AAA is enhancing its evaluation of hotel cleanliness by testing the cleanliness of common surfaces at properties that are part of its AAA Diamond Program.

Now, properties that pass will be labeled as Inspected Clean. 

“The new Inspected Clean criteria relies on an objective method to validate cleanliness by detecting adenosine triphosphate (ATP) — an energy-carrying molecule found in all living cells,” AAA said in a statement. “ATP is found in most food sources, human skin cells, bacteria, yeast, mold and biological material found in respiratory droplets.”

The AAA inspector will swab a surface, place the sample in a vial with a testing chemical and put the vial into a portable test machine. They will measure eight surfaces in guestrooms and bathroom locations such as door handles, thermostat controls and toilet handles. The test will not directly identify viruses, AAA said, but it is a good indicator of a well-cleaned surface. The CDC recognizes ATP monitoring, AAA added.

Testing to label properties as Inspected Clean will start later this month. While hospital-grade cleanliness is not required for a hotel to pass, the passing score “is appropriate for the hospitality industry,” AAA said, and was developed by creating benchmarks during a pilot program.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on travelers’ expectations for cleanliness,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement. “That’s more important than ever as more people get the Covid-19 vaccine and start traveling once again. All AAA Diamond designated hotels must meet our established standards of cleanliness and physical condition. With the new addition of surface cleanliness testing, these properties will now also be recognized as Inspected Clean.”

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