Hotel housekeeping 101: Tips and tricks for clean hotel rooms

Forget uncomfortable beds, poor service, or itchy bathrobes: hotel guests are most likely to be put off by poor housekeeping. Whether you run a cosy B&B or a five-star hotel, guests never expect to be greeted by dirt, hair, or dust in their room, and complaints or negative reviews are understandable if this does happen. And, given that the majority of customers will read online reviews before booking a hotel these days, that can pose a real threat to your business.

Clearly, an effective housekeeping strategy needs to be a top priority for any hotelier. In this guide, we’ll show you how to properly clean your rooms and bathrooms, as well as share some tips for impressing your guests. This guide will cover:

  • What are the duties of housekeeping in a hotel
  • Creating a housekeeping strategy
  • How to clean a hotel room: a step by step guide
  • How to clean a hotel bathroom: a step by step guide
  • Cleaning products, equipment, and supplies

What are the duties of housekeeping in a hotel?

Good housekeeping is an invisible service, in that guests only really take notice of it when your team fails to deliver the expected standard of cleanliness. A hotel room could play host to hundreds of different guests each year, but no guest wants their room to feel used, which is why it’s the role of your housekeeping staff to ensure that there is no evidence of any previous occupants, and that every room is completely clean from top to bottom.

On a daily basis, the housekeeping team is responsible for cleaning guest rooms and ‘turning down’ beds, as well as replacing any dirty towels and replenishing any other amenities. On days when a bedroom needs to prepared for a new guest’s arrival, an intensive clean and complete change of bedding will be required.

In addition to guest bedroom cleaning, some of your housekeepers should also be responsible for cleaning other front of house areas in the hotel, although generally there will be different teams and shift patterns for this.

Housekeeping teams are usually managed by a floor manager or supervisor, with a different manager overseeing each floor. They will usually be responsible for organising shifts, checking and inspecting the work of the housekeeping attendants, re-ordering supplies, and reporting any faults or problems with guest rooms to the relevant person. Laundry porters and linen room assistants also help to make sure that there’s always a supply of fresh bed sheets and clean towels on hand. All of this is overseen by the overall housekeeping manager, who works alongside the rest of the hotel management team to ensure all operations run smoothly.

Creating a housekeeping strategy

If you want your guest bedrooms to be as clean as possible, you’ll need to have an effective housekeeping strategy in place. That means working out how many staff you need to employ per shift and creating a checklist for them to follow in each area to ensure cleaning standards are met.

It’s important to know how many staff members you need on duty when the hotel is at different occupancy levels. It takes roughly 45 minutes for a housekeeping attendant to completely clean a room, although it may take less time if only a basic turn-down service is needed. Assuming that a staff member works for eight hours (and allowing for a 30-minute break), they’ll be able to clean around 10 bedrooms per shift, depending on the size of the rooms.

By dividing the total number of occupied rooms by 10, you should be able to work out how many staff members you need at a given time. Of course, this isn’t representative of the total number of cleaning employees you’ll need, as staff can’t work every single day without a break, and you’ll also need cover for holidays or sick leave.

How to clean a hotel room: step by step

If your staff know exactly which steps to take from the moment they enter a room, it will help to stop anything from being forgotten or overlooked. That’s why it can be helpful to provide your staff with a cleaning checklist they can follow.

We’ve put together two step-by-step guides for cleaning a hotel bedroom and bathroom, which you can use to create your own customised checklists. Remember, if you have different room types, you’ll need to make different checklists for each one: the honeymoon suite is likely to have different cleaning requirements to your basic economy room, for instance.

To get a sparkling, five-star clean that will ensure your guests are happy with the standard of their room, your housekeepers should carry out the following steps in each bedroom before welcoming a new guest:

