These hotel surfaces are covered in germs

These hotel surfaces are covered in germs

Planning a spring break vacation stay at a hotel? Think twice before you grab the TV remote control.

The remote control is one of the hotel room surfaces covered with the most germs, according to several studies conducted in the United States, Canada and Britain last year. Researchers found that remote controls and light switches were heavily contaminated with bacteria, along with bathroom toilets, sinks and faucets.

And these are strangers’ germs, not the ones your immune system lives with back home.

Alla Gutina, an Advocate Nurse and infection preventionist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington., Ill., says hand washing and packing disinfectant wipes can provide protection. She carries a pack of wipes in her purse at all times, and used them during a recent trip, wiping down the armrests for herself and her husband on the plane.

In the hotel room, she used them to wipe surfaces people touch frequently. She was cautious about touching the hotel’s elevator buttons, as well.

She offers this advice: “Avoid touching your mouth and eyes after touching items that could have lots of germs. That’s not only when you’re in a hotel room, but anywhere.”

Here are other hotel room items that may have lots of germs and some suggestions for dealing with them:

Hotel bedspreads and comforters. Although sheets and towels are changed regularly, bedspreads and comforters are far less frequently cleaned. If the sheets alone keep you warm enough, consider tossing the bedspread on a chair or folding it down and away from your face and arms.

Drinking glasses. Gutina recommends using straws. If you don’t have straws handy, wash your hotel drinking glasses before sipping from them.

Telephones. Although most people use their mobile phones to make calls from their hotel rooms, they still use their room phones to call the front desk and in-house departments. Use disinfectant wipes before handling.

Coffee pot handles, door knobs and hair dryers. Pull out the disinfectant wipes again.

As for that remote control, if you want to be completely safe, slip it inside a plastic sandwich bag; you can still see the buttons, but you don’t have to touch them.

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  1. Really? Paranoid much? You act like people dig in their butts and spit on their hands before touching anything. Just because people touch things doesn’t mean there are tons of nasty germs on them. For one thing, hotels do have cleaning staffs, y’know (and, hello? Drinking glasses? You know those generally come plastic sealed now, right? And even glass glasses are washed each time). For another, few hotels even use bedspreads anymore. They use duvets with removable covers. As for hair dryers, aren’t those generally used *after* people have washed their hair, which, by definition means they washed their hands?

    Sheesh. Stop spreading fear. Why don’t you post an article about how many people get sick after staying in a hotel? Oh, because it would be pretty boring because it would be about the same as people getting sick after staying home.

    • Over this Dienne Chick March 12, 2018 at 3:32 pm · Reply

      Oh brother! Maybe you should become one of the authors since apparently NONE of them are good enough for you Dienne!

    • Maybe you should become an author for Advocate Dienne since none of them seem to be good enough for you.

  2. That is a smart practice to get into , and I would recomend wiping down cart handles, at the supermarkets , gas pump handles and handles,knobs,buttons everywhere you go to be on the safe side.Even in the hospital it makes sense to be on the safe side.

  3. The articles references are spot on! I worked at a hotel for years in college and we were told repeatedly not to bring down the blankets and bed coverings unless they were visibly soiled. The remotes, are wiped down by some cleaning staff but they do have large amounts of bacteria. Please look at your own habits in your bedroom and multiply this with the many guest that use the remote after being intimate with their partner.

  4. Some years ago on one of those TV news programs exposes, they showed the cleaning crew WASHING the glasses with a spray of windex. All of the suggestions should be followed as best one can. Washing ones hands is the most important.

  5. I’m no Howard Hughes, but I also carry Chlorox wipes when I travel. An ounce of prevention. . . . .

  6. I worked for a very large hotel chain for a few years…and those bedspreads were never changed after every hotel guest left….maybe once a week. Every time I stay at a hotel…I ALWAYS ask them to change the bed sheets/pillow cases/and other bed linens including the bedspreads and blanket so that I see that they are changing to clean linens… I still spray the toilet seat with Lysol and wipe with toilet tissue…I always wear flip flops in the shower….try not to touch the phone…and spray and wipe other areas I might touch….I also don’t walk around the room bare feet…I always wear flip flops…but then I worked in microbiology for years as a med tech…so go figure.

  7. It is possible to use reasonable precautions wothout becomming a germaphobe. Wiping down everything is unreasonable and reasonable exposure to some germs can be good for the developing one’s own resistance. The overuse of antibacterial wipes and hand gels has led to resistant bacteria which is even more dangerous. Relax and enjoy your hotel stay!

About the Author

Kathleen Troher
Kathleen Troher

Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.