This past winter, I had to visit an emergency room. My son was not well and needed immediate treatment. During the course of that visit, I spent about an hour in the waiting room. Although the instant-care facility was not busy, the minute we walked through the doors I thought to myself “this is a mistake for me to come in here.” While the staff admitted my son, a receptionist with a very deep, throaty cough had me fill out the necessary paperwork. Shortly after I started filling out the paperwork, another gentleman entered the facility with a hack much worse than that of the receptionist. It was at this point I knew I had really made a mistake by coming in and filling out the paperwork.

We were there for approximately one hour and aside from the health care providers and the other gentleman who was ill, we were the only people in the facility. Later that night, I started to get a headache and by the morning I had a virulent case of flu.

The housekeeping pledge
I stay in a lot of hotels. There is one uniform feeling I have about all hotels, hospitals and emergency rooms: I am not comfortable with the way they are cleaned. I have noticed that they are fundamentally cleaned for appearance.

I have decided to prepare a “guest/patient bill of rights.” Anyone who trusts his or her health to someone else’s cleaning should have the right to a certain level of cleanliness.

Hotel rooms frequently have an information card detailing hotel policies and services. There are cards outlining the hotel’s commitment to the environment with a towel-reuse program to reduce the use of the laundry. I would like to see a card that details how the housekeepers are trained and how the rooms are inspected. I’d title it “Our Guests’ Bill of Rights:” “This establishment believes that you have the right to the following things:

  1. “Your bathroom floor is mopped every day with a disinfectant that is mixed accurately and emptied in your room. We do not take mopping solution from one room to the next. The solutions are mixed exactly to manufacturers’ specifications. Our housekeepers’ work is inspected every day to ensure that this policy is honored.

  2. “All of the surfaces above the floor (handles, faucets, push plates, etc.) are disinfected every day and wiped with a clean cloth. The cloths are laundered once they leave your room. The cleaning cloths used in your room are not used in any other room.

  3. “We have banished the use of ‘top-buckets’ in our organization. That means we do not mix solution in a 10- to 14-quart bucket and use it for cleaning solution from room to room.

  4. “We do not use abrasives or sponges in your room to clean anything.

  5. “You will not see a dirty wooly duster in our facility. We invest in wooly duster covers, which remove dust, and we change them between every room.

  6. “We use a high-filtration vacuum with a micron filter that filters at least 97 percent of particles 1 micron and larger. These filters are shaken out four times per shift. The filter is replaced each week on Friday.

  7. “The toilets are scrubbed every day with a friction bowl brush and disinfectant in the toilet bowl. This bowl brush is only used in the toilets. Bathtubs are cleaned with an exact measure of disinfectant and a clean microfiber cloth.

  8. “The telephone receiver and keypad are disinfected every day. In addition to this, we leave you three disinfectant wipes in your amenities package.

  9. “We don’t use any deodorants or odor masks in public or private rooms. This is because we feel that the best scent in a patient or guest room is no smell at all.”

John Walker is the owner of ManageMen consulting services in Salt Lake City. He also is the founder of Janitor University, a hands-on cleaning management training program.