  1. Air out the room: Before starting, open the windows and any balcony doors. This will help to bring fresh air into the room, and stops the smell of any cleaning chemicals from lingering. The housekeeping attendant should also leave the main door open while cleaning — this will help with ventilation.
  2. Strip the bed: Remove bed linen and place it in the laundry bin in the housekeeping cart. If the room is occupied by the same guest for more than one night, they don’t necessarily need a change of sheets, in which case the housekeeper should just neatly remake the bed and get the room ready for their return — this is called a ‘turndown’ service. Some hotels leave a card that the guest can place on the bed or doorknob to request a full linen change.
  3. Remove rubbish: Empty the bins and remove any rubbish from the room. Place new liners in the bins.
  4. Remove used cups: Switch any used cups, mugs, or crockery for clean items, and replenish the hot drinks service (if any) with fresh supplies. Any items taken from the mini-bar should be noted and replaced according to the policy of your hotel.
  5. Dusting: Dust all surfaces, starting from the top and working your way down towards the floor. Don’t forget to dust any hard-to-reach or easy to miss areas, like light fittings, head boards, under the bed, or the top of wardrobes and cupboards. An extendable telescopic duster can be a very handy tool if your hotel has high ceilings!
  6. Vacuum furniture and upholstery: Any pieces of upholstered furniture should be vacuumed using a specialist brush attachment. This will keep them free of dirt, dust, and allergens, as well as help to maximise their longevity. Curtains can also be vacuumed using an attachment to remove dust.
  7. Clean surfaces: Clean and sanitise all surfaces. If any guest possessions are in the way, carefully move them to one side while you work, and then neatly replace them afterwards. Don’t forget to also wipe down the insides of cupboards or wardrobes.
  8. Change the bed: Inspect the mattress for any damage or wear, and report any problems to the shift manager. If no issues are found, place fresh sheets and pillowcases on the bed before making it up neatly in the style of your hotel. Replace decorative cushions or throws.
  9. Sanitise and dust electricals: Wipe and sanitise any electrical equipment like guest phones or televisions. TV screens can get very dusty, so wipe these with a dry cloth.
  10. Clean the floor: By doing this last, you ensure that you aren’t creating more work for yourself by making it messy again during other cleaning processes. Hard floors should be swept and mopped, while carpets should be vacuumed, starting from an inner corner and working out towards the door.
  11. Close windows and perform one last check: Close the windows and any balcony doors. If any chemical smells remain, an air freshener can be used. If the thermostat has been adjusted, return this to your hotel’s default temperature. Do one final sweep of the room to ensure nothing has been missed before the room is left.

Deep cleaning

To keep your rooms as clean as possible, you’ll sometimes need to go above and beyond your usual cleaning checklist, and even use some specialist deep cleaning equipment. You should aim to do the following tasks at least once every three months:

  • Deep clean carpets using a steam carpet cleaner.
  • Deep clean upholstered furniture and curtains using a steam cleaner and specialist attachment.
  • Get hard floors and tiles looking as good as new using a floor polisher.
  • Vacuum the mattress and launder any covers or protectors. If it’s the sort of mattress that needs rotating, this should be done every six months, or according to the label.
  • Wash your pillow protectors every month. You should also wash your pillows every six months. Pillows should be replaced at least once every two years or as soon as they go out of shape to ensure they’re completely comfortable.

Remember that you will need to schedule in extra time for these tasks. It’s best to try and plan them for a quiet period when many of your rooms are not fully booked up.

How to clean a hotel bathroom: step by step

Bathrooms tend to be much more prone to build-ups of dirt, mould, grime, and hair than the bedroom, so your staff need to be methodical and very thorough when cleaning this area. If you want to impress your guests, there shouldn’t be any evidence that the bathroom has been used recently: it should feel completely clean and new.

For a hygienic, sparkling clean bathroom, your staff should follow this routine:

  1. Open any windows: Open windows to allow fresh air in, or switch on ventilation units to help air out the room and stop the smell of cleaning products from lingering.
  2. Remove towels and mats: Soiled towels can be placed in the laundry bag. The usual protocol is to request that guests replace the towel on the rail if they wish to use them again, while dirty towels are placed in the bath or shower. If a guest wants to reuse their towels, put them to one side.
  3. Empty the bin: Remove any rubbish and place a new liner in the bin.
  4. Tidy guest belongings: Any toiletries or other products belonging to the guests should be neatly moved aside to allow for cleaning. These should be neatly replaced once cleaning has finished.
  5. Clean the shower and/or bath area: Glass surfaces, tiling, and chrome shower fittings and taps should be cleaned using a specialist bathroom surface cleaner or glass cleaner to remove water marks and soap scum to create a shiny ‘brand new’ appearance. Pay special attention to the drain and be very careful to remove any hairs. If there is any standing water in the shower, report this to the floor supervisor, as it may indicate a more serious problem with the drain.
  6. Clean the sink area and taps: Using an antibacterial bathroom cleaner and a cloth, wipe the sink and surrounding countertop. Clean the taps thoroughly to remove any water stains and provide a shiny finish. Wipe the mirror, being careful not to leave streaks or smears. Ensure the plughole is completely clear.
  7. Clean the toilet: The toilet should be thoroughly cleaned using a toilet disinfectant, and bleach should be applied and then flushed away. Pay close attention to underneath the rim and around the joints of the seat where grime and limescale can build up. Toilet freshening devices can be fitted to provide long lasting freshness. When finished, lower the seat and close the lid.
  8. Dust: Dust light fittings and the corners of the ceiling to remove any cobwebs or dust, and clean behind and underneath towel rails and radiators. If any pipes are visible — behind the toilet or under the sink, for example — ensure that these are dusted.
  9. Wipe the towel rail: This can accrue a surprising amount of dust and dirt, so don’t forget to wipe it clean.
  10. Restock amenities and toilet paper: Refill any used guest toiletries, such as shampoos, shower gels, soaps, or toothpastes. Restock clean drinking glasses and toilet paper.
  11. Hang clean towels: Finally, restock with clean towels and bath mats, as well as any robes and slippers if the old ones are soiled. If the guest has opted to re-use their towels, fold them neatly and re-hang on the towel rail.
  12. Clean the floor: The floor should be swept or vacuumed, and then cleaned using a hard floor cleaner and a mop. As with the bedroom, it’s best to do this last, otherwise you may end up undoing your hard work by making a mess when cleaning other surfaces. Start from an inside corner and work outwards towards the door.

