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AAA inspectors testing hotel surfaces for cleanliness

AAA says "Inspected Clean" will independently confirm that hotel surfaces have been cleaned to acceptable standards.
Credit: AAA
The surface of a toilet is tested for cleanliness.

BOISE, Idaho — As more Idahoans get ready for the summer travel season, AAA is launching a new program this month to help guests test common hotel surfaces like light switches, toilet handles, TV remotes, hair dryers and thermostats.

AAA says "Inspected Clean" will independently confirm that hotel surfaces have been cleaned to acceptable standards.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel industry stepped up its cleaning programs to help protect the health and safety of guests. But how can travelers feel more confident that these programs are being properly implemented?

AAA says its inspectors will test for the presence of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) on eight surfaces in guest rooms and bathrooms before issuing a Diamond Designation to the hotel property.

"An ATP test will not reveal the specific source of contamination, but it almost instantly detects unacceptable levels," said Matthew Conde, AAA Idaho public affairs director. "A hotel room should live up to the expectations of AAA, the hotelier, and the traveler. ATP testing can play a critical role in that effort."

ATP is an energy-carrying molecule that is found in the cells of all living things, including food sources, human skin cells, bacteria, and mold.

The inspector will test several surfaces in randomly selected rooms by swabbing a surface and then adding the sample to a vial containing a special testing chemical. The vial is then inserted into a portable test machine that is about the size of a large cell phone. It takes only seconds to get the test results.

AAA says if the test does not meet established cleanliness standards, the inspector will perform a re-test of the same surface in another room.  Hotels that fall short on any part of the inspection will not get AAA's approval and will to resolve the cleanliness concerns.

AAA says they analyzed data collected from a pilot program consisting of 11,000 ATP surface tests in more than 1,000 hotels to established their cleanliness standards.

In AAA’s pilot program, vanity surfaces and toilet handles showed lower levels of ATP, while thermostats and TV remotes showed higher levels.

All AAA Diamond-designated properties must now qualify as Inspected Clean. 

“ATP monitoring is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health, and is regularly used in healthcare, food service, education, and other industries that prioritize effective cleaning and sanitation,” Conde said. “AAA, the hotel property and the guest all want the same thing – a clean, comfortable stay.  We’re pleased to use this proven technology to help achieve that goal.”