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What Lies Under the Sheets?
Dated: 17-09-2018
 
The first thing guests usually love to experience in a hotel room after checking in is the comfort of their bed, especially when they are on a vacation. The housekeeping department works round the clock to ensure that the bed linen is clean and nicely stacked. Equally important, if not more, is the hygiene of the mattresses underneath. Let’s take a closer look at what’s lurking in and around the mattresses and how housekeeping departments deal with it. 
 
One of the most common challenges related to mattress hygiene are dust mites that are often a result of poor indoor air quality and pollution amongst others. “Dust mites found on our mattresses tend to further multiply in hot and humid conditions. Another big reason to their growth is the dead skin we leave behind everyday. These uninvited dwellers may also lead to sudden morning sicknesses like mild fever, sneezing or running nose with asthma being the long-term health concern, says Shrinivas Tannir, Managing Director, Pro Maxcare Services.

Mattress cleaning: The steps

The hospitality industry has a two-pronged approach towards mattress cleaning - the first being preventive measures and second periodic cleaning. As a preventive measure, mattresses should have at least one protective cover, which can be anything from a simple mattress protector to a modern Teflon-coated zip cover. This prevents dirt and stain seepage into the mattress while protecting it from early damage.

Periodic cleaning involves multiple methods - the first and the most common being mattress shampooing, which is similar to upholstery shampooing. This is a wet method and thus requires time for the mattress to dry. The second and the most recent technology uses a heavy suction along with a powerful vibration and UV or steam disinfection mechanism. This is a dry method and does not have a downtime like the previous one. The various equipment used for mattress cleaning include injection/extraction machines, dryers, foam generators, pulverisation machines, UV sanitisers, steam cleaning machines, etc.

Shamal Raj, Executive Housekeeper, Pullman Dubai Creek City Centre, explains, “Professional sanitisation of mattresses must be carried out at least twice a year. Now-a-days companies carry out AMCs for this service, thus this could be done up to four times a year depending on room availability. At Pullman Dubai Creek City Centre, we carry out our mattress sanitisation in-house as we use the mattress shampooing method and have all the necessary equipment and expertise needed for the same. This allows us to increase the cleaning frequency as we require.”

“At a commercial level, mattress cleaning depends on the frequency of room occupancy, whereas we would recommend that in residences mattresses be cleaned every four months.” We also suggest our customers to get mattress cleaning done before they buy the mattress as they don’t know when the mattress was manufactured,” informs Tannir.

The challenges

There is a gap in information amongst the end users and the services available. For instance, opting for the shampoo cleaning method involves usage of harsh chemicals, which may damage the fabric. This treatment may also leave chemical residue thus causing skin allergies and other health concerns. “This is where expertise and experience of the technician play a major role. The cleaning techniques and the cycles should be monitored and just like any other upholstery or carpet shampooing, there are several steps in the process, which includes a cold rinse to ensure that there is no chemical residue. Also, a steam vacuum step at the end sanitises the mattress completely,” observes Raj.

While the other services have their own challenges, explains Tannir. According to Tannir, steam cleaning is limited to the surface. Usually for a standard-sized mattress, which is around 12 inches thick, it is practically impossible to disinfect the mattress from deep inside. Secondly, mattress shampooing is meant for removing visible dirt or stains and not disinfecting. The third and a very common cleaning practice is using a normal vacuum cleaner. These vacuum cleaners should have good suction power otherwise they may not serve the purpose. He adds, “We have a machine from the US, which has a capacity to capture micron particles from deep inside, which can’t be seen with the naked eye. The machine that we use is 20 times more powerful than the normal vacuum machines available in the market. The best part of our service is that it’s chemical-free.”

Raj cautions, “A little bit of thought while purchasing the mattress, during pre-opening or renovation, could cut the costs of operation dramatically. As soon as the mattress is purchased, if you are able to protect it with a high quality Teflon-coated zip cover, you can reduce the cost of mattress cleaning during operation. These covers will seal the mattress completely thereby preventing seepage, dust mite or mould growth.”

“A good quality cover does not come cheap and thus remains as a blockage for hotels and owners. Also, while buying these covers, he suggests that hotels must purchase at least 10 per cent more as spare. This would help the laundry to wash these covers without keeping the rooms on hold. These costs must be considered during the mattress purchase, which will later on ease out the operation and operating expenses,” concludes Raj.

Whether it is at home or a hotel we spend most of our relaxing time on the mattress, which is at the receiving end of dust mites, sweat and other dust particles. Despite changing the linen on a regular basis what lies under these sheets is the real concern. Hence, going for a suitable periodic cleaning regime is the need of the hour.

 

 
 
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