One day as a hotel housekeeper to appreciate what it takes to clean a hotel room
Have you as a guest, ever considered reversing your role to spend a day or two learning what it takes to properly clean a hotel room? Say you're game for it…wonderful, but… let me first paint a picture of what awaits you before you do that.
Those of us who have stayed in a hotel room understand that things won’t be in the exact same condition we found it as when we leave. Some like me, leave it in a fairly decent state, whilst others not so – a reflection of how well or poorly we keep our bedrooms at home.
When going to clean a hotel guestroom after the occupants have checked out; be prepared to see food (or what’s left of it), lying on the bed, throwaway bags and crumpled paper (remnants of last minute shopping) strewn all over the floor, damp / dirty towels piled in a corner of the bathroom, even a dirty sock under the bed and so on. If you are someone who leaves the previous night’s pots and saucepans in the sink for a day or two, or don’t remember when you last washed your bed linen – you may feel at home!
Prepare yourself to encounter the unthinkable – such as finding all the carpet underneath the bed cut out and removed as one hotel housekeeper discovered or the cistern disassembled and the flushing mechanism gone missing. Take heart…despite these extremely rare tales of skullduggery, most guests are just messy in trait or are simply used to living like that.
Cleaning a room starts with two trash bags; a black one for trash and a clear one for linens. Begin by tossing all the trash into the black bag, then knot and round up the sheets and used towels into the other bag At this point you should be getting warmed up to the tasks ahead.
Here’s something you will learn. Cleaning commences from the back of the room to the front. This strategy enables one to move through the room without tracking dirt / germs back into the areas that already cleaned. Start though with the dreaded bathroom – where the least looked forward task is cleaning the toilet. After that, make sure the surfaces including the mirrors, shower walls, and sink are disinfected and thoroughly cleaned for the next arriving guest.
To prevent bacteria from spreading to the rest of the room, they also treat sanitation like a colour-coded science: Colour-coded cloths can help prevent cross-contamination between surfaces when cleaning. Get to know which coloured clothes to use for which purpose.
This is followed by making the bed, dusting, vacuuming, and finally mopping your way out of the room: This routine of cleaning by retreat, is to avoid stepping on the wet floor and retracting footprints on the floors and carpets.
Discover that making the bed is totally different to than how it is done at most homes. Learn the art of layering linen. There are a few key design principles you need to stick to when layering. Hotels do not use fitted sheets; they have their own bedroom secret to share: triple sheeting.
Triple sheeting is the practice of sandwiching a duvet or blanket between two layers of top sheet. Top sheets are more cost effective and less labor intensive for hotels than duvet covers, and triple sheeting also offers guests hygienic assurance, as their skin avoids contact with insulating items that are not necessarily washed between each guests’ stay.
Learn about hospital cornering - a technique that dates back to the 19th century, when nurses during wartime only had one sheet for hospital beds and needed a way to keep it firmly in place.
Now on to pillow talk; “happy” pillows are pressed flat and stand up straight on the bed, while pillows that slouch look “sad”. Get ready to karate chop the pillow to make it easier to fit into the sham. Press all of the air out of the pillow before standing it up, by putting your hands in the middle, then slowly pushing both of them out in opposite directions repeatedly until the pillow is as flat as a board and about half as thick as before you started. Once you're done, grab the top two corners of your pillowcase and stand the pillow up next to your bed frame. A "happy" pillow should stand tall and proud on its own – not lean against the headboard. That’s the right way to display pillows!
And you thought its easy labor. By the time you finish cleaning the hotel room, you’ve worked your calves by stretching tip toes to wipe down the shower, your thighs by squatting to tuck linens into the bed frame, and your abs by reaching into an almost-plank position to vacuum under the furniture. No need to go to the Gym.
Wanna give it a try now? Never mind if you don’t, - what’s important is that we all appreciate what happens behind the scenes at hotels, and make it easier for the housekeeping staff to clean up when we check out of a hotel room in future.
Arahoz Noorhem is a qualified educator who teaches English as a foreign language, a professional jazz pianist, music composer, bird watcher and an intrepid traveler.