QHotels’ executive housekeeper shares her tricks of the trade

Housekeeping tips

QHotels celebrated International Housekeeping Week in September and the award-winning hotel group went behind the scenes with its resident housekeeping expert, Nan McDowell, to share her tricks of the trade.

Having managed the housekeeping team at Crewe Hall for six years - making sure the hotel's 117 rooms are made to perfection for every guest - Nan knows a thing or two about cleaning. So if you've tried to create the perfect hotel quality bed at home, or want to clean like a pro,Nanis here to help.

How can people replicate a QHotels bed at home?
It's all about investing in the highest-quality components that you can.  A quality mattress will improve sleep and good quality linen will improve the look and feel of your bed. Pillows must be big, fluffy and never flat. And we always use a mattress protector and pillow protectors to keep everything extra-fresh and clean, providing an extra layer of comfort too! 

And remember, all bedding has a shelf-life so make sure you replace pillows every two years and duvets every 4-5 years.

What's the best way to get a duvet in its cover?
Every housekeeper at QHotels has their own technique. However, I think the 'inside-out' method is the most efficient and tangle-free!

Start with the duvet cover inside-out, then with your hands inside, grab the top corners of the duvet and flick the cover down on itself.  And remember, practice makes perfect!

What are your top tips for making the perfect bed?
The most important thing is that the duvet is pulled tight and is perfectly smooth over the bed. It's easier to achieve this when the duvet cover is slightly bigger than the duvet itself, allowing the sides to be tucked down nicely.

Pillows should be plump in the pillow case and stood up on the bed - this always looks more appealing than laid flat. We also think very carefully about what our guests see when they pull back the covers to get into bed.  It's still got to look just as good, so again, make sure the sheets are tight and smooth underneath the duvet, too.

Hospital corners are a key component of a properly made bed. Once you've mastered the art, it's a nice touch if you have guests to stay.

How do you make hospital corners?
With the fitted sheet tight on the mattress, place the sheet over the bed so it hangs evenly at either side.  Standing at the bottom corner of the bed, lift the mattress slightly and tuck the sheet all the way along the bottom edge of the bed. You should be left with just the sides hanging down. 

To tuck the side, take the bottom corner of the hanging sheet and lift it over the bed - creating a 45 degree angle with the corner of the mattress.  With the bottom angle still over the bed, tuck the sheet that's still hanging under the side of the mattress then let the corner fall back down. Then simply tuck the corner section underneath, in-line with the bottom edge of the mattress and repeat on the other side. Check out our Pinterest board for visuals to help.

What's your top tip for making cleaning easier?
Be organised and simplify! Each housekeeper has their own cleaning caddy with everything they need all in one place.  This can be easily replicated at home and could save you more time and energy than you realise. Simplify the products and tools you are using and put the essentials into a bucket or container which you can carry around to save running up and down the house!

What's the first thing people should clean?
We have a complex 20-step process, to ensure each and every room meets the high QHotels standard. Start by emptying rubbish, removing clutter and stripping linen. This will give you a blank canvas to clean in. And, before you rush to pick up the products, always open the windows to let the fresh air in.

What products do you recommend cleaning with?
I'm a great believer in keeping things simple.  I wouldn't advise using more than four products - a multi-surface antibacterial cleaner, toilet gel, glass cleaner and polish will cover everything.

Any tips on how to apply product?
Always spray product onto the cloth first, never the surface.  Spraying directly onto the surface will result in one area being saturated and other sections getting missed. It's a common mistake! 

What cloths should people clean with?
A microfiber cloth works well on surfaces and we always carry a dry cloth to use on glass surfaces to avoid streaking.  Make sure you have a number of micro-fibre cloths for different areas. I like to use colour coded cloths so it's easy to remember which to use on surfaces, floors, the bathroom and so on. 

How do you tackle dust?
I don't think you can beat a traditional feather duster or, as I like to call it, a 'tickling stick'!  We use a modern version in our hotels, made with wool rather than feathers, which works wonders.  Make sure you remember to dust the walls every time you clean to avoid build up.  Using a damp cloth will lift the dust from upholstery such as curtains and chairs.

How do you make the bathroom sparkle?
Once you've cleaned the bathroom with product and got the tiles shining, use a dry, microfiber cloth to polish fittings and chrome. It's simple but it works a treat.

Another important thing to make shine in the bathroom is the mirror.  There are so many products out there. However the best thing to get the mirror streak-free in my experience is simply water and a cloth. Honestly, it works!

What's the last thing you do?
The very last thing you should do is vacuum the floors - picking up everything that's dropped down onto the floor whilst cleaning. We always start from the furthest point in the room and vacuum our way out into the corridor (or landing if you're at home!).  

There's nothing better than walking away at the end of the day in the knowledge that every room awaiting guests is made to perfection. It's such a satisfying feeling to know that someone will appreciate and enjoy our hard work. 

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