19 April 2011

Things That Are Surprising - Biohazard

Alternate Title: My Parents Went All the Way to Hawaii and All I Got Was This Lousy Duvet

Yesterday late afternoon, The Imp was so busy playing in the adjoining room that he neglected to go to the bathroom before he, uh, went to the bathroom. "I pee! I pee!" he shouted in consternation, from the newly wet spot atop the giant king sized bed he'd been sleeping on, without incident, the previous two nights.

"Oh no!" We ran into his room, yanked him off the bed and ran to the toilet. Alas, we were too late.

We immediately stripped the duvet cover off, and yes, he'd wet the corner of the duvet. Damn.

Knowing that the duvets aren't usually laundered between guests, we called housekeeping right away. We wanted to let them know the duvet needed to be cleaned, and we were hoping to get a clean replacement before The Imp's bedtime.

Housekeeping came promptly to address the situation. It should be noted that they were at all times calm, polite, professional, and as accommodating as they could be. What we didn't realize was that our simple attempt to do the right thing had unleashed a no-doubt OSHA mandated triumph of policy over common sense.

HWSNBN: Will we have to pay to have the duvet cleaned?
Housekeeping: We cannot clean the duvet.
HWSNBN: What? Why not? It says on the tag, "Dryclean Only."
Housekeeping: It is a biohazard. It cannot be cleaned.
HWSNBN: Biohazard? A quarter-cup of toddler pee is a biohazard?
Housekeeping: Yes. The duvet must be thrown away.
HWSNBN: You're telling me that this perfectly good duvet has to be thrown away because The Imp peed on the corner of it?
Housekeeping: Yes. It is a biohazard.
HWSNBN: So people can have sex on the duvet, and have AIDS or hepatitis, and the duvet can still be used, but a little bit of little boy pee, and it has to be thrown in an incinerator?
Housekeeping: Yes.
HWSNBN: Are you kidding me?
Housekeeping: No, sir. It is a biohazard.
HWSNBN: But urine's sterile!
Housekeeping: It is a biohazard.

It went on like that for a while.

Biohazard? Who, me?
Housekeeping asked us why The Imp wasn't in a crib. Um, because he's almost three? Because he hasn't slept in a crib in a year and a half? They asked us why he wasn't in diapers. Because he hasn't had an accident in six weeks!

Eventually, housekeeping agreed that they did not have to dispose of the duvet right that minute. They would leave the duvet with us. They would cover the mattress in plastic to prevent any issues in the five remaining days of our stay.

And we would have to pay for the duvet. Had he managed to pee on the mattress itself, we would have had to pay for an entire new bed. (!!!)

Listen, I'm not the mom that thinks her little darling can do no wrong. I don't think it's cute that he peed on someone else's property. Nor do I think that it's funny, or even appropriate, that someone else should have to deal with the results of his potty-training misadventures. I take full responsibility for my child's behaviour wherever we go.

And obviously, we were concerned that he'd peed on the duvet. We didn't want the next guest to unwittingly be sleeping under a blanket with little boy pee on it. That's why we called housekeeping in the first place - because honestly, an hour later, the duvet was totally dry and even knowing he'd peed on it, we couldn't find the spot. Had we not told them, they would never have known.

And I'm not writing here to try and unleash the collective rage of twitter parents. I'm not looking to get anything for free - I don't even need or want an apology. I'm not interested in a backlash against the hotel or its employees. They are merely following the procedures and policies set in place by a corporate entity, in an environment so litigious that common sense simply isn't a factor.

But... but... The robotic "It is a biohazard" response seemed a little ridiculous to me. When I tweeted about it, other parents overwhelmingly agreed. We are, admittedly, a subset of humanity enured to the bodily fluids of small children. But as Alexandria at Clippo pointed out in response to my incredulous tweets:


Little boy pee isn't cool, but I'm pretty sure it's not the most biohazardy thing ever to be found in one of their hotel rooms.

We don't know yet what the duvet is going to cost us. Or how we're going to get it home. But I am not throwing away a perfectly good duvet just because The Imp peed on it. If that was a thing, we'd have to get rid of almost everything we own.

What do you think? Is the hotel's reaction appropriate? Should we have just rinsed out the pee spot in the sink and kept our mouths shut?

And does anyone need a king sized duvet, recently peed upon just a little bit?


  1. That's completely insane. They NEVER wash the duvets?? Gross!!!!!
    Here's a great tip for getting the duvet home, if it comes to that: Go to Target (or equivalent store) and get some storage bags for pillows/duvets that have the one-way valve in them (I call them sucky bags!) Put the folded duvet inside, open the valve, roll the duvet up as tightly as possible, close the valve. Wa-La! Flat as a pancake duvet, ready for travel. It works great. I brought home a full size bed pillow this way in my suitcase!

  2. I get that there are procedures to be followed but I agree with you that it seems like no common sense is being applied to this situation. And a big old EWWWW! GROSS!!!! to hear that the duvet covers are never laundered. I will always remove the top cover from my hotel bed from now on. *heebie jeebie shake*

  3. @Helen: I'm sure they wash the duvets - there's likely a scheduled cleaning/replacing that happens. In this case they couldn't wash THIS duvet because a couple of ounces of toddler pee made it a "biohazard." :) And I just may get one of those "sucky bags" - thanks for the tip!

    @Sandi - the duvet covers are laundered - it was the duvet itself that they couldn't clean. Because, you know, of the big bad scary toddler pee.

  4. ha! if little boy pee caused duvets to become unusable, I'd need my very own goose farm to keep up with my little guy. Not only can they be cleaned, I've discovered that the best quality ones can be washed and dried and in the machine. Enjoy your new duvet!

  5. Oh my god, if I added up all the things Elliot has peed on, thrown up on, etc we'd have to replace the entire house. Let's not even talk about the dog.

    It seems insane, like you said, urine is sterile. I'm sure they're trigger happy on the 'biohazard' thing though because they could conceivably be sued for some possible illness someone could possibly get. And in the US that could cost a fortune. It's still ridiculous though.

  6. I don't always change my clothes when my kids pee on them. Clearly, I am not going to freak out about a little bit of pee on a duvet.

    I'm not sure what I would have done, honestly. I think telling them is the RIGHT thing to do, but I don't know if I would have thought it was necessary or not.

    And also? Even kids who wear diapers sometimes wet the bed. Especially little boys. There are issues with directionality, is all I'm saying.