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Hotel Room Cleanliness

How Clean is Your Hotel Room?

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m just a little germ phobic when it comes to hotel room cleanliness and do you know what? I have very good reason to be. After all, hotel rooms are basically public places, they may not have been cleaned properly and you are sort of “sharing” them with previous hotel guests. Hotel rooms are extremely unsanitary and touching hotel surfaces that previous guests have touched could be placing your hand on a hotbed of germs and bacteria. For that reason, I have a quick checklist for some things to do when you arrive at you check-in to ensure your own hotel room cleanliness.

1. Clean all shared hotel surfaces with a sanitizer. I carry travel sizes of Clorox wipes for this very purpose. You can usually get the travel sizes at Target for about $1.00 a pack. I wipe down every surface the previous guests may have touched and the maid did not sanitize between hotel room guests. Here’s a checklist of surfaces to santize:

Telephone Handsets
Telephone Keypads
Television Remote Control
Cabinet Handles
Door Knobs
Hotel Pens
Light Switches (on the Wall and Lamps)
Bathroom Sink Faucets/Faucet Handles
Bathroom Toilet Handle
Toilet Seat

While faucet handles have a better chance of having been cleaned, doorknobs and cabinet handles are often neglected areas in hotel rooms. Just like television remotes, many hands have touched these objects and a room attendant's cleaning routine doesn’t require sanitizing these surfaces.

2. Remove the bedspread. Do not believe for one moment that even the five star hotels wash bedspreads between guests. I always turn the bedspread down and never even sit on it. When you start to think of all the things and body parts that get placed on bedspreads then you won’t want to sit or lay on them either. I turn down my bed and sit on the sheets which have to be cleaned between guests). I recently stayed at a Hampton Inns & Suites in Garden Grove during an extended visit to Disneyland and loved that the linens and duvet are washed fresh for every guest. It makes me want to choose Hampton Inns over other hotels when it's an option. I got a great rate on the hotel room through Expedia.com.

Also, bedbugs are a clear and present danger in hotels. Bedbugregistry.com lists U.S. hotels with bedbug reports and the brands on the list will surprise you. Bed bugs can be a problem in even the nicest hotels and resorts. You can protect yourself by spraying hotel beds and dressers with this highly effective, all-natural Bed Bug Spray. Made from organic clove and peppermint oils, it kills bed bugs on contact, preventing them from creeping into your clothes and traveling back with you to infest your home. The non-staining formula is child and pet-safe, chemical-free, has a pleasant scent, and is effective on active bed bugs, as well as eggs and larva.

Finally, those hotel sheets may look clean, but you're wise to be wary. My mom and I once stayed in a hotel in the Hamptons where we could feel sand in the sheets, so your best bet? Pack a soft, luxurious DreamSack in your suitcase that stuffs into its own small pouch. It's made of 100% silk and keeps you cool and dry in the summer and warm when the temperature drops. DreamSack has a built-in pocket for a pillow, and a side opening that closes with tab fasteners. Check out Magellan's Web Specials

for DreamSacks and other travel items you may want to pack for your trip.

3. Never use the glassware in a hotel room. A lid or cover on top of mugs or glassware does not mean these items are clean or have been cleaned properly. Unless your cups or mugs come in sealed plastic-wrapped containers, do not use them. I will pick up plastic or paper cups from the hotel lobby to use in the room. Many nice hotels offer water or tea in the lobby so plastic cups are easily available or if you’re staying at one of the many hotels that include breakfast, then I’ll get paper coffee cups there. You really need to watch this video and you will understand what I’m talking about.

Customize your coverage with MyTravelGuard

I can verify that hotel room maids definitely do this. Last summer I was staying at a very nice hotel in Puerto Rico and I happened to be in the room early during my stay when the maid came into clean the room. At one point, I heard the water running in the bathroom for a really long time. I went into the bathroom to see why she was running the water for so long and discovered she was washing the glassware from the room in the bathroom sink. Properly sanitized glassware should come from the hotel kitchen having been washed in the dishwasher at proper temperatures.

4. Do not walk barefoot in your hotel room. When it comes to bathroom floors, never walk barefoot. I once heard Howie Mandel in a talk show interview tell a story about how he got a very severe case of athlete’s foot from a hotel bathroom and that's why he's so admittedly germ phobic. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can live on surfaces for up to three months so he’s not unnecessarily paranoid. In addition, I have heard a story from a hotel manager who caught a room attendant using the commode as a mop bucket to clean the bathroom floor. Carpets can also have had all sorts of things spilled on them, including bodily fluids, and they might be hiding sharp objects so I always pack a pair of slippers or flip flops to wear in hotel rooms at all times. You certainly don't need to be cut or get some sort of foot fungus from a previous guest.

5. Other hotel room items you don’t want to assume are clean. There are many other items that may not have a hotel room cleanliness stamp of approval.

Coffee makers are not properly cleaned and hotel housekeepers often don’t do anything more than dump the contents out, rinse the inside of the pot or maker, and move on. If you need that cup of coffee in the morning, then you should at least thoroughly clean the coffee pot and filter bucket before doing so.

Ice buckets have unseen filth or germs so using a plastic liner can help protect you and if a plastic liner is not available, I highly recommend a thorough washing of the ice bucket.

Unsealed stir sticks could be a very dicey item as you never know where stir sticks have been, who has touched them, did they fall on the floor and the housekeeper put them back in…you get the picture.

Now, you may think that most of the hotel room cleanliness items I’ve discussed only are issues at motels or cheap hotels, but that’s simply not the case. As I mentioned, the glass washing incident I witnessed was at a four-star hotel. You definitely want to watch this report from ABC News filed on hidden hotel room dangers.

Good Morning America: Hidden Hotel Room Dangers

Good Morning, American also produced an undercover investigative report on the hotel cleanliness that more than makes a case for bringing a Hotel Sanitation Kit with you when you check in at a hotel. So I think you now know and understand that hotel room cleanliness is not what you probably thought it was. Though I personally believe that all hotels should aspire to higher sanitizing standards between hotel guests, I will continue to sanitize my hotel rooms when I check in to avoid the germs left behind by previous guests.

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more