The Bittersweet Hotel Experience
as Summer Comes to an End
Labor Day weekend. Summer fades. Fall whispers hello. This is the last hurrah of summer magic as the sun, sand and camaraderie of friends and family rule the day. Gathering together to enjoy every single moment of all summery good things. Sandy toes, windswept hair, tingling sun kissed skin, smoky beach fires, burnt marshmallows and divine moments that become memories.
But this article is about the “other” vacation moments. It’s about tiny little free loaders like germs, parasites and bed bugs that love to hang out and share everything – including your beautiful hotel room. These guys, they love to share. So, just how clean do you think your hotel room is when you plunk down your suitcases and champagne cooler?
Before We Go There
Think Survival, in a Modern, Enlightened Kind of Way
We like to call it the “Hotel Survival Kit”.
Get a Shoebox – pack these things – Ok, Maybe an oversized Shoebox.
Bed Bug Killer Spray
Antibacterial Hand Soap
Disposable Sanitizer Hand Towels
Socks or Slippers
Hotel Housekeeping – Keeping it Real
The hotel room looks great. But, how clean is clean? Housekeeping does a bang up job, but they have their limitations.
Due to quotas and pressure to get rooms cleaned quickly, not all hotel rooms are thoroughly cleaned. It’s just a fact of life. There is only so much housekeeping can do, especially when some guests are unusually, unnecessarily, deliberately and flagrantly messy. Plus, not all housekeeping staff are exactly cleaning angels.
Let’s just say some unorthodox shortcuts have been studied and documented that would make your hair stand on end. Let’s just leave it at that. The possibility of these two elements combined is a recipe for a germ infested hotel room disaster. Studies also show that the cost of a hotel room directly affects the cleanliness quotient of the room. Hmmm. Imagine that.
There’s Also the Sheer Number of People Traveling
Here are the number of people who traveled to the United States in 2016 according to U.S. Travel Association:
U.S. domestic travel increased 1.2 percent from 2015 to a total of more than 2.2 billion person-trips in 2016.
International inbound travelers, including visitors from overseas, Canada and Mexico are estimated to have made 75.6 million visits to the United States in 2016.
The sheer number of people who travel should be incentive enough to think about those who have stayed in “your” hotel room. Not to be an alarmist but it isn’t just the room you are sharing. Microbes, germs, parasites and tiniest bugs that travelers leave behind can be there, in your hotel room, waiting in silence. It’s also important to remember that infections that might be found in the U.S. population do not include some of the infections that are introduced by foreign, sometimes, third-world travelers.
So, how is the issue of germs, microbes, and parasites dealt with in a hotel? On average, hotel housekeepers spend about 30 minutes cleaning each room, a range of 14 to 16 rooms in an eight eight-hour day. Thirty minutes is just not enough time to cover all bases. In essence, your vacation should not mean good health and hygiene is being compromised because of cleaning norms in a hotel.
The Dirt on Germs in a Hotel Room
Germs. Predictably you can expect high levels of bacteria in hotel bathroom sinks and floors. But the dirtiest areas are light switches and TV remotes, with light switches having the highest levels of fecal matter bacteria. That’s a cringe worthy thought. Remember that inanimate objects like door knobs, table tops, light switches, TV remote controls are able to transmit infectious agents when they become contaminated.
Study after study verifies that the TV remote control is one of the least-cleaned objects in a hotel room and germs accumulate on its surface. Many travelers bring along a plastic baggie to encase the germ laden piece of plastic and never touch the thing. But a good sanitizer used on other objects in the room will also do the trick.
Remember that inanimate objects like door knobs, table tops, light switches, TV remote controls are able to transmit infectious agents when they become contaminated. Study after study verifies that the tv remote control is one of the least-cleaned objects in a hotel room and germs accumulate on its surface. Many travelers bring along a plastic baggie to encase the germ laden piece of plastic and never touch the thing. But a good sanitizer used on other objects in the room will also do the trick.
Another thought to make your day – cleaning items that are used by housekeepers like sponges and mops have high levels of bacteria which increase the risk of infection as they go from room to room using the same sanitizing equipment. So, just bring your own sanitizer and avoid the possibility that you’ll curate mysophobia (fear of germs) as a lifestyle.
Hotel Practical Matters
Germs in Your Hotel Room and Where They Live
High Touch Areas. You don’t have to be a germophobe to acknowledge the realities of germs and cross contamination issues in your hotel room, you just have to be practical. Not all viruses and bacteria can live for extended periods of time on contaminated surfaces but a limited list of common infections that can spread by incorrect hygiene practices in a hotel room include cold, influenza, rotavirus, norovirus, E.coli, Hepatitis A, staph infection and Streptococcus.
Don’t cancel your vacation. There’s an easy fix for this. Again, it’s called sanitizer. Spartan Hepacide Quat II RTU is a professional grade sanitizer that costs less than $3.00. Available to the public, this sanitizer is the first quart-based versatile disinfectant spray with EPA registered Hepatitis claims. So the question is, why wouldn’t you bring along a professional grade sanitizer that means business?
Hotel Beds & Bedding
Bedspreads. Whatever you think might be living on the hotel bedspread, you are probably right. Logistically, washing and sanitizing the bedspread after each hotel guest is a pipe dream. Remove the bed spread. Don’t use it. While it is true that many hotels now incorporate the use of duvet covers that are laundered along with other bedding and linens, the comforter itself is not cleaned. Keep that in mind.
Again, sanitizing is not a bad idea. You may not want to spray the linen directly, but a mist in the air that settles within the room is a good option. Spartan SparSan Q Disinfectant is an ace product for this purpose.
The Uncomfortable Subject of Bed Bugs
in Your Hotel Room
Bed bugs. Following World War II Bedbugs were virtually eradicated in the United States. They are back, with a vengeance. If you contract them in your hotel room, it is highly likely that you will carry them back to your home, not to mention the very unpleasant experience of being bitten by bed bugs. (Ask me how I know.) Please remember the cost of the hotel room is insignificant. Bed bugs can travel anywhere and they do not discriminate.
If you really want to investigate their presence in your hotel room, you can initiate the tribal like ritual by pulling sheets, looking for residue, bringing a flashlight to find them and search for apple seed size buggers.
Or, you can carry along Bed Bug Killer, spray it as directed, go have a cocktail and sleep easy. Bed Bug and Lice Killer by Spartan is a fairly new product that’s portable, economical and effective. It’s also used by many hotels and available to the public. For $6.50, why wouldn’t you pack this miracle purple spray can of security?
To summarize, in addition to sanitizer for the room, linens, and bed bug killer bring along these items to make your vacation memorable for all the right reasons.
Hand sanitizer – Using hand sanitizer before and after
interacting with high touch areas in a hotel room is a practical way to
keep germs at bay for the duration of your stay.
Antibacterial Hand Soap – Don’t take a vacation from hand hygiene, 80% of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. This is an especially relevant fact while on vacation.
Disposable Sanitizer Hand Towels – They’re just nice to have around for everyday use without reusing hotel guest towels. Super for a quick clean up after indulging in room service for fingers and room surfaces.
Socks or slippers – It’s smart to always wear socks or slippers around in a hotel room. Carpet. Who knows?
Flip flops – Wear flip flops in the shower to avoid any chance of contracting athlete’s foot … p.s. don’t use the whirlpool tub. In a hotel, the pipes leading to the whirlpool tub are generally not flushed with bleach to kill germs.
Drinking glasses – You don’t want to know why. Just bring along your own if you can.
All journeys have secret destinations
of which the traveler is unaware.