Wash Day Blues, or Whites: Washing Bedding in Vacation Rentals

Washing bedding in vacation rentalsHave the Wash Day Blues, or Whites? Ever wondered if the comforters, coverlets, blankets, and mattress pads get washed between guests in Vacation Rentals? What about pet friendly rentals? Here’s our advice on practical bedding for frequent washing.

Best not to think about it, right? Wrong! Best not to have to think about it. Enjoy your vacation in the knowledge that the bedding is freshly laundered for your arrival.

But first, some advice on buying bedding. A lot of vacation rental owners will go cheap and fast when it comes to bedding. To be fair, retail is in the toilet locally – not many options in brick and mortar establishments these days. Little inventory in store, piled high, sold cheap (at least we think so), and, like me in my 20s – looks pretty, but won’t last. Thankfully with a little detective work (and wine), one can research and find plenty of bedding help and buying sources online.

My advice for online bedding sourcing is the same: resist the temptation to go cheap. Bedrooms are the most important amenity in your vacation rental, and next comes your kitchen (I’ll save that for another day). You need to budget for quality in: mattresses, mattress covers and pads, pillows, pillow covers, comforters/coverlets/duvet covers, and blankets. Apart from mattresses, buy two of every item for every bed. Yes two. One on the bed, one in the wash, or waiting clean in the closet for the next use/next guest. Two. Of everything (except mattresses). When it comes to mattresses. Buy quality. Expect a 10-year lifespan. Replace every 5-years. Go firm. Again. Go firm.

Anywho, back to washing.

Material and Color

Cotton. Preferably white. White may seem counter-intuitive, but it can be bleached free of stains. Avoid chlorine bleach. Use non-chlorinated bleach, or a hydrogen peroxide based cleaner. Chlorine is tough on fabrics and your linens will last longer if you avoid it. Never put bleach directly onto a fabric. Surprisingly bleach will leave its own stain – a particularly dodgy looking yellow stain at that. Who knew? You do, now.

Vacation Rental BeddingComforter or Duvet?

Comforters are a modern term for an, “Eiderdown.” They are that pillow of fabric thickly filled with down or poly material. They remind me of dorm rooms. They come in many colors and patterns, mostly hideous. Avoid them at all cost. They do not wash well. The filling bunches and degrades in dryers. I guarantee where you see them in vacation rentals, they never get washed. Check the closets if you don’t believe me – do you see a spare? What happens if your child (human or canine) has a barf fest (or worse) on said comforter? Based on the stains we’ve often walked into on a property check out inspection, not everyone bothers to call their Rental Agent for help. Not everyone will wash away that ‘accident.’ Not all ‘accidents’ are capable of being seen with the naked eye. Eww!

Chuck that comforter. Replace with something the Europeans call a, “Duvet.” These are basically a white, unpatterned comforter. Confused much? They are designed for you to add your own cover on top. The cover is intended to be the washable part. The duvet/comforter below would usually be expected to be washed twice a year, unless more is necessary. In which case, check the closet for a spare. If you’re in warm weather climates year round, you get it easier – only buy lightweight duvet/comforters. If you’re in the mid-Atlantic like us, then if you rent during the summer months only, just buy lightweight. If you rent in the winter months, frankly a lightweight summer duvet/coverlet is fine. Have extra blankets on hand. If you’re in a cool weather/ski location, you’re going to need a medium or heavyweight duvet/comforter.

Knock yourself out with your own preference/decor for duvet/comforter covers. Buy cotton, preferably white. Buy two of each size for each bed. One on. One in the wash/waiting clean in the closet. You can add color pops with blankets/throws. Don’t be afraid of white. You can choose a stitch or texture pattern to add interest. You don’t need color on your duvet/comforter. I think white is best.

Strip your covers and wash between each guest.

Good quality duvet/comforters will last five years. Replace earlier if damaged.

Good quality covers will last three years. Replace earlier if damaged.

