No matter how squeamish you are about hotel rooms, considering the fact that someone else will have slept in that very bed the night before you, staying in one at some point is nearly unavoidable. And, unless you're Mr. Monk, you probably only rely on hotel staff to clean up after the previous occupant.
A new study by university researchers is showcasing the dirtiest components of a hotel room so you can at least whip out your travel size spray bottle of Lysol, if you wish. Some of the surfaces found with the most aerobic bacteria and coliform (fecal) bacterial may surprise you, while others may not:
- Bathroom sink
- TV remote
- Bedside lamp
Also important for maintaining cleanliness and avoiding cross-contamination between rooms are housekeeper's carts. The high levels of bacteria found on items that were meant to be a vehicle facilitating cleanliness -- sponges and mops -- were considered "concerning," according to the researchers.
For your peace of mind, areas of low contamination levels included the headboard, curtain rods and the bathroom door handle.
The research is meant to identify high-risk areas that should be targeted by hotel staff for cleaning to avoid contamination of other rooms. Teams from University of Houston, Purdue University and the University of South Carolina evaluated three rooms in each state with 19 different surfaces swabbed in each room. The researchers concede a larger sample size will be needed for the study to move forward.
"Currently, housekeepers clean 14-16 rooms per 8-hour shift, spending approximately 30 minutes on each room. Identifying high-risk items within a hotel room would allow housekeeping managers to strategically design cleaning practices and allocate time to efficiently reduce the potential health risks posed by microbial contamination in hotel rooms," Katie Kirsch, an undergraduate student from the University of Houston, said while presenting the research at the American Society for Microbiology's General Meeting. "The information derived from this study could aid hotels in adopting a proactive approach for reducing potential hazards from contact with surfaces within hotel rooms and provide a basis for the development of more effective and efficient housekeeping practices."