I was always taught to leave the room in a clean condition when checking out of an accomodation. When staying somewhere with my parents, we gave the room a look-over and tidy it up into the condition we found it before we left for the last time. This included throwing away trash, making the bed and putting things generally as they were.

While I understand the reasoning behind this - It's considerate towards the people who have to clean the room to make their lives easier - I have also had discussions with other people where making the bed in particular is a point of disagreement. Since the bed is going to be stripped down in any case, it is useless to make it since it's going to be un-made almost as soon as you leave.

I understand this is probably a minor point, but I would like to be courteous and also efficient. I don't want to spend my time cleaning the room so thoroughly for no reason. If I leave my bed un-made, is that rude?

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    Everywhere in the world I know of, cleaning up behind you is considered good manners and courteous regardless of whether housekeeping is coming or not. Is it considered rude not to do so in a hotel? I doubt, it's simply you going an extra mile unrequited. That said I am pretty sure also housekeeping will prefer you leave the place unmade AND leave a tip, than attempt cleaning up after yourself with no tip. Jun 17, 2017 at 9:00
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    Making it too neatly might fool them into thinking it wasn't used and doesn't need changing. Decades ago, at a seminar, the speaker asked us to tidy up a bit. The next day, he asked us to not do so, because the cleaning crew had said it was so clean they were worried about their jobs.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 17, 2017 at 11:33
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    Bonus for making/stripping the bed: sheets and covers have a habit of helping to hide your belongings which may be lying around or under the bed, so not leaving the bed messy helps you perform a sweep of the room before leaving.
    – raphael
    Jun 17, 2017 at 12:49
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    The courteous thing to do (if you want to do the courteous thing) is strip the bed. Not make it!
    – Fattie
    Jun 17, 2017 at 20:02
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    This Q has no connection to opinions. It's simply asking for "standard travel behavior". "opinion" questions are like "what's a good cafe in...". this is actually a great question for new travellers.
    – Fattie
    Jun 17, 2017 at 20:03

8 Answers 8


It's very considerate of you to want to do the right thing, but it is certainly not rude to leave your bed unmade when checking out. Any accommodation beyond the most dubious and disreputable will be stripping the bed and changing the sheets before renting the room to another guest. As you note, if you make the bed, the housekeepers will simply have to unmake it before they can do anything else. I'm unaware of anyplace where this would be remotely expected.

Generally tidying up after yourself is polite, and as noted in comments, tipping the housekeeping staff (according to the prevailing customs wherever you are) is surely appreciated, but making the bed before you leave is entirely unnecessary.

I'd add that if you're staying as a houseguest in a private home with a friend or relative, it can, depending on the culture involved, be polite to offer to strip the bed and take the bedding to the washing machine (if there is one) or hamper or wherever the host would like it. This is the sort of offer that is often refused, but it's nice to acknowledge that your host is not your maid and to try to make up for some of the inconvenience of your stay.

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    I'd expect there's an ever-so-slightly-small chance that if you make it up too well they might think they already cleaned the room, so if for that reason only, don't bother.
    – user541686
    Jun 17, 2017 at 15:15

If you want to be courteous to the housecleaning staff, strip the bed for them. If you want to be neat, fold the sheets and other bedclothes and leave them in a neat pile at the foot of the mattress. The top of this pile would be a good place to leave your tip.

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    Right. The courteous thing to do (if you want to do the courteous thing) is strip the bed.
    – Fattie
    Jun 17, 2017 at 20:02
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    I fail to see any use to folding the dirty sheets since now they must unfold them to wash them. Jun 17, 2017 at 21:29
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    @Harper it's neater. You can throw folded sheets in the laundry; the machine will unfold them.
    – phoog
    Jun 17, 2017 at 22:23
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    @phoog in my experience that only works with T-shirts. Jun 17, 2017 at 23:27
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    This seems bizarre to me, as its advocating to do the job of the hotel employee. You're a paying customer, and housekeepings' job is specifically to clean up. See the other answer about washing your own dishes at a restaurant.
    – Andy
    Jun 18, 2017 at 19:10

I am surprised to find that nobody has even hinted at what I thought was customary.

