How clean are your hotel’s bed linens? Whatever hotel management’s answer, there is typically scant evidence, if any, supporting their conclusion. Pointing out that a property has never had a problem with such hygiene is fast becoming an inadequate response to this inquiry as public concern about cleanliness grows.
Keeping a hotel clean is challenging enough. A 2012 J.D. Power study noted that general issues of room cleanliness (odors, heating, cooling, ventilation) aggravate guests as much as shoddy equipment in their rooms, such as coffee makers or lights that don’t work or dead batteries in the TV remote control. Incomplete linen deliveries or cleanliness problems with sheets and towels shouldn’t be added to this list. A long-term solution to what can fast become an everyday problem is certifying hospitality launderers.
The association for linen, uniform and facility services, TRSA, has addressed this matter by launching a Hygienically Clean Hospitality certification to provide laundries with independent, third-party confirmation of evidence that their employees are properly trained and protected; that managers understand legal requirements; that the hotel’s practices are OSHA-compliant; and that equipment and systems operate effectively.
The certification verifies a laundry’s use of best management practices (BMPs) by performing an on-site inspection as well as the facility’s capability to produce hygienically clean textiles by quarterly microbial testing of the finished product. The inspection must confirm the laundry’s dedication to compliance and processing linens and garments using BMPs as described in its quality assurance documentation (QA). The QA is the focus of the inspector’s evaluation of critical control points in the laundry process to minimize risk.
The overwhelming majority of laundry facilities seeking this Hygienically Clean Hospitality certification most likely will be larger, outsourced operations. Compared with on-premise laundry facilities (OPLs), outsourced operations are more incentivized to achieve certification because they need to demonstrate proficiency to the hotel managers who contract with them. Hotel owners may be less inclined to seek this kind of certification since OPLs are viewed as an expense in contrast with outsourced laundry companies, for which laundering is a core revenue-generating activity.
K-Bro Linen Systems’ laundry in Calgary, Alberta, is the first facility to earn Hygienically Clean Hospitality certification. TRSA’s Hygienically Clean programs for laundries serving other industries are the fastest-growing such designations for North American linen and uniform services, with nearly 200 facilities achieving certification in just five years. The other programs certify patient care facilities (Hygienically Clean Healthcare), food manufacturers and processors (Hygienically Clean Food Safety), and restaurants (Hygienically Clean Food Service).
Third-party certification offers hoteliers and their outsourced laundry vendors a long-term solution to better control the quality of their linen cleanliness.
About the Author
Joseph Ricci is the president and CEO of TRSA, the association for the linen, uniform and facility services industry.