Now They Say You Should Clean Your Own Hotel Room – But Still Leave A Tip For Housekeeping

Hotels have been on a mission to cut back on housekeeping costs. They don’t want to do full cleans of every room every day. They’ll make you request it (and sometimes fill out paperwork) so that there are fewer rooms to clean, and they can hire fewer housekeepers who don’t work as many hours.

And hotel owners are pushing tips for housekeepers so they don’t have to pay the housekeeper as much. If it takes $15 per hour to attract someone to the job, it doesn’t really matter if it comes all from the hotel or $10 from the hotel and $5 from guests.

Yet there’s now a push, detailed in the Washington Post to get guests to clean their own rooms more. And, naturally, still leave tips.

  • Housekeepers aren’t there to serve you “some fear expecting housekeepers to clean up after you perpetuates the class divide.”

  • Keep your take-out tidy an etiquette expert recommends “any takeout is packaged up “with no food smears, used napkins or utensils hanging out of the bag.”

Not only do you need to ‘do the work’ of tidying your room before housekeeping arrives, you need to take several steps of effort to make sure they’re paid more than what the hotel puts into their paycheck:

  • tip in cash
  • and leave a note that it’s a tip
  • do this every day

The American Hotel and Lodging Association suggests $1 to $5 per night, left daily in cash to account for changing shift schedules. Just make sure you clearly address it to housekeeping, otherwise the tip might be squirreled away into the hotel safe as lost property.

Allow me to push back. If you clean the room too much – make the bed perfectly, leave towels hanging, it becomes more likely that housekeeping doesn’t change them for the next guest. That can’t be a good outcome.

Though he quickly backtracked after coming under criticism, prior to the pandemic Hilton’s CEO Christopher Nassetta typically doesn’t tip housekeeping.

Growing up I remember my grandmother always quickly cleaning the house before the woman that cleaned her house arrived. She’d feel embarrassed to have someone in her home if it wasn’t clean. I guess that seems like a reasonable standard for how to approach your hotel room.

Make sure to keep it in a reasonable order of disrepair, so that it’s not an embarrassment. Trash should go in or by the trash, towels should actually be in the bathroom. But you don’t need to ensure that napkins are inside of the original bag your takeout was delivered in.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. @ Gary — Wow. It IS a class divide. Many guests have adavnced degrees, most housekeepers maybe finished high school. It’s called life. Sorry.

  2. I know that the commenters here are not the crowd to appreciate this, but doing a little bit of tidying before housekeeping arrives helps your fellow guests because it means the housekeepers aren’t delayed getting to the next rooms they have to clean because they have to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning yours.

  3. I used to clean hotel rooms while working my way through undergrad and grad school. Other than throwing dirty towels into a pile on the bathroom floor, and gathering all foodstuffs and sundry items together in a central location, ie, stacked on a desk, I did not find it helpful for guests to tidy a room prior to my cleaning. As a matter of fact, I found it distracting. It was much easier to go into a messy room and assume it all needed attention, and start my cleaning blitz, putting my mind on autoclean. If a room was partially tidy and appeared to have been cleaned in some areas and not others, it left me with a hmmm, should I clean this or not? uncertainty. Do I wash the coffee mugs that appear spotless and in their usual place, despite a used coffee filter in the garbage? This was especially true of rooms that were being turned over that same day.

  4. I got an idea…. take this from my manager at Target when I was in high school. Every night he’d write his name in the dust somewhere in the store and we’d better find it before we went home. That meant we’d cleaned everything.

    I think I’ll leave a tip in the room. But I’m gonna put it somewhere that SHOULD get clean but probably IS NOT. Bet the next guest finds it before housekeeping does.

  5. I don’t leave a mess when I check out of a hotel, but I don’t clean my room nor do I tip. Housekeeping is a paid job. Not a well paid one, but a paid one, and if more Americans would be willing to take on such jobs, then perhaps there would be less of a border issue, since employers are part of the problem in the search for cheap labor.

  6. Why don’t Hotels graduate to the next level and expect guests tp clean the room, pay for it and leave a tip equal to the cost of the room to ensure equality and social justice. Marx would be proud

  7. @NedsKid – that Target manager sounds like a jerk or a made up story. There’s no way that the entirety of a superstore is dusted every single night. I say this having worked for Walmart and Barnes and Noble in the (thankfully) distant past. There are just *far* too many books and crannies and objects and surfaces to wipe down every 24 hours.

  8. “some fear expecting housekeepers to clean up after you perpetuates the class divide.”

    NOT ME !

  9. I’m just waiting for them to start telling us that housekeeping is there primarily for our safety in case there is an emergency.

  10. I’m a Hilton Diamond for 10 years the hard way (nights per year/no Aspire card). My point is…I’m in a lot of hotel rooms every year.

    I keep the rooms in good shape. Used towels all in one place…everything in the trash…no “surprises” anywhere. And I tip…every stay…every time. Because I appreciate the job they do and it’s not an easy one.

    To be honest…even pre-pandemic I left the DND on my doorknob because I really don’t want housekeeping in my business every day. So, I’m thrilled that now it’s pretty much standard they don’t come in.

    But…tipping…yeah…I lean to the side of decency.

  11. I leave a tip every time I check out. It is called paying the hotel bill. The bill is all inclusive not exclusive of a clean room. If you want more money then house keepers pay get another job

  12. I had never heard anything or anyone talk about tipping the hotel housekeeper until 15 or 20 years ago. I wonder why so many people assume they are being underpaid and working like slaves? Has anyone ever had a conversation with a housekeeper? I have talked to several housekeepers who told me they enjoy and take pride in their job.