Not only is it unnecessary to make the bed, but I was taught that you should not make the bed, and furthermore, even if you habitually made the bed in the morning when you got up, you should specifically unmake the bed before checking out.

That's right, specifically go out of your way to undo the bedding to guarantee that it is not made and obviously needs tending. There are various reasons for this.

In the comments, someone started to touch on one reason: if it looks too good, it might not receive the attention it requires, as it might just get left the way you made it.

One of the reasons related to the previous, which I have heard much more talk about (but oddly not here in this Q&A), is the one that many people do not like to think about. That is: you do not know what happened to the bedding before you arrived, and you should hope that it was thoroughly washed before being used by you.

You don't know what happened to it before. The last occupant(s) could have been sick; perhaps they were coughing and sneezing all over the place. Perhaps they ate something disagreeable and vomited on the floor; that got cleaned up obviously, but the embarrassed chap who vomited went out of his way to make sure house-keeping didn't have any other problems from him and left the bed perfect... except for the small bit of vomit that went unnoticed that did get on the bedding. Perhaps the previous occupant got something on the bedding that you are allergic to. And the obvious one, the previous 2 occupants together... use your imagination.

Please, please do not give house-keeping any excuse to leave your bedding in place for me once I arrive. Put everything else back in place, sure, and do not leave a mess elsewhere. But leave the bed thoroughly, obviously in need of attention. I don't want to be required to guess if it is really clean. If this bothers you too much, leave a better tip; I'm sure house-keeping will appreciate that more than they would appreciate me telling them to fetch clean bedding first thing upon my arrival.

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    Does the down-voter care to explain the down-vote? Even if you disagree with the advice, it is still a proper answer. Down-voting is not generally intended to be a way for you to express your agreement or disagreement, except on meta Stack Exchange.
    – Aaron
    Jun 17, 2017 at 18:54
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    At least on the math site, there are no guidelines for voting. As long as you don't abuse the system (serial voting, etc.) you can vote however you want for whatever reason, or for no reason at all. Disagreement is certainly a valid reason. I would be surprised if it's significantly different here. Jun 17, 2017 at 19:18
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    @MattSamuel On Stack Exchange overall, technically you can vote for whatever reason, and you are told to "vote your conscience" yes, but there can still be said to be better or worse ways to vote. You have the right to vote on agreement, but it is still a poor metric; if everyone did that, then perfectly good answers with valid points can end up with a negative score just because it's a minority opinion. If you have perfectly good answers with good points that stay at 0 or lower score, then the system is broken. Voting on agreement is generally considered poor voting.
    – Aaron
    Jun 17, 2017 at 19:44
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    @MattSamuel The situation you describe is not down-voting due to disagreement. It is down-voting because the answer is factually wrong. A factually wrong answer should be down-voted. We do that on StackOverflow, Security, and others too where answers can be false. You could also have that situation here on travel if someone asked "When do I need to bring identification with me when traveling by airline?" and someone answered "You do not need identification when traveling by plane," that would deserve down-votes; not because you disagree, but because it is a false statement.
    – Aaron
    Jun 17, 2017 at 19:59
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    @Fattie It is common on SE to ask down-voters why they are down-voting if it is not obvious, such as in this case. I see it as a sign that the answerer cares. I occasionally have someone reply to my comment telling me why they down-voted, and if it is because of a legitimate problem with the answer I can then edit. I see that as the intended use of comments. Here it did turn into a meta-discussion though, perhaps that was what you are referring to.
    – Aaron
    Jun 17, 2017 at 22:29

The only time I'd do this is staying at somewhere which isn't a hotel/rented accommodation such as a friends house.

