Consumables offered during covid-19

Hi. I’m opening up a STR house in Jan after remodel is complete. We’re outside of Asheville NC and will cater to families. My question is about food items and bathroom products. I’m assuming that everything now should be single use, to avoid even the thought of contamination. Single use sugar packets for example, vs container of sugar. I’ve found some good single use toiletries (like hotels have) to offer instead of the shower dispenser I was going to install. What about qtips and cotton balls, tissues?

What are your recommendations and experience? Bulk purchases are of course more cost effective but I want to show that I’m taking seriously the cleanliness of the property and safety of the guests. Thanks

There’s nothing dangerous about using the refillable shower dispenser for soap, shampoo, etc. Individual one-use containers are an environmental disaster. You just sterilize the outside of the dispenser like you will all other items that guests touch.

As for things like sugar, I would put some from your bulk stash in a small container, enough for what you feel will be used for the number of people and length of stay and let guests know to request more if they run out. Then you can dump whatever is left and put fresh for the next guests, on the off-chance that someone stuck a spoon in it that they had licked off of.

But as far as I’m aware, COVID is not transferred through one’s gut- it is transferred through the respiratory system.


Thank you. I’m mostly concerned with people’s perceptions and wanting them to know the home is clean. If shower dispensers don’t turn guests off I’d much prefer to use that over single use containers. I like your suggestion about sugar also. Thanks for your response.

This is also being discussed in this thread about coffee:

And there are also older threads (pre pandemic) that discuss the pros and cons of various presentations and packaging.

Now that we know that touching things is much less likely to spread the virus than breathing someone else’s covid breath I’m going to go back to using fewer single use items.

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I provide shampoo, conditioner and body wash in dispensers in the shower. Toilet paper is left in packaging as well as the paper towels. I also have a hand sanitizer dispenser mounted next to the entrance of the home plus I also leave a bottle of hand sanitizer next to the sink. In addition, I leave them Clorox wipes and Lysol spray. I do leave them a welcome basket of treats that are packaged, mostly goddies purchased at the Dollar Store. Coffee, creamer and sugar are individual packages.

Thanks So you buy individually wrapped pater towels? Is there a problem with them not wrapped?

Smg, due to COVID I try to provide paper items that are individually wrapped. I noticed that restaurants in my area are not even using paper menus. One has to scan the bar code on the table to access the menu. After noticing this I thought I should provide individually wrapped toilet paper and paper towels.

Throughout this COVID era I have continued to meet-and-greet. I carry extra masks in case the guests don’t have them, avoid physical constant and maintain social distancing.

During the house tour, which isn’t much of a tour these days because the apartments are small, I tell the guests that everything has been carefully cleaned and sterilised. Even though it looks spotless I want to reassure guests that everything is safe.

Specific items are in single use containers (such as sugar etc.), I supply smaller-than-usual bars of soap, those purse-sized tissue packs but items like q-tips and cotton balls are in refillable containers. All food/snacks are in the manufacturers’ packaging apart from bananas and oranges.

As researchers have now been working on COVID for many months now, I’m inclined to believe their latest results showing that the virus isn’t spread by touching items but by droplets in the air from infected people. I further imagine that people who are overly concerned because of pre-existing health conditions aren’t travelling anyway.


I haven’t read anything saying that it isn’t possible to contract the virus from touching things, just that it isn’t the primary means of transmission. In order to contract it from touching something, there would have to be a certain set of circumstances, which are unlikely- there would have to be viable virus droplets on the surface (and apparently they don’t remain active and capable on infecting for all that long- for instance, on cloth and paper products, only for 24 hours, max). Then the person touching that surface would have to touch their mouth or nose or eyes in order to transfer it to their own body. And there would have to be enough of a viral load there to actually infect you. So the chances of all those factors lining up are slim.


I think it’s a bit like the way we used to be told we could catch things from loo seats - possible theoretically but so unlikely that it’s a negligible possibility


Only in Yorkshire my dear, only in Yorkshire…




It is maybe reassuring to do so to some guests but I am not going to that extent . The paper towels and toilet paper are sitting there in the open air for 24 hours in between guests and I think I am good there. That being said, if I have a guest making lots of inquiries about the cleaning protocol, I put away the pump shampoo and conditioner,and pump body wash, and put out small , environmentally unfriendly individual containers of all of the above. I also put brand new hand pump soaps that have not yet been popped open and make sure they can smell the alcohol disinfectant I have used just before their arrival. Hopefully they are not going to complain about that scent when they have made it clear to their host that that is a priority for them.

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I too use Shower dispensers, and provide as an option some hotel size bar soap. My issue is your continued inconsistencies:

This what you said about coffee and why you provide Keurig pods.

"You have no idea what one guest is doing from one to the other. Unless you throw out any left over ____ and provide a new batch ___ each time you have a turn over you are putting people at risk.

If you fill in the blank from coffee to shampoo, that logic would seem to put you at risk with someone sabotaging shower dispensers.


Ah, but even in Scotland the wee lassies (literally) sit on them a lot more often than you blokes do… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


My point was your inconsistency in your “safety” augment. If someone wanted to put something in coffee, they could just as easily put an irritant in shampoo or soap. Similar concept / Different approach.

In my little paranoid head, I have considered the possibility of sabotage. There are so many targets though: pump hand soap, shampoo, body wash, conditioner, dishwashing soap, laundry soap and the list goes on… Hey someone could mess with the ice in the ice machine or pee on the coffee filters. It has to stop somewhere…We will just have to not take stupid risks and hope for the best.


@Mountainhost I agree with you. I have an ice maker in my freezer, I have soap dispensers in my shower, I provide fresh grounds of coffee to guests, etc. I mitigate what I can (removing unused grounds, ice, partially used TP rolls, etc) and during the cleaning process inspect as much as possible. Probably, most importantly, I don’t upset my guests so they don’t have a reason to consider retalitory antics. All that doesn’t remove all risk but it certainly lessens it to a risk adverse percentage.

Those who make such a forceful statements about adhering to safety standards only to be lax with other things hit a raw nerve.


I’m only going by what you wrote which seemed “sinister in nature”

As for cleaning / disinfecting coffee canisters, those are more manageable, as I have multiple and they go in the dishwasher between guests.

Please do not give up on this forum. Your perspective and opinion is appreciated. Every host must decide what they can and can not tolerate, what they will or will not risk, how specifically they want to interpret the cleaning protocol , etc… we will not all agree with everything but it helps us decide what kind of host we want to be. I do not myself provide open coffee grounds now , but I did before COVID and I wish I still felt comfortable doing that. Guests will undoubtedly love this coffee gift. There may be one in the bunch that will eventually complain…


@Greybeard.House you may be correct. If you can’t deal with having your statements here questioned, debated, turned inside out, and lampooned, you are probably too thin skinned for this forum.