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13 Things Hotels Aren’t Cleaning as They Should

While bed sheets may take a tumble through the hotel washing machines in between guests, other room items aren't cleaned with such frequency. Here's what likely dirtier than it should be in that hotel room.

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glass of water. Glass in the hotel room
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Those glasses atop the minibar or next to the bed for a nighttime sip of water may look OK from afar, but they may not have been washed appropriately. “They don’t have dish soap on the housekeeping carts and those glasses need to be spot-free,” Jacob Tomsky, author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles and So-Called Hospitality, tells USA Today. He notes that housekeepers will either give the glassware a wash with shampoo and hot water or, even worse, use furniture polish to remove any spots.

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Modern bedroom has a bedroom with a bed and decorative pillows.
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If you’ve had a long travel day it’s not uncommon to throw yourself on the hotel bed as soon as you’ve checked in. Before you give in to the exhaustion, ditch that decorative bedspread because chances are it hasn’t been properly cleaned in quite a while. In an interview with TIME, Kelly Reynolds, an associate professor of environmental health at University of Arizona, says, “A lot of people will recommend just folding the bedspread back or throwing it on the chair and don’t use it while you’re there.” Overall, these are the 11 dirtiest spots in a hotel room.

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TV remote control, the hand with a remote control.

Television remotes

Consider this: How often do you clean your own television remote at home? If we’re being honest with ourselves, not as often as we should. It can be tricky to clean around all of the device’s little crevices and when a housekeeping crew is trying to turn rooms over quickly, these bacteria hotbeds may only get a quick once-over (if at all). Travel with disinfecting wipes to give your room’s remote a proper treatment.

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Lamp on a night table next to a bed
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Bedside lamp switch

It’s often the surfaces we consider the least that also end up being overlooked by hotel cleaning staffs. A study out of the University of Houston on contamination levels in hotel rooms found that one of the dirtiest items in a hotel room is the bedside lamp switch (the other being the TV remote). Consider that the next time you reach over to flick on a light.

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Sink in Bathroom with Towels on Granite Counter
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Bathroom counters

The bathroom counter of your hotel room has most likely been cleaned, as in wiped down and de-gunked, before your arrival. This, unfortunately, is very different from being disinfected. In a study called Hotel Hygiene Exposed, bacteria levels of various hotel room surfaces were tested and the bathroom counter came back with the most colony-forming units (CFUs) by far (even in four-star hotels). Considering this is where you are likely to lay your toothbrush, you may want to give it your own disinfecting wipe down when you arrive. If you travel a lot or just a little, these are lesser known hotels you need to know.

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Housekeeper cleaning a hotel room

Throw pillows

Decorative pillows may look innocent enough, after all, who really uses those on which to lay their head? The problem, though, is that guests often immediately throw them on the ground before climbing into bed. The very ground upon which shoes are tracking in dirt. And you can bet your bottom dollar those throw pillows aren’t getting steam cleaned on the regular. Fortunately, for germaphobes, there is a packable robot to scan your bed for germs and rid it of them on the spot. Bring your own necessities when you’re traveling; these hotel amenities aren’t always available. 

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Empty curtain interior in bedroom with sunlight


Hotel window coverings may block out light when you’re trying to get a well-deserved morning of sleeping in while on vacation, but those draperies attract dust and dander. BuzzFeed drummed up a three-star hotel’s cleaning checklist and discovered that this particular establishment’s curtains only get dusted once a month (along with sheers and lampshades). Worried about germs? These are the hotel chains you should avoid.

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luxury living room style with set of pillows on classic sofa, interior design concept
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If bedspreads aren’t getting cleaned regularly, neither is the upholstery you’ll find on that hotel room sofa. Think of it as one giant decorative throw pillow that may have a lot of direct contact with germy things if guests throw their luggage atop it or lay other items that have accumulated dirt and grime. While this might seem off-putting, it’s not like hotels aren’t trying to make rooms cleaner. For example, Hotel Ottilia in Copenhagen, Denmark is utilizing a self-disinfecting technology to remove germs.

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a white shower curtain in an empty shower with water OFF medium shot
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Shower curtains

According to the cleaning checklist BuzzFeed procured, shower curtains in this particular three-star hotel are only cleaned (wait for it) once a month. Considering the heavy risk for mildew, this is a little disturbing. Other items on the monthly-to-clean checklist are bedspreads, blankets, and mattress pads. Worried about the cleanliness of your hotel? These are the warning signs to watch out for.

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Cleaning carpet hoover


Carpet cleaning can get pricy, and even for hotels who would require this service in bulk, it can cost around $10 per room, according to The Cheat Sheet. For this reason, carpets often go uncleaned for a really long time. A quick vacuum to pick up debris left behind from the previous guest does not make for a truly clean carpet.

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Cups and electric kettle was plugged in.
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Coffee makers

Much like the glassware, coffee makers may only receive a simple rinse, not a proper cleaning. “I’ve found that consistently the best barometer of cleanliness is the coffeemaker or electric kettle,” says Harrison Jacobs for Business Insider. “If they aren’t cleaned regularly—and I mean with vinegar, not rinsed with hot water—they quickly become gross. As such a small item and a tedious one to clean, I’ve found that coffeemakers and electric kettles are frequently overlooked by less diligent hotels.”

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Note book with hard wooden cover on table by the window in natural light
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Hotel information folder

In restaurants, menus generally get wiped down nightly, but those hotel information folders? Not so much. We’re talking about the books that typically reside on the desk or bedside table containing information about amenities, in-room dining menus, and other assorted brochures. Guests may regularly leaf through them, but housekeeping isn’t likely to sanitize them.

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On the phone book a room : Young man calling talking on the telephone while lying bedroom on hotel.


These days most people use their mobile phones to make calls, instead of hopping on the hotel room phone to dial home. However, in-room phones are still used to call down to the front desk, request items from housekeeping, and order room service. They still register as one of the most bacteria-laden items in a hotel room. Despite all of this, hotels aren’t likely to make in-room phones extinct for security reasons, according to USA Today. So, once again, wipe those down with your own disinfectant if you plan on using it. Once you check in, these are the first 13 things you should check in your hotel room.