Thursday 21 May 2020

Cleaning the cottage in a Covid Era

We just received guidance from the Rental Agency (Sykes) on the health measures needed when the holiday cottage industry opens again. Their current conclusions:

  • Provide PPE for cleaners or changeover staff; disposable gloves, aprons, masks, hand sanitiser.
  • Clean most surfaces with bleach/disinfectant
  • ULV Fogging machine used in all rooms between bookings; 
  • Change all cleaning cloths, mops, oven gloves, bathmats, tea towels and towels between bookings;
  • Change all linen, bagged before laundry;
  • Change pillow and mattress protectors between bookings;
  • Change gloves between each stage of cleaning;
  • Clean high use areas, also ovens, fridges, freezers,toasters, kettles, irons, hair dryers, and vacuum cleaners, bathroom fittings
  • Clean controls, books, toys, games
  • Clean bins inside and out; empty bins between bookings (note the council only collect fortnightly).
  • Clean umbrellas, mops, dustpan & brush and brooms
  • Clean garden furniture, Bbq, Sheds, Garages, shared entrances, key safes.
  • In  addition to soap, supply guests with disinfectant, hand sanitiser, tissues, disposable gloves, new cloths (?), disposable wipes, paper towels; i.e. throw away the  unused toilet rolls and paper kitchen rolls after a guest stay.
Note that fogging machines cost around £500 or more, if you ignore the cheaper (unwarranted and uncertified) Chinese Ebay type of device. Their recommendations would also entail expenditure on additional bed and bathroom linen from the current four sets to six sets of linen and towels. The additional cleaning will increase the man hours needed for change over. 

We recently had to do an extensive deep clean when some guests decided to smoke  inside the property, against the booking conditions, during their stay. It greatly increased the cleaning time from about ninety minutes to five hours work. I'd imagine doing extensive anti-virus cleaning will see similar extensions.

So far Sykes haven't explained how this additional expenditure will be recouped, they certainly they  haven't suggested they'll contribute to the costs. As we currently only make on average £3 profit per day this additional funding will have to come from increased rental charges. The ownership of Sykes changed hands from private equity company Livingbridge for $480 Million USD in the autumn of 2019 and have a reported annual profit in the region of $25 Million USD.

Discussions are ongoing but their initial idea was for us as owners to offer a 20% discount on rental to prospective clients to encourage bookings. It seems like a recipe to increase losses in the face of increased cleaning costs and extended between stay gaps.

We've also done some research:

Edit 02/06/2020: Added details of Sykes

Fake UV-C germicidal lamp from China

Earlier I mentioned how we are investigating the use of Ultraviolet lights to sterilize the holiday cottage after a guest stay in these times of Covid-19. I purchased via Ebay a 60W Corncob "UV-C" lamp based on UV-C LED technology. It was despatched from China. Little did I realise that it was a fake, and while it produces a bright blue light there is little UV-C light output by the device. This makes it useless as a biocidal lamp.

This is a picture of the lamp I purchased:

I was alerted to the possibility of the fake, by this Youtube video:

I'm in dialogue with the Ebay vendor to assess their reaction. So far all they have claimed is that the have a CE certificate, with no offer of a refund.  The image they sent me was of a certificate issued in China about two weeks after the date of my purchase. On investigation the tests performed by the laboratory in China relate only to electromagnetic interference with other devices and the level of "flicker". The CE test did not measure the UV-C output from the lamp.  I am arranging for my lamp to be tested against a laboratory UV-C light meter. At a cost of £850 these meters are not cheap, and finding a company to perform the test was a challenge, but I am expecting to receive the results in a couple of weeks..

Here's an expert view on using UV-C for disinfection 

and a different Youtube lecture

Edit: 25/06/2020
Amazon introduce a campaign against counterfeits, unfortunately this will not guard against products that make fake claims about their capabilities such as these "LED UV-C" lamps. Their measures only relate to protecting trade marked original goods. I eventually purchased a genuine UV-C Lamp from a UK supplier, details here.

Edit: 01/07/20
We've had the results back from the laboratory.  From the fake corncob lamp the UV-C reading is 7 microwatts/Sq Cm (254 nm UV) at a measured distance of 5 cm from the bulb. From a comparative "daylight white " 5 watt LED domestic bulb the same 7 microwatts/Sq Cm. In other words the fake UV-C corncob lamp has no more disinfecting power than a normal LED bulb.
By way of comparison a 73W mercury vapour UV-C germicidal lamp gave a reading of 7.17 milliwatts/sq cm measured at the same distance from the lamp surface. It is about 1000 times more powerful.

Edit 10/07/20
The vendor has disappeared from Ebay; though these fakes are still on sale on both Ebay and Amazon.  I've reported a few cases but Ebay and Amazon do not appear to be interested.