10 Tips for Hotel Linen Purchase and Care

As a frequent hotel guest, one of the first things I notice in a hotel room is the linen, from the bed sheets and pillows to the bathroom towels. If it shows signs of wear and tear, has oddly colored stains or an unpleasant odor, it contributes negatively to the overall impression of the hotel. And other travelers agree – quality linen can contribute anywhere from 5-20 percent of customer satisfaction ratings, according to a study by Metabolic.

The study also found that over the course of a year, a 120-room hotel can spend roughly $65,000 on linen laundering, with 25 percent of that cost due to linen itself. Lowering operational costs within the hospitality industry can be a major challenge, but there are ways hotels can save. Linen can have a longer life if hotels are smart about the purchase process and how they care for linen.

When purchasing new linen, hotels can enhance customer satisfaction, reduce operational and labor costs, and increase their commitment to sustainability by following these tips:

  1. Choose durable linen. One-hundred percent organic cotton is more durable and preferred by most customers. Because it can be recycled 2-4 times on average, it reduces GMG emissions and landfill waste– saving money and the planet.

  2. Avoid linen made from cotton grown using high amounts of insecticides and pesticides. Non-organic cotton consumes up to 24 percent of the world’s insecticides and 11 percent of pesticides, thereby making it a highly impactful crop. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is more environmentally friendly and should be chosen by hotels whenever possible.

  3. Source textiles from areas with low water stress. Textile crops occupy 2 percent of agricultural land, yet they are responsible for 20 percent of agricultural water use. Looking into where linen comes from helps hotels ensure that their linen was responsibly sourced.

  4. Swap out woven for knitted. Towels are usually woven, but the knitting method uses a different manufacturing process that reduces energy use up to 15 percent and can result in softer, more breathable linen that customers prefer.

  5. Ensure linen is bleached with ozone during manufacturing. Most linen is bleached white with toxic chemicals which contributes to environmental pollution, water waste and GHG emissions. Ozone bleaching during the manufacturing process produces a vivid white color and is non-toxic, providing guests with a safe and environmentally friendly option.  

Proper textile selection is the first step to extending the life of linen. Then, hotels must consider tips for proper linen care, including:

  1. Implementing a low temperature wash program. These low temperature wash solutions, like Diversey Care’s Clax® Advanced, reduce energy and water consumption and wear on linen while making stains disappear. The program extends the lifespan of linen 30 percent or more.

  2. Following the “first time right” approach. When linen is washed correctly the first time with the right wash programs and pre-spotting procedures, hotels reduce the need to rewash linen. This helps to increase labor productivity and significantly lowers energy and water use.

  3. Introducing new textile washing policies and practices to employees and guests. When washing policies and practices are improved, it’s important to train employees on the new method to ensure linen is treated correctly. It’s also vital to inform guests of the hotel’s environmental policies and ask for their cooperation when new washing practices are put in place so guests understand when linen will be replaced. 

  4. Repurposing linen. When linens reach the end of their lifespan, it’s crucial that hotels don’t toss them out. Instead, programs like Diversey Care’s Linens for Life® initiative helps hotels set up a process with communities to re-use linen as cleaning rags or even pocket linings and other trimmings for clothing.

  5. Recycling. With 100 percent organic cotton, hotels can recycle or work with a third party provider to compost used textiles. This helps the environment as well as a hotel’s image.

Whether a hotel is searching for ways to cut back on its water and energy bills or increase guest satisfaction scores, smart linen purchase and care can help properties see results. To learn more about the impact of linen and tips for purchase, care and end-of-life decisions, access the executive summary of a study on the environmental impact of hotel linen, which Diversey Care commissioned Metabolic.