What is an SOP for hotel housekeeping?
A housekeeping SOP—or standard operating procedure—is a step-by-step set of instructions on how to complete each housekeeping task. These processes are approved by management, and all housekeepers are expected to follow them to ensure consistency, accuracy, and quality.
A key component of SOPs is a set of checklists, where housekeepers can tick off each step of the cleaning process as they make their way through each room. But SOPs are also documented workflows, which ensure housekeepers complete tasks in a particular order to ensure efficiency and safety.
The importance of housekeeping SOPs
SOPs are an essential component of any job role as it helps to set the standard for how a job is to be done. This is especially true when working in hospitality since each task has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Each employee can interpret task requirements differently if you don’t get specific.
For example, “clean the shower” for one housekeeper might look like wiping down the tiles, while someone else might scrub the grout, clean out the drain, clean the showerhead, etc. Putting cleaning standards in place for your housekeepers to follow is just the first step.
You also need to present SOPs in a way that makes your staff more willing to adopt them. We’ll cover that below, but first, here are some of the reasons why SOPs are so crucial for hotel housekeeping staff:
1. SOP hotel housekeeping for performance management/accountability
If you have no standards in place, then it's impossible to manage and track your housekeeping department's performance. If they aren't held accountable for all their duties, then things are much more likely to be missed. SOPs will encourage compliance as housekeepers know they are responsible for following each practice and reporting that they've done it.
For example, if a housekeeper says they've scrubbed the bathroom sink, but a guest complains about a dirty sink, then you know there's a disconnect. Using SOPs will enable you to implement performance management, identify where the staff is excelling, and where they need additional training.
2. SOP for housekeeping department quality control/consistency
SOPs help to prevent misunderstandings about what good housekeeping looks like. Without guidance, each staff member will complete cleaning practices differently, and it may not be to a standard that you're happy with.
Quality control is essential in hospitality as hotels strive to meet guest demands for cleanliness. Anything less than spotless could end with a bad review, and news travels fast. A few complaints about cleanliness could be detrimental to your business.
Guests are often booking accommodation based on the photos you display through your online booking platforms and will expect their room to closely resemble that spotlessly clean, beautifully presented picture they saw online. SOPs ensure that tasks are done consistently across all rooms. It could be as simple as how they put on bed linen, tie back the curtains, or lay out the toiletries. All these small details are integral to the overall guest experience.
A good SOP will ensure housekeepers know exactly what standards to follow with regards to consistency and presentation, giving you confidence that the version of your hotel you present in your marketing matches reality as closely as possible.
3. Safety SOP for the housekeeping department
Often SOPs aren't put in place until something happens to prompt them, such as an accident. But we believe proactivity is better than reactivity. Standard operating procedures can help prevent injury or danger to your housekeeping staff, maintenance department, and guests. After all, housekeepers work with toxic chemicals, slippery surfaces, and often carry heavy loads.
SOPs will dictate how your staff can operate safely to minimize the risks involved on the job, such as diluting concentrated chemicals, what chemicals should be used to clean different surfaces, and what order you should clean the room in.
This is also important for the safety of guests. Health and safety standards are even higher at the current time due to the pandemic, which means rooms and public areas require the use of powerful disinfectants and housekeepers have to ensure nothing is missed.
If a housekeeper hasn't cleaned adequately, it could pose a severe risk to guests—and nobody wants to stay at the hotel where guests contracted an illness due to unsanitary conditions. A bad news story, or string of negative reviews along these lines, could be fatal to your business.
4. Housekeeping standard operating procedure for training
SOPs are valuable housekeeping training resources for staff. You can use them as part of new staff onboarding, as well as for continuous training. Housekeeping staff will always be able to reference the SOPs whenever they are unsure how to execute a specific task.
When you implement a new process, you can update the SOPs and notify staff of the changes. This will mean that they will be held accountable for implementing the new processes as opposed to telling them and then it being forgotten about. If you just update paper checklists and print out new ones it’s very likely that your housekeeping staff won’t bother to implement the changes, nor will you have a solid way to track if they do.
Essential SOPs for housekeeping in hotels
When you’re creating SOPs for housekeeping, there are three main areas you'll need to cover:
1. Preparing rooms for check-in
This workflow will list each step that housekeepers need to take to get a room ready for the next guests to check-in. Beyond just the basics like making the bed with fresh linen, cleaning the ashtrays, and restocking supplies, these SOPs need to detail precisely how housekeepers need to perform these duties.
Check out some of our SOP housekeeping training checklist examples below to see what this could look like.
2. Cleaning occupied rooms
Rooms require daily cleaning throughout a guest's stay. The cleaning procedures while the guests are there will look different than when the space is empty. Some of the cleaning methods for occupied rooms will include making the bed, replacing used towels, using the vacuum cleaner on carpeted areas, replenishing bathroom supplies, etc.
3. Maintaining common areas
Not to be overlooked is the importance of ensuring your hotel’s high standards are kept up throughout common areas, such as in the halls, the breakfast room, and the foyer.
