For those of us who’ve never donned a housekeeper’s uniform, we might assume that the precision and crispness of how a bed is made might be repeated at every other spot in a hotel room.
But, a new narrative by former hotel housekeeper Tara Richardson for Well + Good might have you bringing your own sanitary wipes and disinfectants the next time you head out on vacation.
Richardson says that when you consider that a housekeeper is expected to clean 15 to 20 rooms in an eight-hour shift, they’ve only got 30 minutes per room, tops. And once the bed is turned into a masterpiece, that leaves restocking the mini-bar, putting up new towels, dumping out the trash cans, refreshing the soap and shampoo supplies, vacuuming the floor, etc.
And Richardson claims that by the time the 30-minute limit dings, there are a number of things that are qualifiable “we’ll do that later” items that could send a clean freak overboard.
The five things that guests should avoid
The first item that Richardson says a germaphobe should avoid is the coffeemaker.
“Coffee makers are generally only superficially cleaned (a quick spray and wipe), as most hotels care more about appearance and speed as opposed to actual cleanliness,” Richardson said. “Coffee makers are rarely deep cleaned, meaning there are lots of bacteria and sometimes even mold growing inside because of stagnant water and improper cleaning.”
Avoiding the ice bucket might be a good move, too, because that plastic liner is nothing more than a prophylactic.
“I’ve personally seen ice buckets used as dog dishes, puke buckets, etc., and generally, the buckets are only superficially cleaned,” she said. “The water or ice is dumped, and then it’s just a quick dry with your dusting rag and maybe a spray with whatever all-purpose cleaner the hotel provides housekeeping staff with.”
And what goes hand in hand with the ice bucket? Glasses! And, those, too, made Richardson’s things-to-avoid list.
“Where I worked, drinking glasses and coffee cups were simply rinsed and wiped in the bathroom sink,” says Richardson. “We were not given dish soap nor was the glassware collected and taken to be properly washed in a dishwasher.”
One insider secret that might have you bringing your own towel is that – at least in Richardson’s experience – housekeepers are often told not to replace them if they look clean so as to prevent them from getting overwashed and the laundry doesn’t get overwhelmed.
If this is concerning, Richardson suggests tracking down the housekeeper on your floor and asking for fresh towels and robes directly off of the cart because those are almost guaranteed to be clean.
While the appearance of a bed might look fresh as a daisy, Richardson warns that in most hotels, blankets and duvets/comforters are very rarely cleaned and changed out.
“Where I worked, unless there was a visible stain, blankets, duvets, and bedspreads were only taken down to laundry once a year,” Richardson said.
That once-a-year factoid spills over into cleaning “extras” like the mattress and pillow protectors, too, not to mention the mattresses getting flipped and the walls and curtains getting cleaned.
Bring your own cleaner? Really?
It may seem over the top, but Richardson suggests that if anyone is feeling her insights are a little alarming, then they should bring their own cleaning products the next time they travel.
“I always bring some disinfectant wipes with me and give anything I’ll be using in the room a quick wipe—light switches, remotes, phones, table tops, and doorknobs especially,” she says.