In a hotel / rented accommodation I will generally make sure all the bedding material is on each bed, maybe folded slightly neatly to ease stripping it all off for washing however as this means the risk of 'a pillow is missing' or anything like this is reduced.

So no, I wouldn't think it's rude to leave the bed unmade, but I would think it's rude to leave all the bedding sat in the bath, or hanging outside off of the balcony.

  • Even at a friend's house I'd only make the bed if I'm going to sleep in it again, otherwise I'd strip it and put the sheets next to the washing machine.. If I am going to sleep there again I'd just tidy it, not make it like new, so no-one else thinks there's a nice clean bed, I can sleep in it.
    – RedSonja
    Jun 19, 2017 at 12:00

Is it good courtesy to leave the bed made when checking out of accommodation?

No, in fact that would be bad etiquette.

You should not make the bed.

No more than you would, say, at the end of a restaurant meal suddenly get up and wash the dishes. As well as being somewhat bizarre, it would be disrespectful inasmuch as it would somehow imply that you think the service you paid for (provision of perfectly clean dishes) cannot be done properly by the staff.

Further, as Aaron notes, it's more systematically hygenic, for the reasons Aaron explains, to not make the bed when you check out. Quite simply the sheets are about to be taken away to the wash company who rinses them - why would you make the bed?

Also (I believe nobody has mentioned this so far), in the case where you are staying for more than one night:

... these days hotels have the thing to increase profits where, to "help the environment," they don not automatically change the sheets every day. In such a situation (unfortunately this is the norm now), to indicate that you do want new sheets, you just strip the bed a little. (I pull up one side of the bottom sheet, and maybe pull off one pillowcase, so that it's totally clear the linen should be changed for new linen.) In some cases there's a card you leave, "please give me new linen today"; I personally also half-strip the bed as described, so that it's more certain.

When you finally checkout, to be polite just leave the room "reasonably orderlyæ.

I would say, leave it "dirty but orderly" if that makes sense.

For example, any blankets you've left laying around on the floor, just chuck them up on a bed. So again for example, kids always strew every pillow and blanket all over the room. As I'm leaving, I just pile everything on the one bed, so the room is approachable for cleaning by the staff: no need to leave sheets, etc, on the floor. Or with towels, I make one large pile of towels, say on the bathroom floor, so they're all together and easily thrown in the hopper.

I understand this is probably a minor point..

It's a major, significant and subtle travel etiquette question. Great question.

If I leave my bed un-made, is that rude?

No - as in the restaurant example which shows it more clearly, whilst you don't want to treat service staff as subservients, you want to allow them to do their job.

Or look at it this way: you don't want to imply that their job is so miserable that "you have to help them out, by doing it for them". Housekeeping is a decent, honest, hard-working and honorable straightforward job, and you should be pleased to be part of the system paying for them to do the job; let the staff do their job.

An extreme example, would you help the sushi chef cut - of course not; let service staff do their job, too.

  • Another excellent counter-point that had slipped my mind; you are correct. Something that I did think of though, which I did not mention in my answer for not knowing how to word it, is sometimes you cannot compensate by leaving a better tip, as I have read that some regions view a tip as bad etiquette for various reasons. Even in regions where it is not bad etiquette, I have seen some places with no-tip policies, some (I have not seen it in a long time) even put up a sign asking you to please not tip the staff. I think that is ridiculous, but ignoring the sign might get an employee in trouble.
    – Aaron
    Jun 17, 2017 at 22:52
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    @Aaron: "I think that is ridiculous" - well, if it is meant to prevent the staff from treating tipping guests better than non-tipping guests, this may well be a reasonable policy. It is along the same lines as policies forbidding employees from taking gifts, or gifts above a given value, in certain contexts. In fact, if I, as a customer, get the feeling that I am only getting a decent service if I provide a tip (i.e. expenses on top of the originally offered price), I can well see myself categorize that business as a "hidden cost scam", which the business has every reason to prevent. Jun 19, 2017 at 10:37

It is not a matter of 'etiquette'. It depends entirely on whether that hotel/motel changes the bedsheets between guests on departure or not (some US chains don't, you'd be surprised, some were name-brand franchises like one Marriott, a Candlewood and a La Quinta, not just roach motels [1]). If they do change them, you're simply wasting your time, other than tidying any loose sheets into a pile. And if they don't change them, the housekeeping staff don't care about etiquette, they just want you to check out on time/early so they can get the room made up, because they have a huge workload and they don't get paid overtime.

