As someone who offers rental property cleaning services, there were always specific guidelines you had to follow to deliver the best and most efficient cleaning services to your clients.
Granted, most of these guidelines were devised in-house, meaning that you had the liberty to include or remove any particular line item chores you didn't deem fit for specific properties.
The kind of schedule and cleaning checklist was largely dependent on your accurate assessment of what the client needs and what could benefit them the most. As such, you gave a recommendation and quoted the client on the agreed-upon cleaning action plan/program.
Nowadays, however, thanks to the global pandemic (COVID-19), rental property cleaning guidelines, particularly those dealing with public spaces, are no longer left to individual interpretation.
Now the CDC and WHO have taken over and created a list of cleaning guidelines in line with their efforts to try and minimize the spread of this disease.
Not only are these guidelines important for your own protection as someone who offers rental property cleaning services, but they are also the key to ensuring that both your clients and their tenants are as safe as they can be in that environment.
Here is an overview of everything you need to know about these new cleaning guidelines as a cleaning professional.
The Need for Extreme Property Cleaning Guidelines During COVID-19
Indeed, cleanliness has always been a big part of rental properties across the globe. No property manager wants his/her tenants to live in a filthy environment. While for a long time, cleanliness was taken as an add-on or a selling point for specific properties to brag about in their marketing brochures, it has now become an absolute necessity.
Research shows that most hotel rooms are cleaned and ready for the next guest within 22 minutes. If you compare the requirements listed on the new COVID-19 cleaning guidelines for public spaces, you will quickly realize that 22 minutes might not be enough time to go through the entire list and ensure that the room is cleaned to the required standards.
Not only does it take a trained and skilled cleaning professional to get the job done correctly, but it would take a bit more time to ensure that every room is properly and effectively cleaned. That is why every professional offering rental property cleaning services needs to be specifically qualified and certified.
Moreover, as much as it is now a legal requirement for every publicly used property to follow these new COVID-1 cleaning guidelines to re-open and stay in business, the pressure comes from more than just one avenue.
Rental property managers understand that their post-COVID clients will most likely be more cautious about the cleanliness standards of where they stay and would want to check whether or not their immediate surroundings have been cleaned in accordance with the CDC guidelines. It will undoubtedly be one of the biggest issues determining whether a guest will book a stay with the property.
As such, property managers need to hire rental property cleaning services that understand this and have the expertise to not only implement the cleaning guidelines but to maintain these standards and find ways to educate the clientele on their necessity.
That's where you come in!
As a professional cleaner dealing with rental properties, you must learn, implement, and improve on (where necessary) these cleaning guidelines. This will allow you to stand out and provide the best possible cleaning services for your clients.
General Rental Property Cleaning Guidelines
As a rental cleaning services business owner, it is your duty to ensure that your customers understand that this will take a combined effort to achieve.
The kind of cleanliness necessary to keep their property safe and coronavirus free isn't the same kind of cleanliness it takes to keep it hygienic; it's more.
This calls for extensive discussions about how you can include guests in this program. To get you started, here is a general checklist that will help you create a more robust checklist:
- Advise the property manager to temporarily close all public and common areas until your team has had a chance to thoroughly clean and disinfect them.
- Help the managers to update their "welcome guidebook" to include the necessary sanitary steps for all guests to follow.
- Help the managers to create a digital book that can be regularly updated with the latest COVID-19 cleaning guidelines and even news.
Apart from dealing with the managers, you also need to inform your cleaning crew about all these new guidelines and help them to remain safe while they go about their business cleaning the property.
Here is a general checklist for your cleaning staff to follow:
- Use protective gear such as disposable gloves and eye protection whenever cleaning public spaces.
- Thoroughly dust and clean all surfaces with soap and water.
- After cleaning, take the time to disinfect the surfaces and all other commonly used items with EPA approved disinfectants.
- Regularly deep clean high-traffic rooms and areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
- Pay close attention and regularly sanitize doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, doorbells, faucets, remote controllers, and so on. Things that people tend to touch a lot.
- Ensure that the kitchens and bathrooms all have disposable towels and dustbins handy.
- Disinfect all the kitchen appliances as well as sanitize the utensils regularly.
You also need to ensure that the property managers stock up sanitizers for all the rooms and public spaces. This could be an add-on service on your part if the managers are finding it difficult to source for these items (the high demand has created shortages).
Guidelines for the Personal Cleanliness and Safety of Your Cleaning Staff
While it is important to have all these guidelines for what everyone, including the property owner and guests, need to do while at the property, it is also important to remember that your cleaning staff can contract the virus.
As they do their best to clean the properties as per the guidelines, you also need to come up with a checklist that will help them maintain their own personal hygiene and keep them safe from contracting the virus when cleaning public spaces:
- Frequently wash their hands. This should be done with soap for at least 20 seconds and running water.
