What Laundry Detergent Do Hotels Use? Unveiling the Secrets Behind Their Sparkling Linens

What Laundry Detergent Do Hotels Use

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The moment you step foot into a hotel room, there’s an undeniable allure to the immaculate, fresh-smelling linens that grace the beds and bathrooms. These sparkling white sheets and fluffy towels have a unique freshness that always seems impossible to replicate at home. But have you ever paused to wonder about the secret behind their pristine state? What kind of laundry detergent do these hotels use to achieve such an outstanding level of cleanliness?

This article aims to unveil the mystery surrounding the type of detergents hotels employ in maintaining their linens’ ever-enticing appeal.

Heavy Duty Detergents used by Hotels

Heavy-duty detergents, as the name suggests, are formulated to effectively remove tough stains and dirt, making them ideal for commercial use in hotels where linens undergo constant wear and tear. These strong detergents offer superior cleaning performance and are often used in large scale laundry operations.

They can handle a wide variety of stains, from food and beverage spills to makeup and sweat, making them a trusted choice for hotels around the globe. They’re also capable of preserving the freshness and brightness of linens over time, which is key to maintaining the hotel’s aesthetic appeal and reputation.


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There are several brands known for their heavy-duty detergents used in the hospitality industry. Ecolab and Proctor & Gamble Professional, for instance, offer a variety of laundry solutions specifically designed for commercial use. These products are created with advanced formulas that not only clean but also protect the fabric to extend the life of hotel linens.

It’s worth noting, however, that the use of heavy-duty detergents must be balanced with environmental considerations. As sustainability becomes an increasing concern in the hospitality industry, many hotels are transitioning towards eco-friendly laundry solutions. These products offer a powerful clean, while also minimizing their environmental impact, making them a sustainable choice for the hotel industry.

Phosphates in Commercial Laundry Detergents

Phosphates have been used in laundry detergents for many years due to their ability to soften water, which makes detergents more effective at removing dirt and stains. They work by binding with minerals in the water, such as calcium and magnesium, preventing these minerals from interfering with the cleaning action of the detergent. This property also allows detergents to foam more easily, enhancing their cleaning power.

However, despite their effectiveness, the use of phosphates in commercial laundry detergents – and detergents in general – has been a topic of environmental concern. When released into the environment, phosphates can promote excessive growth of algae in water bodies, a process known as eutrophication. This can deplete oxygen levels in the water, harming fish and other aquatic life.


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Recognizing these environmental implications, many countries, including the United States, have imposed regulations limiting or banning the use of phosphates in household laundry detergents. However, these restrictions often do not apply to commercial detergents, including those used by hotels and other industries.

Despite this, there is a growing trend in the commercial laundry industry towards more environmentally friendly practices. This includes the use of phosphate-free detergents, which are formulated to provide effective cleaning without the associated environmental harm. These products use alternative ingredients, such as citrates and zeolites, to soften water and enhance cleaning performance.

Popular Commercial Laundry Detergents

Many popular commercial laundry detergents are recognized for their superior cleaning power, efficiency, and ability to handle high-volume laundry loads. Here are a few top picks that are widely used across the hotel industry:

  1. Ecolab Laundry Program: Ecolab provides comprehensive laundry solutions designed specifically for commercial use. Their products offer excellent stain removal, fabric care, and efficient use of water and energy. Their range includes detergents, bleach, and fabric softeners that ensure optimal results every time.
  2. Proctor & Gamble Professional: P&G’s professional line includes heavy-duty detergents formulated for commercial laundries. Brands such as Tide Professional and Ariel are widely trusted in the hotel industry for their high-quality cleaning power and ability to extend the life of linens.
  3. Diversey Clax: The Clax line of products by Diversey offers a wide range of solutions for commercial laundry needs. Clax detergents are known for their effectiveness in cleaning and preserving the integrity of fabrics.
  4. Unilever Professional Omo and Surf: Unilever’s professional laundry line includes popular brands like Omo and Surf. They offer strong stain removal and long-lasting freshness, making them a top choice for hotels.
  5. Seventh Generation Professional: For eco-conscious businesses, Seventh Generation provides plant-based, phosphate-free detergents. Their professional line ensures powerful cleaning while minimizing environmental impact.
  6. Arm & Hammer Commercial: Known for their baking soda-based products, Arm & Hammer also provides commercial laundry solutions that are efficient at removing tough stains and odors.

Each of these brands has unique features and formulations, allowing hotels to choose the option that best aligns with their laundry requirements and environmental policies.

The Secret Formula: What Makes Hotel Detergents Different?

Hotel detergents indeed have a unique edge that separates them from regular household detergents, making them effective for the specific needs of a high-volume, high-demand industry. Their secret formula lies within their composition and the specialized needs they’re tailored to cater to. Here’s what makes them different:

  1. Powerful Cleaning Agents: Commercial laundry detergents used by hotels contain higher concentrations of cleaning agents (surfactants) that efficiently break down and remove a wide range of stains – from food and makeup to body oils and lotions.
  2. Water Softeners: Hotels often have to deal with hard water, which can hamper the effectiveness of detergents. Thus, their chosen products often contain water softeners, like phosphates (or eco-friendly alternatives), to counteract the minerals found in hard water, leading to better washing results.
  3. Optimized for Large Loads: These detergents are specifically formulated to tackle large loads of laundry, which is a daily necessity in hotels. They maintain their efficacy even when used in high-capacity, commercial-grade washing machines.
  4. Fabric Care: With the constant washing of linens, wear and tear is a genuine concern for hotels. Commercial detergents are often designed with ingredients that not only clean but also help to extend the life of the fabric, preserving its color, texture, and strength over time.
  5. Environmental Regulations: Commercial laundry products are typically more closely regulated than residential ones, due to the scale of their usage. As a result, many are formulated to comply with wastewater discharge rules, which can vary from region to region.
  6. Eco-friendly Formulations: With the growing emphasis on sustainability in the hotel industry, many modern commercial detergents are moving towards eco-friendly formulations. This includes using biodegradable surfactants, avoiding phosphates, and reducing overall toxicity to minimize environmental impact.

