Maybe you have seen the news reports and undercover investigations where the investigator shines a black light around a supposedly clean hotel room and discovers germs, bacteria and sometimes even worse lingering inside it. This has happened even at some of the most upscale hotel chains. In order to avoid a hotel room nightmare – or at least a preventable illness – follow the steps below.
Inspect your room before unpacking.
Remember, no one should have to spend the night in a room that has obviously, whether intentionally or not, been overlooked by housekeeping services. If your room is found to be unsatisfactory, you are well within your right to ask for a new one. So, as soon as you enter your room, take about ten minutes to have a look around.
Check the floor, bedding and furniture for any stains, hairs, crumbs and debris. Take notice of any insects, tiny specks that look like coffee grounds that may be their droppings, or any food or waste that could attract them. Then check the bathroom for the same thing, as well as for mold, mildew or leaking water. Check the toilet and bathtub or shower for cleanliness and make sure all toiletry items – soaps, shampoos, shower caps – are sealed and not left over from a previous guest.
There are cheap easy-to-use bed bug traps you can get at a supermarket which are a great investment against this devestating pest. Put the traps under the mattress, following the directions on the package. Check the trap after an hour or two to be sure the bed is safe to sleep in. While you wait, don’t sit on the bed or put your coat or suitcase there either.
Lastly, look at the air conditioner and heat vents as well as the access panel to the bathroom fan. Make sure there are no strange smells or dust and debris around the ducts that could aggravate any allergies or otherwise inhibit your breathing. This could make for a very uncomfortable stay.
If you asked for a nonsmoking room, check for any smoking paraphernalia, such as an ash tray.
Also note if there is a stale cigarette smell in the room. It is possible that you have been given a smoking room by mistake or that the previous guest decided to smoke in the room anyway.
If you find anything that alarms you, alert the front desk to your concerns immediately and offer to point out the issues in person. Most likely the attendant will be more than willing to work with you to remedy the problem. If not, request to speak to a manager. If this still gets you nowhere, consider staying at a different hotel and writing a stern letter to the president of the company when you get home.
Sanitize and Sterilize!
Even if your hotel room passes the initial inspection, or perhaps your second room in your hotel does, you have no reason to believe that this hotel room is completely sterilized and spotless. Thus, you should still take the following advice into accord to protect your health.
Be wary of small but commonly used items.
Things such as the phone, television remote control, light switch, door and drawer handles and telephone are small enough that they can be missed by hotel cleaning staff, yet touched enough by guests that they can be teeming with germs. Best to bring along a travel-sized pack of antibacterial wipes and clean the surfaces of these items before you use them. Or, alternately, you can cover each device with a clean, resealable plastic bag that you bring from home. Well, with the possible exception of the light switch.
Ditch the bedspread.
Unlike the sheets, the bedspread in your hotel room may not be washed after every guest, mainly because it is a bulky and a pain for the staff members to carry in and out of the room and it takes up a lot of space in the washing machine. If your hotel bed has a comforter or bedspread on it, you may want to toss it aside and place it on the floor or in a chair. Then either cover up with the sheets alone or use your own blanket that you have brought from home.
*If the comforter has a removable cover on it, chances are that it is washed regularly. Removable covers are considerably less obtrusive and are fairly easy to throw in the washing machine.
Don’t use refillable water glasses.
Many new reports have shown that these water glasses are not properly cleaned and sterilized in between guests. Sometimes they are just given a quick scrub in the bathroom sink and then placed back on the counter as if they were new. There is no way to tell if this is the case at your hotel, short of shadowing the housekeeping staff. Instead of taking your chances, bring your own glass that you know is clean or use a disposable plastic cup.
Keep your hands germ-free.
Whenever you touch a surface in your room that may be of questionable cleanliness either wash your hands with hot water and soap or use a bottle of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is available in travel sizes at most grocery stores and drug stores so it is no big deal to throw a bottle or two in your handbag or suitcase.
Make sure your feet stay off the floor.
Sure, you may want to make yourself at home, but never walk around your hotel room barefoot. It is doubtful that the cleaning staff shampoos and sterilizes the carpet between guests. Instead, wear socks or slippers at all times. And consider wearing flip flops or shower shoes in the bathroom for similar reasons. If you have the choice, stay at a hotel with hard floors in the rooms as these floors will be cleaned much more frequently and have less of a chance of harboring bacteria.
Protect your body.
Even if you used a bed bug test and it went well, there are other bugs and germs that could try joining you between the sheets. To give yourself a barrier or protection, use either BugBand towelettes or a natural lotion made with essential oils like lemon, peppermint, or rosemary that will repel unwanted guests while you sleep.
If you stay in hotels often, consider investing in a travel garment steamer that you can use to sanitize cloth upholstery, the toilet seat, the bed sheets, and even the more heavily trafficed areas of the floor if desired.
Clear the Air
Another nifty gadget that frequent travelers can invest in is a portable UV air sanitizer, such as the GermGuardian. These products will get rid of bacteria that may be in the air, as well as remove mold, dust mites or pet dander that may cause allergies. Plug it in next to the bed as that will likely be where you spend the majority of your time in the room.
Voice your opinion.
Odds are that you are more likely to have cleanliness issues if you stay at a lower-class hotel than a higher class one. However, no matter where you are staying, you are entitled to a certain standard of health and sanitation. Don’t be afraid to speak up if there is a problem. Better to be known as a nagging guest than to later wind up sick or even hospitalized.