Behind The Fresh Sheets: Decoding The Hygiene Standards Of Hotel Rooms

Hotel rooms – we’ve all stayed in one before, whether it be travelling for a business trip, relaxing in a holiday resort, or visiting family away from home. Despite this, the everyday items that we pick up and use without a second’s thought in hotels can harbour millions of harmful bacteria.

When was the last time the bedside TV remote was sanitised, for example? How long ago did the room have a thorough deep clean, targeting all the little nooks and crannies? Or how often will the room’s pillows, duvets, and bedspreads get laundered? The truth behind hotel cleanliness is shocking, with some industry workers even taking to social media to reveal the problem spots which rarely get the attention they deserve.

While small details like this might be overlooked by hotel management, the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the public’s awareness of hygiene standards. Studies have found that as many as 77% of UK holidaymakers now research a hotel’s hygiene before booking, as opposed to just 40% pre-pandemic. Such an astronomical increase will have a rippling effect across the industry, with guests now holding greater scrutiny over your hotel’s hygiene levels.

To avoid receiving a torrent of bad reviews, and missing out on valuable custom, hotels must employ greater hygiene protocols than ever before. In this article, we’ll discuss how hotel rooms are typically cleaned, the potential areas of improvement that could prevent you from getting caught out, and the benefits of outsourcing your cleaning to a professional cleaning company like Vanguard.


How Thoroughly Are Hotel Rooms Cleaned?

Hotel rooms are cleaned by a regular housekeeper, who will usually have a checklist to go through to ensure each room is in a fit state for guests. This checklist may include:

  • Opening the window to air the room.
  • Stripping the bed & replacing sheets/pillowcases.
  • Dusting surfaces & countertops.
  • Vacuuming floors & furniture.
  • Sweeping & mopping the bathroom floor.
  • Sanitising the toilet with disinfectant & bleach.
  • Replacing towels & bathmats.
  • Emptying bins & replacing with new bin liners.
  • Refilling toiletries, minibars, and loo roll.
  • Swapping glasses/cups with freshly cleaned replacements.

Despite these only being the basics in terms of cleanliness, it has already queued up a substantial workload for housekeepers, and doing this multiple times in a row will soon pass the time. Given that many cleaning staff will be required to clean 12-20 rooms per shift, this results in an average time of only 20-30 minutes to tend to each room. This can plummet even further when considering factors such as staff breaks, movement between floors, and unexpected absences.

Naturally, with so little time to clean each room, standards will slip and corners will be cut. This is evident across the industry, from basic bed and breakfast venues to more luxurious high-end resorts. An investigation by Inside Edition found that the prestigious 5-star Trump International Hotel in New York hadn’t even washed their pillowcases between guests, while other premium hotels in the city did not wipe down common items like TV remotes and thermostats.

Clearly, hotel hygiene is an endemic issue, and the prestige or price of a venue doesn’t necessarily make a difference. Improvements must be made if guests are to be impressed.


How Can Hotel Cleaning Be Improved?

In the cases above, sloppy cleaning procedures were often responsible for the lapse in hygiene. In one instance, the room was checked visually to see whether it needed cleaning, and satisfied with how it looked, the assigned housekeeper left it be. This is the exact opposite of the thorough cleaning that a hotel room requires, and shows that too much attention was paid to the surface level aspects without attempting to tackle deeper cleanliness issues.

Conceiving and following a housekeeping strategy is crucial to keeping your hotel clean. While this will probably involve distributing checklists to housekeeping teams, it’s only useful if every step is followed every time – staff need to be trained to strictly abide by the checklist and never rely on a visual inspection alone.

On top of this, additional steps and regular deep cleans are needed to ensure a better level of hygiene. These may include, but are not limited to:


  • Wiping down commonly used items like telephones and TV remotes.
  • Laundering bedspreads, pillows, and duvets regularly.
  • Dusting items that tend to collect dust, such as televisions, paintings, and picture stands.
  • Using a specialized carpet cleaner to deep clean your floors.
  • Using polish on floors, faucets, shower fittings, and towel racks to keep them shining.
  • Cleaning grimy areas, such as shower drains and under toilet seats.
  • Providing guests with the option to have clean towels and sheets daily.

The drawback of improved hygiene is that it creates a great deal of extra work and is guaranteed to extend the time spent by a housekeeper on each individual room. Add to this all the extra cleaning needed across the communal areas of the hotel, such as receptions, lounges, restaurants, and staff rooms, and it all amounts to a large staff workload and a hefty price tag.

However, the extra work will not go unnoticed. Impeccable rooms are more likely to result in positive reviews, while a comfortable and clean stay will encourage repeat visits. Another key benefit is the ability to be transparent with cleaning standards – hotels can sell the fact they clean more thoroughly than their competition.

Clearly this has some promotional value – as while it is not a legal requirement to show food hygiene ratings, over two-thirds of English businesses choose to have their rating displayed. The same principle could easily apply to hotels, especially in a post-pandemic world with an increased focus on hygiene.

However, improving your hotel’s level of hygiene is a challenging task, and will require an in-depth level of cleaning expertise. This presents a problem which is best solved by outsourcing your cleaning to a professional facility management company.


Why Should You Outsource Your Hotel Cleaning?

While at first glance, outsourcing your hotel cleaning might sound like a rare occurrence, it is more common than many think. Staff and hotel managers are not cleaning experts, and do not have access to the same specialist machinery, training, and experience that professional cleaning companies enjoy. Nor can they clean as fast or as thoroughly as professionals in the field.

Hotels see an average 25% reduction in labour costs when outsourcing their cleaning, and benefit from more consistent and uniform cleaning standards. It can speed up room turnarounds, which will help when your hotel is busy, and even provide greater flexibility, allowing you to reduce services in quieter periods. This all helps to avoid the erratic, mistake-ridden services that our New York examples demonstrated.

With a plethora of benefits to be gained from outsourcing your hotel cleaning, it’s an ideal time to make the switch.


Why Vanguard Is The Clear Choice

Vanguard Cleaning are a commercial cleaning company that have thrived within the industry for over two decades. We were founded as specialist medical cleaners, deploying our expertise to surgeries and clinics across the UK to ensure exceptional cleaning standards and prevent the transmission of harmful pathogens. Since then, we have expanded across a multitude of sectors and industries, offering our cleaning services to buildings and sites of all types and sizes.

With such broad coverage across the UK, bespoke hotel and hospitality cleaning is prime among them. Our staff undergo stringent training procedures, instructing them in different cleaning techniques and hygiene best practice. This training is so rigorous that it’s officially accredited by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc), meaning you can rest easy knowing your hotel guests will receive the very best cleaning in the industry.

Our services include:


Such services are perfect for hospitality properties, and will ensure guests depart from your hotel feeling refreshed and eager to leave a glowing review or make a return visit.

For further information on the services we offer and how we can help your hotel rooms impress, feel free to contact us for a free, no obligation quote.