Gross! Your Hotel May Not Have Changed the Sheets After the Last Guest

A surprise may lurk in that bed.

We like to believe that there are certain things we can safely assume before we enter a hotel room — such as it being cleaned and the bedding refreshed since the last guest's stay. Surely, even the most casual of hotels would never let us sleep on someone else's soiled bedding. Right? We'd think not.

We'd be wrong.

A new Inside Edition investigation has revealed that many hotels are not changing sheets between guests, and it's not just in shady off-road places. Some of the biggest chains are doing this. Yes, that's disgusting.

As part of their investigation, the show booked rooms at nine different hotels. At each location, they sprayed an invisible fluorescent paint onto sheets reading, “I Slept Here" or "Yuck."

The paint, viewable when turning on a ultra-violet light, would reveal if the sheets had not been washed or changed between guests, and in several locations, this turned out to be the case. 

If you're troubled by this news, we are too. So, how can we tell if this is the case in our own hotel room? "The first thing one can do is simple enough — just use your eyes. Are the sheets wrinkled or do they have the appearance of being used?" says Anthony Melchiorri, host and creator of Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible. "Of course not every hotel has a sheet press and they could be wrinkled from a rapid drying effort in laundry. Second, is there any appearance of a previous guest — crumbs, stains, debris, lint. These are usually at the top of the bed. Third, after rolling the sheets down half-way, check for any hair at the bottom third of the bed. While static cling does happen in laundry, in the transfer of linen to the cart, et cetera, more than one or two should cause an alarm. If there are wrinkles, debris, and if there is hair in the right spots, chances are you're looking at unchanged sheets or at least have enough doubt about the cleanliness of the operation." 

You can take it a step further. "I read about this and it’s pretty disturbing," says travel expert Johnny Jet. "If you’re really worried, you can use a homemade black light (here’s how to make one) for closer inspection of hotel room bedding before crawling between the sheets. Before getting into any hotel bed, you can turn on your black light or if you’re too tired, just look for hairs, which are a dead (and gross) giveaway. I do this and so far I haven’t found any," he says.

We should already be inspecting our beds in hotels before getting too comfortable — no one wants to bring home bed bugs! — but this may be something we've never considered.

Oh and that bedspread? Just remove that from the start. The sheets may be changed, we'd hope, but the bed spread hardly ever is. 

As for what to do if you suspect this has happened, the solution is to call the desk and ask for a change of linen. "You will see housekeeping service the bed in short order and can rest soundly knowing that your sheets have been changed before your eyes," says Melchiorri.

If something doesn't feel right to you, that’s reason enough to politely ask the desk to send housekeeping up. "Doing so before you've even spent the night raises a flag, and typically the guest service department will want to overreact out of concern that your stay is not starting off well. Good hotels care and will follow up, great hotels will take action and ensure you're satisfied after such a request. As a guest, your expectation of cleanliness is well founded — you're spending upwards of 15 to 25 percent of your monthly mortgage or rent for often just one night’s stay, so a pristine and clean bed isn't too much to ask for," says Melchiorri. When in doubt, simply ask for them to be changed. 

Now go have fun on that getaway.

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