In anticipation of a return to travel, Airbnb has announced new cleaning protocols, geared toward health and prevention and developed with help from a former US surgeon general. 

A kitchen with open shelving and a big dining table
Airbnb will launch its new cleaning protocol in May © Airbnb

The home-share platform introduced its Enhanced Cleaning Initiative on 27 April and said the new cleaning protocol, which will include information on COVID-19 prevention, instructions on how to clean each room, and a learning and certification program for hosts, would launch in May. After hosts opt in, guests will be able to search for and book accommodations that participate in the program. 

"Homes have become a place of shelter, and the future of travel will also rely on a new comfort zone, with the privacy and benefits of a home away from home, without crowds or high turnovers,” Airbnb’s president of homes, Greg Greeley, said in a press release. “We are working with leading experts in health and hygiene [to] incorporate official guidance and fulfil new personal preferences, with hosts and guests uniting to offer, manage and enjoy cleaner accommodations." 

A bed with white linens and a glass of water on the nightstand
The new initiative will include information on COVID-19 prevention @ Airbnb

The cleaning protocol will recommend approved disinfectants and personal protective equipment like masks and gloves for hosts and their cleaners, and require a 24-hour wait period before entering, “as a precaution to address the possibility of particles that may remain airborne for a few hours,” according to an Airbnb press release. To develop the new guidance, the company consulted published standards from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), experts including Dr. Vivek Murthy, former US Surgeon General, and companies like Ecolab that are involved with cleaning and hygiene technologies and services. 

A bedroom with flowers and natural light coming in from the door
The guidelines were developed with CDC recommendations in mind @ Airbnb

Hosts that perform enhanced cleanings will be able to list their accommodations right after they’re finished, or they can skip the deep clean and implement a vacancy period between stays with the new Booking Buffer feature. Created for the Frontline Stays project, the buffer automatically blocks out hosts’ availability for a set time that includes the CDC-recommended 24-hour wait period. 

“I’m looking forward to helping the Airbnb community as it develops a health and science based approach for safe travel lodging and experiences. These approaches will continue to evolve as our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 grows,” Murthy said. “As a society, we need to observe the physical distancing recommendations made by public health officials while finding ways to preserve and strengthen human connection.” 

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