Those who have already exchanged their home know that home exchange is first and foremost a community of trust and human relationship. You don't exchange your house with a stranger, but with a fellow traveler you have come to trust.
HomeExchange allows you to meet people who are like you— or totally different from you! When you get to know people in the community, it allows you to bond and establish a trusting, sharing relationship. We believe that this connection must be reinforced all the more in uncertain times as we face a global pandemic.
Having conversations with your potential exchange partner on the phone, Skype or Facetime is all the more important in a somewhat uncertain climate. These conversations will reassure you, you will learn from your partner's perspective of the situation, and you’ll be able to smoothly agree on the terms of the exchange, like whether to meet in person, how to get the house keys, or whether you will hire a professional house cleaner. Learn more about how to reach an agreement with your exchange partner here.
At the beginning of your exchange, respect for social distancing and your exchange partner’s comfort is essential. You can decide not to meet, to meet but not hug or shake hands, to wear a mask, or to keep your distance.
In talking with our members, we realized that the majority of you need about one day to feel at home in your home exchange and to get settled in. During your first day in the home, doing a little bit of disinfecting and wiping down surfaces can help reassure you that you are in a germ-free environment, even though the cleaning has already been done by your host.
Then, after your exchange, you’ll have the option to rate the home. In the HomeExchange community, having a safe, secure, clean accommodation is part of our fundamental principles. 98% of exchanges are rated 4 stars or more for cleanliness.
The risk of contamination after thoroughly cleaning a home is very low. As a HomeExchanger, you can rest assured that your environment is safer than hotels or commercial accommodations that host many people each month.
That said, during this pandemic, even if you are not sick and you regularly clean your home thoroughly, some additional precautions should be put into place for the safety of your guests. For example, if it reassures you both, you can decide to hire a professional cleaning company before and after the exchange and to share the costs with your exchange partner.
Here are some household cleaning tips that official sources have shared:
- To disinfect surfaces, soap and water are sufficient, but you can also use disinfectants containing at least 70% alcohol. Soapy water, diluted household bleach, cleaning products with at least 70% alcohol, and most disinfectants registered with the Environmental Protection Agency are considered effective against coronavirus.
- Frequently clean often-touched spots in your home: door handles, electronics, the trash can cover, light switches, remote controls, stair railings, tables, the fridge, etc.
- Wash your fabric items, like linens and towels, at a minimum temperature of 60° Celsius or 140° Fahrenheit. You can also use disinfectant sprays on these items.
- Make sure to keep pool water properly disinfected. You can consult the specific measures for swimming pools at FLIPR.
- If your exchange includes the use of your car, we recommend vacuuming and using disinfectant wipes on frequently touched spots: the steering wheel, gear lever, handbrake, multimedia interface, rear view mirror, etc.
- Remember to air your home before your partners arrive or when you return a home to the host. We advise you to air your accommodation for a period of 3 hours to get rid of all the impurities in the air.
To learn more, consult the official recommendations on cleaning of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Please note: If you have had COVID-19 symptoms during the two weeks before your exchange, we encourage you not to travel. The HomeExchange team is available to assist you with any cancellation. Do not hesitate to contact us for advice or assistance. If you need to cancel the exchange because you are experiencing symptoms, we will help your exchange partner find a replacement accommodation if necessary.
For your safety:
- Do not flush disinfectant wipes down the toilet. It could clog your plumbing and is not kind to the planet.
- Use bleach in moderation. Bleach should never be mixed with ammonia or other cleaning products. This can be very dangerous and potentially toxic. It is also advisable to do a test beforehand to make sure bleach does not discolor your surfaces. Do not use bleach on wood or fabric.