    I believe there are many more jobs out there that most people would consider to be worse than cleaning hotel rooms.

  13. Since you are now supposed to do some of the housekeeping, you should just leave the tip to yourself. It would certainly keep management from picking up the tip while inspecting the room. You could even brag how you left $100 for housekeeping.

  14. Hard pass. It is literally your job to clean up after me. I AM a better class than you. And I’m not tipping you.

    Don’t like it? Get a better job.

  15. I don’t clean the room but I do make sure all the trash is in the cans, towels are all together and bedding is stripped and ready to go. Just my way of helping out another human bean. Is it my job no but I don’t mind doing it. Guess what I also leave a tip most of the time.

  16. We are like your grandmother. To me it’s simple manners not to leave a room in a mess. Unfortunately I get the feeling I am in a minority on this point.

  17. One of my good friends was a hotel housekeeper back in the 70s. It paid a decent wage for a college student, and it could be pretty interesting, at times.

    Her advice to me, when I asked what I should do when I’m the guest? Put all the dirty towels in one pile. Consolidate trash, as much as possible, and never, ever make the bed. All simple things that don’t inconvenience the guest. She appreciated tips, but they weren’t common.

    It shouldn’t be complicated.

  18. If housekeeping has serviced my room at least every other day I’ll leave a tip.

    If no service, no tip.

  19. When I stay in a luxury hotel that doesn’t straighten daily or a hotel that charges a bogus “resort fee” for stuff that comes with the room, I do not tip. I paid “the tip” with the exorbitant fee. I was shocked when I stayed at the Hilton Melbourne Airport several years ago. I was asked how I would like my room straightened. I thanked the desk clerk for asking and gave her my preferences. For that stay, I tipped heavily as it was a courtesy that I had not expected and was done so with a genuine concern for a pleasant stay at their hotel. I have gone back to that same hotel numerous times.

  20. By my nature, I do tidy up after myself (towels in one stack, all items in the garbage pale, remote placed by the TV or night stand, etc). However, any tip is directly proportional to how I found the room upon check-in, and how well it’s serviced during the stay. At one hotel, couldn’t even get fresh towels on the third day. You can imagine the amount I left behind on that visit.

  21. When I check into a room I wipe down all surfaces with Lysol wipes. I do this so I know it has been sanitized. I do leave all towels and trash in one place. I leave a tip when checking out because I can afford it so why not help an underpaid employee out. As far as the resort fee that doesn’t go to housekeeping!

  22. Sorry. I am not cleaning a hotel room before I leave. I will put my trash in the proper receptacles and I’m happy to put used linens in a pile. If people take a job then I feel it is a reasonable expectation that they do the job. I am tired of hearing how the consumer needs to make the low wage earners life better by doing their work for them. Talk about entitled!

  23. I seldom use housekeeping service as most of my hotel room stays are for three nights or less.
    When I check-in, the room is usually IMMACULATE.
    It should take 3+ days until my garbage cans need to be emptied.
    There’s no reason for me to invite a stranger into my room.

    As soon as I enter the room I put on the DO-NOT-DISTURB sign and typically don’t remove it until I leave. I’m renting the hotel room and I don’t want strangers in it. Housekeeping can clean it AFTER I check-out and get it ready for the next guest. Since I decline housekeeping service, I don’t tip. It’s up to the employer to compensate employees enough to avoid attrition.

  24. What really bothers me about the attitude and mentality of the WP editors is that they feel like they are so much more morally superior and knowledgeable then us pheasants to lecture us “How to clean your hotel room”. If I am old enough to afford the room cost and am eligible to check-in (over 18) I probably have enough common sense on how to behave in public. This “let me educate you” is very elitist. And of course anyone who even mentions the “class divide” has been drinking from the river Marx.
    Pay the fair wage and let the market take care of the rest. Somehow in Europe housekeeping staff are local French and German looking and speaking folks. They make a good living and are protected by labor laws. Somehow in the US we want to have it both way: invite poor uneducated people, keep them undocumented, uneducated, treat them as slaves, make obstacles for them to learn the language and integrate and then having created this “class divide” talk about the injustice and signal your own virtue.
    BTW, US housekeeping workers of all major hotel chains are unionized, so the question of their salaries needs to be addressed to the union bosses and the dems in the house and the senate whom they very heavily support with the union dues of “underpaid” workers.

  25. Why is it that people say housekeeping is an underpaid job? Remember those housekeeping strikes in hawaii a few years back? They were striking because 100k$ wasn’t enough pay. I know Hawaii is expensive but come on…. Marriott pay for housekeeping averages $16/hr. With a 2 income family working as housekeepers that’s only a few bucks under the national median income, for a job that has zero qualifications. Do housekeepers work hard? Sure they do. It seems kind of insulting to suggest they are low income slaves just barely scraping by and in need of tips.

  26. @dchillguy
    No that is absolutely false that all major hotel chains are unionized. I work in a hotel and represented by a union. There is multiple strikes going on several hotels right now to get unionized. Everything else mentioned is 100% accurate though 😉

  27. I have the same attitude as @TravelWarr. I think subconsciously I also think if I’m considerate if something happens like I forget something, housekeeping would be more inclined to help me out

    @kimmiea brings up an interesting perspective I hadn’t thought of

Comments are closed.