8 tips to avoid hotel hygiene horrors
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
In most hotels, a housekeeper only has 30-40 minutes to clean a checkout room, where the linens must be changed and straightened; the bathtub, toilet, and sinks must be cleaned and sanitized; the floor must be mopped, and the carpet must be vacuumed.
While every traveler wants to stay in a clean hotel room, the fact is not all hotel rooms are cleaned thoroughly.
How dirty can a hotel room be?
According to a Time magazine report, 81 percent of hotel room surfaces being sampled had some fecal bacteria. Many come from other travelers’ germs, mostly because not every spot in a hotel room will get sanitized every time when a guest checks out. The dirtiest places or spots in a hotel room include:
Light switches, TV or any types of remote controls, toilets (including the flush handle, toilet paper dispenser, and the wall/floor around a toilet), bathroom sinks, telephone, keyboard, hairdryer, carpeting, and bedspread.
Other items, such as drinking glasses, coffee machines, or kettles, may also cover with germs if they are not clean properly. Another example is the bathroom towels because many bacteria can easily be trapped and transferred from one traveler to another if they are not thoroughly washed and dried. One study found 90 percent of bathroom towels (not necessarily hotel towels only) were contaminated with coliform bacteria.
Well then, if we stay in a more expensive hotel, like in a luxury property or a place managed by a reputable hotel chain, hygiene in a hotel room should not be a concern. As they usually charge for a higher price, they use better products, and their staff receives better training. Then, they should provide better service and cleaner hotel rooms. Is that right?
Not all 5-star hotel rooms are as clean as we think
Last week, a video about some housekeepers’ unsanitary cleaning practices recorded in 14 luxury hotels in China went viral on social media.
Many of these hotel brands are known for their exceptional customer service, including Bulgari, Conrad, Park Hyatt, Le Meridien, The Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Shangri-La, and Waldorf Astoria. The video captured some of the most disgusting hotel hygiene horrors. For example, housekeepers were found:
- Using the same sponge to clean drinking cups, toilet seat, and shower stall.
- Wiping the drinking cups, bathroom sink, and mirror with the towels or flannels that have been used by the guests.
Major hotel chains reported in the video have apologized, stating that those behaviors violated their company’s hygiene standards. The Chinese government also stepped in and began an investigation into such poor hygiene practices.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that similar acts were caught and reported in the luxury hotels in China. Back in December 2017, it was reported that the housekeepers in the Kempinski Hotel, Shangri-La Hotel, and the Sheraton Hotel, all in Harbin, a city in Northeast China, also adopted similar horrifying hygiene practices in cleaning the guestrooms.
It is difficult to conclude that this was just an isolated case in China. Such horrifying hygiene practices can very likely be found in other parts of the world.
It is important to note that, however, many travelers will not get sick even if they are exposed to the bacteria in a hotel room because germs are just everywhere. They live and grow in the same environments as human beings do.
8 tips to avoid hotel hygiene horrors
We, as travelers, have little control over how hotels clean our guestrooms, but there are approaches we can take to protect ourselves. For example,
- To use disinfectant wipes to clean the countertops and the surfaces that are often “ignored” by the housekeepers (as suggested in the previous section);
- To wash our hands first and then use our hands to collect water when we brush our teeth;
- To use disposable cups for drinking purposes;
- To sanitize the drinking classes with hot water before the first usage;
- To bring a pair of slippers and use them in the hotel room;
- To wear our own pajamas;
- To leave a good tip to the housekeepers as a way to thank and reward them for cleaning our room thoroughly, especially when we are coming back;
- If budget allows, to stay in a higher-tier or an upgraded room because hotels tend to pay more detailed attention to their loyal customers and those who are paying more for better service.
When you travel, what do you do to make sure you are staying in a clean hotel room? Any other tips you would like to add?
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