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Towel/Sheet Reuse Program Savings

Saving money by instituting a hotel-wide towel and sheet reuse program is a smart business decision. It also conserves water and energy, helping environmental issues like water and energy shortages.  Your lack of a towel/sheet reuse program is costing you. But do you know how much?

When I spoke at the annual conference of the International Hospitality of Consultants, the topic was, "A Look to the Future: Greening of the Hospitality Industry". One burning question was how much are hotels saving with a towel/sheet re-use program?

The "logic" I used in generically talking about the water, energy, laundry supply, and labor savings wasn't persuasive enough for attendees to fully understand the real cost savings that can be realized; an average-sized hotel of 150 guestrooms can save (6,000 gallons of water monthly and 40 gallons of laundry supplies monthly). Those kinds of statistics wouldn't satisfy their curiosity because they wanted to know how much money is saved.

The answer varies widely, depending on variables like what the occupancy rate is (for the hotel and how many people are in each guestroom), whether a front- or top-loading washing machine is used, what labor costs are, how much a property pays for water and electricity, and to a certain extent how much their laundry supplies cost. My research pointed to various savings, ranging from reports of $.40/load to $1.00/day/guestroom to $1.50/day/guestroom. After reading numerous reports I have concluded that the lower numbers account for only part of the savings, specifically the water, energy, and laundry supply. When labor costs are considered, you see a bigger savings.

Green Hotel Association's research shows a savings of $1.50/guestroom/day for towel and sheet reuse programs. Their research includes all costs, not just water and electricity. Those numbers were published in 1999, so you know that they are higher today. If the average 150 guestroom hotel has a 52% occupancy rate, it can realize a $117.00/day savings, or $42,705/year -- pure profit.

In 2005 dollars, that $1.50 equals $1.75. Rerun the above calculations and you see savings of $136.50/day, or $49,822.50/year. That should get your attention! That's a healthy savings.

If you are interested in only having a towel or sheet reuse program, you will save 1/2 of that total (two sets of towels -- bath, face and hand creating a set -- weigh about the same as a set of queen-size sheets with two pillow cases). So the same hotel example above would realize only a $24,911.25 savings with either a towel or sheet reuse program. Still a respectable savings.

And then there is the issue of wear and tear; the more you wash and dry sheets and towels, the faster they wear out. Their purchase cost continues to rise too. If you institute a towel/sheet reuse program you are saving on purchase costs too. The savings just keep growing.

Then there are intangible benefits: you're helping save vital natural resources, and attracting business from travelers who value your participation in being more "green".
So to ask the question a different way: How much are you losing by not instituting a towel and/or sheet re-use program?

Kit Cassingham, director of ECOnomically Sound, has been a hospitality consultant for 23 years. With a degree in Environmental Conservation from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Kit’s specialty is helping the hospitality sector conserve. A member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, she lives according to her convictions, practicing what she preaches daily. She can be contacted via her Web site at

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Textile Services Industry Gets National Spotlight

WILIMGTON, Mass. — Textile service executive Ronald Croatti recently appeared on the CBS-TV show “Undercover Boss.” Croatti is CEO of UniFirst Corp., in Wilmington, Mass. For most Americans watching “Undercover Boss” it was their first view inside a commercial laundry, which typically process between 10 million and 25 million pounds of uniforms, table linens, bed sheets, towels and more every year “The reusable textile services business is the original green industry,” said Ricci. “Commercial laundries reuse linen instead of filing landfills with disposable alternatives and continually discover new, innovative means to reduce energy consumption and recycle water. Our huge economies of scale allow laundries to use about two-thirds less water, energy and detergent than alternatives, such as washing at home, while hygienically cleaning textile products, improving disease control and reducing contamination.”