I recently checked into a hotel and was asked if I’d like my room “green cleaned.” Did this mean I could choose what cleaning products and equipment my housekeeper would use when servicing my room each night? Sadly, no. Though the hotel does use non-toxic chemicals, this green cleaning program meant that I had the choice of whether housekeeping would service my room every night during my visit.

According to the hotel, for each night I skip having my room cleaned, I’d earn a few bucks off food or drinks, but I’d help the environment by saving nearly 50 gallons of water and using less electricity and natural gas.  These “green” savings are a result of declining towel and linen laundering, but to participate a guest has to forgo room cleaning as well.

From my standpoint, I’m not a slob, but I’m not the neatest person in the world either, especially when I travel and don’t have to treat the room like my own house. I don’t hang my towel on the rack, I don’t make my bed and I don’t always immediately discard my trash.  And that’s just me; I’d hate to think of what other people do in their hotel rooms. I’m not saying everyone is going to trash the place, but food crumbs lead to pests, standing water leads to mold and if guests are sick, they can easily cross-contaminate surfaces.

Yes, the housekeeping staff will service rooms upon check-out, but less routine cleaning puts a greater burden on the staff. It will take longer to clean a dirty room than to regularly service it. There is also a greater chance that dirt and dust will be missed.  At hotels, appearance is king and there is no room for error.

While I appreciate the effort to reduce water, energy and chemicals (which most hotels do already), I don’t think it should come at the expense of daily cleaning — and I certainly don’t think it can be called green cleaning. Next time your customers want to convert to green cleaning, equip them with the right products, but tell them to only clean two or three times a week (for a $20 discount, of course). See if that earns them any new business.