The housekeeping department is an integral part of various industries, but it is most often associated with hospitality. The priorities of housekeepers in a hotel are to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of guest rooms and public areas. The role of the housekeeping department in other industries may require more specialised skills, such as sterilisation and removal of hazardous waste.
Each time a guest checks out of a hotel room, it must be stripped and thoroughly cleaned to prepare for the arrival of the next guest. All bed and bathroom linens must be removed and laundered. In-house laundry services will also fall under the role of the housekeeping department, though many hotels outsource this job. The guest bathroom must be scoured and sanitised, while towels and amenities are replenished. Guest rooms must be dusted and vacuumed. The housekeeping department should also check appliances in the room such as hair dryers, telephones, alarm clocks and refrigerators. Failures should be relayed to the front desk or the maintenance department. Housekeeping should also alert the front desk when bed linens, curtains, carpeting or other room furnishings are stained or otherwise in need of replacement.
The housekeeping department is also responsible for the appearance of public areas. Lobbies, rest rooms, ballrooms, gyms and other rooms utilised by guests need to be cleaned on a regular basis, sometimes daily. Rugs and carpeting must be kept vacuumed, and should be cleaned with a commercial shampooer as needed. Floors are mopped and waxed, while windows are kept clean and streak-free. In addition to cleaning, the housekeeping department will also reorganise public areas such as putting furniture back in its proper place, straightening and plumping decorative pillows, retrieving dishes and glasses left in hallways and piling magazines and brochures that are displayed for guest use.
Cleaning and linen supplies are monitored by the housekeeping department. When supplies are low, they will either place an order or alert the front desk for an order to be placed. These include linens and room amenities, such as shampoo and conditioner. The housekeeping department may also be called upon to accommodate guest requests for items like irons, hairdryers or extra bath linens. Special requests in room reservations, such as rollaway beds or cribs, are also typically handled by this department.
Many non-hospitality industries incorporate housekeeping departments into their organisation. Hospitals rely on a housekeeping department to clean and sanitise patient rooms, public areas and operating units. Specialised training in dealing with medical waste and sterilisation may be required. Large corporations often utilise in-house departments for the maintenance of offices, rest rooms and visitor areas. These positions may require evening or night work so that cleaning can be done during non-business hours.