Enhanced cleaning guidelines hotels can use today

This guidance provides recommendations on ways you can enhance cleaning practices and ensure guest safety so you can start welcoming guests back today. 

As the world reopens for travel, people will be more concerned than ever about the cleanliness of their hotel rooms. To help you anticipate and deliver the experience travelers need to feel safe while staying at your properties, we’ve compiled this list enhanced hotel cleaning protocols.

For vacation rentals, read this article about health and cleaning guidelines

These guidelines were created in consultation with Expedia Group partner Cristal International Standards, part of Intertek Group, and with the US Travel Association. They’re based on publicly available information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

We hope they help you identify opportunities to upgrade your standard cleaning protocols and empower you to show your commitment to guest safety. 

As the travel industry recovers from the effects of COVID-19, we’re rooting for your success. Thank you, as always, for your valued partnership.

General advice

The emergence of COVID-19 has created a need to take additional cleaning and disinfection measures to help prevent its spread and ensure partner and guest safety.

Partners are encouraged to consider:

  • Use accurate, reputable sources of information including the WHO, the CDC, and local authorities
  • Make sure to follow local regulations, where applicable
  • Have a proactive plan to manage and minimize the risks associated with COVID-19 and similar events, such as a plan on preventing the spread of infection
  • Implement an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of the property between stays
  • Communicate expectations and plans with your staff and external service providers, and get periodic confirmation that they are being followed 
  • Postpone, cancel or modify routine operations in the premises, to help reduce the likelihood of infection
  • Communicate to travelers, staff and any visitors, on measures implemented, both pre-stay and during their stay, via online content, in-property information, and staff

Key cleaning guidelines

Support for guests and staff

  • Support good hand hygiene for guests, staff and anyone involved with the property by providing sufficient hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap products at property entry points and key areas, and encouraging handwashing regularly with water and soap for at least 20 seconds
  • Implement social distancing policies during check-in and check-out, and during any interactions with guests, staff, any visitors and the local community. When possible, encourage minimizing these interactions and opt for touchless experiences
  • Inform travelers on how they can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and of the actions to take if they identify symptoms (refer to WHO, CDC, or local government resources)
  • Consider providing instructions on how to sanitize rooms along with cleaning and disinfecting products for guests to use; antibacterial handwash and additional personal hygiene products are also nice to have on hand for guests
  • Consider risk groups, particularly those who might be at increased risk of infection, such as people over 60, people with underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system, or pregnant women; children are also at increased risk of transmission particularly where playgrounds, child care facilities or other child-friendly areas are available

Cleaning and disinfection

Equipment: cleaning tools and personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Cleaning equipment should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use to minimize the risk of contamination
  • Cleaning products, PPE and tools should be in good condition and supplied appropriately for the size and usage of the property
  • PPE typically includes disposable single-use gloves, masks and shoe covers, as well as reusable eye protection
  • Any single-use equipment should be disposed of safely after use
  • Cleaning equipment typically includes brushes, sponges, microfiber rags, and mops with replaceable heads
  • All equipment should be fit for purpose and approved or recommended by the local authorities

Cleaners and training

The considerations below apply to professional cleaners or anyone cleaning or maintaining the property. These people:

  • Should be trained on how to use, care for and properly dispose of PPE
  • Should be trained on how to sanitize rooms and areas using cleaning, disinfecting, and chemical products (e.g., germicides) and on safe waste disposal
  • Should always use fit-for-purpose PPE during the cleaning process
  • Should safely dispose of single-use PPE to minimize the risk of contamination
  • Should avoid touching their face during the cleaning process, as well as any unnecessary contact with surfaces, including personal belongings
  • Should implement enhanced hand hygiene (washing both hands and forearms for at least twenty seconds) before and after removing gloves

Cleaning and disinfection process:

  • General principles: 
    • Cleaning and disinfecting are two different steps in the overall process, and both are required to lower the risk of contamination. The CDC defines these as follows:
      • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects, by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
      • Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
      • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
    • Prevent cross-contamination by using specific equipment by area (room, bathroom, kitchen)
    • Plan the process to start with lowest risk areas (bedroom, living room) to highest risk areas (kitchen, bathroom)
    • Define a cleaning checklist to help ensure completion and keep records (these can be useful in case of guest complaints)
    • Ventilate the property during and after the process
    • If guests clean the property themselves, be ready to assess the results and the overall cleanliness of the property and implement a cleaning step if necessary, and a disinfection step in any case, as described below
  • Cleaning process:
    • Clean with water and suitable detergent (CDC/WHO)
    • Use a detergent or soap and water, and leave to act for enough time, usually three to five minutes (CDC/WHO)
    • Rinse, dry, and wipe to remove all products
    • Clean and disinfect all cleaning equipment
  • Disinfection process:
    • Disinfect using the appropriate chemical per area. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective for disinfection. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available here. Additional resources are also available on the WHO and the CDC websites.
    • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products utilized (concentration, application method and contact time, etc.). Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. 
    • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least one minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
  • Prioritize high-touch surfaces such as:
    • Door handles
    • Controls and switches (e.g., light switches, cooking controls, television controls, fan pull chains)
    • Bathroom taps, toilet flush handles, toilet seats
    • Utensils, cutlery and crockery
    • Furniture such as chairs, tables, and parts of the bed frames
    • Children facilities such as bunk beds, toys, or play equipment (if not removed from property)
    • Linen, including those that appear unused
    • Refuse, recycling bins, and any waste disposal containers
    • Cleaning equipment
    • Guest information, brochures, menus
  • Review linen management:
    • Minimize handling of used linen to minimize risk of contamination, particularly shaking it
    • Wash linen at highest temperature, and dry completely before storing
    • Clean linen should be stored and handled separately from used linen (and changed between stays)
    • Any other solid/bulk waste should be handled separately, and first

Timeframes: peace of mind for travelers

To help travelers’ peace of mind, partners might want to consider avoiding back-to-back stays. This will help minimize the likelihood of contamination by allowing enough time for cleaning and disinfection. Based on the recent information available, here are some time considerations for partners to help minimize the likelihood of infection:

  • Once guests have checked out, waiting at least 3 hours before entering the property for cleaning
  • Letting the property remain empty for a total of 24 hours after previous stay check-out, including cleaning above
  • Note: While the time between stays could help minimize the likelihood of contamination, it does not replace enhanced cleaning processes

Communication and daily operations

In addition to specific cleaning and disinfection guidelines, partners are encouraged to consider the following guidelines:

  • Communicate health, safety and hygiene instructions for guests, staff, suppliers and any visitors, such as signage, videos and voice announcements. A designated team should help oversee that instructions are followed
  • Encourage everyone at the premises to report to staff and management of anyone feeling unwell, coming into contact with confirmed carriers of illness, or returning from known infected areas or countries
  • Define a training program for staff and contractors, including guest-facing staff readiness to answer questions
  • Include staff guidelines on how to deal safely with confirmed cases of illness in the premises
  • Log identified illness cases regularly by designated staff, for monitoring of potential illness outbreaks and corresponding action, as well as for record-keeping
  • Review property’s capacity, such as occupancy and capacity of venues such as restaurants, bars, fitness facilities, and rearrange layouts as need to assist in implementing social distancing

During any closure of business, where daily operations might be impacted, reduced, or stopped, partners are encouraged to consider the following ahead of reopening or resuming activities:

  • Cleaning and disinfection guidelines further above should apply to all existing operations
  • Chemical treatment of pools and any public water facilities
  • Legionella control procedures
  • Pest control procedures
  • Food and stock checks, if any
  • Staff refresher training

Dealing with confirmed cases

If guests become sick, partners are encouraged to consider the following guidelines:

  • Where possible and available, seek medical assistance
  • Recommend guests stay in their room, reduce interactions with others as much as possible, and wear a surgical mask
  • Meals should be delivered to the guest’s room where possible and available, and for an additional period of 48h after they become symptom-free, or as recommended by local medical expertise
  • Pools and other public water facilities should be avoided during this period, and for an additional period of 48h after they become symptom-free, or as recommended by local medical expertise
  • Anyone interacting with sick guests should wear a protective face mask, where necessary
  • Rooms and facilities used by sick guests should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after the guest’s check-out

If members of staff or contractors are sick, partners are encouraged to also consider the following guidelines for staff, contractors and anyone supplying the property:

  • Implement a stay-at-home policy for staff being sick, or having traveled to known high-risk areas
  • Include a cleaning and disinfection process for areas that might have been exposed before sickness was identified
Additional guidelines

For partners where this is relevant and can be implemented, it is also recommended to consider:
  • Seeking third-party certification from an accredited hygiene organization
  • Regular health checks of staff, travelers and any visitors entering the premises, such as temperature and respiratory symptom screenings
  • Send pre-arrival safety assessment questionnaires to travelers
  • Recommend guests dine in their rooms, or order room service where available, if an illness outbreak is suspected or confirmed
  • Remove any unnecessary objects, non-attached decoration, and any items that could make enhanced cleaning difficult, or host particles
  • Facilitate contactless transactions to support social distancing, such as:
    • Self-check-in and check-out, not at an office
    • Contactless check-in and check-out (smart lock, keyless, app)
    • Contactless payments
    • Any other automation means, where possible and relevant
  • Implementing standard check-in and check-out times, and avoid early arrivals or late departures to minimize the possibility of disrupting the enhanced cleaning process 
  • Using a professional cleaning company
  • Communicating on minimizing non-essential interactions at the property:
    • Maintenance teams unless urgent
    • Any other non-guests
  • Making PPE available to guests, especially masks, when going out of the property
  • Encouraging guests to self-monitor for symptoms, follow advice from local authorities, and to seek medical assistance where possible/available
  • Encourage application of these guidelines to shared/public areas
  • For partners offering food, consider:
    • Minimizing or removing this service where possible and relevant
    • Serving individually wrapped items
    • Implementing enhanced processes for food safety, including supply, handling, preparation and service
    • Implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in areas serving food, including regular cleaning of tables and other commonly touched surfaces
    • Minimizing or removing self-service items, where possible and relevant, such as buffets, cutlery, utensils and machines

Property content

Partners should display cleaning protocols and procedures via:

  • Structured amenities
  • Property description
  • Property information booklet
  • Any other means reasonably available — such as door hangers, signs, or checklists on display

Vrbo and Expedia Group reserves the right to remove any information that it deems to be inaccurate based on traveler feedback and other sources of information, including but not limited to direct interaction with the partner.


These guidelines are based on publicly available information from the WHO, CDC, and in consultation with Expedia Group partner expert Cristal International Standards, part of the Intertek Group, and with the US Travel Association.  

None of these organizations endorse these guidelines nor endorse Expedia Group or Vrbo. Neither Expedia Group nor Vrbo make any representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability of these guidelines. Any reliance a partner places on these guidelines is at their own risk. These guidelines are subject to change based on new information arising. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the WHO, CDC or your local health authority.