How Messy You Should Leave Your Hotel Room, According to Etiquette Experts

We asked etiquette experts to answer — here are their dos and don’ts.

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One of the best parts of staying in a hotel? The daily housekeeping, of course. Although it’s nice to have a dedicated team on hand to make your bed and take out your trash, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re off the hook when it comes to cleaning. While Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas tells Travel + Leisure that “Housekeeping is happy to clean your room,” it’s important to be courteous and mindful of etiquette and cleaning standards. In short, while you don’t have to go all-out by meticulously making the bed or folding the towels (though props if you do) — there are a few steps you can take to keep the space tidy to not create extra work for hotel staff.  If you’re wondering exactly how messy is too messy to leave your hotel room, you’re not alone. We consulted etiquette experts to weigh in on the highly debated topic — here are their dos and don’ts.

Related: 17 Expert Home-cleaning Hacks From Hotel Housekeeping Staff

Do designate space for different belongings.

Gottsman advises guests to leave their rooms tidy so that hotel staff can clean thoroughly without having to “filter through personal items on the floor or dresser.” As such, she recommends designating spaces for belongings like “dirty towels in one corner, shoes put together in a corner, [and] clothes in your suitcase, not left on the bed,” so that housekeeping does not have to move anything around to clean efficiently.

Don’t make the bed.

While you should certainly strive to keep your room as clean as possible as a courtesy to the housekeeping staff, there’s absolutely no need for you to make the bed before checking out. Don’t believe us? Just take it from modern etiquette expert Myka Meier, who tells T+L that “The bed will be immediately stripped, so you don’t have to worry about making it.”

Do pick up after your pet.

It goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Besides, accidents happen, and the best pet-friendly hotels will undoubtedly understand this. Nevertheless, be sure to bring along enough bags to pick up pet waste. Of course, you’ll also want to dispose of it properly (read: not flushing it down the toilet, causing it to clog).

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Don’t use a bathrobe as a tissue.

Put simply, Gottsman says, bathrobes are not tissues. And, on a similar note, they don’t double as makeup remover wipes, either. “Even though they can be washed,” she says, “it’s difficult to remove heavy stains.”

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Do pick up your trash.

Would you leave your garbage around when staying at a friend’s? If the answer is no — and, spoiler alert, it should be — then you shouldn’t do it in your hotel room. Instead, Meier advises tossing your trash in the correct cans provided. Also, be diligent about recycling if there are in-room recycling bins.

Don’t leave wet towels out.

“Never leave wet towels on the carpet or furniture, as it could damage wood or fabric and leave wet stains (or cause mildew) on carpet that may not dry in time for the next guest,” explains Meier. Instead, she recommends hanging used towels or leaving them “neatly piled in the bathroom.”

Do clean up whatever you break.

If you break something, clean it up. “Accidents happen,” says Gottsman, “but if you break a glass or bottle, make sure to pick up the shards and splintered pieces to the best of your ability.” That way, nobody — neither you nor the housekeeping staff — is put in harm’s way.

Don’t leave dirty dishes in the hall.

Next time you order room service, “don’t leave dirty trays out in the hallway,” says Meier. Not only is this impolite, but it can also be a tripping hazard and leave an unpleasant odor.  Instead, call housekeeping or room service to pick up the dishes directly from your room.

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Do rearrange the furniture to the way it was and put everything back accordingly.

If you rearrange your hotel room furniture — be it for baby-proofing purposes or simply to make the space more comfortable— make an effort to move everything back to the way it was before checking out. The same advice holds true for small but essential items such as the phone or television remote. Lastly, if you unplug something, like a lamp or alarm clock, remember to plug it back in before you go.

The Bottom Line

In short, explains Meier, “It’s important to leave your hotel room in a tidy and respectful manner, similar to the condition you found it.” While these actions may seem trivial or unnecessary, they can make a big difference for the housekeeping staff so that they can “easily clean and prepare for the next guest.” 

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