When you travel, your hotel room is supposed to be your home away from home. An oasis where you can rest up from your adventures, and pamper yourself a bit.
It’s a lovely idea. But the reality is your hotel room is likely full of stranger’s germs.
And if you travel a lot, you might want to brace yourself before you keep reading.
The University of Houston ran a study to discover just how clean hotel rooms actually are. The researchers found that more than 80 percent of the surfaces tested were positive for traces of fecal bacteria.
Another investigation by NBC News, in coordination with the University of Arizona, tested rooms at five major US hotel chains to identify the germiest spots in any hotel room.
Beware the 6 germiest spots in any hotel room
Experts say the following six objects are the filthiest objects in any hotel room. Keep reading for some practical advice about what you can do to avoid getting sick.
1. The ice bucket:
The housekeeping staff very rarely wipes down ice buckets. And when the staff does clean them, chances are it’s with a cloth they use to clean other dirty surfaces as well.
The good news is that most hotels offer plastic baggies to line the ice buckets. Your best bet is to ignore the bucket and use the bag alone.
2. The coffee maker:
Having coffee at your fingertips, especially first thing in the morning, is one of the luxuries many hotel rooms provide. But before you reach for the machine think about how often you clean your own coffee maker at home.
Of course, you’re the only one using yours so there’s no need scrub it down every day. But the one in your hotel room, on the other hand, has an endless parade of folks handling it. And the housekeeping staff likely clean it far less than you do your own.
Go to the lobby, or the coffee shop in town, to get your morning fix. It will taste far better anyway. And if you must use the in-room coffee maker, run several rounds of plain hot water through it first.
3. The decorative bedding:
Hotels typically don’t send their decorative bedding—such as throw pillows, bed runners and comforters—to the cleaners very often (if ever). Our advice? Touch them once to throw them into the corner, wash your hands well and then never touch them again.
There’s better news with the regular bedding. You can rest assured it’s a standard policy to change the sheets between guests at all hotels. And it’s one that hotels, both big and small, are good at following.
And while we can’t say it never happens—back in 2014, there was a now infamous report that uncovered three hotels in Manhattan that didn’t change their sheets—we can say it is very unlikely. But if you’re the least bit concerned, when you check in ask that they send a fresh set of sheets up to your room.
4. The bedside light switch:
Every single guest touches the bedside light switch. But housekeeping rarely, if ever, cleans it. Which means it can be a breeding ground for bugs, making it one of the germiest spots in any hotel room.
Keep a box of tissues bedside and grab one whenever you need to use the light switch.
5. The telephone:
Just like the ice bucket, the housecleaning staff doesn’t clean the room phone very often. And when they do remember to wipe it down it’s often with a contaminated rag.
Avoid the room phone and use your cell phone instead. And if you must use it wipe it down with some natural hand sanitizer on a tissue or a cleansing cloth first.
6. The TV remote:
In the NBC investigation on hotel cleanliness, to pass the clean test an object had to score below 100. One of the TV remotes racked up a whopping 498 points. And that included finding fecal bacteria.
In other words, the remote control one of the germiest spots in any hotel room. But the fix is easy. Pack extra plastic baggies in your suitcase and put the remote in one. It will work fine through the plastic, and you won’t have to touch it.
Staying at a hotel should be a relaxing experience. And it still can be as long as you take a few extra steps to protect yourself. Be sure to pack cleansing clothes and plastic baggies. And avoid touching the six germiest spots in any hotel room directly, and you can enjoy yourself without worrying about getting sick.