This Is the Proper Etiquette for Leaving a Hotel Room

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaks during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the proposed merger of CVS Health and Aetna, on Capitol Hill, February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. CVS Health is planning a $69 billion deal to acquire Aetna, an American healthcare company.

During your vacation, a hotel room is your home away from home, but it’s much better than your actual home because you have fresh sheets every day. Here’s how to properly thank, respect, and compensate the person making that happen.

Stephanie Land is the author of best-seller Maid, about her time working in housekeeping while supporting her daughter and earning her degree online. Land’s situation was in no way unique; many people are making their living in the service industry, and the standards for how they’re paid and treated vary widely. As a traveler, you can raise those standards via your own behavior, and Land tweeted out her suggestions for how you should leave a hotel room when your stay is over.


The luxury of lots of having clean towels in so many shapes and sizes can quickly go to your head. Have you been getting fresh ones every day? or have you just been accumulating them like a towel hoarder? Land writes that you should gather them up in a pretty specific way for the ease of the person picking them up for cleaning, by balling them up with the “washcloth in the middle,” probably because the washcloth is the wettest and filthiest of them all.

Light cleaning

You’re not going to vacuum or scrub the sink, but there are some basic things you can do that will make a hotel housekeeper’s life much easier; people do some gross stuff in hotels and the basics Land outlines paint a picture:

Pick the hair out of the drain. Flush. Put garbage in the garbage.

You wouldn’t think flushing the toilet needs to be said, but apparently it does, so please do.

To disturb or not to disturb

Land did not bring up the Do Not Disturb sign, but it became a point of contention in the comments; theoretically, you could leave your DND sign up throughout your stay, limiting the amount of work a cleaner has to do. Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. For one, as a post on Travel Skills points out, the DND sign is not a legally binding contract. Hotel cleaning and management can and will enter your room despite the sign, and apparently, guests often lie about leaving the sign off when they come back to a filthy room:

Guests will frequently leave the DND sign on their door when they go out for the day. Then when they return they think that somehow, magically, their room was supposed to have been cleaned without someone violating the DND sign. Then they’ll call down to the front desk and complain that their room was not cleaned and flat out lie about having left their DND sign on the door. This happens so often it’s crazy.

But in the context of how your helping or hindering staff, not allowing cleaning into the room means you’re likely cutting into their paycheck:

The housekeeping staff simply wants to clean their assigned rooms, especially rooms due to check-out that day. They don’t get paid for rooms they are assigned but do not clean, and they’re eager to see if the guest left them a tip.

So, let the workers do their work—they might just go ahead and do it anyway, and you can at least plan to hide your naughty stuff ahead of time.

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