehensive list, but if you don’t feel like scrolling through it, look for a product containing at least 70 percent alcohol, ideally one with bleach. In addition, your carry on (or the exterior pocket of your carry on bag) is the perfect place to tote an extra bottle of hand sanitizer, a smart move if you want to avoid tracking germs into the house during your travels.
Even if you’ve asked your host these questions, you might want to take additional steps upon arrival—such as dusting surfaces, washing kitchen items and wiping down frequently-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs. The upside of this, though? Peace of mind in knowing that whatever Airbnb you book is safe and sanitized, and that you won’t be hit with additional fees after departure.
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.
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By Alison Kotch on June 30, 2020
Alison is a freelance writer, managing editor and running coach based in Brooklyn, New York.