The Gross Reason Why You Should Think Twice Before Sitting in a Hotel Chair

Vacationers, be warned!

Let’s face it—staying healthy on vacation isn’t necessarily as easy as it looks. Not only are you running on less sleep than normal, but every new environment exposes your system to hundreds upon thousands of foreign bacteria and germs. To avoid germs, make sure you know about these warning signs you’re about to stay at a bad hotel before you book.

But if you think the hotel room can keep you safe, you might want to think again. Sure, that temporary home-away-from-home may look clean, but there are plenty of germ-ridden spots in your lodging—and in pretty unlikely places, too. Disease-ridden hotel hairdryers and nasty kettles are just the beginning of your troubles. As for the grossest spot in your hotel room? We’d be willing to bet that it’s the chair.

“Chairs can often be made of hard-to-clean fabric and upholstery, and definitely are not cleaned in the same manner as sheets and towels, which are consistently thrown into the laundry,” says Dr. Nidhi Ghildayal, PhD, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, infectious disease specialist. “Often, stains on chairs are dabbed and rubbed until they are removed, but other germs that are not noticeable to the eye remain.”

You really never know what the person that had the room before you used the chair for, so it’s probably best to avoid it. People use the hotel chair to throw dirty clothes, shoes, towels, or bags on. Dr. Ghildayal points out that since hotel chairs are such a high traffic area, individuals can track bed bugs, viruses, or worse on them without even knowing that can get passed on to the next guest. Here are some other ways your hotel room could be making you sick.

“Sanitization—which is more regularly done in other specific parts of the room—differs a great deal from cleaning, and germs can easily move around during this process and end up on the hotel chair,” says Dr. Ghildayal. “Pathogens can travel between rooms and areas of the room easily when staff is cleaning.”

Plus, don’t even get us started on the germiest spots in airplanes. Thinking about staying home from now on? We don’t blame you—in fact, we’ll probably join.

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.