Dodging the Dirt: Hotel Room Hygiene Habits

by  Trish Friesen | Jan 17, 2013
Hotel room
Hotel room / Kwanchai_Khammuean/iStock

When we step into a hotel room we assume it’s going to be devoid of dirt, right? I’m not sure about you, but when I pay between $30 and $350 per night, I hope (read: expect) my room's going to be squeaky – verging on lick-the-toilet – clean. Newsflash: it’s not. Between a rotating roster of bedfellows, it’s impossible to quarantine every single germ unless the room is wall-to-wall tile, and the clean-up involves industrial disinfectant and fire hoses spewing boiling water.

Before you get too worried, however, know that research shows that there are just a few ‘hot spots’ to watch out for if you’re concerned with clean. My approach is to perform a two-minute cleanliness sweep as soon as I enter the room using three of my five senses: sight, smell, and touch. After logging nearly 100 hotel nights in 2012, I've learned how to avoid the filth. Here are some tried-and-true hotel hygiene habits that I use to stay healthy on the road.

How to Dodge the Dirt in Hotel Rooms:

1. Open the door with your elbow.

2. Put your bags down on top of the luggage rack; place the rack near the bathroom. Avoid throwing your paraphernalia on the bed or chairs as these could have bed bugs (worst case scenario).

3. Speaking of bed bugs, check for the critters on the mattress and the headboard, analyzing each up close for movement and specks that look like flax seeds or a sprinkling of pepper flakes.

4. Wash your hands then scan the bathroom for obvious cleaning misses. Place all toiletries on the counter on top of a hand towel or tissue.

5. Bring alcohol-based wipes to spot-clean areas that tend to be missed: light switches, door handles, remote controls, and phones. In general, I try to avoid touching these things as much as possible, if I don't feel like being anal about wipe downs.

6. Only trust the bed’s comforter if it has been wrapped in two sheets; this usually indicates the duvet’s cover is replaced with every new guest. If you suspect the cover has not been washed, pull the sheets up high and don’t let it near you!

7. Bring your own washable slippers to wear on the carpets and floors. Wrap them in a shower cap for the journey home and wash for the next use.

8. Want to enjoy a glass of mini-bar wine or drink out of the water tumbler in the bathroom? Pre-wash the glass with soap and hot water.

9. Finally, if you feel your room’s sanitary state is in bad shape, trust your senses and ask to be moved.

What are your hotel hygiene habits? Share your tips in the comments!

Now that you know how to sweep your hotel room clean, try our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.

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