Inspected Clean FAQ

What is Inspected Clean?  

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 new ATP surface cleanliness testing will now be recognized as Inspected Clean and then assigned a Diamond designation.

What are the benefits?  

AAA aiding the travel recovery can validate the cleaning protocols hotels have put in place. Together, we can rebuild consumer confidence in traveling again.

Why is it important?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on travelers’ expectations for cleanliness. AAA research shows that travelers trust hotels with a high cleanliness score based on an independent, third-party inspection. That’s more important than ever as more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and start traveling once again.

What is ATP?  

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) – a·den·o·sine tri·phos·phate – is an energy-carrying molecule found in all living (or once living) cells. ATP is found in most food sources, human skin cells, bacteria/yeast and mold.  It provides objective confirmation of the cleaning success using a 5-second, real-time test.

How do we know ATP testing is reliable?  

ATP monitoring is recognized by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health, and is used in food service and manufacturing, education and other environments that require effective sanitation.  

Does ATP testing detect COVID-19?  

ATP surface testing does not identify viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

Does ATP detection measure cleanliness or sanitation?  

ATP is used as an indictor of surface cleanliness. The ATP molecule is removed when detergents are applied to a surface and wiped clean.

How does Lysol and other spray disinfectant affect the detection of ATP?  

Disinfectant sprays alone do not remove ATP; proper detergent cleaning and wiping of surfaces is required to remove ATP.  

How does the machine swab test work?  

The chemical reaction between ATP and Luciferin / luciferase in the Pocket swab test generates light which is detected by the photomultiplier in the novaLUMIIX instrument.

What is the liquid in the clear part of the swab?  

The liquid in the Pocket swab vial contains a buffer and detergent used to break open the cell wall for ATP to be released.

What is the residue left behind, is it safe or damaging to the surfaces being tested?

The liquid from the swab is a mild detergent and will not damage the surface.  

How do different surfaces affect ATP results, for example a porous wood surface vs. stainless steel?  

The testing process is the same; however, it is easier to remove ATP during the cleaning process of some surfaces.  AAA’s benchmarks are calibrated to take into consideration the variety of common surfaces found in hotel properties.  

What are the passing and failing scores?  

AAA has set passing scores calibrated to a standard deemed 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.

How did you develop the baseline scores?

AAA established its cleanliness benchmarks 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.

How will the information be used?

All inspection reports and data are proprietary to AAA and to the individual properties. Properties that qualify for Inspected Clean and Diamond designations will be listed in AAA travel products.  

Will you share the results of each surface?  

Your inspection report will let you know your hotel passed the ATP requirement.  You’ll also have access to a thorough detailed report of the effectiveness of your housekeeping protocols.

Will results be shared with my brand/management?  

All inspection reports and data are proprietary to AAA and to the individual properties.  AAA may share aggregate trend data with the industry at large or brand leadership, but nothing identifiable at the property level.

Which surfaces will you be testing?  

Inspectors will measure 8 surfaces in randomly selected guest rooms and bathrooms during each inspection, which may include:

  • Guest room door handle
  • Wall light switch
  • Thermostat control
  • Guest room writing surface
  • Television remote
  • Vanity surface
  • Sink faucet handle
  • Toilet flush handle

Why would you need to do a retest?  

If a surface fails to meet AAA’s established passing baseline, the inspector will perform a re-test of the same surface in another room. There will be two re-tests per property.  

How can I schedule a re-evaluation if my property failed?  

Properties that fail an inspection for cleanliness or condition will be eligible to apply for re-inspection after one year to allow time for the property to address all issues.  After the waiting period, detail the corrective action taken by emailing and submit an application. If you disagree with your results, you can appeal through our established process by emailing your concerns to AAA Customer Service at

Does the length of time a room remains vacant impact results?  

Leaving a room vacant would not impact the test results as long as the air conditioning/heating systems were in clean, working order.  

What is the cost for the surface testing?  

There is no cost to properties for AAA surface testing; it is an element of the AAA inspection.  

Where can my hotel purchase a surface testing machine?  

AAA does not sell this equipment.  The technology is readily available in the marketplace from multiple vendors.  AAA has partnered with Charm Sciences Inc. (

Is my property able to promote that I passed surface testing?  

Please contact AAA Multimedia Marketing at with any AAA licensing or advertising inquiries.


This new step gives you scientific validation that your cleaning protocols are effective with an independent, third-party process consumers trust.

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