[1] For Sheets' Sake! Multiple Hotels Do Not Change Bedsheets for New Guests, Investigation Reveals


When speaking from a U.S. Perspective it's actually a little rude to make the bed. Now I'm not saying that someone will be super offended, but it's harder on the staff to unmake the bed if you made it all nice and tight before you left.

So what you should do, is Keep the bed unmade. If there is a corner or something tucked under the mattress untuck it. You want the to be able to just pick up the bedding and go.

Next, gather your trash to one location. Don't try to stuff it in that tiny trash can, just get it all together. Again make their job a tiny bit eaiser.

Towels and cloths put in the corner of the bathroom (on the non-carpet, non-wood floor area) in a pile. The hotels I stay on have clear instructions. If you want to re-use the towel place it on the counter or towel rack. If you want new towels throw them on the floor. Again your just trying to make their job a tiny bit eaiser.

Tips, if that your thing should be on the counter or dresser or nightstand. Something easy to find and away from anything that they might mistake as yours. Specially true if this is day 2 of a multi-day stay. Many people in housekeeping won't touch money if it's in any way near something of yours. They don't want to accidentally steal. So place the money far from your luggage or cloths or even drinks.

If you send out for any services make sure to put it very near the door. Laundry or dry cleaning is very common where I stay, but again, if it's not super obvious they don't want to be accused of stealing your suite when all they were trying to do was help out. Instead user the marked bags, tags, whatever, and make sure it's very plain. It's usually far better for them to get called back to the room to pickup a missed service bag then to be accused of stealing because someone used the laundry service bag for dirty cloths.

Any room service to go back (specially things "anyone" may consider good as "left overs", you should also set by the door.

So when you go out. There should be this large "mess" near the door, and the rest of the room should be generally clean.

Keep in mind that many people that stay at that motel/hotel/suite/whatever will not have the same culture as you. Housekeeping has to "guess" what your intentions are, if there not made very plain. And, one way or another they are trained to to guess conservatively. The "best" thing you can do for them is take that guess work away.

  • There's a lot of extraneous stuff, here. The question is only asking about the bed, not trash, towels, tips, laundry or room service. Jun 19, 2017 at 9:40
  • If I leave a tip for housekeeping I put it on a bit of paper and write "for the housekeeper - thank you" just so this is clear. Otherwise they might not take it at all.
    – RedSonja
    Jun 19, 2017 at 12:04

I leave the bed a mess if I slept in it. The cleaning staff uses this as a clue of whether or not to clean the sheets between guests. I also put the pillow out of place, then put a tip under the pillow. I have been told that the cleaning supervisor goes into the rooms and takes all the tips. So I hide the tip so only the actual person cleaning the room will find it. I also put a Do Not Disturb sign up for the whole time I'm staying there. That way, the cleaning people are not allowed in. They might steal some of my stuff.

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    You think they are going to steal your stuff after you leave, but you trust them to obey a written request hanging on the door?
    – Johnny
    Jun 19, 2017 at 2:04
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    The question asks what is considered good etiquette. It's not a survey asking everybody to relate their personal preferences. Jun 19, 2017 at 9:25
  • I know they are going to steal my stuff after I leave because it has happened to me before. But if I put up the Do Not Disturb sign, they will think I'm in the room sleeping and won't come in or knock on the door. Oct 8, 2017 at 11:15