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Why Don’t Hotels Use Fitted Sheets?

A hotel housekeeping placing a fitted sheet on the bed.

Many hotels choose not to use fitted sheets because they are harder to clean and are more time consuming to place on a bed than flat sheets.

If you’ve stayed at a hotel in recent years, you may have noticed that the bed does not use fitted sheets. Many hotels have made the swap over to flat sheets for both the bottom and second layer of the bed, causing many people to question why.  

The answer has to do with not just the cost of fitted sheets, but the additional costs that are associated with having different types of sheets. Fitted sheets generally require more labor, but to understand why it’s important to first understand how housekeeping is done at most major hotel chains.

How Hotel Housekeeping Works

A hotel housekeeper fixing a bed.

While most people have a general familiarity with how to clean their own house, hotel housekeeping tends to be a lot different. In a hotel, each housekeeper is responsible for cleaning multiple rooms.  

Each of these rooms has to be sanitized; the next guest will notice if the housekeeper “missed a spot”. Therefore, the goal of hotel housekeeping is to clean things as simply and efficiently as possible.

Every hotel chain has done efficiency studies of every part of cleaning their hotel rooms. As a result, each housekeeper has a strict order in which he or she has to clean rooms and very detailed instructions on how to clean everything in the room.  

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This extensively detailed list not only ensures maximum efficiency, but it also ensures that there will be no mistakes made while cleaning. For example, while using the wrong cleaning product on a sink in your home might not be such a big deal, it can be catastrophic in a hotel where kids use the sink to get a drink and wind up poisoned by a toxic cleaner.

While developing these efficiency lists, industrial engineers and hotel managers came up with the idea to eliminate fitted sheets. This decision was made for several reasons.

Fitted Sheets are Hard to Clean

A man tucking in a fitted sheet on a bed.

Unlike your bed at home, hotel beds have to have a complete change of bedding in between each guest. Completely stripping and remaking the beds in hotel rooms is one of the most time-consuming tasks when cleaning a room for several different reasons.  

Bedding is often heavy and hard to move, causing the housekeeper to slow down s everything is removed and placed into a laundry bin. By the time he or she gets down to the bottom sheet, the fitted sheet is more time consuming to pull off the bed than a fitted one.

The fitted sheet is also more likely to get dirty. The elastic bands around the outside of the sheet can collect small objects and debris, making it necessary to shake them out thoroughly before placing them in the laundry bin.

Once the laundry goes downstairs to be cleaned, the problems with fitted sheets get worse. Fitted sheets have a tendency to snag or get caught around other laundry items, preventing everything from tumbling in the washer machine and getting thoroughly cleaned.  

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The result is that many sheets and other bedding items come out of the machines not totally clean, but due to time constraints they are often not thoroughly inspected or re-cleaned. That means sheets with spots or stains can be placed back into rotation and into rooms.

Fitted Sheets are Harder to Deal With

A pile of folded fitted sheet.

Once fitted sheets come out of the laundry, they have to be folded.  Most people who make their own beds already know this, but industrial engineers have run actual tests. It does, in fact, take a lot longer to fold a fitted sheet than a flat one. Fitted sheets also take up a lot more room on the shelf.  

Once the sheet makes it upstairs, the housekeeper will take a longer amount of time to find the right sheet, and loop the elastic corners around the bed. Placing the fitted sheet is one of the most time-consuming parts of making a bed.

The Solution

A foam for bed with fitted sheet.

Replacing fitted sheets with flat sheets, however, eliminates nearly all of these problems. Flat sheets are much quicker to pull off of beds, and they don’t get caught up around other sheets as often in industrial washing machines.

They’re easier to fol and store, and when it’s time to sort what items need to go into hotel rooms, it’s much easier to grab several stacks of flat sheets rather than count out matching sets of fitted and flat sheets.

Once upstairs, the housekeeper will have a much easier time placing flat sheets on the bed than fitted ones. Rather than struggling with corners that can pop off, tucking in yeah corner of a flat sheet is actually much more efficient.

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