Let's admit it: the hotel cleaning staff probably doesn't have the same standards of cleanliness that you do for your own home. It is great to have someone change your sheets and fold the towels each morning, but it does not always mean they are sanitizing the whole room effectively. A neatly made bed and vacuumed floor do not equal a sparkly clean hotel room. Germs are growing quicker than you might realize.
It is unlikely that your life will be in danger from touching slightly dirty cups or bathroom floors, but an unclean hotel room could still negatively affect your health. Common colds and stomach viruses can easily be picked up from surfaces. To ensure your health and safety, try to limit touching these items while staying in a hotel.
The Remote Controller
When is the last time you took a Clorox to wipe to your remote at home? The chances are that the hotel staff has done so even less. The University of Houston in Texas found that TV remotes were one of the most contaminated items in a hotel room. E. coli could be a problem if previous hotel guests did not wash their hands after using the restroom. To avoid having to touch the remote directly, cover it with the free shower cap you get in the bathroom or a plastic bag.
Like the remote, the light switches in a hotel room are not likely to be sanitized as frequently as you think. They also rank among the highest in contamination. Think about everything you touch before and after you hit a light switch. Likely, you aren't washing your hands each time. While you cannot use a plastic bag to cover them, you can wipe them down with alcohol wipes before use.
The Coffee Machine
It is standard in most hotel rooms now to have a small coffee machine, but you might not want to use it. When not cleaned correctly, these devices can harbor mold that gets into your coffee. Coffee makers must be taken entirely apart and wiped down thoroughly to ensure the best safety. ABC News investigators captured a viral video of a housekeeper in Ohio using inappropriate methods to clean the coffee pot, so others could likely be doing the same.
Soft surfaces harbor fecal bacteria and some other germs more than hard surfaces do. Maids are told to change the sheets and towels after each guest stay; however, not all hotels instruct them also to change the bedspreads. This is different with each hotel, so ask ahead. When you arrive, fold up the bedspread and put it away in the closet. This way, you only use new sheets.
Many hotels have switched over to single-use prewrapped cups left next to the bathroom sink. Others though, keep glassware and coffee mugs in the hotel room. Bring your own cup instead, if possible, or washes the glasses with dish soap and water. Many of these glasses are not cleaned thoroughly, if at all, and are not swapped out between stays. Additionally, they might only get cleaned with window cleaner rather than disinfectant.
When possible, hotels reuse the key cards they have to lessen the amount of waste. However, these do not get sanitized between uses. Make sure you do not touch your face after swiping your key card. Additionally, be conscious of where you play the room key once you are inside the room. Throwing it on the bed, floor, or desk might mean a transfer of germs. Keep it tucked away in your wallet to be safe.
Phones are just as bad as remote controls and light switches because guests touch them frequently without washing their hands. Additionally, we take the phone and hold it up near our face making it easier for germs to spread. If you need to use the phone, consider putting it on speaker and washing your hands after touching the buttons.
How to Get a Clean Hotel Room
Paying more for a hotel suite does not mean you will get a cleaner stay. There are not currently international standards and regulations for hotel cleanliness. In fact, high-end hotels with big brand names can have more micro-organisms. Investigative reporters have found that expensive rooms do not always net you a cleaner room, so it is essential to pay attention to some other critical components before jumping in the bed.
First, read the reviews for the hotel. Most reviews will have a 1-5 star rating for cleanliness, and you can see what other travelers had to say about the stay. Secondly, make sure to wash your hands frequently while in the room and avoid touching your face. Carry wipes with you as well to hit often touched surfaces to give you extra peace of mind. Additionally, avoid the glassware and bedspread as those are the hottest spots for germs.
A hotel room is supposed to be your home away from home, but you must remember all the thousands of people that stayed there before you. While hotel staff does what they can to clean, there are a few places that are hotbeds for icky germs. Protect you and your family by staying in the know and limit touching these items.