Hotel beds can be extremely comfortable especially when they have nice fluffy comforters for you to curl up in. But are those comforters or duvets actually washed between stays or are you curling up with a comforter that has been used by dozens of guests over the past few months?
In this article we take a look at whether or not hotels actually wash their bedding between guests. I’ve found lots of data points from hotel employees that may send shivers down your spine so be prepared. But I’ve also found some helpful tips that will help you sleep easier if this is a major concern.
Do Hotels wash the bedding between stays?
As shocking as it might be, many hotels do not wash the comforter, bedspreads or duvets between every guest’s stay. However, the sheets and pillowcases should be cleaned between stays.
Below, I’ll give you some direct quotes from people involved in hotels that will give you a sense of what goes down in terms of hotels washing your bedding. I’ll have to warn you that it’s not very pretty so if you would like to remain blissfully ignorant about the state of your bedding, you may not want to read much further.
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Comforters, duvets, and blankets
Hotels use different set ups for bedding and so it will help to get a sense of the terms used for different articles of bedding.
Some hotel beds have decorative pillows and throw blankets that most guests instinctually discard upon getting settled in the bed. These are usually colorful, odd shaped pillows and blankets with patterns and designs on them.
Most people accept and are probably aware that these items are not washed between every hotel use which is why most people seem to not use these.
The bigger and more relevant question revolves the bedding tops….
In a hotel room you may have a comforter, duvet, or bedspread.
In this article, these are the bedding types that we are most concerned with because they are bedding items actually used and seem to be the biggest issue in terms of cleanliness.
For clarity, I’ve provided a definition of each article of bedding via The Spruce.
- Comforter: “Thick bedding topper filled with down or a synthetic substitute. Many comforters are sewn-through or quilted to keep the filling in place, but unlike a quilt, a comforter’s stitching is not ornately patterned.”
- Duvet: “a duvet is a comforter, usually plain white and filled with down, while the duvet cover is the fabric envelope that fits over the duvet and closes down one side with large buttons, ties, or a zipper.”
- Bedspread: “Bedspreads are single-layer bedding toppers that cover the entire bed right down to the floor and often cover the pillows as well. Many bedspreads have elaborate pompom, corduroy, or chenille finishes, and some have fringe along the bottom edges.”
You’ll see all three of these terms referenced below. But generally, this article is focused on the large outer-most “blanket” covering your hotel bed when you show up to the room, so these are all sort of lumped into one category.
How do we know comforters are not cleaned?
Hotels are obviously not dying to advertise that they do not clean the comforters after every stay. It’s also not always easy to get clear-cut responses from hotels on this issue. So what we’re left with is our own personal experiences and public posts from hotel employees.
One thing to think about is your own personal experiences when staying at hotels. When you see housekeeping pushing the carts through the hallways, what do you usually see being transported?
Usually you see the cleaning supplies, towels, and maybe sheets and pillowcases. Rarely, if ever do you see huge comforters or duvets getting transported around which is a sign that the comforters are not being replaced between each cleaning.
But what do hotel employees have to say about this issue?
Personal accounts of hotel employees
Below is a rundown of some personal accounts from hotel employees that will give you a sense of what happens with the cleaning of hotel bedding.
I have to warn you that it’s not very pretty but keep in mind that every property is different and will have policies that are shaped by the individual owners.
Just because you see someone make a statement about a particular chain or brand, that does not mean that it will be the case at every location for the chain or brand.
Also, these are statements given by anonymous internet users.
It’s possible that some of these could be fabricated but I found the statements below to be generally consistent with hundreds of forum posts I’ve reviewed which tells me that, barring some mass conspiracy, this is a pretty good consensus of what hotels are doing.
So with that said, here are some of the personal accounts found online:
I worked as a head-housekeeper in various top hotels in Barcelona, Spain and normally, the hotel policy was to change sheet and pillow cases. So to change the duvet cover or bedspread/blankets which were there for decoration purpose only were changed and washed only when dirty or dull (or 1–2 x month if time permits it)Quora
The only time we did the blankets or the bed spreads was if something was spilled on them even if it was a smoking or pet approved room.Quora
No. Sheets are done often enough to maintain the par stock and in many/most cases are changed daily. There’s a growing trend, though, for hoteliers to ask guests if they want to have their sheets changed daily or not. Bedspreads/comforters are rotated according to a longer schedule, but I don’t know of any hotel that changes them daily.Quora
All bedding is changed after each guest. We don’t have duvet inserts in my hotel though. But all the linen, including pillow cases and pillow case covers are changedReddit
Blankets, duvets, comforters are not cleaned after every guest in any hotel that doesn’t have full size in house laundry room. By that I mean 6-8 washers, same with dryers, folding machines, etc. So that rules out damned near every hotel in the Marriott system. Where have I worked that this all applies to or personally know? Sheraton, Marriott, Renaissance, Fairfield, Springhill and below, most Hiltons, most Hyatts, everything limited service. They all change these items when they are found to be dirty. Are there exceptions? I’m certain there are, but this is what I know from thirteen years in the industry, primarily back of the house.Reddit
I run a 19 room hotel 2 employees. Like me and my wife are going to put 6 comforters and linens in our 2 house sized washer and dryers every day. Do I get them if they smell funky or someone was dirty sure. But we’re talking maybe once a month that comforter is getting washed.Reddit
Depends on the hotel, I worked at a bed and breakfast for a year and we were told to only wash the sheets and pillowcases after each customer and not the comforters till our scheduled deep cleaning of the rooms which was around once a month.Reddit
