Spring break is coming up for many Minnesota schools. Perhaps your family is taking a trip to warmer weather or the mountains for some late-season skiing. Wherever you’re traveling, you are likely staying in a hotel room.
Hotel rooms often look immaculate and housekeeping services are often completed daily. But how clean do hotel rooms really get? Before you head out on vacation, learn about the germs that may be left behind after housekeeping finishes a room and how you can make your stay a little bit cleaner.
Bacteria and Bad Habits
There’s no doubt that housekeeping is a difficult job. It takes an average of half an hour to clean a single hotel room, and a hotel’s housekeeping staff has dozens of rooms to get through in a day. Efforts are focused on the bed and bathroom and floors are often vacuumed. But even the most conscientious staff can’t make sure every room is completely clean every day.
A Purdue University and University of South Carolina study tested rooms in several hotels for aerobic and fecal bacteria. The researchers found that the dirtiest spots in a hotel room aren’t the toilet and bathroom sink, though they are often germy. Instead, the TV remote and light switches are the dirtiest things in hotel rooms.
The team also found that headboards, curtain rods, and bathroom door handles are a room’s least germy items. They discovered that housekeeper’s tools, such as sponges and mops, contain high levels of bacteria, which means there’s a risk of cross-contamination from hotel room to hotel room.
Another investigation into hotel room cleanliness also found that TV remotes harbor many nasty germs. It discovered some hotels reuse bedding and that decorative bedding is rarely cleaned, too.
Keeping Your Hotel Room Clean
Yes, hotel rooms harbor bacteria. But that does not mean you need to cancel your reservation or don a biohazard suit on your vacation. Instead, follow these simple tips to ensure your family stays healthy.
- Do your research: TripAdvisor and the Better Business Bureau often have comments from past guests regarding the cleanliness of rooms.
- Check for bedbugs: Take a look under the bedding and between the mattresses; if you find something, say something.
- Inspect linens. While you’re checking for bedbugs, look to see if your bed linens look fresh; if not, call the front desk.
- Use slippers. Floors are often vacuumed but not deep cleaned, so pack some slippers or flip-flops to avoid contact with floors.
- Bag the remote. Bring a clear plastic bag for the TV remote—it’ll work through the bag and you won’t have to touch it.
- Pack hand gels and wipes. If you’re concerned about surface germs, bring along wipes to disinfect surfaces yourself.
- Ditch decorative bedding. Toss the decorative pillows, throws, and even comforters into a closet or corner of your room to avoid these rarely cleaned items.
Remember that wiping your hotel room down with a bleach wipe may actually cause more health hazards than the germs themselves. Instead, pack along wipes with natural ingredients so your family stays safe and healthy. Ask me for a recommendation.
Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!
Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance