Vacation time: Relaxation, sunshine and… germs? Although your hotel room may look clean, it actually may contain a large number of bacteria. We don’t want to ruin your vacation – only a small percentage of bacteria and viruses are dangerous. Instead, we’re here to share some tips on how to stay healthy while enjoying your time off.
Before you get comfortable in your hotel room, here are four things to disinfect right away:
A team of researchers from the University of Houston, Purdue University and the University of South Carolina tested a variety of surfaces in hotel rooms in Texas, Indiana and South Carolina, and reported that along with the toilet and bathroom sink, the TV remote contained “high levels of bacterial contamination.” Another study by Dr. Luisa Ikner, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona Gerba Lab, reported that remotes they tested in rooms at five top hotel chains across the country delivered bacteria readings as high as 498, which is almost five times the acceptable limit of 100. What does this all mean? Basically, the remote is pretty icky. While many vacationers like to turn on the TV before bed, before you reach for the remote, you may want to first grab a disinfecting wipe.
Room service can be a nice treat while on vacation. While we appreciate this added bonus of staying at a hotel, we do want to point out how dirty the telephone that you use to call the kitchen can be. According to the same team of researchers as above, telephone keypads have an average of 20.2 colony-forming units (CFU) of aerobic bacteria – that’s a lot. It’s not just room service – the telephones in a hotel room are also commonly used for wake-up calls and to call down to the front desk for questions or concerns. If you do touch the telephone for any of these tasks before disinfecting, make sure to wash your hands before eating or touching other areas of the room!
3. Light switches
Time reported that the above Purdue and USC researchers found that the main light switches in the average hotel room are covered in 112.7 CFU of bacteria. And the light switch for the lamp next to your bed? That could be one of the germiest surfaces in the entire room, since most people touch that switch, but housekeeping may not always deep clean it. If you don’t watch TV, and you don’t use the phone, you still most likely use the lights. It’s a great idea to use disinfecting wipes or spray on the light switches right when you enter the room, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands right after.
4. Door handles
Kelly Reynolds, germ expert and associate professor of environmental health at University of Arizona, has conducted several studies examining how viruses move through environments such as hotels. In one study published in the journal Food and Environmental Virology, she and her colleagues planted a sample virus in a hotel room bathroom, and then watched as hotel cleaning staff spread the virus to three other rooms nearby. What’s one area that one must touch in order to get in and out of a room? The door handle! Whether you touch the handle on the main door to your room, the bathroom door (even if it’s a sliding door) or a balcony door, the handles are bound to be dirty and can easily transfer viruses from person to person. Drawer handles count too!
We want you to enjoy your vacation, and you can get the time off to a great start by disinfecting your hotel room. Whether you disinfect your room or not, remember to wash your hands frequently! When you’re back from vacation and you’d like to take these good habits into your home, let your closest Two Maids & A Mop do the dirty work.
Honorable mentions: Bathroom counters (1,288,817 colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch!) hair dryers, sink faucets, toilet flush handles, bedspreads, drinking glasses, kettles.