Why I don’t need daily housekeeping — and maybe you don’t either

5d ago

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Sustainability isn’t the only reason I decline daily housekeeping.

The pandemic changed housekeeping at some hotels forever, with certain properties now offering, at best, daily service on request. At worst, some hotels no longer have housekeeping at all.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

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Sure, having fresh sheets and towels each day is an opulent way to enjoy a vacation. But for me, it’s really unnecessary. As much as I enjoy the feeling of slipping into fresh sheets after a long day, I’m lucky if I change my bedsheets at home every week (sorry, Mom).

Nowadays, you’ll almost always see a notecard in your hotel bathroom with information regarding the washing of your towels.

The message is usually that the hotel is taking sustainability seriously. If you don’t require fresh towels daily, keep them on the racks or folded up on shelves. If you want the towels replaced, throw them into the bath or shower.

The reality is that unless you’re rock climbing or cliff diving into a swamp, your towel probably won’t get very dirty every day.

Related: Hotel housekeepers share 14 tips for easy luxe touches to try at home

I won’t preach about how often you should wash your towels and sheets (at home or while traveling), other than to say if you don’t change your sheets this often at home, do you really need it done at a hotel?

(Last year, Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta posed a similar question, asking, “When you’re at home, do you change your sheets every day? Do you wash your towels every day? … No.”)

There is significant water and labor required for daily washing and replacing of towels and sheets. You’re paying for something you might not really need, or even want.

Housekeeping staff picking up new bedding from storage
(Photo by Marco Geber/Getty Images)

A cynic might say those bathroom notecards are just the hotel trying to reduce its costs. However, if the property doesn’t launder its linens on site, your once-used towel might get driven out to a commercial laundry to be washed, tumble-dried, packed up in plastic wrap and driven back to the property to be used again.

That’s an awful lot of water, fuel, electricity and plastic for a towel that was barely used.

Related: Hilton hotels will now only offer housekeeping by request


My biggest frustration with daily housekeeping when I’m on vacation is that I feel like I have to plan my day around their visit.

To start with, if I want to sleep in (after perhaps from one too many Mai Tais at the hotel bar the previous evening), I need to remember to hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door before heading to bed to avoid a potential early knock on the door from a staff member ready to clean my room.

I count myself lucky I’ve never been in a situation where the staff entered my room while I was still asleep.

Once awake, if I want daily housekeeping, I need to organize for this to happen when I’m not in the room. I don’t feel comfortable lazing on the couch with a good book as someone cleans around me. Even in the most palatial suite upgrade, I feel like I’m always in their way.

A lazy buffet breakfast will likely take at one hour at most, and housekeeping will rarely be in and out during that brief window of time.

Even if I see a housekeeping cart on my floor, I wouldn’t ask them to service my room at the exact time of my choosing. After all, they have their schedule and routine and I’m not going to mess with that.

Related: 9 things you can do to help housekeeping when you checkout

Even after flipping the sign on the door over to “please clean my room,” housekeeping may come by in the next eight minutes, or the next eight hours, or not at all that day.

Inside upscale hotel room
(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

If they pass your room and the “do not disturb” sign is up, you may miss your chance for the entire day. I’ve spent hours lazing by the pool to give the housekeeping staff as much time as possible to get into my room, only to return sweaty, dehydrated and ready to shower before dinner to find the room has not been touched and those carts are nowhere to be seen.

By the time the sun sets, I can’t be bothered chasing after housekeeping as it would require another period outside the room. If I know the hotel I’m in doesn’t offer daily housekeeping, I don’t need to worry about when they can enter my room each day when I’m not in it.

Related: Marriott’s new CEO sat down with TPG to talk Bonvoy benefits, housekeeping and more

Bottom line

If I’m staying for six or more nights, I would request a mid-stay housekeeping refresh if it was not automatically offered. I’d even pay more for it.

I do tend to accumulate some rubbish in those tiny bins next to the desk and toilet, and it’s hygienic to have these emptied from time to time.

I usually go through all of the provided coffee pods in my room within a few days too. However, more can easily be sourced with a quick call to reception, or a friendly chat with any member of the housekeeping staff elsewhere on the floor.

Changing bedsheets every day has always seemed like a bizarre concept to me, even before sustainability was an increasingly important issue for the hotel industry. If I don’t do it at home, I don’t need it when I travel.

I’m not a slob, but the logistics and wastage of daily housekeeping weren’t necessary for me before the pandemic, and they still aren’t now. Maybe they aren’t for you, either.

Interested in sustainable travel? Read these articles:

Featured photo by Nastaic/Getty Images.

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