The Reason Hotel Sheets and Towels Are Almost Always White

Hotels like to use white sheets and towels.
Hotels like to use white sheets and towels. / georgeclerk/iStock via Getty Images

Bedsheets come in a variety of colors and fabrics, from greys to reds to blues. So do bath towels. You may have a variety yourself, or you may know someone who keeps a pop of color in their linens.

But when you go to a hotel, there’s not often a lot of variety. The comforter may be colorful, but the sheets and towels are almost always white—a bright, high-wattage white. Considering the fact that hotel whites see a lot of wear, it’s a curious choice. And while it may make it easier to spot bedbugs, that’s hardly the reason why.

Hotels like to use white sheets because they can quickly and easily communicate cleanliness. Imagine climbing into a bed with darker sheets. You may wonder about things you can’t see. With white, you’re assured the sheets have been freshly-laundered.

It wasn’t always like this. The Westin chain is credited with popularizing the white motif in the 1990s. The decision bucked the trend of hotels using colored sheets. But Westin felt they could improve the room by making the small change.

“The all-white bed created this halo effect,” Erin Hoover, former vice president of design for Westin and Sheraton Hotels, told HuffPost in 2014. “People thought a room had been renovated, even if it was just the bed that had been changed. It had a huge impact.”

From a logistical standpoint, white sheets also make cleaning easier. Instead of having to keep colored sheets separate, both sheets and towels can be thrown into the same wash without fear of colors running.

As for why hotel whites are so vibrant: Hotels make use of the latest in laundry technology, including ultrasonic machines that can break down stains. They also utilize multiple wash cycles. So while you can certainly pick up white sheets for yourself, the "halo effect" is something you probably need to make a reservation for.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]