This Is Why You Should Never Use the Hotel Hair Dryer

Gross! This will make you want to bring your own hair dryer from now on (or just go au naturale).

It will take more than the average bottle of hand sanitizer to stay healthy while traveling. Can you guess the biggest culprit of those woeful travel bugs? Surprisingly, it isn’t germy public restrooms or disease-ridden handrails and doorknobs. You might want to start with where you book your overnights when thinking about ways to avoid getting sick on your next vacation.

Yep—your hotel room hosts a plethora of invisible germs and bacteria. And according to an investigation by ABC, you should be particularly concerned with the germs in your hair dryer. ABC teamed up with microbiologist Chuck Gerba to swab items in nine different Los Angeles-area hotels. In terms of hygiene, hair dryers turned out to be the filthiest.

“There must be some things you can do with a hair dryer that I am not aware of, because some of them were pretty germy,” Gerba said.

Although state codes mandate that hotels sanitize the obvious areas like toilets and drinking glasses, the same can’t be said for less evident items such as hair dryers. As a result, those items won’t be cleaned by housekeeping as often, and most could go days, weeks, months, or even years without ever being disinfected—just like these other things hotels aren’t cleaning often enough.

Unfortunately, even those willing to shell out a couple hundred bucks for a luxury suite can’t rest easy. The hotels used in the experiment ranged in price from $98 to $500 per night—and they all came up short for cleanliness. It looks like we’ll be wiping down our entire hotel room from now on—especially because the hair dryer is only one of many germ-ridden spots in your hotel room.

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.