I was on a business trip to the US recently. In my hotel there was a typical sign saying: save the planet by reusing your towels; hang your towel if you are happy to reuse it.

Day 1, I hang my towel rather messily and I get a new one.

Day 2, I hang the towel quite neatly and again I get a new one.

Day 3, I hang the towel neatly and put the sign on top of it but I still get a new one.

Any tips on encouraging a hotel to actually follow its own stated policy?

  • 1
    I had the same, if in Europe rather than the US, so a widespread 'problem'.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 7:22
  • Yes, not just the US but, sometimes at least, it works in Europe.
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 7:30
  • 1
    I've been to a hotel (in the UK) where they had such a policy, and there was nowhere to hang a towel. Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 7:34
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    Well, it was damp and crumpled when I left it. It was perfectly dry and neat when I returned. If it was the same towel then the staff were pretty clever. A good point though, next time I'll add a radioactive tracer.
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 7:46
  • 2
    The sign says "hang your towel if you are happy to reuse it." It might imply that they'll then allow you to reuse it, but it doesn't actually say so. You've signaled your preference, but like Bartleby, they'd prefer not to. Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 11:14

3 Answers 3


Why not doing the obvious? Tell the reception, they are where they are and they are paid exactly to listen to your needs and try to reasonably satisfy them. Easier then ever, just tell'em when you check-in; I do so all times, and never had any problem nor anybody charged me additional money or yelled at me for asking it.

  • As every hotel has its own policy, this is the only answer.
    – MastaBaba
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 14:10
  • Well, I was nagging them on some other issues so I left this one out. The policy was known though, it was printed on the card. It was not an independent hotel but a member of a large chain.
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 7:24
  • @badjohn: yes, I know, but sometime you just have to state the obvious. Nowadays almost every hotel has that policy, but that doesn't mean the cleaning stuff will follow it. On one hand, that policy is now expected everywhere and is good for face value, otoh the hotel could have a deal with the "washing company" for a certain discount due to a high quantity of things to clean, so even if the policy is in place to show you the hotel is a good one caring for environment, the staff can be told to ignore it.
    – motoDrizzt
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 7:53

Take the towel with you when they leave the hotel room (just not on the day you check out).

  • 6
    Humorous or serious? I would not have liked to turn up at a business meeting with a wet bath towel. It would give a rather strange impression.
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 7:37
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    @badjohn, If you wash in the evening, the towel isn't very wet the next day. If asked why you carry a towel around, you can always refer to higher authority.
    – ugoren
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 7:50
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    If you're that desperate then just hang the towel up in the wardrobe or put in the drawers. Carrying it with you is just bizarre.
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 8:12
  • The hotel might simply give you a new towel anyway, since the cleaners want to make sure each room has the original number of towels.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 8:15
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    @ugoren I'm a fan of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as well but I am not sure that many of those that I was meeting would get the joke.
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 9:19

The simplest solution is to ignore the problem altogether: hang the towel and let the cleaners decide what to do. If they swap your towel despite you following their own rules, then it's their issue rather than yours.

I'm sure there are more complex solutions out there such as talking to the management, but why bother in the first place? Do your part of the 'saving' and let the others do theirs.

  • That was my strategy for days 4 to 6.
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 9:26
  • I have enough sympathy for hotel cleaners that I would follow this plan. If it is quicker and easier to replace all the towels, let them. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 0:31

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