Hotels and Clean Sheets

by Mardie Caldwell

When traveling with little ones and big ones too, the cleanliness of the hotel has to be on the top of our list. On one of our many trips from California to Virginia, we had reservations at a quality hotel. Exhausted, we arrived late. We’d had a long flight and a longer check-in. All we wanted to do was sleep.

We stepped inside our room to put our bags down and as the kids were excitedly turning on every light switch in the room, I spent the next few minutes focused on the walls and floors and whether or not it was safe to put down my luggage.

Glancing down, the first thing I noticed was that the floors had not been vacuumed. Then, surreptitiously, I peeked underneath one of the beds. Gasping, I found the most repulsive items stuck to the floor. My intake of breath was enough to grab my children’s attention. As I attempted to keep their little noses above ground, I wondered how long it was going to take me to get a maid up here stat.

Suddenly, one of the girls yelled from the bathroom. In a second I was on my feet and heading for the noise. As I came around the corner, the image of a toilet that had not been cleaned by a long shot (no pun intended) greeted me. Nauseated, my other child and my husband shrieked from the bedside – where they all stood staring at the dry mess on the wall where someone had vomited.

I gave a quick look at my family and they knew what was coming next. I grabbed the bags, threw the coats at the kids, and yelled at my husband, “Let’s go!”

My family is used to me doing the once-over mom inspection and if I feel it is not clean enough for my family; out we march to another room or hotel. It is the mother hen in me and I can’t help it. Well, this was beyond imagining, but I kept thinking, what if we had kept the lights off and just plopped into bed?

It was now 11:20 pm and finding another hotel was out of the question. We gathered in the lobby, scooting the kids to the waiting area to sit while I asked for the manager. A neatly dressed man was soon directed toward us and I nicely explained what was found and shared my routine.

girls wrapped in a clean hotel towel on the beachNow, I am never mean, but this time – the businesswoman/entrepreneur in me took over. “Here’s a piece of advice”, I said. “If you keep your rooms clean, your guests will come back and your housekeepers will get a tip and your boss won’t fire you.” It was very simple and in a language, he could understand.

I’ve learned that when I run into a situation like the one above and I share with the desk clerks and managers my thoughts and feelings, they usually respond. I inform them nicely but directly, that I run my own companies and if I ran them like they cleaned their hotel, well… Then, I nicely ask them to make a note of the problem and to put us in another room. This time, the young manager smiled and took notes as I handed him a pen and my business card.

The next room was a little better but doable. The next morning they thanked me and we were on our way. Two days later we came back to the airport and decided to give them one more try. Yes, maybe crazy, but I like to give people another chance; we all make mistakes.

Greeted by a middle-aged woman, she handed us the key card that informed me we were on the 4th floor. I asked if they had any rooms on the ground floor and was promptly told, “I am sorry, ma’am. The entire first floor is closed for cleaning!”

I smiled, turned to glance at my husband and the kids and they all grinned. We all shared the lesson of speaking up, of being kind yet firm. We found our 4th-floor room much cleaner.

So here is my Clean Sheets Hotel Tips I have been in many countries and traveled in many states and I have found an all too common problem. Most hotel pillowcases and blankets are dirty or even in some places downright filthy — even if they are 5-star hotels and have freshly washed linens.

The Reason: Most hotels put a soiled bedspread over clean pillows and blankets. While watching the staff work, I noticed most hotel maids, as a rule, throw the bedspread on the dirty carpet while making beds. The bedspread picks up plenty of dirt and whatever else is brought in on shoes etc…. and then the maid puts the unclean bedspread over the pillows and blankets.

The Solution: I ask housekeeping to bring me clean pillowcases, freshly washed blankets wrapped in a plastic bag from the laundry, (be sure to mention you want it in plastic), and flat sheets for each bed. I put the clean pillowcases over the dirty pillowcases; I replace the dirty blankets with the clean blankets and then put a flat sheet over the bedspread.

Now the kids can sit on the clean top sheet instead of the bedspread and I can breathe easy while we enjoy sleeping on truly clean bedding. I have traveled to pick up babies and I wouldn’t think of putting a newborn down on the top of a bedspread in a hotel.

Here is a list of things I bring with me when we have to stay at a hotel:

  • Lysol spray – sample size. If needed, you can also make your own. Just fill a pump bottle with antibacterial spray and carry it in a zip lock bag to prevent it from spilling while traveling.
  • Slippers – the foldable kind made for kids and adults.
  • Plastic bags for extra laundry, swim suits etc.
  • Tissue toilet seat covers.
  • Flash light and remember to check the batteries.
  • Diaper wipes – travel size are good for quick hand, face or counter clean ups.

Remember, traveling with kids can be the adventure of a lifetime! Be proactive with hotel management and you will have much less to worry about.

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Mardie Caldwell is the Founder of Lifetime Adoption. Mardie is the host of the popular Internet Talk Radio Show, Let’s Talk Adoption, and the author of -Your Internet Adoption Resource Guide, and numerous articles on adoption, parenting and financing. She is an adoptive mother, married with 4 children.