The whole travel industry is being hit by the impact of the Coronavirus – holiday homes included. If you are planning a holiday though, the good news is that holiday homes have the advantage of offering a private space compared to other kinds of accommodation because you’re not sharing living areas with lots of strangers travelling from different locations.
That being said, owners of holiday cottages have a moral, if not legal, duty to ensure their properties are properly cleaned. For now, this is going to mean increasing your turn-around cleaning schedule to properly sanitise your holiday cottage. If necessary, you may need to push back the earliest time of arrival for guests to allow time for the extra cleaning required. If guests should complain, make it clear that you are doing this for their benefit – not yours -and all at no additional cost to them.
For many holiday cottages, now is the time when they are given a truly deep clean ahead of the approaching season. One of the best lists we’ve come across on 'deep cleans' comes from Care.com. Click here to view their list on Deep-Cleaning your House.
However, while you may not need to undertake a deep clean of the scale suggested bu Care.com during every changeover, you will need to ensure your holiday cottage is properly sanitised while Coronavirus is still rampant.
How Long Does Coronavirus Remain Infectious?
The primary worry for holiday cottage owners (as well as their guests) is whether the virus could have been carried into the home by previous guests. How long will it remain present? There has been much discussion on how long the bacteria can survive in the open air.
A study carried out by scientists from the Griefswald and Ruhr Universities in Germany compiled information from 22 recent case studies both concluded that it could survive on surfaces for up to 28 days. However, this is not the definitive view, in America, the Journal of Hospital Infection reported that the virus could remain infectious for as little as 2 hours @ 30 degrees centigrade – rising to 28 days @ 4 degrees centigrade. Essentially, the warmer the room, the shorter the virus remained active.
UK Government advice says that the virus is likely to have ‘decreased significantly’ after 72 hours. The message seems to be: Don’t let your cottage get too cold when it’s empty.
So, cleaning and preparing your holiday cottage for your next guests has never been more critical.
How Do You Deep Clean Holiday Cottages?
In a nutshell, you should update your cleaning schedule to embrace the following.
- Properly clean your own hands and cleaning equipment before you start – especially those mop-heads, washcloths and dusters.
- Put on clean gloves
- Double clean:
- Wash and clean surfaces first using hot water and detergent
- Clean again, this time using anti-bacterial agents. NB: For the most effective results, leave the surface wet before rinsing and drying it for a few minutes before wiping it off.
- Give priority to all ‘high-touch’ and horizontal areas.
High-touch areas include things like:
- All handles: doors, wardrobes, fridges, ovens, loos, toasters, microwaves, kettle etc.
- All horizontal surfaces from worktops to loo seats
- Put cutlery and crockery through the dishwasher at the highest temperature (don’t assume previous guests have done this). Do this first so that it can run while you carry on with the rest of the cleaning
- Include high-touch items such as the TV remote control, keyboards, TVs, taps and light switches/ pull-cords, washing machine doors and buttons etc.
- Waste / Recycle bins
- Fridge shelves
- Fruit bowls
- Dining chair backs, mirrors and bed heads
- Bedspreads: Either launder after each visit, or, especially as its' spring and summer, remove the bed spreads for the duration and make do with just the duvet. Far more reassuring to guests and one option that wil make life a tiny bit easier!
Give some thought to the content of welcome packs, e.g. food packaging that could have been handled in the supermarket prior to purchase and make sure these are clean too.
Your Visitors directory and tourism brochures also fall into the high-touch category. Put your visitors directory online rather than have it in an increasingly tatty ring-binder in the house. In addition to being hygienic, this has other advantages:
- It is much easier and less time-consuming to update
- It can be personalised and sent to guests in advance of their arrival. On average many directories are not fully perused until well into any holiday, by which time it is too late to cram in many of the suggestions offered. People re far more likely to read them if they arrive a week or so beforehand, thus helping gusts plan an even more memorable holiday in your cottage. Put it in a pdf format and guests can share it so that everybody has their own, wonderfully hygienic copy for ever and a day.
- Include a section (or make it a separate document) full of 'What to Go where to go details with a:
- One sentence summary
- Website link
You can then dispense with that box. full of dog-eared leaflets
Ensure you include your contact details and website address as such documents are likely to get shared by guests before and after their holiday, and its another great way of making people aware of your cottage.
Sterilise this too! There's no point in going to great lengths to sanitise your holiday property, if you use dirty equipment. This means, washing mop heads, all towels , dusters, cloths and even wiping down the hoover. If you use contract cleaners to clean your holiday cottage, then ask them to tell you what measure they are taking to ensure they don''t transfer the virus from one cottage to another.
Make a Checklist
Finally, It’s a good idea to write down your new ‘deep clean’ checklist. Not only will this ensure you do a thorough job, but if you get an insurance claim against you, you can show that you took every precaution to mitigate infection and safeguard your insurance policy.
If you have any top tips on cleaning suggestions for holiday cottages, please email them to us and we’ll add them to this article.