How the pandemic made hotel housekeeping more difficult -- and disgusting

Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

The World Health Organization disagrees with the CDC recommendations, saying, “All programs where guests can voluntarily forego housekeeping services should be suspended in the service of maximizing health and safety of hotel staff and guests alike.” The WHO policy suggests that guests and staff will be less at risk of infection if the rooms are regularly cleaned and disinfected by workers wearing gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment.

During a recent eight-hour work shift, Velasquez kept notes and took photos of her workload.

Her manager required her to clean 14 rooms that day. That includes changing the bedding, cleaning and disinfecting the bathroom, dusting, replacing soiled towels, vacuuming the carpeting and mopping the tile and hardwood floors. With a 30-minute break for lunch, that would give her only 32 minutes per room.

She began her shift at 8:32 a.m. It took her 45 minutes to clean the first room. Piles of soiled towels littered the bathroom and trash was strewn throughout the room, outside of the trash bins. She was already behind schedule.

The second room was much cleaner — no trash or towels on the floor — and she was able to complete it in 30 minutes. But by 10 a.m. she had cleaned only two rooms.

Velasquez started the third room — also very cluttered and dirty — at 10:12 a.m. and it took her until 11 a.m. to complete it.


It took her an hour to clean the fourth room. The most physically demanding part of the job was lifting the mattresses to replace the bedsheets and to vacuum under the bed, she said. Most days, she works alone.

By the time of her lunch break, she had cleaned only five of the 14 rooms she was assigned to complete. She was frustrated and tired. Velasquez said she has told her manager repeatedly that the rooms are too cluttered and dirty for her to meet the daily quota. Keep to the schedule, she is told.

“I go from room to room and it’s the same,” she said of the workload.

Toward the end of her shift, she stepped into the bathroom of her 12th room and discovered that a guest had smeared feces on the walls of the shower stall.


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