Washing bedding between guestsCoverlets (AKA Shlankets)

If budget does not really extend to upgrading all your bedrooms at once. Go for an interrim solution. Buy the best quality duvet/comforters and covers for the master bedroom first. For the other rooms, replace your doom room/granny comforters with lightweight, cotton coverlets. Coverlets are midway between a sheet and a blanket. They’re a shlanket! Much cheaper than a duvet/comforter and cover combo. Buy cotton, white. Buy quality. When you next upgrade to the preferred duvet/comforter/cover combo, you can re-use the coverlet/shlanket as a throw or, well a shlanket for cooler nights. Buy two for each bed. One on. One in the wash/clean in the closet. Wash between guests.

A good quality coverlet/shlanket will last two years before it starts to look tired and will need to be replaced.

Does the bedding get washed between guestsPillows and Pillow Protectors

Buy two pillow options per bed. A firm pillow, and a soft pillow. Not everyone likes high or low pillows. Some guests love to read in bed. Don’t stack them all on the bed at check in. Put one type on the bed, and the other in the bedroom storage.

Buy cotton, white pillow protector covers with enclosed zips. Bulk buy them. They’re inexpensive. Buy enough that you can always keep some still in their sealed packaging in your bedroom storage. This is just in case some are so badly stained that they will not re-wash. Toss them and replace with a new one. While we’re at it, we double bag all our pillows with two sets of pillow covers. The top one always gets washed between guests. The bottom one replace twice per season. Your guests (and pillows) will thank you and last longer.

Replace pillows annually. Yes.

Replace covers annually. More often if damaged. They’re the lowest cost item of all bedding.

Does the bedding get washedBlankets

Buy wool or cotton. Two per bed. One on. One in the wash/clean in the closet. Wash between each guest. Always. Blankets are sponges absorbing all odors: colognes, body and pet odors, makeup etc. You’re in the hospitality business. Hospitality demands clean bedding. Each guest. Period. Unlike other bedding, blankets will not get bleached. Knock yourself out. Blankets are your chance to let your style shine. Go for color, texture, pattern. Lah-dee-dah!

Blankets do not need to be on the bed when guests arrive. Store close by in a chest, drawer, or closet.

Replace blankets every five years. More often if damaged or the material is piling. Even clean blankets look grubby of their material is piling.

Does bedding get washed in vacation rentalsBed Skirts

A controversial subject. I personally detest bed skirts, but for non-platform bed structures, bed skirts are a good way of hiding the ugly, utilitarian box springs from view. Please avoid frilly bed skirts. The ruffles are just dust catchers by another name. Go with heavy fabric smooth bed skirts. Invest in those suspender or pin thingies that keep a bed skirt from slipping/bunching up/moving beneath a box spring/mattress. Unless they’re damaged, or stained, these can be inspected once a year. If they’re damaged, replace; else wash and put back on.

Washing bedding in vacation rentalsLuggage Racks

Purchase a folding luggage rack. Two for the master. One for every other bedroom.

They’re inexpensive – ranging from $19 up. They come in a variety of materials and color to match any decor.

If you don’t have one in the bedroom, then guess where your guests put their dirty luggage cases when they arrive? Right on your freshly laundered white bedding. Oh yeah! I’ve done it. I’ve frantically tried to launder vacation rental bedding once I saw what I’ve done.

In Summary, What Did We Learn?

  1. Cotton is King.
  2. White is right.
  3. Two will do.
  4. Duvet/comforter and cover combo is best. Always do your master. Other bedrooms can be done with coverlets/shlankets until budget allows an upgrade to duvet/comforter and cover combo. Wash between guests. Replace with new as needed. Recommend every five years.
  5. Blankets. Two per bed. Wool or cotton. Wash/dry clean between guests.
  6. Bed Skirts. Hmm. Avoid frilly. Go with heavy, smooth fabrics. Inspect annually – wash or replace.
  7. Mattress covers and pads, pillow slips: cotton, white. At least two per bed/pillow.
  8. Pillows – two of each type per bed: firm and soft. Replace every year.
  9. Mattresses. Always firm. Buy a ten year warranty mattress. Replace every five years.