LA Mandates Hotels Offer Daily Housekeeping, Hotels Claim Cleaning Is Bad For The Environment

The City of Los Angeles will limit work hotel housekeepers have to do each day while also requiring hotels to return to daily housekeeping service. Hotels, though, say that housekeeping is bad for the environment:

Heather Rozman, executive director of the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, which opposed the measure, also suggested that by reintroducing daily room cleaning the measure would force hotels to use more water in a time of “unprecedented drought.”

…“Mandatory daily room cleaning would increase the use of water, as well as electricity and gas in perpetuity,” she said.

While the lack of daily housekeeping means that trash piles up in rooms and hallways, that it’s tougher to clean rooms between guests since the rooms become dirtier, and thus it’s more likely new guests receive dirty accommodations, as long as hotels meet basic cleanliness standards it’s hard to see making daily housekeeping a law.

Nonetheless do not ever believe a hotel chain or lobbying association when they say their practices are intended to benefit the environment. And here remember that the biggest advance in the history of public health that extends lifespans is cleanliness.

Hotels wrap themselves in the mantle of the environment only when it saves them money or generates subsidies. Hotels claim to be eliminating individual shampoo bottles ‘for the environment’ and don’t mention the thousands of dollars a year they’re saving. A reader passes along a photo of the inner lid of a bulk toiletry soap dispenser at a SpringHill Suites property.

Bulk toiletries are a low-end disgusting experience. Here are just some of the issues:

  1. Authenticity While some upscale hotels in China have been known to distribute counterfeit branded toiletries even in individual bottles to save money, it’s far more likely that you’re getting what’s on the bottle when it’s in the bottle versus just refilled into a branded package on the wall. You don’t know what you’re really getting when you don’t see the package.

  2. Security Previous hotel guests might find it funny to put something other than shampoo or bath gel in the bottles, or to mix them up. Last year someone replaced the soap in dispensers at the Detroit airport with bodily fluid and you don’t know who was staying in your room before you.

  3. Germs I just don’t believe that the dispensers themselves get thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between guests. Here’s a National Institutes of Health study on bacterial contamination of bulk-soap-refillable dispensers.

  4. Availability Housekeeping just doesn’t refill these, the way it’s obvious when a bottle has been opened or is missing.

  5. Experience. It’s not a premium experience. There’s no ‘take away’ to remember the stay.
    Indeed I use shampoo and bath gel at home that I discovered at a hotel, I imagine many of you do too.

If hotels cared about the environment they’d adopt premium single use biodegradable toiletries. I first used those at a Portland hotel more than a decade ago. Capital One stocks them for their Dallas – Fort Worth lounge showers. They’re better for the environment than bulk toiletries which themselves come in larger plastic bottles anyway.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The only mass-market branded hotels with dispensers that can’t be easily tampered with are the ones used by IHG at Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. Those are relatively secure from tampering. By contrast, the kind being rolled out by Marriott across all its brands has no security feature. A pervert can just twist the top off and proceed to urinate or ejacuate into the dispenser.

    Of course, another problem may be a non-English-speaking housekeeper filling the shampoo bottle with conditioner or the body wash with shampoo because the labels are in English and French with no real distinguishing characteristics.

  2. Gary, if the hotels don’t stick up for bacteria, who else will? Come on, give credit where credit is due.

  3. “Germs I just don’t believe that the dispensers themselves get thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between guests.”

    Geez Gary, when was the last time you used a soap dispenser in a public restroom? Try to get some context. Just babbling off the phrase “thoroughly cleaned and sanitized” doesn’t mean that the action is appropriate in every given situation, no matter how often it’s parroted.

  4. Well, I kind of knew a long time ago that all this pandering by companies to environmentalists or to any other social cause would backfire…on the companies most of all but also on those asking their favorite companies to be like their ‘friends’ and think just like them….at least when their together!! I also knew it was all entirely wrong because it had nothing to do with business. I can agree with many of your comments…not a big fan of shared containers of shampoo and I absolutely hate body gel versus a simple bar of soap. The whole pandering to environmentalists started with a segment of WE fellow travelers though…certain customers whining that they want the companies they patronize to think and act just like they do….like I said …to be like their friends, well not BFF’s maybe. This is nothing more than an extension of a person’s misplaced pride ….I don’t give a rip about what a company or its owner thinks so long as I am not forced to read about it or listen to it or see that owner at some protest. I don’t deny them the right…but business has always been about business and people doing the right thing that owned a business had no issues with cranky odd ball people boycotting because it meant nothing. Today everyone seems cranky and the old adage you can’t please everyone is knocking loudly on every business’ door!

