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At the beginning of every winter season, homeowners, RV road warriors, and property managers go through the winterizing process. This year, the winterizing process has a new item on the checklist: sanitizing for coronavirus. 

Going through the deep cleaning process and adjusting winter habits isn’t just because it’s the year of the pandemic. Flu season begins in November and lasts through May. Most likely, every year from this point forward, flu season will be renamed flu and coronavirus season. And unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’re limited to a winterizing process at the beginning of the season, but a habit of better cleaning habits, ongoing. 

A Snapshot of the Winterizing Checklist for Property Owners

Winterizing is still an all-day event. For some properties, it’s a week-long process. Not much has changed for property managers:

  • Watering hoses are coiled and brought indoors.
  • Wells and pipes are padded to avoid freezing.
  • Evaporative coolers are drained and stored.
  • Inspections are scheduled for the roof, heating system, and chimneys.
  • Clean the gutters and trim any overhanging tree branches
  • Check the insulation, fire alarms, and windows and doors.
  • Sanitize before and between all winter guest stays

Why Winter Coronavirus Preparation Is Needed

Scientists are still learning about the coronavirus, including how it behaves and how the world will navigate life moving forward. For now, the new normal includes winterizing vacation and other rentals for the virus season. 

Influenza can last up to 48-hours on various surfaces. However, the coronavirus can last several days and even a week on many common household surfaces. And even though it isn’t the “main way” coronavirus spreads, people can and do contract the virus from touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their face. The primary way people contract coronavirus is by coming into contact with the virus while it is airborne, which is why wearing a mask and eye protection is considered vital while outside the home. 

In a report on the ways COVID-19 spreads, the CDC stated that it might be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by “touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.”

Winter Cleaning Best Practices

The CDC defines types of cleaning practices and their effectiveness against the virus. 

  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works 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 to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.”

Aside from understanding the levels of cleaning that will be needed, here are a few best practices worth integrating. 

  • Whenever possible, choose to sanitize over thoroughly cleaning surfaces. 
  • Use the same reputable cleaning service at the beginning of the season and between rental stays. This will help ensure consistency and confidence. 
  • Review linen management, such as washing, storage, and handling practices. 
  • Allow the property to remain empty for at least 24-hours between back-to-back stays. This will allow cleaning to take place while also minimizing the likelihood of contamination. 
  • Prioritize sanitizing high traffic areas and surfaces, such as doorknobs, restrooms, countertops, remote controls, and handrails. 

How to Prepare for the Winter Pandemic 

This first winter with COVID-19 will be especially difficult, given all the outstanding uncertainties and evolving understanding of the virus. For this reason, property owners and managers must be diligent during winter pandemic preparations for rental guests, including building trust and confidence in their stay at your rental property.

  • Offer hands-free options for guests wherever possible, such as motion sensor faucets and soap dispensers, and voice-activated lights and temperature controls. 
  • Provide contactless entry with smart locks and digital check-in and check-out.
  • Communicate with travelers about the measures you’re taking to sanitize, not just wipe down the property. 
  • Build trust by having the cleaning crew leave a “this property has been sanitized” sign on the front door. You can boost confidence by making it a seal the renter breaks when entering the property for the first time. 
  • Offer guests support by providing hand sanitizer at all sinks and in entryways. You might also provide some sanitizing supplies so guests can clean effectively during their stay.
  • Signage that encourages guests to wash their hands for at least 20-seconds with soap can also be a helpful reminder and shows you care about hygiene and their safety. 
  • Encourage guests to monitor for symptoms, provide emergency medical services contact info and locations, and provide necessary PPE, such as masks to wear when leaving the property.
  • Remind guests to social distance and wear masks when using common areas and public spaces on the property. 
  • Take a clear stance. Show guests how important their health and safety is and that you support the recommendations of the CDC and WHO regarding protection from COVID-19. 

As brave travelers seek housing, whether to visit loved ones over the holiday season, to jump on a getaway opportunity, or to return to an abbreviated work travel schedule, the cleanliness of vacation rentals will matter. Anticipate and deliver the best possible experience, which now includes a sense of trust and health safety. By doing so, every property manager can win exceptional reviews, repeat clients, and outperform the competition in a meaningful way. 


Michelle is a veteran writer specializing in technology, finance, business leadership, and a broad range of other topics. When she isn't tapping at her keyboard, Michelle can be found hiking the Colorado Rockies with her dog, SCUBA diving anywhere there's salt and sand, or curled up with a good book and cat at her side.