What's In Your Linen Closet? Best Practices for Reducing Linen Loss
By Joseph Ricci President & CEO, TRSA | January 2015
Of all the challenges facing hotel management teams, linen loss may sound minor. Yet wasted linen is a tangible problem that affects a hotel's bottom line. Left unchecked, it can waste hotel resources and create crises that leave guests dissatisfied and staff frustrated. If controlled, it can generate savings, both of money and staff time.
When we talk about linen loss in hotels, we're talking about the approximately 15 to 20 percent of linen products that are lost or discarded before the end of their useful life. That adds up. At approximately $250 per room for a four par of basic sheets and towels, linen purchases cost the hospitality industry $1.25 billion per year. If we factor in premium items like duvet covers, pillow shams and bath robes, that estimate goes up to $350 per room or $1.75 billion. That means the cost of replacing lost linen is between $50 and $70 per room, or between $2.5 million and $3.5 million industry-wide.
Despite their cost, convenient items like hand towels and washcloths are often thought of as disposable by guests and staff. Under these circumstances, linen loss may seem like an in-surmountable problem, but hotels can understand and measure sources of loss and take steps to better manage their linens.
Why Are Washcloths and Towels Disappearing?
According to Eric Brady of Brady Linens, a commercial laundry serving Las Vegas ho-tels, linen loss falls into two broad categories: explained loss and unexplained loss. Explained losses include stains, tears and wear out, while unexplained losses include theft.
As any hotel owner knows, misuse and theft of linens is common among guests. Guests often consider hotel towels to be disposable, and use them to remove makeup or shine shoes, or they take towels with them. What is not thrown away ends up stained and damaged. Guests, as a source of loss, are difficult to control, though locking linen closets helps halt habitual thieves.