What is the purpose of the bag? Why not just throw hygiene products directly to the garbage can after wrapping it with paper, same as what people do in their home.

The picture depicts two objects disposed on a table. On the left is a small rectangular white paper box with "sanitary bag" written on it. Although there is no scale on the picture, we can guess the size of the box was designed so that we can easily grab it in our hand. On the right is what looks like a white smooth-looking plastic bag with several fold marks. It looks like it was unfolded at least 3 times, making it approximately 3 times the size of the box it probably came out of. By the look of the layers, it can still be unfolded at least 2 times.
Sanitary bags in hotels are usually just big enough for small waste, around the size of a puke bag in a plane if paper and can be smaller or bigger if plastic.

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    @HiddenWindshield: At the risk of stating the obvious: Because country, culture and sanitary habits often correlate in a statistically significant way? To further emphasize this point: I am (most likely) from a different country than Jonathan, and I have absolutely no idea what a male person would use a sanitary bag for.
    – Heinzi
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 10:25
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    @Heinzi I'm male and likely from a different country than either of you,and I would use sanitary bags (in a hotel) for discarding condoms for example.
    – TooTea
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 11:52
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    @JonathanReez No, that's not what this means in that context. These are special bags to wrap a single item in. Usually bins in a toilet are lined with a plastic bag which gets taken out with all the rubbish. I live in the UK and hotel type sanitary bags are not commonly on sale in supermarkets. The closest you get are nappy bags. Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 17:29
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    This question would inmensely benefit from a link showing what a sanitary bag is.
    – walen
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 9:15
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    What is a sanitary bag? Google Images comes up with various different things. I thought a sanitary bag was a bag one uses to puke in airplanes and buses around the world as well as trains in Denmark and Sweden.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 16:59

3 Answers 3


I think the biggest factor here is the biohazardous (bodily fluids, faecal matter etc.) waste factor. Infectious diseases can live in bodily fluids (especially blood) for a very long time such as Hepatitis C which can live in dried blood for "several weeks" but is usually about a week.

Biohazardous waste (BW) should be treated with extra care to prevent the catching and spread of these diseases. Cleaners (in your example hotels but also every space where someone is cleaning up after someone else) won't know that there is BW in a normal waste bag and might not undertake these extra steps, whereas in a sanity bag or clearly marked biohazard bag they will know what is inside. At home where you are cleaning up after yourself you can't catch any new diseases from yourself so disposal of BW is a bit more lax.

Also, from the employer side of things there could be clauses in their insurance policy about this sort of thing to protect their employees too and any liability of infection (I am not a legal expert so this could be wrong and will definitely vary by country).

Source - WAMITAB Certified Biohazard Cleaner

  • An interesting theory, but I'm skeptical, since the process you describe only works under the assumption that all hotel guests cooperate and properly "declare" BW (for example, by using the sanitary bag). That seems like a bold and risky assumption. As an employer, I'd probably instruct my cleaners to always treat the guests' bathroom waste buckets as potentially containing BW. Of course, that's just my biased view as someone coming from a country with very strict workers' health protection laws.
    – Heinzi
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 21:38

It is so that the cleaners do not need to come in contact with trash containing bodily fluids. You could use paper, but many people throw it in the bin directly and do not bother wrapping it up.

Using paper could actually prove to be unhygienic as well, as it cannot contain excess fluids, but rather absorbs them and requires the person throwing the hygiene product away to come into more contact with it than just using a bag.

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    Don't they/you use a plastic bag in the trash can?
    – d-b
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 1:08
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    Actually some hotels don't use plastic bags for the garbage can. Which I personally think is bad.
    – ronenfe
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 14:28

When waste is wrapped in sturdy plastic or paper bags, as is the case with the sanitary bags in hotels, the people cleaning out the waste will not have to see the items which are put in the bin.

When you roll your waste in toilet paper there is a risk for leaking through or unwrapping and a big risk of people not wrapping the waste, and looking in a bin like that is rather un-nice.

It also helps with smell issues.

As indicated in comments, it is not only hotels where people use bags to bin sanitary items, some people do at home as well. That may also depend on the kind of items discarded as well as the traditions of the family and the community they live, as these things are not universal.
There are also quite a few hotels which do not provide bags or which are not providing enough of them when they clean the rooms.

  • I think this answer comes closest to the truth. In fact, I believe (without proof, so I won't write an answer) that it's not so much intended for the cleaning person's comfort, but more for the guest's comfort, who might feel embarrassed by the thought of the cleaning person seeing their "leftovers".
    – Heinzi
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 21:44

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