Unveiling Brand Names: Popular Detergents among Top Hotels

When it comes to maintaining the impeccable cleanliness and freshness of their linens, top hotels often rely on well-established, commercial laundry detergent brands. These brands are known for their potent cleaning power, reliability, and the ability to handle heavy-duty, high-volume washing. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular brands among the leading hotels:

  1. Ecolab: A household name in the commercial cleaning industry, Ecolab offers comprehensive laundry solutions, with products known for their superior stain-removing abilities and fabric care. Their environmentally friendly options are particularly appealing to hotels striving for sustainable operations.
  2. Procter & Gamble Professional: The professional line of this renowned brand, featuring well-known names such as Tide and Ariel, offers potent cleaning power, brightness preservation, and a pleasant, lasting freshness. Their specialized products, tailored for commercial use, are commonly found in many luxury hotels’ laundry rooms.
  3. Diversey: With their Clax line of laundry products, Diversey is a trusted name among top-tier hotels. Their commercial laundry solutions provide excellent cleaning results while being efficient and cost-effective.
  4. Unilever Professional: The commercial line of Unilever, including brands like OMO and Surf, are preferred by many hotels for their powerful stain removal and long-lasting freshness, keeping linens bright and clean.
  5. Seventh Generation Professional: For hotels keen on eco-friendly operations, Seventh Generation offers plant-based, biodegradable laundry detergents that deliver powerful cleaning results while minimizing environmental impact.
  6. Lysol Professional: Known for its disinfectant properties, Lysol’s line of commercial laundry products is favored by hotels prioritizing hygiene and sanitation.

These brands, among others, have made their mark in the hospitality industry by consistently delivering on cleanliness and quality, helping hotels maintain their high standards and ensure guest satisfaction.

Alternative Solutions: Cosmetic Towels and Makeup Remover Wipes

While commercial laundry detergents play a crucial role in maintaining hotel linens’ cleanliness, some stains are particularly stubborn and may not be entirely removed, even with heavy-duty detergents. One such common stain comes from cosmetics, which can be difficult to eliminate and can reduce the lifespan of hotel linens.

To counter this, many hotels have started offering alternatives specifically designed to cope with makeup removal. This not only adds to the guest experience but also helps in preserving the quality of linens.

  1. Cosmetic Towels: These are dedicated towels provided by the hotel specifically for makeup removal. They are typically darker in color – often black or brown – to hide makeup stains and to distinguish them from the regular bath and face towels. By providing cosmetic towels, hotels encourage guests to avoid using white towels for makeup removal, thereby reducing the number of heavily stained linens that require intensive washing.
  2. Makeup Remover Wipes: These are individual, pre-moistened towelettes that are designed to gently and effectively remove makeup. They are often provided as part of the array of complimentary toiletries in hotel bathrooms. By offering makeup remover wipes, hotels give their guests a convenient way to remove makeup without having to use the hotel’s towels or washcloths.
  3. Eco-friendly Options: With an increasing number of hotels prioritizing sustainability, some establishments opt for reusable makeup remover pads, which can be washed and used multiple times. These options are eco-friendly and equally effective at removing makeup.

These alternatives not only provide added convenience to hotel guests but also significantly reduce the toll on hotel linens. Consequently, this can lead to decreased laundry costs and increased linen lifespan – a win-win solution for the hospitality industry.

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener Replacement

Yes, vinegar can indeed be used as a fabric softener replacement, and it’s a popular choice for those who prefer a more natural and eco-friendly alternative to commercial fabric softeners. Here’s how and why it works:

Why Vinegar?

  1. Natural Softening Agent: Vinegar, particularly white vinegar, naturally softens fabric by neutralizing the charge of static cling, which is what makes clothes feel rough and scratchy after a wash.
  2. Odor Neutralizer: Despite its pungent smell, vinegar acts as a deodorizer, helping to remove unpleasant odors from fabric.
  3. Color Preserver: Vinegar can also help to set and preserve colors in fabrics, reducing fading over time.
  4. Safe for Sensitive Skin: Unlike some commercial fabric softeners that can irritate sensitive skin due to the presence of artificial fragrances and dyes, vinegar is a safe and hypoallergenic alternative.

How to Use Vinegar as a Fabric Softener:

Using vinegar as a fabric softener is quite straightforward. Add half a cup to a full cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine before starting the wash cycle. For smaller loads, half a cup should suffice. If your machine doesn’t have a fabric softener dispenser, you can add the vinegar during the rinse cycle.

One important note: never mix vinegar with bleach, as this combination can release toxic chlorine gas.

While vinegar is a wonderful, natural alternative to commercial fabric softeners, some commercial laundry systems might not permit the use of vinegar due to concerns about potential damage to machinery over time. Before adopting vinegar as a fabric softener in a commercial setting, it’s essential to verify its compatibility with the laundry equipment being used.


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