‘I Was a Hotel Housekeeper, and These Are 5 Things You Should Avoid Using as a Guest (Because, Uh, Germs)’

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For years, Lisa Rinna, best known for her role on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, has been trolled over her clean-freak hotel habits. As soon as the reality star sets foot into a hotel, be assured she’s pulling out the disinfectant wipes and cleaning every surface. While her obsession over tidy spaces has been played up for good television fodder, she may be onto something.

Housekeepers are typically expected to clean 15 to 20 rooms during their eight-hour shift, so if you break that down, that only gives them about 20–30 minutes per room at best. Within that time, they’re cleaning the room, making the beds, replacing linens and towels, restocking amenities, taking out the garbage, organizing, and more. With so much to do—and so little time—a lot can figuratively (and literally) swept under the rug.

Experts In This Article
  • Tara Richardson, Tara Richardson is a former hotel housekeeper from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Below, former hotel housekeeper Tara Richardson, shares the five items/areas in most hotel rooms that are the least likely to get a deep clean during a typical room change over. If you tend to use them, consider channeling your inner Lisa Rinna during your next stay.

5 things you should avoid using (or clean yourself) in a hotel room

1. Coffee makers

“Coffee makers are generally only superficially cleaned (a quick spray and wipe), as most hotels care more about appearance and speed as opposed to actual cleanliness,” says Richardson. “Coffee makers are rarely deep cleaned, meaning there are lots of bacteria and sometimes even mold growing inside because of stagnant water and improper cleaning.”

2. Ice buckets

You may be thinking with a plastic liner, the ice bucket should be fine. Well according to Richardson, just because you’re using the liner, it doesn’t mean everyone is. “I’ve personally seen ice buckets used as dog dishes, puke buckets, etc., and generally, the buckets are only superficially cleaned,” she says. “The water or ice is dumped, and then it’s just a quick dry with your dusting rag and maybe a spray with whatever all-purpose cleaner the hotel provides housekeeping staff with.”

3. Blankets and duvets

This may be hard to avoid, especially during a cold season, but Richardson warns in most hotels, blankets, and duvets are very rarely cleaned and changed out. “Where I worked, unless there was a visible stain, blankets, duvets, and bedspreads were only taken down to laundry once a year.” She adds that it’s only during the annual deep clean that “extras” were taken care of like mattress and pillow protectors replaced, mattresses flipped or walls and curtains washed.

4. Towels and robes

“We were always told not to replace them if they looked clean to prevent them from getting overwashed, and so the laundry doesn’t get overwhelmed,” shares Richardson. Knowing what she knows now, she suggests finding the housekeeper on your floor and asking for fresh towels and robes off of the cart as those are clean.

5. Glassware

“Where I worked, drinking glasses and coffee cups were simply rinsed and wiped in the bathroom sink,” says Richardson. “We were not given dish soap nor was the glassware collected and taken to be properly washed in a dishwasher.”

Whether it’s for business or leisure, next time you stay in a hotel, Richardson suggests packing a few cleaning products in your luggage. “I always bring some disinfectant wipes with me and give anything I’ll be using in the room a quick wipe—light switches, remotes, phones, table tops, and doorknobs especially,” she says. Lisa Rinna would be proud.

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