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How Professional Cleaners Can Tell If a Hotel Room Is Clean

Professional cleaners stay in hotels, too.

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A clean sweep

Travel as we know it has changed due to COVID-19. While businesses are opening up and people are remembering their bucket lists and want to travel again, hotel cleanliness is likely top of mind. So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and booked a hotel—but how can you tell if your room has been properly cleaned, especially in a pandemic? Thankfully, there are a few clear indicators that professional cleaners—and now you, too—can use to check a room for cleanliness. Here’s how professional cleaning experts can tell if a hotel room is clean. Learn about these 13 everyday habits that could (and should) change post-coronavirus.

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Check if there’s old water in a coffee machine or electric kettle

If you’ve checked into a room and you’re thinking of making a nice cup of coffee or hot tea but find that there’s leftover water, that’s a giant red flag. Old water is a clear indicator, according to Top Cleaners London, that housekeeping had been skipping their tidying. This is exactly how you clean a coffee maker.

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Check the window frames

The experts at Top Cleaners London recommend looking for any traces of leaks due to rain, mold on window sills, and dead bugs. “If you have a fly cemetery under your window, this room hasn’t been properly cleaned in a long time,” they say.

Luxury Bathtub at Bowery Hotel NYCzxvisual/Getty Images

Check shower tubs and drains

If you’re ready for a hot shower after a long day of exploring a new city and you draw the shower curtains to find a clump of hair that’s not your own, that’s not a good sign. “Hair and fibers are major indicators the maids are skipping on their duties,” say the experts at Top Cleaners London. “If there is a heavy smell, this may be a sign of a mold problem as well.” When looking around your own home, here are 30 things you should clean in the next 30 days.

White bedding sheets and pillowsNelliSyr/Getty Images

Check bedsheets

There are many things you should have avoided at hotels before the pandemic including glassware, television remotes, and bathroom counters. But what about bedsheets? It’s important to check for bug droppings, dead insects, and bedbugs. The experts at Top Cleaners London recommend that the bedsheets “be free of any nasty odors, preferably freshly ironed.” Do you know the real reason why hotels use white bedsheets?

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Check dust

Seeing a sparkling clean hotel room is one thing to look forward to when going on vacation. However, seeing dust can be a warning sign when checking into a new room. “If there is dust in a room, it’s not cleaned properly. Simple as that,” say the experts at Top Cleaners London. “Dusting is the easiest thing to do, and for an experienced maid, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to wipe all surfaces with a damp microfibre cloth.” If you haven’t been cleaning your own home with microfiber cloths, here’s why you should be.

Maid working at a hotel and doing the bed wearing a facemaskHispanolistic/Getty Images

What precautions are professional cleaners taking in a pandemic?

It’s one thing to see how hotels are updating their cleaning policies during a pandemic, but what about professional cleaners? “Our company has taken a number of precautions in light of the pandemic,” Jacqueline Janus, cleaning expert and owner of cleaning company Two Chicks and a Broom, tells Reader’s Digest. “All of our cleaners are required to wear clean gloves and masks at every job. All their equipment (vacuum, mop, brushes, etc.) are now wiped down and disinfected and washable items like rags and mop heads are all washed and sanitized after each job. This makes sure there aren’t any germs being transferred between homes.” It’s important to keep in mind that the world is rapidly changing and that includes what you remember about hotels. Complimentary lobby coffee, buffets, and crowded pools are among these 10 things you probably won’t see in hotels anymore.

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What would professional cleaners like to see changed in hotels?

How hotels cleaned before the pandemic looked different than cleaning after a pandemic. “Hotel cleans tend to lean on the superficial side. Cleaning or washing surfaces and items doesn’t necessarily mean anything will be disinfected or sanitized,” says Janus. “I’d like to see hotels take the same precautions regarding their cleaners and equipment as we’re taking, as well as make a point to sanitize high traffic areas/items. Things like light switches, doorknobs, and handles get a ton of use but aren’t frequently wiped down. I’d like linens to be sanitized when washed as well.” Before your next trip, here are 4 household products that kill coronavirus, according to Consumer Reports.

However, stricter cleaning measures should be implemented not only in hotel rooms but also in communal and high-traffic areas. “Rooms need to be disinfected properly with an emphasis on bathrooms and hallways,” say the experts at Top Cleaners London. “The common areas (restrooms, cafeteria, restaurant, lobby) must be sanitized frequently. We are not talking only about the floors. All surfaces touched by customers are potential virus carriers. According to the latest studies, COVID-19 can survive from a couple of hours to several days if the right environment occurs. Our job as cleaners is to prevent it from happening. Therefore all doorknobs, light switches, chairs, handles, etc. must be disinfected as frequently as possible.” Top Cleaners London also recommends having the windows open when cleaning a room, as well as including HEPA filters. In fact, can an air purifier kill coronavirus germs in the air?

Happy bellhop working at a hotel and wearing a facemask to avoid COVID-19Hispanolistic/Getty Images

How hotels are changing

Thankfully, hotels have implemented stronger cleaning methods due to coronavirus. Collaborating with well-known hotel brands like Hilton, Marriott, Best Western, and Wyndham, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) revealed its Safe Stay guidelines to help standardize cleanliness.

“Safe Stay was developed specifically to ensure enhanced safety for hotels guests and employees. While hotels have always employed demanding cleaning standards, this new initiative will ensure greater transparency and confidence throughout the entire hotel experience,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA, said in a press release.“The industry’s enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols will continue to evolve to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.” If you’re ready for your next trip, here are 14 hotel deals you can take advantage of now or next year.

For more on this developing situation, including how life might be different post-lockdown, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.

Madeline Wahl
Madeline Wahl is a Digital Associate Editor/Writer at RD.com. Previously, she worked for HuffPost and Golf Channel. Her writing has appeared on HuffPost, Red Magazine, McSweeney's, Pink Pangea, The Mighty, and Yahoo Lifestyle, among others. More of her work can be found on her website: www.madelinehwahl.com