Here’s Why You Should Bring Your Own Bed Sheets When Traveling to China

Even 4 star hotels in China get their linens cleaned this way. (Image:
Even 4 star hotels in China get their linens cleaned this way. (Image:

In China, many people have commented that after staying in certain hotels they experience itchy skin. However, they often consider the uncomfortable itches as a common symptom when acclimatizing to a new place.

But, this is not the case — the real problem lies in the linens of the hotel.


At the door of the 7 Days Inn, a worker is putting bags of dirty linens into the truck. (Image: Beijing News)

Very few of express inns in China have their own laundry rooms to wash the bedding sets or towels due to their cost-conscious nature. Instead, they outsource the laundry and cleaning to a third party, for example, laundry workshops in the rural area of Beijing.

Recently, journalists from Beijing News secretly visited a few small workshops where tons of linen are sent from different hotels around Beijing. To their astonishment the journalists saw the dirty sheets with stains like blood or vomit mixed together with other sheets, and washed with caustic soda.

The workers were separating the linens in a workshop. (Image: Beijing News)

The workers emptying the linen in a workshop. (Image: Beijing News)

The laundry workers told the journalists, who worked as undercover employees in the workshop, that the key to getting the sheets “clean and white” is the caustic soda. They said: “No matter how dirty the sheet is, caustic soda can make it clean like it’s brand new.” About 90 pounds of caustic soda is used every day in this workshop.


A bag of caustic soda next to a laundry machine. (Image: Beijing News)

Caustic soda has a strong base, is highly corrosive, and can be easily purchased online in China. It’s widely used in paper making, aluminum smelting, and soap manufacturing. Now the laundry workshops have given it one more use — whitening hotel bedding and towels.

After the caustic-soda treatment, the linens and towels pH value greatly increases, indicating a change of their properties from “neutral” to “very basic,” and suggesting potential corrosive effects on the skin.


Journalists testing the pH value of a hotel towel, which is as high as 9.09, indicating the towel is strong alkaline and corrosive to the human skin. (Image: Beijing News)

As the test result above shows, the pH value of the towel from the 7 Days Inn in Beijing reached nearly as high as 10, which has far exceeded the limit of 6.5 to 7 that the human body can withstand. The strong alkaline can damage the skin’s immune barrier, and cause skin diseases.

Those laundry workshops were found to have long customer lists in which both express inns and four-star hotels are included. It is not easy to survive in China.

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