A housekeeper’s work environment is full of many nasty things that need to be cleaned up, some seen and others unseen. It is the unseen ones I wish to address.

Microbes are the bugs that a housekeeper cannot see and that need to be eradicated from the property as it is cleaned. Some of the microbes that need to be removed are: Salmonella, Escherichia Coli (E-Coli), Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph), and Multiple-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

The primary way of killing the microbe is with a cleaning product. Some cleaning agents kill more microbes than others. To help illustrate this, below is table that lists different cleaning products across the top. As you move down the chart you can see the effectiveness (what it kills), dwell time (how long it takes to kill the microbes), and health effects to the housekeeper.


As the chart illustrates, different cleaning products kill differet microbes and at different speeds. It is extremely important to know what microbes your product will kill. If you purchase  your products from a janitorial supply company, they can provide this information to you. If, however, you purchase your products from a retail store, you will need to reach out to the manufacture listed on the bottle.

When I am looking for product to use, I look for the following things:

  1. A list of what microbes the product will kill.
  2. How long it takes the product to kill the microbes (dwell time).
  3. Whether the product is a spray and wipe. In other words, do I have to rinse the product off the surface I am cleaning? If the product has to be rinsed, that means more work and more time to clean.

One last item to consider about cleaning solutions: what does section 8 of the Safety Data Sheet say? This section tells the user what personal protective equipment is needed when using the cleaning product. Read carefully as some products recommend face shields and chemical resistant impervious gloves. If these items are present that means the product is very corrosive, and I would stop using it immediately!

Published by Durk Johnson

Durk Johnson started in the vacation rental housekeeping world in 2001. He is a leading authority in the vacation rental housekeeping industry. Currently he serves as the executive director of Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP), an international organization that specializes in housekeeping principles and procedures. To learn more about VRHP visit www.vrhp.org. Before VRHP, Durk worked with vacation rental companies from the snow capped mountains of Park City, Utah to the sugar white sand beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama to the countries of New Zealand, Spain, Chile, and Italy. You can read more of Durks’s cleaning and housekeeping posts on his monthly column right here on the Properly blog.