Significant waste reduction can be achieved through a hotel’s housekeeping operations. For instance, a good deal amount of waste is collected from a guest room daily, such as paper products (45%), food-related waste (40%) including glass and plastic bottles, and bathroom waste (5%).  However, before you begin to “green” your housekeeping operations, it is advisable to conduct a preliminary waste audit by randomly picking at least three lodging rooms throughout your facility. Then begin collecting garbage on a daily basis for several weeks to determine the quantity and type of waste generated from each room.  This will give you a baseline on where to begin.

Here are some general tips for a good, green housekeeping program:


  • Create newspaper recycling plan – inform registration desk to give guests an option of refusing delivery. Send extra to pet stores, animal shelters, detailing shops for window cleaning, fish markets, packing material for store items, mail and moving companies.
  • Begin recycling program focusing on cans, plastics, glass and paper in office, lobby, registration, facilities maintenance, kitchen, and lodging units throughout hotel;
  • Designate a recycling can or receptacle in guest room for recyclable items or a specific area in the room for placing recyclables;
  • Place recycling bins (cans, newspapers, glass and paper) in vending areas;
  • Recycle phone books seasonally


  • Donate or reuse discarded or leftover materials such as discarded clothing, leftover bottles of shampoo, lotions, bar soap and little left on the roll toilet paper to charities such as, homeless and abuse shelters, and churches.
  • Donate bibles to religious organizations or prisons;
  • Donate non perishable foods local homeless shelters and abuse centers. Check your local regulations or with your local authorities to confirm permission;
  • Donate older furniture, linens, and towels (that are gently used) to local prisons, churches, homeless shelters and abuse centers.

Best Management Practices

  • Use refillable dispensers instead of small bottles and use brand name soap and shampoos;
  • Use glasses and mugs instead of disposables;
  • Turn off or reset heating and cooling systems in unoccupied rooms.
  • Close draperies and shades when leaving guest rooms.
  • Turn off guest room lights, televisions and radios in unoccupied rooms.
  • Create reminder cards to remind guests to turn off lights, televisions and radios when they leave the room.
  • Use natural lighting when cleaning guest rooms.
  • Clean lighting fixtures.
  • Limit the amount of hot water used for cleaning

Cleaning Agents

Poor quality indoor air can produce health effects ranging from headaches and dry eyes to nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. We all want to work in an office, or relax in a hotel room, that is comfortable, clean and safe. An important part of ensuring good indoor air quality is choosing cleaning products that have a reduced impact on human health and the environment. These cleaning products are usually referred to as green cleaners.

Why convert to green cleaners?

  • Helps you meet green purchasing mandates
  • Promotes a healthier working environment
  • Improves safety for janitorial or housekeeping workers
  • Reduces your facility’s environmental footprint
  • Green purchasing is an important element of an Environmental Management System (EMS) that many large hotel companies have in place.
  • Helps create a more sizable market for cost effective high performance green products
  • Helps position your facility as a leader in the use of sustainable business practices
  • Gives you a competitive advantage

It is always important for hotel management to educate and train housekeeping personnel on the proper use of cleaning agents. This improves safety by reducing the risk of exposure by both personnel and the environment. The following resources provide lists of certified “green cleaning” products that are available in the market today.

Green Seal

Green Seal is a non-profit, third-party certifier and standards development body in the United States. Since 1989 it has provided independent, objective, science-based guidance to the marketplace and to consumers. A Green Seal Certification Mark on a product means that it has gone through a stringent process to show that it has less impact on the environment and human health. The following links lead you to environmentally-certified products that a good housekeeping program should purchase for its operations.

Additional Resources

San Francisco’s Janitorial Cleaning Products Checklists

The City of San Francisco Department of Environment has developed a list of SF approved janitorial cleaning products that reduce environmental and health risks. It is a good resource to use when training housekeeping staff.

Greener Choices: An Ecolabel Center

Here a hotel can find out what the labels on its favorite products really mean. As the popularity of green product claims continues to grow, it’s important to know which claims a hotel can trust and which ones it can’t. Use the search tools to get an expert evaluation of labels on household cleaners and other products.

Responsible Purchasing Network

Here’s another list of green cleaning products currently available in the market. Hundreds of
cleaning products are certified by Green Seal and/or EcoLogo (see Standards), including products for general purpose, floor care, carpet, degreasers, drains, hands, hard surfaces and other industrial and institutional cleaning applications. The listings in this database are updated regularly.