The crisp white hotel bed sheets smell nice. The water glasses look squeaky clean. The toilet seat is spotless. The entire hotel room looks clean – but is it?
Okay, a great number of people (with different nasty stories to tell) have checked into the same hotel room, slept on that same bed, drank from the same mugs, and used the same toilet. In addition, not all hotels are equipped with round-the-clock housekeeping services. Some old and downscale hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts lack the quality of maintenance they require. You don’t know when the sheets were last replaced and washed, and chances are, the staff doesn’t know too.
Here’s to the delicate folks, the germaphobes, and the peeps who probably have developed paranoia from binge-watching Gordon Ramsay’s “Hotel Hell.” To ensure a safer and more sanitary hotel stay, here are some of the little things you can do.
1. Pack germ-fighting essentials
Carry a travel-sized Lysol disinfectant spray, face masks, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial wipes, tissues, hand moisturizer, clear plastic bags, and slippers and socks, portable air purifier, and magnifying glass.
2. Wash your hands regularly
You’ve handled money, used your phone, pushed an elevator button, and turned a doorknob – all of which are covered with germs. So it’s not surprising that up to 80 percent of infections are actually transmitted by hands.
Wash up with soap and warm water – frequently – during your stay. Rubbing alcohol and sanitizing wipes are great alternatives, but make sure to use moisturizing creams to prevent your skin from drying out.
3. Sanitize the toilet seat
Allow a few minutes to sanitize the bathroom.
The bathroom may look and smell clean but it tends to be the biggest source of germs. Using a tissue, lift the toilet seat and spray the seat and lid on both sides with Lysol or any disinfectant spray.
4. Disinfect frequently touched spots
The antibacterial wipes you packed will be useful for disinfecting frequently touched areas. Doorknobs, light switches, tables, and phone receiver should be wiped. Head to the bathroom and make sure to disinfect the faucets, toilet flusher, sinks, bathroom countertops as well.
5. Clean the glassware
No matter how thirsty you are, never ever sip from hotel water glasses and mugs without washing them, especially if they aren’t sealed in wrapper.
The disgusting truth is hotel glasses are rarely fully cleaned – studies have found that many housekeepers simply rinse and wipe them instead of actually washing them. Wash them with hand soap and rinse them well under hot water for at least a minute.
6. Clean the coffee maker too
How often do you clean your own coffee maker at home? Not frequently, right? Hotels do pretty much the same, or worse.
If walking to the nearest café is inconvenient (and expensive), make sure to clean your in-room coffee maker with hot water to kill contaminants. Fill the water chamber and run half a brew cycle to deep clean.
7. Cover remote control with a clear plastic bag
According to travel expert Peter Greenberg, the most germ-packed place in a hotel room is the TV remote. It makes sense since we love munching chips while watching TV right? Instead of wiping it, slide it into a clear plastic bag for a protective cover. Do the same for the AC unit remote control.
8. Check for bedbugs
If you’re staying in an old hotel, there’s a great chance you’re sharing the bed with some not-so-friendly companions – bedbugs. In fact, even most upscale hotels with strict sanitary policies aren’t immune to bedbug infestations.
Don’t unpack or put your suitcase on the bed without checking for these parasites. Peel back the fitted shitted sheet and examine the mattress. Look for noticeable signs of bedbugs: dried blood stains, tiny white eggs, or bedbug skin or shells that often look transparent or pale yellow.
If you see the signs, alert the management right away and request to be transferred to a different room.
9. Limit direct skin contact with fabric
Hands off the drapes. Don’t walk barefooted, especially on the carpet. Wear socks or slippers. Be fully clothed when sitting On the coach. Fabrics trap a lot of debris and allergens, and germs build up over time in them.
10. Ditch the bedspread
If you’re staying in an upscale hotel, you’re sure the sheets were changed before you checked in. The bedspreads, however, are unlikely to have been washed or changed recently.
Seasoned travelers advise putting bedspread away in a corner immediately. You probably won’t catch a norovirus but they may be full of allergens and dirt. Requesting for a duvet is a lot better.
Read before you reserve
Before staying in a hotel, make sure you read hotel accommodation reviews online. Look for genuine feedback and photos from former guests, rather than star ratings. If other customers complained about dirty sheets, grimy tub, and stinky glassware, chances are that you’ll encounter the same.
Mina Natividad is one of the writers for Holiday Inn Parramatta Accommodation, a modern hotel in Western Sydney known for their exceptional accommodation, service, and location, which appeals to travelers in Australia. She has always been passionate about giving in to her wanderlust and collecting mementos from different places.