Home Cleaning & Maintenance The Plight of the Housekeeper in a COVID-Changing World

The Plight of the Housekeeper in a COVID-Changing World


It was a little more than 11 years ago that I first wrote about the “Make a Green Choice” program that had been rolled out at a couple of hotels in Seattle and Kauai. For those of you not familiar with Make a Green Choice, it gave guests the option of opting out of housekeeping for a day or more. At the time, in exchange for doing that, guests were given either a $5 gift card for the hotel’s restaurants or the option of receiving 500 Starpoints as part of Starwood’s loyalty program. I applauded the program at the time. When I did ask if housekeepers would be losing their jobs because of the program, I was told they would be assigned to other tasks and not lose their jobs. That said, over the years I have since posted articles about the impact on housekeeper work time, union opposition to the program, housekeepers indeed losing jobs, etc.

According to an article posted in The New York Times, in today’s COVID-19 world, where daily room cleanings have been eliminated, when housekeepers do work they are working harder and for less money ultimately. And, in some cases they are losing benefits and jobs.

The New York Times article said that housekeepers say cleaning rooms after someone checks out poses more of a risk to them and is more physically taxing than cleaning daily. Several days’ worth of trash, dust and germs have accumulated but they are expected to clean the room in the same amount of time allotted for daily cleaning.

Having to clean a dirtier room in the same amount of time will result in—no surprise here—a dirtier room for the next guest. It can also result in more ergonomics-related injuries.

A quote from the Times article: “What we believe is that daily room cleaning is our arsenal to help fight the spread of Covid,” said Nia Winston, General Vice President of Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant workers’ union that represents more than 300,000 hospitality workers. “Daily room cleaning is required in China and Hong Kong and other places that have successfully contained the virus.”

“In July, San Francisco adopted the country’s strictest rules for cleaning offices and hotels that are more than 50,000 square feet,” the Times says. “Those rules mandate that common areas be cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day and that guest rooms be cleaned daily unless guests refuse. The A.H.L.A. was one of three hotel associations that filed a lawsuit to overturn the ordinance. That litigation is still pending.”

Your thoughts? I can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.