Sanitized Hotels to Get New ‘Inspected Clean’ Designation

Woman talking to hotel maid

As you make plans to return to travel in a post-pandemic world, concerns about hotel cleanliness are likely to be top of mind. An upgraded AAA rating system aims to help put your fears to rest.

AAA is upgrading its Diamond Program — which evaluates hotel housekeeping — to include “objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels,” the organization announced on Thursday.

Hotels that meet the upgraded standard will earn the “Inspected Clean” designation in addition to a Diamond designation.

To earn the new Inspected Clean honor, hotels must pass testing that evaluates cleanliness by looking for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-carrying molecule found in all living cells. ATP can be found in most food sources, human skin cells, bacteria, yeast, mold and biological material found in respiratory droplets.

AAA inspectors will swab hotel surfaces, add the sample to a vial with a special testing chemical and place the vial into a portable test machine.

Each inspection will test eight surfaces in a selection of guest rooms and bathroom locations. Some of the surfaces that will be tested may include:

  • Guest room door handles
  • Light switches
  • Thermostat controls
  • Guest room desk or writing surfaces
  • Television remotes
  • Refrigerator handles
  • Faucet and toilet handles
  • Hair dryers
  • Vanity surfaces

The test itself cannot directly confirm the presence of viruses such as the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. However, it will confirm if surfaces have been cleaned properly.

AAA says organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize the efficacy of ATP monitoring.

AAA will kick off its new “Inspected Clean” designations later in June.

Anyone — AAA member or not — can use the organization’s Diamond rating system when planning their next trip. Go to to view hotels’ Diamond ratings and, once it’s available, see which hotels have earned the “Inspected Clean” designation.

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