Saturday 26 September 2020

Ultraviolet lamp in operation, cleaning self-catering cottage

 In these times of Covid-19, we now use the ultraviolet-c lamp in the process of  cleaning. We first suit-up in full body PPE equipment, including a respirator, prior to entering the cottage. As part of the procedure we assume the departing guests could have been infected asymptomatically with the virus. We then progress around the rooms in the cottage giving a timed exposure to each room from the Ultraviolet-C light to help sterilize the environment.

UV-C Lamp sterilizing kitchen

Here you can see the lamp in operation in the kitchen during a recent cleaning session. We move it around during exposure process to avoid shadows and ensure even coverage. During the operation of the lamp we normally keep out of the room and control the lamp using a remote power switch. Usually before entering the room we switch off the lamp. When there is a need to be in the room with the lamp on, we wear full body protection and also a full face visor tested to be safe against UV-C light. We also limit time in front of the lamp. The lamp in the picture is 72 watts/230 VAC. Close up to the lamp, at 30 cm, you'd receive the maximum permitted dose in less than 30 seconds. We also carry dosimeter badges which are checked before and after exposure. 

We have a specialist UV-C meter which allows us to accurately measure the dosage given around the room, and also the impact of UV-C reflection from surfaces. We use the meter to "calibrate" the room and thus verify an appropriate exposure time for sterilization in each room. Typically in our case this is about 20 minutes total exposure time per room to achieve 40 millijoules per sq cm dosage.

Using UV-C light avoids the general usage of persistent biocide chemicals as a film on all surfaces and in the air. This may occur with biocide/hypochlorous fogging disinfection techniques. We don't wish to expose our guests or cleaning staff to these chemicals.  However we do supplement the UV-C by wipedown with a disinfectant on high touch areas and work surfaces. Surfaces of electrical equipment, buttons and switches are sterilized using non-conducting 100% isopropyl alcohol.

The Philips TUV discharge tubes in the lamp have a surface treatment which suppresses the light wavelength which generates ozone from oxygen in the air. However in operational use, there is a tiny amount of ozone produced. You can smell it as a faint odour. While ozone is a very powerful disinfectant, it is not good to breath in. So we ventilate the rooms with plenty of fresh air during and after the process. We also make sure that guests are not allowed in to the cottage until at least an hour after the UV process to allow any residual ozone to revert to oxygen.

Friday 18 September 2020

Using video processing for the Self Catering Holiday Cottage.

 We been using digital video cameras for some time in our other businesses in the production of training videos. To aid that process we use Cyberlink's video editing software called PowerDirector. We then host the video on This allows advert free content which can be reliably streamed to multiple devices across the Internet.

In the new Covid-19 cleaning regime for our holiday cottage, we now produce a complete video of the cottage interior after every turnaround cleaning session between guests. We use a GoPro Hero 5 for quick and fuss free filming. When we get home it only takes 20 minutes to produce the video and upload it to  This video output has proved extremely helpful and cost effective in resolving any post visit guest queries. We've found recently that Covid-19 staycation guests' expectations can exceed the norm, and they look to reduce costs by threatening to post unrealistic visit comments. This change of guest behaviour often feature in comments in the cottage owners Facebook group.

One of the features of the Cyberlink PowerDirector is the ability to easily apply preset Colour Lookup Tables (LUTs) to individual  video clips. These can significantly improve the quality of the output to get a more lifelike rendering on the video. The contemporaneous video  of the cottage also supplements the inventory list of the cottage contents.

Saturday 12 September 2020

Newly painted cottage, paintwork damaged after just two lettings

12th Sept 2020

When we cleaned the cottage at the last changeover, my wife noticed that the wall surface in the bedroom had been scuffed leaving dark marks on the newly painted wall. Presumably this had been caused by a carelessly handled luggage scraping against the wall.

This damage was quite annoying as we'd only just finished decorating the interior of the whole cottage a couple of weeks previously. I think perhaps there'd been a total of 7 guest nights since the redecoration.