    Now companies have entire staffs to brand themselves as to how they want them to appear to various groups that don’t seem to care as much about comfortable beds and clean accommodations as much as their issue of the day. If you’re caught off guard, these nut jobs then will take you to task along with thousands of programmed bots on Twitter! The real error here was businesses listening to these insane mobs of mostly bots and yeah a marginalized group of real people saying we will shut you down.

    When will companies get back to business..:no more pandering…to me it’s ironic that on a forum that has most of the time leaned left of center when the topic strays off pure travel advice… that companies are being criticized for their efforts to be more green…LOL….I didn’t ask for this crap, left leaning environmentalists did and you get what you ask for.

    The funny thing is I too totally agree that biodegradable cutlery and shampoo bottles should be used…I don’t think we find the room rate increase to be noticeable. I disagree that cleaning rooms daily comes with NO environmental loss…no matter how clean a room looks everything gets removed and cleaned…so there is a lot of wasted water and cleaning chemical even if they use greener stuff! I have no problem with an every 2-3 day cleaning on long stays or as requested. Legislation is ridiculous and unnecessary especially if you understand the challenges of that particular area of the country …it’s clear these legislators are not doing ‘their’ job at all!!

  5. @Credit – you think your own hotel room should aspire to the standard of a public restroom? I’d like to think most readers have higher standards than that.

  6. Another useless kerfuffle about nothing. If you’re worried about bad stuff in those dispensers, just bring your own. This is not rocket science, people. The practice does keep plastics out of landfill and the ocean. You can buy a set of little refillable bottles anywhere and that solves the problem.

    It’s difficult to fathom someone so deluded that they would announce that the cleaning of hotel rooms is bad for the environment. Sounds like the rantings of a nut-case on the street corner. I never let housekeeping into my hotel room, never have. I go ask for what I need and take my trash out to a bigger receptacle. It takes about 1.5minutes to spread up the bed … as far as towels go, just hang your towel up to dry when you’re out of the shower. I wish people would wake up and just take personal responsibility for themselves instead of yapping on and on about how badly they’re being taken care of. It’s no wonder that the bigger problems in life never get solved.

  7. The truly amazing thing is that now higher-end hotels with nice bulk amenities have to place patronizing signs threatening penalties if guests steal them. Rather than recognizing that exactly no one prefers their new cost-saving program, observing that it leads to new expenses and other problems, and reassessing their decision, they simply degrade the guest experience with petty threats. Terrific.

  8. These hoteliers are just cheap as fuc. Don’t want to pay for Anything but want you to pay for All. And then they have nerve to expect you to tip the lack of housekeeping.

  9. We should never listen to any lobbying association when they make claims like “use less water” unless they cite independent peer reviewed research to support their statement. And, how much less water? A teaspoon a day? A billion gallons a second? That should be required information before we give any lobbying association the time of day.

  10. Single use biodegradable is the way. You can give properties this feedback by dinging them on their surveys until they remove the gross bulk containers. .

  11. Gary, yes, in that both should be kept clean and serviceable. The difference being, you will be the only user of the private hotel room between cleanings. I think that the notion of “washing and sanitizing” a frigging liquid soap dispenser between guests is absolutely absurd. Shall they scrub the A/C system with chemical disinfectants, sanitize the curtains, and autoclave the furniture too?

  12. @ Gary — It seems the toiletries issue is easily solved by requiring these large dispensers, while also not allowing them to be refilled. At least using large disposable bottles might generate less plastic waste than the tiny bottles.

  13. I don’t want daily cleaning. Weekly at best. I don’t like people in my room among my stuff while I’m gone at work. Trash service is important, though, and there are solutions other than putting it in the hallway, like having a trash chute, which every nearly every large apartment building for the past 100+ years has, so it’s not like it’s a new concept.

  14. My huusband has been staying in the Marriott Tecoma since Monday, Despite notifying them on the first day of trash on top of a wall, it was still there as of last night despite notifying manager each day. I believe he was going to bring it down to check in this morning. Disgusting!

  15. I thought about a thoughtful surprise (believing that a small but not insignificant number of hoteliers care about their water bill and waste stream). However, @Donald put it so perfectly that I’ll just echo his sentiment. Greed is eternal!

  16. @Gary to @Credit – “you think your own hotel room should aspire to the standard of a public restroom? I’d like to think most readers have higher standards than that.”

    Gary, where should I send you my dry cleaning bill ? I spit my coffee out laughing at that one.

  17. As is always the case, leave it to American companies to come up with new ways to make more money and offer less service.

    Most American companies with Amazon topping the list, should go out of business.

  18. Anyone who thinks Marriott is doing this to save the planet is naïve.

    Don’t play their game. Don’t may it easier for them to run to the bottom of the hospitality service industry. And please, dear God, don’t make it easier for them to pat themselves on the back for being so caring and sensitive while they do it.

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