A housekeepers world is full of all sorts of tidbits of knowledge and common issues. Here is some knowledge we can use to be successful housekeepers. We need to know what causes and to fix Blackfoot Syndrome, why cleaning with micro fiber rags is the best, how to properly clean mold and mildew, and know how effective the cleaning products are at killing microbes.

Blackfoot Syndrome

Many of us have received the following call from a guest or owner “the floors in my property are filthy! My family and I have been walking around this home and our socks (or feet) are jet black!” Yes, this comment can be avoided with some basic information.


Blackfeet Syndrome is caused by two things:

  1. A non-neutral cleaner is used to clean the floors and/or
  2. To much cleaner is put on the surface and all the cleaner is not all mopped up or removed. The product stays on the surface grabs the dirt and waits to be picked up. The sock or foot comes by and the cleaner attaches to this item and now you have Blackfeet Syndrome.

To avoid this situation you need to do the following:

  1. Use a neutral cleaner. That is a cleaner with a ph of 7 (not 6.8 or 7.2 it must be a ph of 7)
  2. In the off season do a thorough cleaning of the hard surfaces to remove all the excess cleaner that is left during the hight season. The excess product on the floor can be left by guests, owners, and housekeepers who use the wrong product to clean the floor. All of this needs to be removed so the housekeepers have a clean slate to work with.



Rags are the tool used to move the cleaning agents around and remove the dirt. I recommend using microfiber rags. They are much better at holding dirt that a cotton rag. A micro fiber rag has all sorts of nooks and crannies to hold and store dirt. There are a couple things you need to know about micro fiber rags. They are:

  1. You want to purchase the micro fiber rags that grab the imperfections in your skin
  2. Do not wash with cotton rags. The lint from the cotton rag will fill the nooks and crannies of the micro fiber rag.
  3. Do not wash with fabric softener. The softer fills the nooks and crannies so the product feels smooth.

One other comment about rags. Once a rag touches the toilet it is done. I know this sounds basic and there are cleaners make this mistake. They think that I have cleaned the toilet with a large amount of disinfectant it is okay to clean the kitchen counter. NOOOO!!!!! Once a rag has touched the toilet it is done.

Mold and Mildew

Some parts of the world have a bigger issue with mold and mildew than others. All of us have bathrooms that are not well ventilated and there is mold growing in the corners of the shower. To address the mold issue we need to remember that mold and mildew are spores not bacteria. (This is super important to know.) To appropriately remove mold and mildew one needs a product specifically for mold and mildew. Bleach is not the product. Bleach kills bacteria, not spores. However, if a guest calls and complains about mold in the shower, I am showing up with bleach because it takes away the color and it gives the appearance that I have removed the mold and mildew. I have not, I have only removed the color. Once the guest or owner has departed, I came back with the appropriate product to remove the mold and mildew.

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.

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