When you stay at a hotel – particularly a high end one – the expectation is that it’ll be clean. But no matter how fancy the establishment or how high the price tag, study after study shows that many hotel rooms are seething with germs.

While hotel rooms do get cleaned after each guest checks out, “clean” is something of a relative term. In one article, a housekeeper confesses to cutting corners wherever she could, simply spraying and wiping things down because as long as they “looked” clean, no one could tell the difference. Given that housekeepers have on average 30 minutes to clean each room, it’s not surprising that a lot of trouble spots get overlooked.

Now, you’re probably thinking that the biggest biohazards in your hotel room are the toilet, shower, or bathroom sink – but you’d be wrong. Many of the most bacteria-laden spots in a hotel room are in the last place you’d expect… which is probably why they don’t get cleaned as often as they should (if at all). Read on to learn which items in your hotel room are the dirtiest and what to do about them.

1. The remote control

When was the last time you cleaned your television remote control at home? If the answer is long ago, or never, then don’t be surprised that hotel TV remotes aren’t cleaned either. One study found that TV remote controls were actually the dirtiest thing in a hotel room, so if you plan on watching television, pack some antibacterial wipes so you can disinfect the remote before you use it.

2. Light switches

The same study above found that the second most germ-infested spots in hotel rooms are the light switches on the bedside lamps – although I’m willing to bet the light switches in the bathroom are pretty nasty too. Again, antibacterial wipes are your friend.

3. The decorative bedspread, throws, and cushions

These things don’t get washed every time a traveler checks out of the room. In fact, chances are they rarely ever get washed because they’re not really designed to be laundered all the time. You can’t really sanitize these yourself, so you may just want to put them aside before you sprawl out on the bed.

4. Water glasses and coffee mugs

In some hotels I’ve stayed in, the glasses and mugs have been switched out each day by housekeeping, but in other places, the glasses are rinsed off by staff and replaced. How well they’re washed is anyone’s guess. Some maids just run the drink ware under a bit of water, while others admit to wiping down the glasses using the same cleaning fluid and rag they use to clean the rest of the room (and yes, these chemicals are likely poisonous). If you want to be sure the glasses and mugs are clean, you may want to wash them yourself under piping hot water. An alternative is to carry your own refillable water bottle and a travel thermos or paper cups for coffee.

5. Bathroom faucets

According to a CBC investigation, bathroom taps were one of the top three dirtiest spots in hotel rooms. The study rated germ levels on a numerical scale – anything under 300 was considered acceptable, between 300 and 999 was a “caution zone” and anything that topped 1000 failed the test. Of all the faucets tested in the investigation, 30 percent of them failed, with the dirtiest faucet returning a contamination value of 11,374!

6. Doorknobs

I often see people struggling to open doors to public restrooms without touching the doorknob for fear of the bacteria living on it, but have you ever thought about what might be lurking on the doorknob to your hotel room or hotel bathroom? Take an antibacterial wipe and rub down the knobs, or use a paper towel or a tissue when opening bathroom doors to protect yourself.

7. The telephone

You might not think of the phone as being all that germ-ridden, but one analysis found that the average cell phone had 18 times more bacteria on it than the flush handle on a men’s toilet. So, just imagine what a hotel phone that’s been used by thousands of guests before you has growing on it. To avoid picking up any bugs, be sure to wipe the phone down thoroughly before you call room service or request that early-morning wake up call.

What do you think? Do you clean things in your hotel room before using them? Are you shocked by how dirty some of the items are? 

[Photo credit: go_greener_oz]

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