Airbnb summer rental safety amid COVID-19 pandemic: What to know before you check in

With summer travel underway during the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts have advice on how to stay safe when renting a summer home on travel websites like Airbnb.

A number of vacation rental companies have implemented cleaning protocols and health and safety guidelines. Still, COVID-19 can live on surfaces like doorknobs, tables and furniture for hours or even days, so doctors advise doing a quick wipe- down of high-touch surfaces with disinfectant wipes and Lysol before guests unpack their bags.

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"Knowing where the virus likes to go is very important --  light switches, doorknobs, every handle should be thoroughly cleaned with soap, water, a bleach-based solution or a Lysol is going to be very effective at killing the virus," Dr. Matt Heinz, a hospital physician and internist based in Tucson, Arizona, told FOX Business. "Giving those surfaces a once-over might not be a bad idea for everybody’s peace of mind," he added.

How rental companies are safeguarding against the spread of COVID-19

Earlier this year, Airbnb launched its Enhanced Clean program with guidelines for hosts to clean and disinfect living spaces before guests check in.

Airbnb’s cleaning protocol advises hosts to ventilate the home or apartment by opening windows and clean all hard surfaces of high-touch areas like doorknobs and handles, light switches, remote controls and windowsills with soap and water after a guest checks out. Once a surface is clean, the guidelines suggest wiping or spraying it with a disinfectant.

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While Airbnb has not mandated that hosts comply with its cleaning protocols, Dan Kim, Airbnb’s director of core host operations, told Thrillist that many hosts want to and are willing to go the extra mile to comply with expert guidelines. Airbnb and vacation rental website Vrbo recommend that landlords allow 24 hours pass between guest checkouts and check-ins.

Heinz said contracting the virus from a surface level is less likely than getting it from person-to-person contact, but he still advises renters to take caution.

"The highest risk -- over 90 percent if not more -- of the transmission of COVID-19 is getting breathed on by people," he said. "It’s the water vapor transitioning from someone's eyes, nose, or mouth, but in terms of surfaces, it’s better safe than sorry."