Do Hotels Really Not Replace Our Towels?

a stack of white towelsA comment to my Hotel Etiquette Guide got me thinking. Gracie said,

About the towels on the floor/indicating the desire for laundry service… I LOVE the policy of hang it up vs. leave on the floor that most hotels have adopted in an effort to conserve water. However, I’ve noticed that pretty much everywhere doesn’t really adhere to this on the room attendants side….. I’d like to participate in the water conservation initiative but am disheartened EVERY TIME!

Thinking back to hotel stays over the years, I would say that at least half the time I get new towels when I specifically don’t want to. Honestly, it’s kind of aggravating. I am trying to do what I can to my my travel a little more “green”, yet hotels won’t allow it. And their own signs give the instructions, which I follow but they do not.

I am not the first traveler to write about this. Go Green Travel Green has a great “Dear Housekeeping” letter, and the comments are even more revealing. One comment from someone who works in the hotel industry said that hotels replace towels very often because it affects their “star” rating. Interesting.

So I am going to do my own little study, and would like your help. Every time I stay in a hotel for more than one night, I am going to note what the hotel does with my towels. Can you do the same? Come back here and report! Or if you’d rather, you can email me at

I’ll start. I stayed at the Embassy Suites Santa Clara last week, and they did not replace my towel when I hung it up. Good job! Also, their parking lot looked like a showroom for blue Ford Focuses. But that is another post for another day I guess…..



  1. I’ve been irritated by that as well, and I personally get around it by just leaving the “Do not disturb” sign on my door for my entire stay (unless, of course, I really need something). That way, not only do I make sure that unnecessary sheet and towel changing isn’t happening, but I’ll save the attendant time by not having to clean my room daily.

  2. Ditto Erica. I just leave the DND sign out and take it off every 3rd day or so (for longer trips). If I need the trash taken out I just put the can outside the door.

  3. So, I have this thing. I tend to put the “DND” sign out and leave it that way until I *really* need to flip the room. I don’t change my bed sheets daily at home. I use the same towel twice at home.

    Unless I’m in a suite and have a business guest coming, I don’t let anyone in there until I really need them, and that guarantees that I have everything just so. : )

  4. I’m also one who keeps the privacy sign on the door until I check out. My travel has me checking in and out of hotels throughout the week, most weeks. But on the trips where I get to stay in a room multiple nights, I’d rather have my room my way, not get new towels and not have someone clean up after me daily since I don’t really need it.

  5. Steve – My years as a teacher provides evidence to the contrary. One person can make a difference. Changes in habit are usually the direct influence of one person.

    Like Chris and others, I tend to leave the Do Not Disturb sign on my door for my stay since I generally do not need my room cleaned or sheets and towels changed for my stay.

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