TV news shows shock us with close-ups of nasty microbes growing in hotel room carpeting, furniture, or even bed linens. Pricey hotels and discount dives alike may be over-run with bedbugs and roaches. How can you be safe from germs in a hotel room?
A few simple steps can help you to sleep without worry:
Pack Your Own Protection
Slip a trial-sized package of cleaning wipes (even baby wipes) into your toiletry kit. When you check into your room, use these to clean anything another person may have touched: doorknobs, light switches, the telephone, and the TV remote control.
Pack a small tube of antibacterial hand lotion or sanitizing gel. Use this often, particularly after handling the room service menu, the phone book, or other items.
Tuck a few small paper cups inside your travel bag for use in the hotel room. Do not use the hotel drinking glasses in your room, even if they are covered with the little paper lids. Occasionally cleaning staff do use the same rag to wipe the toilet seat, the shower drain, and the drinking glasses!
Be Alert Inside the Room
Wash your hands frequently.
Remove the coverlet from the bed before sitting down there. Hotels change bedsheets regularly and launder them in very hot water. The bedsheets are generally germ- and bedbug-free. However, the bedspreads are another story altogether. Who knows what may have happened atop the coverlet before you checked in? Knowing this, you will not want to use the bedspread at all. If you need additional covers for sleeping, phone the front desk for another blanket.
Examine the furniture, linens and carpeting for rust-colored stains, which may indicate the presence of bedbugs. (Do not be afraid to request a transfer to another room, if you find this.)
Look for evidence of bedbugs. This tiny creatures love dark spots, such as under mattresses, in carpeting, behind paintings, and behind loose wallpaper. They tend to live in groups. Look for blood spots on mattresses and pillows. They are not poisonous, but they can leave painful welts on skin.
Glance inside closets and behind furniture, if you can, to check for mildew and mold. (Again, you are certainly entitled to request another room, if need be.)
Wear slippers or socks inside the room, and remove them with you slip into bed. Hotel room carpeting is vacuumed between guests, but nearly anything may have seeped into the carpeting. Do you really want this seeping into your toes?
Choose a shower, instead of a bath. It’s better to stand where someone else has been than to sit there! Wear shower sandals, if you have them.
Check for Bugs, When You Check Out
Do fill out the guest questionnaire, if one is provided. Compliment the hotel for cleanliness, if it actually is clean, but don’t be afraid to mention problems as well.
Examine your luggage carefully for evidence of bedbugs, roaches, or other pests. Launder all clothing at home, whether you wore it or not.
These simple safeguards will help you to protect yourself, so you do not bring home an unplanned stowaway or souvenir from your next trip!