How to Adjust Your Airbnb Listing to Ensure It’s Safe for Guests

A woman walks up to a house.
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As an Airbnb host, you’re probably already comfortable putting in a little elbow grease to make your listing shine for each guest.

But with the spread of COVID-19, it’s a good idea to take some extra precautions to ensure your space is not just sparkling, but safe.

Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

While travel has reached historic lows since the start of the pandemic, summer is approaching and cities are slowly lifting their stay-at-home restrictions. Airbnb has announced new guidelines for cleaning and spacing out bookings.

So grab some gloves and check your supply of Clorox wipes. You’ve got work to do.

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What Airbnb Advises for Making Your Space Safe for Guests

In order to ensure the safety of all Airbnb participants — both guests and hosts — the company issued an extensive new list of cleaning and disinfecting guidelines, based on CDC recommendations. They’ve also created a pool of cleaning resources for owners to help them learn how to fully sanitize their properties.

Airbnb hosts are not required to hold to these guidelines, but guests will be able to search on the platform for listings that are taking the extra precautions. 

Airbnb has also created a new Frontline Stays program for doctors, nurses, and other COVID-19 responders — and in order to participate in that system, you must commit to the strictest disinfection protocol.

How to Offer a Safe Airbnb Listing During COVID-19

Cleaning, of course, is one important part of offering pandemic-ready accommodations. But it’s not the only step. 

Leave plenty of time between guests.

According to CDC guidelines, it’s best to wait 24 hours before entering a space that has been occupied by anyone with COVID-19. Since you don’t know whether your guests have been exposed to the virus, it’s best to act as though they have — which means leaving at least a full day between bookings.

For hosts participating in Airbnb’s Frontline Stays, a 72-hour window is required. That way, you’ll be able to wait at least 24 hours before entering the premises to clean and leave an additional buffer before the next guests arrive.

The guidelines also suggest ventilating the room before cleaning by opening outside doors and windows and using fans to increase air circulation.

Offer self check-in and check-out.

Letting guests see themselves in and out of the property has always been a major convenience. Now it also helps facilitate social distancing and minimize person-to-person contact. 

To offer a self check-in option, add a lockbox or smart lock with a keypad to your rental — and be sure to update your listing with the necessary instructions.

Be sure your rental is well-stocked with essentials.

This photo shows an Airbnb listing with the bathroom and the bedroom reflected into a mirror.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

You want your guests to be maintaining tip-top hygiene habits right now, right? Make it easy for them by stocking plenty of hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, and perhaps extra linens and towels for guests staying for longer periods.

Clean and disinfect — and know the difference.

According to Airbnb’s new guidelines, “Cleaning is the act of removing germs, dirt, and impurities (like when you use a soapy sponge to wipe off a visibly dirty counter or stovetop). Disinfecting is when you use chemicals to kill germs (like spraying with a bleach solution).” 

You need to do both to make your listing safe and suitable for guests. Clean first, then spray disinfectant and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it up. Airbnb also suggests using a new cleaning cloth for each guest if you’re not using disposable wipes or paper towels. 

Here’s what Airbnb says about disinfectants: “Most common household disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as cleaning solutions with diluted household bleach or at least 70% alcohol, are believed to be effective against the coronavirus.”

Be sure to pay attention to frequently touched surfaces, but also disinfect laundry baskets, hampers, trash cans, and other places that might harbor the virus. (When in doubt, disinfect it!)

Pay attention to the soft stuff.

While swiping hard surfaces with bleach is a no-brainer, it’s easy to forget about the soft and porous surfaces that could become havens for the virus: sofas, rugs and drapes, to name a few. Be sure to thoroughly vacuum carpets and use upholstery cleaner on soft furniture. Machine-wash curtains.

Airbnb also suggests washing all linens including bed sheets, mattress covers, blankets, and both bath and kitchen towels at the highest heat setting. You should wear gloves when handling dirty laundry (and throughout the rest of the cleaning process), and avoid shaking the laundry as this may increase the spread of germs.

Protect yourself (and others) while you clean.

It’s a good idea to wear personal protective equipment while you’re cleaning and disinfecting the property. That includes disposable gloves, a mask or face covering and a gown or apron.

Avoid touching your face while cleaning your rental, and wash your hands immediately after removing your gloves. You’ve heard this part before, but scrub for 20 seconds with lots of soap. 

Disinfect your cleaning equipment, too.

Empty your vacuum as soon as you’re done using it and wipe it down with disinfectant. The same goes for dishwashers, washers and dryers. It’s also important to remove and clean any reusable cloths immediately after you finish disinfecting the premises, and take out the trash before guests enter.

Communication is key.

Letting guests know you’re on top of disinfecting your place is a good idea — but it’s also important not to make any deceptive claims. Even if you’re taking as much care and precaution as possible, you can’t guarantee your guests won’t be exposed to the virus. Avoid language that may imply that, such as describing your listing as “COVID-free.”

Finally, your guests may want to help clean up after or during their stay. Consider posting Airbnb’s cleaning guidelines inside the space and providing supplies.

Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.