I worked at a holiday inn for a year and never saw them wash the comforters. As soon as a get in a hotel room I take the comforter off the bed and put it in the closetReddit
Worked at a Westin. Comforters were only washed if stains were on them from previous guests. Then on deep cleaning schedule depending on business levels.Reddit
Worked housekeeping for a Westin. We were only supposed to change duvet covers if they were visibly stainedReddit
I used to work in a hotel, we only ever washed the pillowcases and sheets. It was a Ramada.Reddit
I actually work as a housekeeper in a hotel, and I can tell you we do in fact clean comforters. However, we don’t clean them as regularly as we do with the sheets and pillowcases…. Unfortunately, replacing them involves calling our supervisor and waiting for a replacement if we don’t have one in our supply closet, so I know many of my colleagues ignore the dirty comforters and simply leave them for the next person to replace.Reddit
Used to be a General Manager at Days Inn. We only washed the comforters once a year, and that was simply bc I instructed staff to do so. We had about 300 rooms and were very busy, washing/drying all of those big, thick blankets was not possible most of the time. Our hotel was severely understaffed and labor hours had to stay as low as possible per upper management.Reddit
Used to work housekeeping for super 8. The comforters are not washed. If something horrid happens to them, we change it out and wash it or throw it away. But this is like obvious visual blood in a large area, burned, maybe cut into pieces, visible holes. If it gets peed on (for example) and it’s dry by time we clean room, we prob won’t even notice.Reddit
Some reported hotels that do clean the duvets/comforters but they were clearly in the minority.
I worked at a Hampton Inn. We put clean duvet covers on before each new guest.Reddit
I worked at a Hampton as well and they were always extremely clean and washed everything after every guest.Reddit
I used to work at a Radisson, we washed our comforters after every guest left.Reddit
So the take-a-way here is that many (if not most) properties do not clean comforters between guests unless there is some obvious stain or pungent odor coming from the comforter.
However, your sheets and pillowcases should be cleaned between each stay (although there are some reports of that not even happening).
Hotel chains and expectations
Certain hotel chains may have universal guidelines that apply to hotels owned by that particular hotel chain. For example, a Hilton hotel may require all properties owned by Hilton to clean duvet covers between guests. But this may not apply to franchise properties.
Also, as you would probably expect, the more expensive the property the higher the cleanliness standard.
So if you are staying at a property like a Ritz-Carlton you have a much more justified expectation that comforters will be cleaned between each stay.
The arguments for and against
Many travelers believe that they should be entitled to bedding that is cleaned before each stay.
The idea of coming into contact with a comforter or duvet cover that has had bodily fluids on it, possibly for weeks or even months, is extremely disgusting.
Opponents of daily cleaning point out how difficult it would be to wash comforters after every single guest. The laundry facilities needed to do this are simply not feasible for smaller hotels.
Some housekeeping employees point out that replacing a duvet cover is time consuming and they simply are not given the time to complete that task.
Others claim that coming into contact with a used comforter is not much different than coming into contact with seats in a rental car or some other type of public transportation.
They note that people have been coming into contact with these used comforters for years and years without any type of widespread issues.
What you can do if you don’t feel comfortable
If you don’t feel 100% comfortable sleeping on a hotel bed with a potentially used comforter, there are a few different routes you can take.
Ask for a fresh comforter
When you check in you can request a fresh comforter or duvet.
This could affect the cleaning logistics of the hotel so it’s possible that they won’t be able to deliver you one right away. But even if you have to wait several hours or until the evening time it could still be worth it.
You’ll just have to trust the hotel that they are actually sending you a freshly cleaned duvet which you might be able to verify by giving it a good sniff.
Use the extra blanket
A lot of hotels will store an extra blanket in the closet in your hotel room. The issue with taking this is that (for whatever reason) often these blankets are dark which would make it harder to find a stain in them.
Also, a lot of these blankets are probably not used very often which makes you wonder when they were last washed.
Bring a blanket
Some travelers prefer to bring their own blanket or sleeping bag so that they can avoid making contact with the comforter.
When these germ-conscious travelers arrive at a hotel they toss the comforter into the corner of the room or in the closet and then only use the hotel sheets plus the blanket that they brought.
If you don’t want to bring a blanket with you, you could always purchase a blanket or comforter when you arrive at your destination. Assuming you don’t put a lot of wear into it or stain it up, you can probably just return it before you leave.
This adds extra stops and time to your travel but if you are trying to get the best sleep without worrying about what your body is coming to contact with, this could be a worthwhile route.
Bring a sheet
Because comforters and blankets can be so heavy or occupy so much space you may not always be able to bring them with you when traveling.
However, bringing a sheet with you is a lot more doable. You can use the sheet as a barrier between you and the comforter so that you don’t have to worry about coming into contact with a comforter that has not been washed.
The problem for some people is that they twist and turn in their sleep and so simply going to bed with a sheet between you and the comforter does not mean that in the middle of the night you will not be wrapped up in that dirty comforter.
Getting a good pair of top and bottom pajamas could reduce the contact you have with the comforter.
Unfortunately, it seems like many if not most hotels do not wash the comforter or duvet cover on your bed. So if you would like peace of mind when sleeping, you may want to avoid using the comforter and try one of the alternative methods mentioned above.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.