Should you reuse your hotel towel?

Will reusing your hotel towel save the planet or the hotel’s bottom line?

Should you reuse your hotel towel?

Many of you will have stayed in a hotel that asks you to ‘look after the environment’ by reusing your towel. So, should you reuse your hotel towel?

Sure, there’s the argument for doing your part to save the planet – and it’s a bloody good argument. But don’t be fooled into thinking that a hotel owner cares about saving the planet. If they did, they probably wouldn’t have built a multi-story building and resort complex on a once pristine Bali beach.

Unless you’re staying in some fancy eco-lodge in the hinterland, then no, the bottom line is what matters most to a hotel. But is that any reason to not be a good eco-soldier yourself?

Let’s start the debate with how hotels go about requesting towel reuse. Most will guilt-trip you into making the right choice by telling you how washing towels wastes water and electricity, and how your holiday towel usage is ruining the world. No one likes a guilt-tripper, and those people will be the ones most likely to ask for fresh towels just to stick it up ‘em.

Then there are the smart hotels that present the ‘this is how much water other guests saved by reusing their towels’ mantra. Still a bit guilt-trippy but, in my opinion, this tack is more likely to make me want to reuse my towel.

On the other hand, there’s the ‘I’m on holiday’ justification. And if you’re a clean-towel-a-day kind of tourist, then treat yourself. No judgment here (well, there’s a little bit of judgment!).

However, you don’t wash your towel each day at home. Do you? And no one is asking you to use a sopping wet towel. If that’s the case, ask for a nice dry one.

But if you can reuse your towel at least once during your stay, you’re doing your teeny-tiny part towards saving the planet. Every little bit helps.

Here’s a juicy National Geographic statistic that should get you thinking:

The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that the request reduces the number of loads of laundry washed—as well as the related water, sewer, energy, and labor costs—by 17 percent. The association also notes that such programs increase the lifespan of towels and linens, thus reducing replacement costs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that hotels and other lodgings use about 15 percent of the total water taken up by commercial and institutional facilities in the United States, according to agency spokesperson Carissa Cyran. The commercial and institutional sector, in turn, is responsible for about 17 percent of the withdrawals from U.S. public water systems.

Although you can almost guarantee that the money a hotel saves on not washing your towel will not translate to less expensive accommodation, you shouldn’t let a hotel’s push for profit prevent you from putting the planet first.

Do you reuse your hotel towels? If not, why not? Have you seen a reuse request sign that’s put you off wanting to do the right thing by the planet?



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    25th Oct 2017
    A quiet day Leon?
    I thought everybody reused their hotel room towels. Please tell me why folk need a new one every day. Just a lot of feel good BS.
    25th Oct 2017
    I happily try to reuse my towels. There's just one problem, no one seems to tell the people making up the rooms. On a recent 3 month trip in Europe, I can honestly say my towels were left for reuse only twice, even though I had left them hanging on either the towel rail or hooks in the bathroom.
    25th Oct 2017
    This has been my experience also in many different places.
    Ted Wards
    25th Oct 2017
    Heres a thought, how about they introduce a gray water system to water their lavish gardens and any other use for gray water!
    25th Oct 2017
    I will happily reuse my towel to save the planet and the hotel cost IF the hotel provides a decent towel rail so that the towel dries between uses. I hate damp smelly towels!
    25th Oct 2017
    Yes we happily reuse our towels. It helps save the environment.
    25th Oct 2017
    What is wrong we not replacing the towels - everything. They don't dry during the day so the next day they are still wet. You might be able to hang them on a balcony but then the motel looks like the back streets of Calcutta.
    Given the motel rooms are so incredibly expensive these days they could basically just give us a free set to take home and not wash them at all.
    25th Oct 2017
    Suggestion Rosret: wipe yourself over with the washer before you get out and then grab the towel. Problem solved.
    25th Oct 2017
    Are MICK one supposes I am the only one using the towel. By the time the towel was put on the floor before realising the shower is going to leak all over the bathroom floor or finding there are just not enough towels for everyone to have one. Then you need to use the towel at the pool because its school holidays and there are non left poolside.
    If I pay $300+ a night I think I deserve something special - not a wipe down with a washer!
    We are talking chocolate and a glass of wine relaxing in the lap of luxury. Economizing is for the rest of the year. - and that includes a lovely fresh towel.
    25th Oct 2017
    I know I live in the sub-tropics and don't feel the need to turn on the aircon, but I hang my wet towel over the shower screen frame each morning and it's perfectly dry the next day. It gets more air there compared to the towel rail which is only 3 inches away from the wall. I leave the window open for circulation.
    Chris B T
    25th Oct 2017
    Most Hotels charge per day Room Rate.
    One day use a total clean of Room & Linen.
    Multi Day stays they are already saving so this Gilt Trip should be in reflected lesser Traiff as there not paying for a total Room & Linen clean.
    You Have Paid For It Already, there savings not yours.
    25th Oct 2017
    I have no issue with reusing towels or sleeping on the same sheets for a few nights for that matter. If I need a new towel I'll ask for one.

    Talk about 'first world problems'!
    Ageing but not getting old
    25th Oct 2017
    Agreed, KSS; last big trip I took (2014) was to NY and Baltimore,US. For part of it my friend from Florida met me for 4 nights shared accommodation. We were quite happy to reuse our towels and sheets for each of our beds. We simply put the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door handle, and reinforced our wishes with the front desk. Problem solved.
    25th Oct 2017
    Surely the simplest way forward is for the hotel to offer a discount on the tariff if we re-use the towel...we both then win!!

    26th Oct 2017
    Who doesn’t love clean sheets and a fresh towel everyday.
    I’m paying for it so I demand it - always chuck the towels on the floor after my morning bath and request bed sheets changed everyday
    27th Oct 2017
    I am one of those people that always use a clean towel every day even when I am home because a used towel smells to me and I can't stand it

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