Washing bedding in vacation rental homes

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How often do you wash the bedding in your vacation rental property? I don’t mean the sheets and pillow covers that are more likely to come into direct contact with guests’ skin – I’m also referring to blankets, comforters, duvet covers, mattress and pillow protectors. Should they be washed after each rental?

When we first came out to Canada from UK, I was quite taken with the idea of comforters on beds. I was used to either sheets and blankets with a bedspread, or more recently, duvets with removable covers, so the attractive comforter that went over a top sheet and had matching pillow covers – I learnt to call them shams – seemed a better option. No more struggling with duvet covers; just shake out the comforter and that was it. So, when we began to rent out our vacation rental cottage I bought comforters for all the beds and our guests supplied their own sheets and pillow cases.

At that time we were still living back in England and travelling out to Ontario three or four times a year. The first time we arrived after several sets of rental guests had been in the cottage, I missed the freshly laundered smell of my duvet cover since the comforter hadn’t been washed between guests and I got so uncomfortable about that, I went out and bought a second one for each bed so they could be washed at the end of each rental. Have you ever tried to stuff a heavy Jacquard comforter in a domestic top-loader? It’s not easy, and in fact it was such a tight fit I don’t think there was much cleaning going on in that machine. I also found that the cheaper comforters were not made well enough to withstand more than one or two laundry cycles before the filling began to bunch up in the corners.

I did a bit of research on how often hotels wash their bedspreads and comforters and this is becoming a big issue for them with the higher end establishments using ‘freshly laundered comforters for your stay’ as a marketing enticement. Now more hotels are accepting pets, I should hope so, since I saw this on one forum:dogsonbed

“We take our dogs with us and they sleep on the beds. I wonder if they wash after they know we’ve had pets in the room?”

My take on now it is that I don’t like the thought of rental guests sleeping under comforters that have been used by other people and not freshly laundered in between. We can never guarantee their pets have not been invited to spend the night on top of the bed (even though we specifically request them not to do this); that moms have not changed their babies on the bedding, or that (forgive me for this one) the last honeymoon couple just couldn’t wait before they got beneath the sheets (if you get my drift). So, I’m back to duvet covers that are changed for each rental and using it as a marketing ploy as well. I’m sure a lot of guests don’t know how often the bedding is changed and some may not care, but if I can open their eyes to the more common practice of only laundering comforters every few months, I figure I can pull some more guests my way. Fresh laundered bedding vs comforter not seen the inside of a washing machine in 3 months – no contest.

I know this is a contentious subject. Take a look at this forum thread for examples of different viewpoints – it’s interesting to see some rental guests weighing in on the topic too. What’s your view?

Photos courtesy of CottageLINK Rental Management and The Torpedo Dog (on Flickr)

  • I’m horrified at reading the forum thread and sad to hear about guest expectations. We wash our duvets and pillows every few weeks and our throws every 8 or so weeks (as I am in the UK I’m not sure whether throws is the same as comforters). We also vacuum clean our mattresses regularly and change them every 4 years. BTW we also replace our duvets and pillows every 4-5 years – something that I am sure most B&B’s or hotels do not.

    I am paranoid about bed bugs after suffering a nasty attack in a New York hotel – I know that these creatures can be brought into a room (or, indeed, holiday rental) on travel bags or suitcases.

    I don’t accept pets in my holiday rentals – yeuck – dogs on beds??? I think not….

  • Sue Skey

    Thanks for the information! Just started doing holiday let’s
    Regards SUE

  • Thanks for sharing this great blog with us..You really share some awesome fab tips in your blog that are so important for us..So thanks for this..

  • jaske32

    I would after any stain at all immediatley!! If no stain after 10 guests

  • jaske32

    I am a vacation cabin rental cleaner with plenty of experience.

  • Hi there!
    In my quest to upgrade my ‘Cottages’ I visited the local Double Tree Hotel and also a large, very upscale resort here on Cape Cod. Yes, they use Duvets and covers. But, they cover THOSE over with sheets! These DO get washed after every guest, so will catch the Pet hair and maybe Baby changings, but I don’t believe it will take care of “Adult activities”. I now have Hotel quality duvets and covers for all my beds,and they get washed after every Guest in my large front loader.They were purchased used from a hotel doing an extensive renovation. A maid at the Double Tree told me about it. I was also able to purchase two under the counter refrigerators and am installing them outside for my Guests so there’s less running in and out and more wine/beer storage.

  • Hi Susan – A couple of years on from this post and I am still changing duvet covers after each rental – even the weekend ones. It just makes me feel better. It’s no big deal really – I have plenty of spares.

  • Hey Heather, I like your idea of taking advantage of this idea and use it as a marketing ploy, once you hear about it you will prefer a vacation home that proudly point it out. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sir Louie

    I’ve been thinking of purchasing cotton matalese for the rental, as i have on my own beds. I’m able to easily wash and dry them, and they come in all sizes.

  • I’ve been thinking about using them too – they are easy to wash and dry.

  • Sir Louie

    Yes, they are! The trick is finding nice ones at a good price. Macy’s had some Martha Stewart brand bedspreads on sale. They’re high quality cotton, and they have a nice heft. They do, however, shrink, as most matalesse covers do.

  • Darla Castleberry

    I have been in the Vacation Rental business for just under two years. I have learned a lot, and learned very quickly. My property was outfitted when I took it over. It has comforters and duvets, which I hate. We are in Scottsdale AZ, and the last thing needed are heavy comforters. I am replacing everything with medium weight quilts from Stein Mart. They are easily washable and a great price with many colors and prints. I wash them as needed, usually every other week. I do not have tenants strip the beds so that I can inspect them and make sure that everything is there. I have had bedding disappear. In a house that sleeps 16, this makes my life much easier than trying to plow through a mountain of dirty linen looking for stains rips and tears.