When you check into a hotel, you expect at the very least a clean, relaxing experience. But what if the crisp white linen and the fluffy duvet is hiding a shocking secret? A recent investigation by Inside Edition found that hotel sheets aren't being replaced as often as you think. In fact, the pillow sham that touches your face, may be the exact same one used by the previous customer. Yuck.
In big cities like New York, where the hospitality industry is booming, hotel expectations can be especially high. Tourists paying hundreds of dollars a night for the luxury of a bed in a central location, count on it to meet higher cleanliness standards than a college dorm. Alas, that is not always the case. To test hotel sheet cleanliness, the team at Inside Edition devised a genius plan. They booked rooms in nine Manhattan hotels, and sprayed a washable fluorescent paint onto the sheets using a stencil that read “I Slept Here.” The paint is invisible under normal lighting, however under UV light the message becomes quite clear. The next evening, they checked into the same room under a different name. If the sheets were changed between customers, the paint should not be visible. However, if the bed was simply remade, the stencil would stand as evidence of the uncleanliness.
At the first hotel to fail the test, located in Times Square, the team sprayed the paint on the bottom fitted sheet, mussed up the bed to make it look slept in, and checked out. The next day, they booked the same room under a different name, and lo and behold, under a UV flashlight the paint appeared. Rooms in this hotel start at $200 a night. When another Manhattan hotel close to Central Park was found guilty of reusing sheets, the housekeeper assured the reporters that she had changed them — despite UV evidence.
The final hotel, where a night's stay can cost you $300 or more, was highly rated for cleanliness and service. The investigative team sprayed the invisible paint on the pillowcases, as well as the top and bottom sheet. The next day the pillowcases were found to be fresh, however the top and bottom sheets were still stained with the paint. All told, out of nine hotels tested, three failed — which is far too many in my book. Every hotel manager the team confronted with the UV evidence claimed that it was the property’s policy to thoroughly clean the sheets between customers, and not one could provide an answer as to why the sheets had not been changed.
This isn't the first time that hotels have been found to be cutting corners when it comes to tidying up. In 2014, Today reported that hidden cameras set up in popular New Jersey chains revealed that housekeeping staff did not change pillowcases, even when customers left a card asking that all the linens be changed, along with other unsanitary infractions.
If the possibility of previously used sheets creeps you out, Inside Edition recommends simply requesting a clean set from housekeeping and changing them yourself. It may be more effort than you want to expend on vacation, but at least you'll sleep easy knowing your bed is clean. Those duvets though, now that's another story ...