(INSIDE EDITION) -- When staying at a hotel, you expect fresh, clean sheets -- but how can you be sure the linens have been changed after the previous guest?
To find out, Inside Edition's investigative team came up with a simple test. We checked into 9 hotel rooms, and each time sprayed a harmless, washable, fluorescent paint onto the bedsheet using a stencil that says, “I SLEPT HERE.” The paint is invisible to the naked eye, but turn on an ultraviolet light and presto -- our “I SLEPT HERE” slogan could be seen glowing bold and bright. Then we checked out, leaving the beds unmade, which should have been clear to any maid they had been slept in.
Inside Edition then booked the same rooms for the following day and checked in under a new name -- as if we were brand new guests.
At the Candlewood Inn & Suites near Manhattan’s Times Square, we sprayed down our mark. And incredibly, when we returned the next day under a different reservation "I SLEPT HERE" was still on the sheets!
"This sheet hasn’t been changed. Why weren’t the sheets changed?” INSIDE EDITION reporter Ann Mercogliano asked the hotel manager.
“Okay, I expect them to be changed every day and that is a policy of our property,” the manager replied. A spokesperson for the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), which owns Candlewood & Suites, said they “take great pride in setting stringent quality standards, which we take very seriously.
"Any claim that a hotel is not following the standards falls below our expectations. This incident serves as a reminder to all hotels to enforce this important standard.”
So was it just a simple mistake or is this a dirty little secret in the hotel industry?
At a La Quinta Inns & Suites location not far from New York City's Central Park, we did our test again, spraying a bedsheet with our message ‘I SLEPT HERE.’
Would the message still be there when we returned the next day under a new reservation?
When Mercogliano turned off all the lights in the room, and turned on a UV light to inspect the sheets. Once again, she found the message.
“Disgusting! These sheets are dirty,” said Mercogliano, who then called for a manager. When he arrived, he brought a maid with him. She claimed she cleaned the sheets but when Mercogliano showed them our “I Slept Here” message glowing in the dark, both apologized.
“I mean, there are no words for me to say, we expect the housekeepers to change the sheets,” the manager said.
In a statement to Inside Edition, La Quinta Inns & Suites said: “We strive to provide a positive, consistent guest experience at all of our branded hotels. This includes providing a clean guestroom for every guest. We have reached out to the management team at this franchised location to understand what happened and have addressed the issue."
At a Residence Inn by Marriott also near Times Square, a hotel rated One Diamond by AAA, Inside Edition did the test once more, but this time sprayed the word “Yuck” on the top bedsheet and “I Slept Here” on the bottom sheet. The pillows were also sprayed with the Inside Edition logo.
The next day the team discovered that the pillowcases had been changed on the bed, but the same could not be said for the sheets, where “YUCK” and “I SLEPT HERE” were still seen.
“This is absolutely disgusting,” said Mercogliano.
At first, the manager didn't want to talk about it.
"I'm sorry, I’m going to have to ask you to cut the camera," she said. When asked again why the sheets weren’t changed, she said, “We make it a custom to change every check out room sheet. However, I do not know what happened in this situation. I will have to get my general manager."
"We were concerned to hear of the comments about the cleanliness of one of our guest rooms, as we pride ourselves on the high standards of cleanliness throughout the hotel," Marriott hotels said in a statement.
"We apologized to the guest who brought this to our attention and take these comments very seriously. We are inspecting the room thoroughly to insure this does not recur.”
All told, three of the nine hotels Inside Edition tested still had unclean, used sheets.
Copyright 2016 KPNX