Conferences. Business trips. Family vacations. People visit hotels and resorts for many reasons. Whether for business or pleasure, most patrons look forward to the experience of being pampered by hotel staff.
Who doesn’t love wearing a fluffy robe, coming “home” to a freshly made bed or ordering room service? However, the last thing someone wants to think about when checking into a hotel room is germs.
Unfortunately, many folks are now very concerned about sanitation and cleanliness. In early March, government establishments around the world began issuing public warnings about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump called on citizens to “stay home whenever possible.” Currently, the Surgeon General is asking Americans to limit group interactions to no more than 10 people. Some cities are even requiring citizens to stay home with the exception of trips for essential needs.
The period of isolation and quarantine will last a minimum of 15 days, but some experts predict it could last several months. Like many service-based businesses, hotels are already feeling the economic impact. Since no one knows how long current travel bans will continue, hotel managers can use this time to update existing safety and sanitation procedures.
Translation: Deep clean the property in preparation of future patrons, and create guidelines that will provide greater peace of mind.
Sanitation Guidelines: How to Clean Hotels
While there are no “official” hotel recommendations, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued specific cleaning guidelines for businesses and communities.
In this article, we’ll summarize the CDC’s best practices for keeping your hotel safe and sanitary. We’ll also share some additional organizational tips for streamlining procedures, improving staff communication and enhancing compliance via smartphone technology. Before we begin, it’s worth reviewing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. According to the CDC, though similar in nature, the two terms are distinct:
- Cleaning is defined as the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but it does decrease their number and, therefore, many risks of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting is defined as the process of using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. However, killing germs remaining on a surface after cleaning further reduces the risk of spreading infection.
Coronaviruses can live on surfaces for hours in the right environment, according to the National Institutes of Health. Here’s how hotels can effectively clean and disinfect their rooms, lobbies and common areas:
1. Stock Up on Approved Disinfectants
Professor Mary Louise McLaws, COVID-19 advisor to WHO, recommends a two-step process of cleaning visibly dirty surfaces before disinfecting them with a proper chemical solution.
McLaws’ strategy to combat COVID-19 includes wiping down commonly touched items before disinfecting them. The CDC recommends using diluted household bleach, cleaning liquids containing at least 70 percent alcohol or EPA-registered household disinfectants. Using these products will clean the most germs.
Disinfectant Solution Options:
- Diluted Bleach Mixture: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
- Alcohol Solutions: Must contain at least 70 percent alcohol.
- EPA-Registered Disinfectants: Click here for a list.
- Products containing Sodium hypochlorite, Isopropanol, and Ethanol are said to be the most effective by the CDC.
**Tips for bleach activations: Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
2. Create user-friendly cleaning checklists
Put yourself in the shoes of a guest checking-in.
Follow the exact steps one would take from stopping at the front desk, swiping their key-card, to finally turning out the lights when going to sleep. Everything that gets touched should, ideally, be sprayed and wiped down with disinfectant.
Below are some of the items that should be on the daily cleaning checklist:
Items to Clean Daily:
- Counters, tables, and common surfaces
- Payment signature pads
- Pens, writing devices
- Remote controls, telephones, light switches
- Elevator buttons, room keys
Understandably, the biggest challenge operational managers face when issuing new cleaning standards is compliance. We’ve found that most staff members are happy to comply when they: a). Understand the importance of the task at hand and b). Have an easy system to follow.
Beyond discussing “the why” behind the guidelines, you might want to evaluate your operational processes. If your hotel is still relying on paperwork orders, consider switching to a digital operations solution like MaintainX.
Our user-friendly app simplifies the work order process from creation to assignment, allowing anyone with a smartphone to easily navigate checklists in seconds. Leadership can create sanitation procedures, track work history, create and manage standard operating procedures, and acquire foolproof accountability with digital audit trails.
Managers can assign work orders and also communicate with staff in real-time via the app’s integrated chat feature. This is a great way to stay on top of what’s happening in all departments on a moment-to-moment basis.
As MaintainX client Ron Pembleton, director of engineering at Pyramid Hoel Group, says:
MaintainX has quickly become our most used, most valuebale and most trusted workflow software. A task that would have taken me 15 minutes to complete on paper before, I can now do in 2 minutes.”
Want some help creating your first checklist? Click here to learn How to Create a Digital Checklist.
3. Review Recommended Hygiene Practices
Finally, hold regular meetings with staff members to review best practices for proper surface cleaning, hand sanitation and self-protection. At a minimum, all cleaning team members should be provided with respiratory masks and latex gloves.
Cody Millsap, Vice President of Stratus Building Solutions, a commercial cleaning and janitorial services company, recently told Inc. that “individuals should wipe in one direction while cleaning surfaces [because] wiping a surface in a circular or back-and-forth direction redeposits germs.”
Beyond teaching how to deep clean, managers should enforce CDC recommended hand sanitizing procedures for the protection of both hotel staff and guests. That means washing hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 to 95 percent alcohol.
When to Sanitize Hands
- After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the restroom
- Before eating or preparing food
- After touching one’s face or hair
Other Team Sanitation Tips:
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.
- Place hand sanitizer in multiple locations.
- Ensure adequate sanitary supplies are maintained.
- Cover your coughs.
Post handwashing signs in bathrooms that remind both staff and guests to wash their hands for 20 to 30 seconds. Some outlets recommend washing for as long as it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.
For additional safety guidelines check out OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
Enforce safety and sanitation guidelines
We hope you now feel more prepared to streamline your hotel’s operational and safety procedures for future guests post-travel-ban. Operational managers who create new cleaning procedures, maintain open communication with team members and remind staff of proper sanitation practices can make life easier for everyone during this uncertain time.
If you think MaintainX could help your organization enhance employee, guest and stakeholder safety, we’re available to help. Click here to get started.