Even the fanciest hotel rooms aren’t always as clean as you’d expect. I was forever scarred by an episode of Inside Edition that exposed how bad it can get. (In on instance, hotel staff didn’t even change the bedsheets between guests!) Whenever I check into my room, I immediately scan the bed for any sign of another person’s presence before settling in for the night, but I’ve been overlooking a certain area when it comes to hotel room cleanliness.
Harrison Jacobs, Business Insider‘s international correspondent, spent 300 nights hotels and Airbnbs throughout the past year. In his opinion, checking the electric kettle or coffeemaker is a great way to tell if your room has been well maintained, since moisture is ever-present in both devices.
“I’ve found that consistently the best barometer of cleanliness is the coffeemaker or electric kettle. Almost every hotel room has one and it can tell you a lot about how detail-oriented the housekeeping is,” he writes. “If they aren’t cleaned regularly—and I mean with vinegar, not rinsed with hot water—they quickly become gross. As such a small item and a tedious one to clean, I’ve found that coffeemakers and electric kettles are frequently overlooked by less diligent hotels.”
While the coffeemaker and electric kettle can give you an idea as to whether the hotel prioritizes sanitation, Jason “The Germ Guy” Tetro, host of the Super Awesome Science Show and author of The Germ Code, says the sniff test is another great indicator of hotel room cleanliness.
“Looking at [the coffee maker] is a good way to identify long-term maintenance, but it’s not particularly helpful in determining whether that remote control or light switch may be clean or safe from potential infectious agents. I would suggest you focus more on the smell of the room,” he tells Well+Good. “Vacuuming and disinfecting will leave a clean smell in the room. If you happen to recognize other odors—such as mold or body odor—you might want to find out if the room has really been cleaned.”
Whether you’re staying in a five-star hotel or cute Airbnb, Tetro recommends taking matters into your own hands. To make sure you’re not relaxing in filth, pack disinfectant wipes. “You can clean items that don’t really get the attention they deserve with wipes,” he explains. “This includes remote controls, light switches, the clock, and the table tops.”
You’ll never be quite as comfortable as you are in your own space. But at least with these quick tricks, your trips won’t be ruined by worrying about whether you’re spending your vacation chillin’ with other people’s germs.
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