Airbnb has launched its Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, which includes the first overarching standardized protocol for cleaning and sanitization in the home-sharing industry.
“As governments handle the health crisis and begin to review restrictions in advance of reopening their communities for travel, at Airbnb we are working hard to support our community and prepare for the future of travel, focused on health and prevention,” Airbnb said in an announcement.
The new Cleaning Protocol will be available to hosts as of May, with enhanced procedures and guidance on how to clean every room in a home. These guidelines will include a learning and certification program to empower the Airbnb host community, while guests will be able to identify and book accommodations included in this program soon after hosts enroll.
The protocol was developed with information by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); leading experts such as Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States; and companies in the hospitality and medical hygiene sector such as Ecolab.
The host Cleaning Protocol will include specific information on COVID-19 prevention such as the use of personal protective equipment like masks and gloves for hosts or their cleaners, as well as disinfectants that are approved by regulatory authorities. A CDC recommended 24-hour wait period before entering is also required, as a precaution to address the possibility of particles that may remain airborne for a few hours.
“The protocol will be available to all hosts and we encourage them to commit and adopt these enhanced cleaning practices. Listings enrolled in the Cleaning Protocol will be available for stays immediately after the enhanced cleaning is performed,” Airbnb said.
If hosts are unable to commit to Airbnb’s Cleaning Protocol, they can alternatively opt into a new feature called Booking Buffer, to create a vacancy period between stays. Hosts can commit to keeping their home empty for a set period in between stays, with no activity other than cleaning. Reservations will be automatically blocked during that time frame, currently set at 72 hours. This option includes the same 24 hour wait period before entering, and hosts should still observe CDC recommendations and other applicable local guidance.
“Although risk in travel can never be fully eliminated, and the science is still evolving, this initiative is designed to support and protect our stakeholders. Guests will be able to search for and easily identify Airbnb listings that meet their needs and expectations and are part of the program,” Airbnb said.
According to the announcement, the concept is expert-backed and was first conceived for Airbnb’s Frontline Stays project, through which hosts have offered over 200,000 places for medical workers and first responders around the world.