Great question! If you’ve stayed at a hotel, you’ve likely experienced the beautiful quality and comfort there. Part of that immense quality, is a hotel’s cleanliness, which is a crucial concern to many guests. Coming “home” to a hotel that has unclean or old and ripped bedding is certainly not the right idea of quality and comfort from a hotel. So what really happens to old hotel bed linens? Where do they go? What happens when the hotel’s bedding has reached the end of it’s life-cycle?

Let’s start here… A hotel room’s bed has not only got be incredibly comfortable to lay down in, but it surely needs to be in pristine condition as well. A small stain, or a tear on a bed sheet for example, can lead the guest to drop a one star review, and never want to come back.

And this is one of the many reasons why many of the reputed hotels pay close attention to the condition of their bed linens.

A reputed hotel generally has a policy of changing bed sheets after every guest’s use at the very minimum. Which of course not only provides a clean and freshly renewed guest experience, but can also lead to an increase in customer satisfaction. And at the same time, helps to keep away bed bugs, and other unappealing things.

Yet, constantly washing and disinfecting bed sheets wears them out over time to a point where they cannot be used any more to provide a clean, fresh, and presentable experience. Along with bed linens that have tears, and stains and what not, worn out sheets are then replaced as soon as possible.

So what exactly happens to old hotel linens, and how do hotels deal with them?

They get reused by the hotel

You may have not thought of this, but some hotels reuse their old bed sheets. Recycling textiles is quite a sustainable and environment friendly solution.

There are a lot of benefits to reusing the hotel’s textiles. Instead of getting thrown away, depending on it’s condition, a bed sheet might be transformed into a pillow case, a table cloth, or covers, if it merely was torn and still in good usable condition.

Hotels that have restaurants may even use old linens to make napkins or aprons that their staff can use. One of the common uses for worn out bed sheets is turning them into cleaning rags which the hotel’s housekeepers can then use as satisfactory cleaning supplies or equipment.

Reusing old linens saves the hotel some money and is an easy solution for a lot of hotel managers. It is also quite an environment friendly solution that can be a part of the hotel’s sustainability program. Some big hotels especially partner up with professional textile recycling companies to market their eco-friendly efforts, and while making an impact in reducing waste, the hotels are thereby attracting that subset of guests.

They are resold

There are secondary markets for all sorts of goods, and that includes a hotel’s textiles. Of course, there would be sold at a discount price depending on their condition. And people and organizations that look for inexpensive towels and bed linens, have the opportunity to purchase them used at great discounted rates.

While used textiles won’t be sold at a high profit, for some hotels, it is still better than no profit at all. This is why some hotel managers sell unnecessary inventory including towels and bedsheets to interested buyers. In addition, old linens take up a lot of storage space and can continue to get even worse as time goes on, which further is an encouragement for managers to sell them at very low prices.

They get donated

Gently used textiles can also be donated by hotels as a sign of goodwill, humanitarian cause, or so on, as there are numerous people and charities that can truly benefit from these donations. Like for example, homeless shelters, orphanages, and so on, who are in need of donations and support. And hotels can certainly aid those in need by simply giving away the bed linens, pillows, towels, robes, and other textiles that are in acceptable condition.

Also read how waterproof pillow protectors can keep pillows lasting longer, and keep stains, liquids and other spills off the pillow.

Animal shelters also can use the older and more worn out textiles. Perhaps the bed sheets as coverings for the cages, or wrapping the animals in to keep them warm, or even as material to add padding to animal bedding.

Also sometimes, certain humanitarian projects use large quantities of old bed sheets that look and feel quite good, to transform them into clothes for people in need, instead of simply discarding them. Hotels participating in such ventures can simply give away all their unwanted linens to such organizations, which can thereby put them into good use, instead of having them stacked in the warehouse. In one recent project, bed sheets were repurposed to make clothes for children in need.

Donating used textiles while an important route to develop a hotel’s corporate social responsibility scheme, is after all an effort to help another. And regardless of whether or not a hotel benefits, if that humanitarian contribution to someone in need put a smile on his or her face, then that is a immense and worthy achievement so great.

They are sent for deep cleaning

Sometimes, deep cleaning or re-dyeing bed sheets can extend their shelf life. Although a costly solution, sending bed sheets and other textiles for professional cleaning can sometimes return them to a good enough condition to be continued in use at the hotel. If they meet the high standards of the some of hospitality industry, the sheets can be reused by the housekeeping staff for different purposes including as bedding once more. On the cost scale, depending on the cleaning procedure, when linens get an extended lifespan, hotels can delay buying brand new linens once more for the next season. Which is why some hotels prefer partnering with professional dry cleaners and laundromats and outsource the laundering of the linens.

They are simply discarded and thrown away

While hotel linens in the hospitality industry does have a good secondary market as mentioned above, sometimes, depending on several factors, hotels may have to simply have to discard the linens, which can then end up in landfills.


In conclusion, hotel linens depending on quality of product, with constant washing, steaming, and disinfecting, will of course steadily reduce the shelf life of them.

When buying hotel linens, it’s therefore a smart decision, a great idea to invest in good quality linens from reputable brands, where the quality of product can help ensure a much longer product lifespan, despite going through several commercial washing cycles. Good quality linens can be long lasting and even after several washes, can still be beautifully comfortable and provide a great experience to guests, whether it be the quality of bedding, the bath linens or the banquet linens.

Textile waste is an industry in itself, and for hotels to choose to positively impact people, and the environment by giving their old hotel linens a second lifecycle, is a noteworthy step forward.

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