Sometimes certain elements here, such as dusting lamps on the front desk, might get forgotten or consistently deprioritized in favor of the more urgent need to turn rooms around for guests. But you can’t afford to let your standards slip anywhere, particularly during the pandemic where any dusty service can be taken as evidence of an overall lack of care that might not be reflective of your hotel.
Examples of SOP housekeeping checklists
Here are a few examples of useful housekeeping SOP checklists. Sign up for our newsletter to receive more SOPs that you can use for your operations, directly to your inbox.
1. Cleaning the shower SOP for housekeeping hotel
- Pre-treat soap scum by running hot water for 2 minutes to loosen up the grime.
- Spray the all-purpose cleaning solution onto the shower tiles, including the grout, and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Use the bristle brush to scrub tiles in a circular motion from the top of the shower down.
- Rinse with warm water.
- Dry the tiles using a clean towel, ensuring there is no water pooling in the crevices.
2. Regular upholstery cleaning (couches and chairs)
- Use the dry brush in circular motions over the fabric to loosen dust or debris, being careful of delicate areas such as buttons or folds.
- Sprinkle fabric with baking soda and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.
- Use the vacuum cleaner on low, with the brush attachment to suck up the loose baking soda, dirt, and other particles.
- Upholstery must be dust and stain-free at all times.
- For any stains, follow the stain removal procedure.
Download Essential Hotel SOPs in form of Checklists
HAVAC and appliances
General inspections of site
General Room Cleaning
Digitize your SOPs to ensure compliance
Even if you create the most thorough SOP cleaning checklists for your housekeeping staff, you may still be struggling with compliance. Traditional paper checklists will often be forgotten or neglected when housekeepers are cleaning rooms. Improvements can be made right away by embracing the technology most staff carry with them at all times—their smartphones.
Imagine if you had the choice between carrying around four pages of instructions everywhere you go or could get access to a two-minute video that’s always a click away. Which are you more likely to follow?
Providing SOPs in a digital format will make your housekeeping staff more likely to adopt and follow the SOPs you've put in place.
Here are some of the ways that digital SOPs in housekeeping scheduling software, like Flexkeeping, can modernize your operational procedures:
1. Make SOPs available on mobile apps
Digital SOPs are available through mobile phone applications, which enables staff to access them at any time, right from the palm of their hand. They can update checklists as they work through their tasks, and flag rooms as clean when they are done directly in the app. They can also use the app to flag maintenance if there are any issues that need addressing.
2. Digital SOPs enable instant, automated reporting
Data from each room is submitted to management immediately after a room is completed. Instead of housekeepers having to manually fill out checklists and hand them into management, an automated report is sent letting them know the room is ready, and if there were any issues.
3. Use photos to set standards and to ensure compliance
You can upload photos directly into the software to have a frame of reference of what compliance to your standards looks like (and perhaps what non-compliance looks like).
Housekeepers can upload photos of completed tasks as proof that they did them, or to illustrate issues they’re having. And, in the event that a task isn’t completed correctly or a guest complaint is received, management can likewise attach a photo to that task for housekeepers to reference.
4. Upload intuitive, accessible video SOPs that are easy to follow
Having written out SOPs isn’t always the most effective strategy since they may be hard to visualize and exactly what needs to be done can sometimes be left unclear in the minds of housekeepers, too easily left to interpretation.
For many people, reading text on its own is not the most effective way to learn or retain information.
Digital SOPs enable you to attach videos where you show how a task is to be performed, so there can be no confusion. Housekeepers can reference these videos at any time if they need a refresher.
5. Create, edit and share SOPs with the whole team in seconds
Sometimes you need to share SOPs with new members of staff or make a change to the SOPs based on new processes needed. The process can be very manual as you edit the document on a computer, print out new sheets, and deliver them to all the staff. With digital SOPs you can quickly update a checklist and share it right away to all your staff's mobile phones.
6. Combine mixed media to help staff retain information and ensure compliance
Bringing together all the aforementioned benefits of digital SOPs is of great benefit to most people, as a lot of us tend to learn better when consuming mixed media.
The fact that digital SOPs enable you to add video components, PDFs, images, and other documents allows you to create a more well-rounded training resource for staff that supports all their individual styles of learning. Furthermore, combining all these various elements leaves little room for interpretation of your hotel quality standards.
It’s key to create, share and follow your hotel housekeeping standard operating procedure.
Implementing digital housekeeping SOPs and checklists will increase staff compliance with your operating practices. Interactive software like Flexkeeping enables you to set up all your SOP checklists in the platform, implement changes in real-time, and track the time it takes for housekeepers to complete each task.
This way, your knowledge will be organized, work processes will be clear, training new staff members will be faster and staff will be held accountable for maintaining the clear and unambiguous standards you've put in place, which will directly benefit your hotel guest experience.
We help thousands of housekeeping department heads manage their teams with SOPs and digital checklists. Want to receive SOP templates and ideas in your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter for more.
Flexkeeping is an all-in-one hotel housekeeping management software to maximize operational efficiency. We let you easily manage SOPs that your staff actually follows. Schedule your free demo here.