Equipment, supplies, and cleaning products

To do their jobs properly, your staff will need the right cleaning and room care supplies, and a way to transport them all from room to room. In this section, we’ll take you through everything you need to equip your team with.

Housekeeping trolley

Your team need access to lots of different cleaning products and equipment over the course of a shift, as well as a means of transporting bedding, towels, and replacement supplies — like toiletries or mini bar refreshments — between rooms. A housekeeping trolley will allow them to move everything easily, as well as keep things organised.

You may want to consider the following features when choosing your trolley:

  • Separate bags for rubbish and soiled linen.
  • Multiple tiers and shelves for keeping cleaning products and supplies organised.
  • Compartments for storing guest toiletries and refreshments. If you provide a hot drinks service or mini bar, remember that you will have glass items and ceramics that need to be stored carefully to prevent breakage.
  • Smooth, multi-directional wheels with brakes. This will allow your staff to move the cart easily and park it safely.
  • A vacuum bracket or holder. Storing this on the cart will save your housekeepers from making two trips when moving from room to room.

Remember to bear the size of your hotel in mind, as you’ll need to consider the logistics of moving the cart. If you have a small hotel with just a few rooms to service, there’s no reason to invest in a huge trolley. Likewise, if your hotel has narrow corridors or limited lift space, your staff aren’t going to be able to move it from room to room, so a smaller unit may be more suitable.

Cleaning supplies and equipment

Your housekeeping trolley should be equipped with the following cleaning supplies:

If you would like more tips for choosing the best cleaning products and equipment for your hotel, take a look at our janitorial supplies buying guide.

Guest supplies and amenities

Whether it’s a mint on the pillow, a mini shampoo in the bathroom, or a soft towelling robe, guests love complimentary products, so including some freebies will always go down well. Your housekeeping team will be responsible for replenishing these supplies as needed, so they will need to have enough in their trolley to restock each room they clean that day. Examples of complimentary guest products could include:

In addition to these products, your housekeeping trolleys should have the following essentials:

Refreshments:

It’s now quite common to offer your guests a mini bar and hotel room beverage service, so they can help themselves to refreshments. So, you should also stock your trolleys with:

How to set up a housekeeping trolley

The trolley needs to have adequate supplies to service every room on the shift, as running to and from the stockroom repeatedly will use up valuable time. But you also don’t want your housekeeping trolley to be so overloaded with supplies that it becomes difficult or dangerous for your staff to push. That means you need to strike the right balance between having enough supplies for the shift ahead and ensuring that your trolley is safe to push. The best course of action is for your staff to stock up their trolleys twice every shift: once at the start, and once in the middle of their shift, perhaps after their break.

Ideally, you should keep refreshments and guest amenities towards the top of the cart, and sheets, towels, and paper hygiene products neatly folded underneath. Dirty laundry should also be kept in a separate bag, so it’s clear what is soiled and what is clean.

It doesn’t matter what sort of business you run — whether it’s a tiny independent boutique, or a big chain, there’s no reason your rooms can’t be pristine. So, be sure to take our hotel housekeeping tips and tricks on board to ensure impressive results and happy customers every time.

If you’re looking for more advice, visit our dedicated hotel advice centre, where you’ll find loads of insider tips about the industry. We also have some very helpful cleaning and hotel product buying guides that will give you all the information you need to select the right products for every aspect of your business.

 

Summary
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Brush up on your cleaning procedures with our hotel housekeeping guide. These tips and tricks will ensure your guest rooms look their best. Read more.