Thursday 9 July 2020

Improved cleaning in the holiday cottage

We're planning to reopen the self-catering holiday cottage in September 2020 if the Covid-19 situation permits. We'll need to be able to quickly clean the cottage during turnround between guests. We've already purchased an ultraviolet lamp for general room sterilization, but we also need to have a method to clean surfaces as an integral part of the safety processes.

Those involved in the cleaning work will need to wear protective personal equipment, such as disposable gloves, mask and disposable apron when undertaking the cleaning. So the process we've decided to follow is to first irradiate a room with Ultraviolet-C light for 15 minutes. This will destroy any airborne or surface laying virus particles. We'll then move the UV-C lamp to another room, while  using high pressure superheated steam to clean high touch hard surfaces and soft furnishings in the first room. This sequence will be followed through each room in the cottage.
Dupray steam cleaner
Dupray Steam cleaner

We'll be using a Dupray steam cleaning kit to undertake the superheated steam cleaning, thus avoiding the use of biocide chemicals for sterilization. Our guests will not have to be exposed to residual chemicals during their stay. It also means that staff engaged in the cleaning process are not exposed to breathing in biocide mists from fogging machines or hand sprays. Whilst the biocides are believed to be harmless at proper dilution, the concentrates are harmful and potentially toxic. The World Health Organisation advises against fogging machines in domestic environments owing to the associated health risks from the chemicals.

The superheated steam cleaning method is also effective at cleaning greasy kitchen areas. The Dupray unit produces "dry" steam at a pressure of 4.5 Bar (65 psi) heated to 160 deg C (320 F).  This is additional expensive equipment for cleaning, there is also an increase in the amount of labour needed to undertake the cleaning work. To recover the capital costs and increased labour, it will necessitate increased rental prices (approximately £60 per guest turnaround to meet Sykes requirements) for our guests, but better to be safe than sorry.

The Dupray unit can be run using soft tap water, but to avoid calcium/magnesium deposits in the unit boiler we'll be using deionised water. There is a company called Spotless Water who've set up "filling stations" across the UK to supply window cleaning companies. Apart from your travel costs their water costs around 5p per litre.

We'll be asking guests to strip bedding at the end of their stay and to seal it in large plastic bin bags as part of the hygiene processes. The duvets (comforters) and pillows will be swapped out on a rotational basis at each turnround, allowing at least a week before reuse. During storage we'll treat the duvets with UV-C light irradiation. Mattresses and seat cushions will be treated with UV-C light or steam as appropriate. This process will have the side benefit of destroying any bed mites.

Paper or cardboard items which may have been handled by guests such as books, kitchen towels, will be disposed of, or swapped out as appropriate. Crockery, glassware and cutlery will be soaked in bleach water and rewashed before return to the newly steam sterilised kitchen cupboards/drawers. Saucepans will be heat sterilized. Bins will be emptied and steam sterilised, with any rubbish awaiting collection sealed in new bin bags.

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