Never, Ever Use Hotel Ice Buckets—and 10 Other Germ-Ridden Spots in Every Hotel Room

Don't even think about using those glasses in the bathroom.

Paying more doesn't exempt you

NATTHAPONG-SUNTORNDECH/ShutterstockLet's get this common misconception out of the way: High-end hotels don't have fewer micro-organisms. In fact, they can have many more. "You would think paying more for a hotel would also net you a cleaner room, but investigative reporters have found that not always to be the case," says Jennifer Stagg, MD, naturopathic physician and author of Unzip Your Genes: 5 Choices To Reveal A Radically Radiant You.

Bathroom counter and faucet

Vereshchagin-Dmitry/Shutterstock"The bathroom counter and faucets can sometimes be cleaned with the same cloth used to clean the toilet, thereby transferring germs from fecal matter onto the counter and faucets," explains Dr. Stagg. "This can lead to gastrointestinal infections. There may also be GI and respiratory viruses lingering on surfaces." Worse yet, these cloths are often used from room to room. Logic Products founder Jill Taft also points out that the cleaning staff often just rinses the glasses in the bathroom and mini bar with water. Never use them!

Remote control

Anna-Yunak/Shutterstock"E. coli can be a problem on TV remotes from hotel guests not washing their hands after going to the bathroom," says Dr. Stagg. Cover your remote with a thin plastic bag to turn the TV off and on and change channels. You can get bring a Ziploc bag or use a bag that should line the ice bucket.

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Freer/ShutterstockWe're sure this isn't the case for you at home since you clean and likely follow these 13 simple housecleaning tricks, but in hotel rooms, Dr. Stagg says you can commonly find respiratory viruses lingering on desks. These can remain for up to four days. Clean the work are with a sanitizing wipe before you set down your laptop and important papers.


Choen-photo/ShutterstockHere's one that will surprise absolutely no one! Hotel room phones are a magnet for germs—but you might be surprised at how bad it is. "MRSA has been found on phones and remotes which can cause dangerous skin infections," says Dr. Stagg. "Phones can also have E. coli and respiratory viruses from people holding the phone near their mouth and face." You're better off just using your cell phone, but...your cell phone screen is also way dirtier than you thought.

Coffee makers

Szymon-Kaczmarczyk/ShutterstockCoffee makers can harbor mold and respiratory viruses, according to Dr. Stagg. Head to the hotel lobby for that morning cup of joe.

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Ice buckets

Emily-Ranquist/ShutterstockNope, not even your ice is safe! In fact, Dr. Stagg notes that hotel ice buckets can contain a host of germs, even as bad as norovirus from guests who may use it as a vomit basin. (This happens more than you'd care to imagine.)

Comforter and pillows

Stockforlife/Shutterstock"Organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases can be found on bedding, including comforters and pillows that aren't washed," says Dr. Stagg. Taft adds that it's important to beware of the cleaning staff throwing your pillows on the floor while making the bed. "Always call housekeeping for extra clean pillow cases so you can change them yourself every evening."

Room keys

kpakook/ShutterstockHere's one thing you probably touch multiple times a day and never thought twice about—your room key card. "These are never disinfected, so they will have just as many germs on them as money does. Consider wiping all room key cards down ASAP," suggests Taft.

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Sofa and chairs

WorldWide/ShutterstockStains from body fluids—which aren't always visible to the naked eye—can harbor a variety of viruses and bacteria. "They're commonly found on fabric which is not easy to clean thoroughly," says Dr. Stagg.


Elnur/Shutterstock"Carpets are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs," says Taft. "Never let your kids sit, lay down, or play on the carpet, and always wear socks or slippers."

Air vents

Milosz_G/Shutterstock"Air vents can contain mold, which can cause respiratory problems," says Dr. Stagg.

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