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AAA Adds Inspected Clean Enhancement to its Diamond Hotel Inspections

Travelers Seeking Independent Validation of Hotel Cleanliness Can Turn to AAA For Trusted Information

Visuals: b-roll of AAA hotel inspections including ATP surface testing

BELLEVUE, Wash. — As the COVID-19 pandemic required hotels to adapt cleaning procedures and housekeeping standards, AAA’s Diamond Program is evolving to meet the changing expectations of today’s travelers. According to AAA research, 76% of consumers surveyed said they would be disappointed if a third-party inspection did not evaluate whether high-touch areas in a hotel are sanitized. As a result, AAA is enhancing its housekeeping evaluation to include objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels. Hotels that meet AAA’s standards for cleanliness, condition and this new surface cleanliness testing will now be recognized as Inspected Clean and then assigned a Diamond designation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on travelers’ expectations for cleanliness. That’s more important than ever as more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and start traveling once again,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “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.”

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. ATP is found in most food sources, human skin cells, bacteria, yeast, mold and biological material found in respiratory droplets.

The AAA inspector will conduct this testing on-site by swabbing a surface, adding the sample to a vial containing a special testing chemical, and then inserting the vial into a portable test machine, about the size of a large cellphone. Inspectors will measure eight surfaces in a selection of guest rooms and bathroom locations, which 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 and vanity surfaces.

While the test does not provide direct identification of viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19, it will allow for confirmation of properly cleaned surfaces. ATP monitoring is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is used in healthcare, food service, education and other environments that require effective sanitation monitoring programs.

“Travelers trust AAA for recommendations that keep their safety and security top of mind. The Inspected Clean enhancement to our Diamond Program will help give them extra peace of mind and rebuild their confidence in traveling,” continued Twidale.

AAA inspectors will start conducting testing to identify Inspected Clean properties later this month. Travelers will be able to find Inspected Clean hotels on to help plan their trips later this fall. For Americans planning trips between now and then, look for AAA’s Best of Housekeeping badge for peace of mind. Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. In addition to cleanliness, ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions, hotel staff requirements to wear masks and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining and/or pools.

AAA has set Inspected Clean passing scores calibrated to a standard it believes is appropriate for the hospitality industry. AAA’s criteria are aligned to meet reasonable expectations for cleanliness during a hotel stay, not the clinical level required by hospitals, for example. These benchmarks were set by analyzing data collected from 11,000 surface tests in more than 1,000 hotels that participated in a pilot program, along with controlled testing protocols and the scientific expertise of Charm Sciences Inc. AAA’s inspectors have been independently trained and certified by Charm Sciences Inc., which manufactures the test devices AAA’s inspectors will be using.

Rigorous standards for cleanliness and condition have long been a foundation of the AAA Diamond Program. After a hotel passes AAA’s review for cleanliness, condition and surface cleanliness testing during an unannounced inspection, it will be recognized as Inspected Clean and earn a AAA Diamond designation—Approved, Three Diamond, Four Diamond or Five Diamond—which describes their level of amenities and services. For now, Inspected Clean only applies to AAA Diamond designated hotels, not restaurants that are also part of the AAA Diamond Program.

For more than 80 years, AAA has conducted professional, independent, in-person property inspections. The AAA Diamond Program comprises more than 26,000 Diamond designated hotels across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Hotel properties can learn more about Inspected Clean at

About AAA Washington:

AAA Washington was established in 1904 by 10 prominent Seattleites determined to champion the betterment of motoring conditions and laws, the preservation of Washington state’s natural beauty and the promotion of Washington as an unrivaled tourist destination. Nearly 120 years later, the club continues to pursue these on behalf of its 1.2 million members. 

Members of AAA Washington receive exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts on hotels and rental cars, comprehensive insurance options, and personalized trip planning. AAA Washington was named a Best Place to Work by Puget Sound Business Journal and voted the best Travel/Tourism Company by 425 Business readers in 2023, and AAA was named one of the most trusted travel and automotive brands in the U.S. Additional information is available through the company’s Washington and northern Idaho stores and at 

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit

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Fearey o/b/o AAA Washington 

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Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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