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Between the Sheets (Apr08)

I spend quite a lot of time staying at hotels or other people’s houses, often for only one night at a time. And I realise that I’m getting quite obsessed about sheets. Well actually, not just sheets – pillowcases, towels, bathmats and anything else that has to be laundered.

Most of you will have seen little notices in hotel rooms saying that you should leave your towel hung up if you want to use it again.

It surprises me that when I’ve discussed this with people, they often say that hotels only encourage you to use your towel again to save on laundry costs. Maybe, but it also saves energy and water too.

I always hang up my towel but, much to my annoyance, I quite often find they wash it anyway! So now I try to make it look like I haven’t touched it – and only use the hand-towel, unless I’m having a shower.

Another issue is bed linen. Usually the hotel rooms I stay in give me a double bed. That’s quite nice from a comfort point of view but what about all the extra laundering. They give you four plump pillows with neatly pressed covers – and a large double sheet. I carefully put all but one of the pillows in the corner of the room so it’s absolutely clear that they don’t need washing.

Hotels obviously have to be scrupulous about cleaning linen and towels but what about friend’s houses? I’ve discovered that re-using sheets is a bit of a taboo, which even if practiced, not many people own up to.

One friend I stayed with insisted on washing all four pillow cases on my bed even though I’d only used one because they had to be kept in a set. How mad is that?

You might be wondering what I do with guests who come and stay with me! Well, it depends who it is. I have a few regular visitors, like my mother, who don’t mind sharing sheets but if I get someone who I know really minds, I do give them newly laundered ones… so don’t panic if you’re invited.

If you think this is all rather trivial, I beg to differ. The energy and water used for laundering is a big part of a hotel’s carbon footprint.

By encouraging people to be careful with what they use, hotels can save nearly a third of their laundry bill. There are also energy and water savings measures they can take during the washing – like reducing the temperature, using quick wash cycles and avoiding dryers.

So next time you slip between the sheets or pick up one of those luxurious, large bath-towels at a luxury hotel, you might spare a thought for the laundry impacts.

Originally published on Telegraph Earth

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