The sheets aren’t stained. There’s no hair in the sink. The water glasses are wearing those little paper hats. Your hotel room looks clean—but is it? Not necessarily. An overall appearance of cleanliness is a good sign, but it’s no guarantee that the hundreds of strangers who stayed in your room before you haven’t left a few of their germs behind.
To insure a more sanitary stay, start with these steps…
1. Read before you reserve.
Before booking a room, read the reviews of previous visitors on travel sites such as TripAdvisor.com. Consumer reviewers are known for their brutal honesty, so if no one raises any red flags about cleanliness, take it as a good sign.
2. Pack antibacterial wipes.
What are the germiest places in a hotel room? According to travel expert Peter Greenberg, the TV remote ranks #1. Not far behind are the doorknobs, phone receiver, toilet flusher, faucets, and ice bucket. Limit your germ exposure by giving all of them a thorough disinfecting before handling.
3. Lose the spread.
At a respectable hotel, you can be reasonably sure that the sheets were changed before you checked in. But the bedspread? Not so much. Seasoned travelers advise removing it immediately and making sure it stays stowed away for the duration of your stay.
4. Wash the water glasses.
According to IndependentTraveler.com, the only states that require hotels to sanitize water glasses are Kansas and Missouri. If your travels take you to any of the other 48 (or abroad), whether your glasses have been thoroughly cleaned is anybody’s guess. Before drinking from them, rinse them well under hot water for at least a minute to kill germs and bacteria.
5. Beware of bedbugs.
When it comes to bedbug infestations, even the most upscale hotels with the strictest sanitary practices aren’t immune. And unfortunately, most do battle bedbugs from time to time thanks to an ever-changing international clientele. What can you do to avoid becoming infested yourself? Before unpacking or even laying your suitcase on the bed, start by checking under and between the mattresses for small reddish-brown spots left behind by the creepy critters. Look for the same thing between couch cushions and at the edges of the carpet. Spotting an actual bedbug isn’t easy, but they are visible to the naked eye and resemble tiny ticks. If you see anything that concerns you, alert the front desk right away and request a refund.
6. Wash up.
You hear it every year at cold and flu season: Washing your hands is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. The same holds true for the rest of the year too. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water to destroy germs and bacteria you’ve picked up from past guests and to keep you from spreading yours to future ones.