Bacteria, viruses, bed bugs, DNA samples - what's lurking in your hotel room that you can't see? With so many people staying in the same room night after night, even a thorough cleaning won't catch all the germs.
But how much should you worry? Your risk of getting sick is pretty low. In fact, you're more at sitting on a plane next to someone with a cold. Still, if a sick person stayed in your room days before you checked in, they've left behind germs that can make you sick. Here's what you should do to avoid taking germs home with you:
- Wipe down the germiest surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes: the TV remote, the telephone, the alarm clock, the ice bucket, the Bible, pens, shower curtains, bathroom faucets and door handles. Avoid touching the walls around light switches and thermostats.
- Remove the bedspread and decorative pillows. White duvet covers are cleaned more often, but not necessarily after every guest. If there's a fabric throw at the end of the bed, toss that too.
- Don't walk around the room barefoot. Pack socks or slippers, and wear plastic flip flops in the shower.
- Pull up the sheets and check the mattress seams for signs of bed bugs (small dark stains, or the bugs themselves). You can also aim a blow dryer at one spot on the mattress for a couple of minutes, as heat will attract the little critters.
- To keep bed bugs out of your suitcase, don't put it on the floor, on upholstered furniture or on the bed. Put your suitcase on a luggage rack or on the desk. Keep your clothes off the floor.
- Don't cheap out. Experts say paying above $50 per night makes a difference in the cleanliness of the hotel room.
- Most importantly, wash your hands. It's your best defense against germs, which can't make you sick unless they make contact with your mouth, eyes, or nose.