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Human skin cells – bodily secretions – germs from the toilet – hair – bacteria… and all from a total stranger have found their way into your freshly cleaned hotel room. What! This can't be true, you paid a lot to stay in this deluxe King room. Well guess again, you had someone clean your room who was under the gun to finish cleaning the floor and decided to cut a few corner. The room looks clean and even smells clean, but is it really clean?


hotel bedspreads


In an article published by CNN, Marnie Hunter, Philip Tierno, a Microbiologist doesn't feel comfortable sleeping in a hotel bed without removing the bedding and using his own allergen impervious mattress cover and pillow cover. Yes, there are those germaphobes out there who won't touch a doorknob for fear of creepy crawlies on it. Just keep reading and soon you will want to run out and get your very own set of mattress and pillow covers. The CNN article did continue on with its research into the practices of hotel cleaning practices. When the hotel room suffers from poor cleaning and hygiene practices pretty soon there is a build up of germs, so to speak, of every guest that has passed through the room – nasty! Then along you come and unwittingly swim in the sea of old skin cells, hair and bacteria. Let's dig into the dirty secrets lurking in some guest rooms as revealed by housekeepers themselves. We will touch on the THREE dirtiest areas in the guest room.



The mattress probably holds more than you can image, just for starters: massive amounts of shed human skin cells, various secretions from the body, hair, dust/dust mites, bacteria and fungi, pollen, cosmetics, and insects body parts. You have to be extremely tired in order to look past this quagmire! You are probably thinking about bed bugs at this point. Many of the infestations that are found in hotels are brought in from foreign travelers. To be safe, peel back the bedding on the corner of the mattress and look for tell-tail signs of the critter. It is difficult to actually see bed bugs. The scurry quickly out of sight and their small flat cockroach shaped bodies hide easily in the folds of the mattress. Look for the excrement or droppings of blood left behind. These will look like little brown or dark red pellets or smudges in the creases and folds of the fabric and mattress. Should you spot anything that resembles a bed bugs infestation do not set any of your belongs down anywhere in the room and notify the hotel management immediately.


Bed bug sightings in a mattressbed bug up close



There is a solution that can greatly help with this situation, and that is the use of impervious mattress covers. In addition, remove the heavy bedspread if one is used. Not all hotels use impervious mattress covers, and some guests have taken it upon themselves to bring their own bedding with them instead. It is important to note, while this doesn't sound appealing, no disease outbreak has ever been linked to the use of hotel bedding. A new trend in bedding that has begun to catch on, credited to Westin Hotels and Resort's Heavenly Bed, is the duvet model and ditching the heavy reused bedspread altogether. However, not all hotels have followed this model. Some have chosen to continue to use bedspreads.


Scared now? Don't stop reading yet, because we're going to the next scariest place next!




Before you set anything down or touch something in the bathroom, you might think it looks clean, but you would be surprised! Did you ever stay at a hotel that kept the glasses on the bathroom vanity? Glass displayed on the bathroom vanity was most likely for the convenience of the cleaning staff, rather than for the appeal of the guest. Hidden cameras have caught cleaning staff using a towel from the guest room to wipe the tub, wipe down the toilet, then polish the vanity and finally rinse those glass in water in the bathroom sink and dry them with the same towel that had been used to wipe down the toilet. Another incident showed staff picking one of those dirty towels, you were told to leave on the floor, and placing it on the vanity for drying glasses… GROSS!! The “not so clean” glasses are then topped off with the little white caps which really serve no purpose, but are intended to let a guest know the glasses have been sterilized.


how clean is hotel glasses glassware




hotel bathrooms look clean but are they really clean Okay, that is all very disgusting! The bathroom looks perfectly hygienic and sparkly on the surface but we can see some serious cleaning deficiencies with proper cleaning of the tub, toilet, sink, glassware, and vanity. The front of the bathroom vanity, a largely overlooked area by many sloppy housekeepers, will leave you reaching for disinfectant after you hear this one. The front of the vanity in direct alignment with the sink and mirror sees a lot of abuse from the person just about to get into the shower. It is amazing how close a person needs to get to the mirror while not wearing clothing. Now you come along and do the same thing. This occurs over and over and all done on a surface that has never been cleaned. It does send your mind to places it doesn't want to go!





areas of the hotel bathroom to clean


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    Yes, I know you are scared now, but there is still more. We go now to the dirtiest place in the guestroom!




Unbelievable but true. How many hands has this remote passed through and where have those hands been? Consider also that the TV remote is also unlikely to be cleaned. You may want to think twice before walking into your room and grabbing the TV remote, but don't feel bad many travel weary guests will reach for the remote and flop down on the bed as soon as they reach their room.

The Bottom Line

If you were a little skeptical about your hotel room before, this probably does it for you for sure. Well before you give up on hotels altogether, consider this, no major communicable disease has ever been contracted from a hotel room. This may be higher on the “ick-factor” than on the public health factor. However, that is not to say it is always possible to contract a germ that carries the common stomach bug or cold – not exactly fun!


So what can you do when you arrive at your hotel room?


This includes hotel and lodging rooms at all levels *unless you are familiar with your surroundings

Don't set anything on the bed including your butt! If the bed has a bedspread, peel it back, fold it and put it in a corner where it won't get touched and do not replace it during your stay. Next, lift the blankets from the corner of the mattress and inspect for bed bugs, as we discussed earlier.

  1. Once you have done this, place the TV remote control in a plastic zip lock bag and use it through the baggie.
  2. Next head to the bathroom with your disinfecting wipes and spray. Spray the top of the toilet seat, using a tissue lift the toilet seat and spray disinfectant on the underside of the toilet seat.
  3. Using a disinfecting towelette, wipe down the vanity, remember do not forget the front edge directly in front of the sink (you never know what's been on it).
  4. Wipe down the inside of the sink, faucet, and handles. You can also spray the door knobs.
  5. So what about those glasses? You can opt to use the plastic wrapped cups and avoid the glass ones altogether. If you wish to use the glass ones, run them under hot water in the sink with some soap and dry thoroughly. Now the glassware will be acceptable to use.



Optional: The shower may never be cleaned at all. Your feet serve as a barrier to germs in the shower, but if you have open wounds on your feet, pour soap in the bottom of the tub and swish it around with hot water. This will clean the bottom of the tub adequately. Choose to lodge carefully and with insight about the establishment before you book. As mentioned earlier, B&Bs offer high-end amenities and personalized service. Nothing can replace doing your own homework when it comes to peace of mind. Refer to TripAdviser, Select Registry, and Bed and for recommendations on high-quality lodging for your next get-away. Take a look at this compilation of TripAdvisor's top dirty hotel.  TripAdvisor's list of America's dirtiest hotels.


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Bad Outshining the Good
This points out the bad eggs in the bunch. Of course, there are great hotels out there with great staff. Lodging in the Bed & Breakfast industry tends to give a more personal touch to their facilities because, let's face it, when you aren't expected to clean 30 rooms you can bring fresh glasses from the kitchen. However, rooms at these establishments can run close to $200.00 a night and are often booked up. The three biggest obstacles to housekeeping performing an adequate job are a lack of time, lack of cleaning equipment, and cavalier attitude about cleanliness. In recent times there has been more pressure on the industry to tighten up cleaning standards and protocols. This has reflected in some of the major hotel chains developing standard cleaning protocols and manager spot checks.
The consumer also plays a part in the cleanliness of the hotel room by the simple act of good ‘ol fashioned hand washing with soap and warm water.
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