Airbnb: Here’s how to make sure you book an ‘Enhanced Clean’ stay

It can be risky to travel thinking about whether your stay would be clean enough, and is following the correct standard operating procedure (SOP) during the still looming global pandemic. Staying at an Airbnb can be either a hit or miss at times, but they’ve introduced a way to help you look for a place that follows standardised guidelines for cleaning and sanitisation—the Enhanced Clean protocol.

Airbnb had introduced the Enhanced Clean protocol around early June, but it wasn’t officially introduced in Malaysia until 29th July. All hosts in Malaysia are able to access Airbnb’s enhanced cleaning educational materials in local languages—including how to use personal protective equipment, how to clean every room in a home, what to sanitise, and what supplies to have on hand.

Endorsed locally by Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Airbnb created the new cleaning standard by partnering with Ecolab, and receiving guidance from Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. Surgeon General, as well as recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How to make sure your next Airbnb stay is ‘Enhanced Clean’

The next time you look through listings at Airbnb, seeing the special highlight that says ‘Enhanced Clean’ in their page (as seen above) means that the host is committed to the Enhanced Cleaning protocol. If you don’t see the highlight, they might not yet have undergone the process yet—but you can still check and read in their descriptions to see if they already tell you how they sanitise their place.

Here’s what is involved in Airbnb’s five-step Enhanced Cleaning protocol process that Airbnb hosts would be advised follow in order to get the highlight in their listing:

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  • Wait the recommended amount of time before entering the listing (check local guidelines)
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water
  • Before entering, put on a mask, apron, gloves, and shoe covers (recommended)
  • Ventilate by opening windows and turning on any fans
  • Gather any necessary equipment like vacuum cleaners, mops, etc.
  • Gather the cleaning supplies listed, including disinfectant that has been approved by regulatory agencies


  • Empty all garbage cans and line with fresh bags
  • Wash all linens at the highest recommended heat setting
  • Wash all dishes and empty the dishwasher or sink
  • Dust, sweep, or vacuum all floors
  • Clean all hard surfaces with soap and water
  • Follow manufacturer instructions to spot clean soft surfaces


  • Once a surface is clean, spray or wipe it with an approved disinfectant
  • Let the disinfectant work its magic—keep wet for the time specified on the manufacturer label
  • Allow to air dry
  • When using wipes, use one wipe per surface


  • Double-check that frequently touched surfaces have been sanitised (see the list below)
  • Review the room-by-room guidelines
  • Note any maintenance issues like lightbulbs that need to be replaced
  • Take note of any cleaning products or disinfectants that need to be replenished


  • Wash hands and put on clean gloves before refilling any guest supplies, towels, or linens
  • Close the door, disinfect the doorknob, and don’t re-enter this space after sanitising
  • Safely dispose of or wash cleaning supplies and protective gear
  • Set out a cleaning care package for guests with items like paper towels, disinfectants, and extra hand soap
  • Print out the cleaning summary to leave for guests
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If you’re a host, you can click here to read more about the protocol. Hosts can go directly to their Airbnb accounts to enrol their own listings for the protocol. They will need to complete a quiz and attest to the Enhanced Cleaning Protocol to receive a special highlight on their listing to let guests know they have committed to the routine.

For guests, Airbnb also encourages self check-in to minimise human contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, like how I did in my trip to Sabah. Besides Airbnb, OYO is also providing ‘Sanitised Stays’ for their hotels and homes.

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Dzamira Dzafri