- Keep sanitizer bottles handy to ensure that they disinfect and sanitize their hands every time they are done cleaning a specific room or public area.
- Use protective clothing such as face masks and gloves whenever cleaning.
- Avoid touching their faces, noses, and cough into their elbow.
- Open up the windows in every room they intend to clean to increase air circulation.
- Avoid congregating in large numbers during their breaks and maintain social distancing at all times.
These measures are designed to keep the guests, the property, as well as your cleaning staff safe from contracting the disease. It should be noted that they only work when followed religiously without deviations.
The Difference Between Property Cleaning, Disinfection and Sanitization
Throughout the new CDC and WHO cleaning guidelines, you will find these terms (cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing) used. To the naked eye, these terms might seem as if they define the same thing.
However, it is the distinct difference between them and the processes that go into each that makes this combination so effective in the fight against COVID-19.
Here is a clear definition of all three terms:
This is the act of removing germs, dirt, and other impurities from surfaces. When cleaning, you can use soap or any preferred detergent with water and a cleaning cloth to remove these germs.
Cleaning, despite being an integral part of the process, doesn't kill germs and is only one part of getting rid of the COVID-19 pathogens that could be on surfaces. That is why, after giving the surfaces a thorough cleaning, you need to then disinfect them.
This is the act of using specific chemicals on surfaces to kill germs. When disinfecting a surface, you can spray it with a chemical-based disinfectant such as a bleach-solution. The EPA has a definitive list of approved disinfectants that are most effective against COVID-19, and the CDC recommends that the disinfectants from that list be used.
To effectively disinfect an area or a surface, you need to spray it with the disinfectant of choice and let that solution sit on the surface for a specified amount of time.
That amount of time will be indicated on the bottle of the disinfectant in question, but it usually ranges from a few minutes to maybe half an hour. (it varies from disinfectant to disinfectant - check the label for clarification).
Sanitization, on the other hand, is the act of using an alcohol-based compound (sanitizer) to remove germs and bacteria from surfaces such as your hands. Sanitization, although similar to disinfection, isn't quite as thorough and not recommended for large surfaces.
Sanitization is designed to help you and your staff keep your hands clean (sanitize every time they are done cleaning a room) as well as carry out a more thorough cleaning of frequently used surfaces such as doorknobs.
Sanitization comes in handy where disinfection would be a bit impractical (you can't let the disinfectant sit on doorknobs for five minutes in a public place). You can, however, wipe them down frequently using an alcohol-based sanitizer and paper towels to reduce the chances of the coronavirus surviving on and spreading from that surface.
How to Properly Clean, Disinfect and Sanitize
There is a reason why you need to train your cleaning staff on how to properly clean, disinfect, and sanitize every space they work on in a vacation home or rental property. That's mostly because studies are showing that COVID-19 can live on various surfaces for a varied period of time.
For example, the virus could live for 2-3 days on plastic and metal surfaces. It could even survive on certain surfaces for about nine days.
This means that every time an infected visitor or tenant touches or coughs on any surfaces within the building, that particular surface can remain contaminated and infectious for anywhere from 2 - 9 days.
That danger can be negated with proper cleaning, regular disinfection, and adequate sanitization of all the common surfaces in the building.
Here are some tips on how to properly clean, disinfect, and sanitize:
- First things first, you need to ensure that your staff is properly protected. This means masks, disposable gloves, and eye protection. If they are using rubber gloves (reusable), then they need to learn how to safely clean them after and not to use the same glove on different surfaces lest they become the spreading agent.
- You should also insist that your staff sanitize their mobile phones frequently (when they come into work, during their breaks and when they live work). This is because most professional cleaners tend to touch their phones frequently during the washing process to listen to music, check off tasks, and communicate with you or clients.
- Before disinfecting and sanitizing any surfaces, they need to be thoroughly washed or cleaned.
- Most surfaces only need to be sanitized as opposed to being disinfected. That, however, doesn't mean that they shouldn't be thoroughly disinfected every day (mostly at the end of the day when there isn't too much human traffic to interfere with the process).
- Remember to remind the staff that some commonly overlooked areas need to be disinfected as well. The usual places are doorknobs, remote controllers, and elevator buttons. There are, however, some other locations such as indoor trash bins and cleaning supplies such as dishwasher pods, sponges and other cleaning apparatus. Most of these things are the cleaning staff's tools of the trade, that is why they are so easy to overlook.
In all this, as the person providing rental cleaning services, you need to take upon yourself to familiarize yourself with the updated CDC cleaning guidelines. You should also make a checklist that should be clearly communicated to your entire cleaning staff as well as customers.
One of the best ways to ensure that your staff is ready and fully prepared to do their job safely during these tough pandemic times is to get them all certified to deal with whatever the work environment might throw at them.