I also noticed some damage to the lock of the linen cabinet located on the first floor landing. Again, these doors had been recently painted as part of the redecoration, so the damage was very recent. Yet more repairs to do when there's a gap in the bookings.

Damaged linen cupboard in Holiday cottage

The cleaning work involved vacuuming the bedroom carpets. My wife was using the cottage's brand new vacuum cleaner. We'd had to purchase a new one because, shortly before the lockdown, we'd found the older one had been broken and was no longer working properly. The older vacuum was less than 18 months old.

I also discovered the lower bracket on the stair bannister rail had become slightly loosened. Whilst the overall rail is safe, I'll need to take off the lower bracket from the rail, and remove it from the wall. I'll then need to repack the screw holes in the wall and then remount the rail bracket. Unfortunately I only discovered the issue late in the cleaning cycle and didn't have sufficient time to go collect the correct tools and supplies to effect a repair in time for the next guests. The rail was not loose during redecoration process.

Edit 25th Sept 2020
Our last set of guests were excellent, but it was a disappointment for them to find that the electric toaster was not operational. Thankfully our guests left us a note to let us know. There was no fault report of this by the penultimate guests, which was annoying because if we'd known we would immediately replaced the toaster. The toaster unit had been PAT safety  tested by an electrician in July before we re-opened for business after Covid-19 lockdown. I guess we'd best test and document, every electric appliance in the cottage between guest stays.

We already have a note in the cottage handbook asking people to report faults to us when they find them so that we have the opportunity to remediate without delay. However it seems some guests subsequently abuse the post-stay comments process to pick fault in their subsidised  holiday accommodation even though damage occurred during their stay. So far we've not charged for damages, but we've decided it is time to introduce a "good housekeeping bond" for bookings.


Saturday 5 September 2020

Cottage Cleaning in a Covid-19 era

 We've just finished cleaning the cottage after our first guests after we re-opened the cottage to rental in the Covid-19 era. A one bedroom cottage, the two guests stayed for three nights. Cleaning time was three hours, including steam and Ultraviolet-C sterilisation. On top of this was an additional 30 minutes documentation time.  It created a mound of items for transport to/from the cottage. 

Here's an example of the additional documentation we produce: 📋 It is available online for our guests to reference.

We note that the guests neglected to fill in the Track and Trace forms, we'd left for them, giving their contact details. Whilst we can follow up via the Sykes Agency, it adds delay and complexity to the tracking process.  There's no way they could have missed the forms because we'd placed the WiFi password at the top of the contact forms.

Edit 26th Sept 2020: For each cleaning session, we now produce checklists and video the results. This information can be accessed here: 💭

Thursday 3 September 2020

Rotating Guest Consumables in our holiday cottage - Covid-19

 As part of the guest supplies for our holiday cottage we provide items such as hand soap, paper kitchen towels, washing up liquid, cooking foil, tissues, clingfilm (saran wrap), disinfectant, washing machine powder, ground pepper, salt. With the exception of hand soap, most of that is only partially used in a typical week long stay. We retain these supplies for the next guest, and normally replace them when the consumable has been fully used up or expired. It keeps down costs to the guest, but also saves them from the need to bring such items or to purchase for the duration of their holiday.

However in these times of Covid-19 Virus we cannot follow those practices. We have to remove any items which may have been touched by an infected guest but are not possible to safely disinfect. This could include paper goods or other items with a sensitive wrapping. The virus can remain live on the surface of some items for up to a week.  While we could use Ultraviolet-C light it would require careful manipulation of the item to ensure a full disinfection exposure. 

We have chosen to rotate items from the cottage during the cleaning process. They'll be replaced by identical items that have been stored for at least 10 days during which time an surface virus should have degraded.  So we're marking each item with a Rota Label; Rota A, Rota B, Rota C. During each cleaning process we'll replace the previous Rota with the next in the series. We've been busy making up cleaning boxes containing all the necessary items. Each item os labelled according to its rota. It does mean we've had to purchase several times the usual amount of consumables, but it will increase the safety for our guests.