Hotel Linen – the questions about changing out sheets

There are many questions surrounding whether a hotel should change the sheets in every room. These days, most hotels don’t care about following the environmental movement. Many hotel managers ask housekeeping staff to change their sheets every other day. Is this a good business practice? Can hotels make it a win-win scenario for all parties by meeting increasing guest cleanliness expectations and demonstrating environmental responsibility?

You, as a hotelier, must choose which policy you will follow. Some hotels will change the linen in every room every day. Some hotels will hang a card on the doorknob to let guests decide. The card can be used to indicate on the guest if they wish the sheets to be changed. Some hotels won’t require input and will only request linen changes every second or third night.

This article will help you to understand the pros and cons associated with changing hotel sheets.

  1. What do guests want? It is crucial to measure guest feedback, as it is vital for creating repeat business and positive reviews. Many Hoteliers think changing sheets is an easy decision. Most guests will support efforts to reduce water use and chemical usage to preserve the environment. It’s not easy and can lead to more headaches than savings if it’s done wrong.
  2. What are your procedures to ensure the cleanliness of the room is maintained and satisfactory for the guests?
  3. Are the labor, chemicals and energy savings enough to cover guest complaints, labor to do early checkouts again, or any other costs? Some hotels report a 1.8-room increase in productivity per day. Others report no change.

What operational points are important to know in order to improve productivity?

  • The new policies must be followed by housekeeping staff who are trained to change the sheets daily. It is crucial to create procedures for communicating with non-English speaking staff about which beds need to be changed and which should remain alone.
  • The system should keep track of the beds that have been made up and those that have been replaced. The system must assign a code to each bed that labels its status. The system should also provide a way for guests to check out before the event starts. If the housekeeper is not home, they should go back to the room and make the bed with new linen. The room attendant must leave the property after the clock strikes midnight.
  • Establish a system for commenting on the daily assignment form of the room attendant on which beds should be made and which to be shifted. This information can be added to the daily assignment so that your supervisor can review every stayover and highlight the rooms in need of changing sheets.
  • Some hotels provide guests with a card that allows them to indicate whether they would like their linen changed. Your housekeepers will need to take note of the sheet detailing whether the sheets were washed. If a guest complains about the bed not being changed after the housekeeping leaves, the employee on duty will make the bed and check the records later to verify the complaint.
  • The housekeeping staff will need to know how to determine whether to change sheets when they are not needed but not acceptable. To clarify, is it possible to change sheets if there are makeup stains on the linen? What would happen if the pillowcase had a makeup stain?
  • Most hotels prefer that guests feel as though the bed is freshly made. To make this happen, the bedspread is tucked over the pillows. Another approach is to leave the bed with a turndown to make it more welcoming. This signals to Housekeeping that the sheets have not been changed.
  • If your staff decides to let you guests choose whether or not to change the sheets, it is best to write the language explaining the cleaning policy on the doorhanger in at least two languages. Some organizations will offer collateral materials such as the American Hotel & Motel Association. The AH&MA offers one card that is for towels. It asks guests to return the towel to the rack if they want to use it again. The second card is for sheets. The cards are usually laminated to prolong their life span and include English, French and German translations.

Depending on guest type and length of stay, hotels may have different percentages of unchanged sheets. If the average stay at a hotel is 2.8 days and the policy states that sheets should be changed every three days, then the only way to change sheets is to go to the checkout.

General managers would like to understand how this policy change affects their bottom line. Although room-cleaning productivity might remain fairly constant, some hotels believe that linen life could be extended by 15%. The outside laundry cost may drop by 9 percent. The laundry is the real source of savings. According to Ecolab’s survey, the average cost for cleaning hotel guestroom linens was $0.232/pound. These cost factors were calculated using laundries that operate at maximum efficiency. A king sheet is approximately 1.8 pounds in weight, while a double sheet is about 1.2 pounds and a pillowcase is around.3 pounds. This means that there are potential savings of almost $3 per room.

It is important for staff to be open with guests and themselves. Do you think the environmental issue is important? Or does it just keep the bottom line in check? It is easy for guests to spot a hotel’s motives for making policy changes. If they don’t see consistent environmental actions, such as recycling and light bulbs, or motion sensors for HVAC control, guests may not appreciate a reduction of service. Are guests likely to leave a hotel if their sheets aren’t changed every day? Can we expect guests to inquire about their bedsheets during reservation calls? Were we to see ads with the tagline, “We change our sheets every day”? Most likely not.

A hotel that provides training and thorough operations procedures can help save gallons of water, detergent, and energy. It is a win-win situation if guests support the actions.

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