Why Do Most Hotel Maids Close the Drain in the Bathtub?

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If you have ever stayed in a hotel, you may have noticed that the bathtub drains have been closed. What is going on? If this has ever puzzled you, here’s your answer.

Hotel maids will close the drain after cleaning to prevent any smell or bugs from coming out. Another possible reason is that it helps the cleaning process. However, in most hotels, the maids are not instructed to do this. So, many of them take this extra measure by choice.

hotel bathroom (1)

How Do Hotels Plug in Bathtubs?

You probably have experienced this firsthand when you were out on vacation. As part of the hotel’s care package, the housemaids or innkeepers will clean the shower. And a lot of the time, they will plug in the drain afterward.

Whether it is traveling for work or to enjoy the holiday, staying at a hotel is a big part of the entire trip. As such it is important to know the practices that happen in these lodgings.

First of all, when cleaning the bathtub, the maids have to close the drain beforehand. Otherwise, all the cleaning water will simply go down the drain, giving them no time to clean. So, not closing the drain at the beginning is very ineffective and costly.

You are basically wasting detergent at that moment.

So, by closing the drain, they can get a better platform to clean. This also allows them to clean the drain cap itself and the surrounding spot more effectively. And after they brush and rub the entire bathtub, they open the cap and all water is removed. And you now have a neat and tidy bathtub.

Why Do Hotel Maids Close the Drain in the Bathtub?

So, as we discussed, closing the drain initially is part of the cleaning process. But the extra step that some maids take to close the drain again seems perplexing. Especially because sometimes this can cause a few inches of water to build up. And many customers may find this unpleasant if they were expecting a dry shower.

Additionally, this is not a strictly instructed rule that most hotels follow. Rather this is more of an unspoken tradition. But there are a few explanations as to why a lot of housemaids will do this.

The most well-known and practical justification is that keeping the drain closed stops the smell. We use the shower to clean ourselves, sometimes with our clothes on. And all of that dirt and grimes get flushed down the drain. So, the drain in a bathtub can be the source of a very foul stench.

So, if you keep the drain open, that stench will slowly seep into the shower and may even reach the other rooms. This will lead to plenty of disgruntled customers complaining about the smell. So, to avoid this type of situation, the staff will often close the drain after cleaning.

Of course, with how efficient and advanced modern drainage systems and cleaning products are, this is hardly an issue anymore. This is why you will not find a closed bathtub drain in many hotels nowadays.

But in hotels that are a bit older or do not have sufficient drainage systems, it is wise to close the drain after using it.

Now, the smell is not the only one that can crawl out of the shower if the drainage is shoddy. Sometimes bugs and creepy crawlers can get out of that small hole, preparing a nasty surprise the next time you go to take a shower.

Once again, a well-constructed bathroom does not face this problem. If it did, then most of our homes would be littered with such creatures and smell as well. Modern hotels go to great lengths at making their bathrooms look as luxurious as possible.

But there was a time when hotel maids certainly had to consider these issues. Back when the indoor plumbing and shower drainage was not up to the current standard. And they began to close the shower as a necessary measure.

Over time, this practice became standard and accepted. So, even in hotels where this is not necessary, workers may still end up doing it.

hotel bathtub (1)

Is It Safe to Take a Bath in a Hotel Bathtub?

This is a big point of concern for many people, especially those who are constantly on the road. After all, showering is an essential part of personal hygiene.

And many hotels prominently feature their bathrooms as part of the total package. But should you jump into the bathtub just because it looks clean and smooth?

In a study done by TravelMath, they have found that certain spots in a hotel are a hotspot for germs. The hotel bathroom is the chief among them, particularly the bathtub. These bathtubs carry significantly more germs per area than most of our homes.

And this is unsurprising as multiple people can use the same hotel shower on the same day. Hotels, in general, will be more unhygienic for this very reason.

But this does not mean all hotel showers have the same level of contamination. Some people have to stay in a hotel for several days. For them, it is not possible to go that long without showering, particularly if they are on a business trip. And there are hotels where it is safer to take a bath than others.

This depends mostly on the cleaning practices and standards that the specific hotel’s workers follow. If the hotel staff takes proper care and time while scrubbing the bathroom after a guest leaves, it will drastically reduce the chance of infection.

Similarly, cleaning the baths frequently also reduces this risk. Of course, many people still find it unsettling to take a bath that several strangers have previously used. Although many of the bacteria found here do not pose a severe threat, just the thought of taking a shower at a hotel is uncomfortable for some.

Now, there are some precautionary methods you can take before jumping into what looks like a safe, clean bathtub on the surface. Make sure the tub does not have any leftover water from the previous use. If you find signs of a dirty tub, you can ask the hotel staff to clean it properly.

If you are very particular about this, you can verify the sort of cleaning materials they use by asking the manager or a staff member. Often times the room is cleaned before you arrive at the hotel. But many prefer the rooms to be cleaned just before entering the room.

If you do not like the state of the bathtub and showering is not a necessity for you at that time, you can skip it. People who only stay for a day or even less will often do this. On the flip side, some people really enjoy bathing in the glamorous showers of upper-class hotels.

So, this comes down to a personal choice most of the time.

Also, it is best to bring your own towel to the hotel. Do not use any towels or robes they provide if they seem to be dirty. Otherwise, you may end up with a troubling case of skin rash or hives.

So, if you find yourself in a hotel and in need of a bath, properly check the condition of the bathtub before you do so. If the hotel has a shower head, use that instead as it will be safer.


Hotels and other forms of lodgings are important for a multitude of reasons. But we do not want these places to become the source of anguish due to poor hygiene. So, hotel owners, staff, and residents need to practice proper cleanliness.