Don't let the germs in your hotel room spoil your vacation.


Traveling, and the stress associated with it, makes us all more susceptible to illness. From exposure to filthy areas on the plane to sitting in close proximity to other sick passengers, travelers are constantly exposed to harmful bugs and bacteria when flying. Of course, the transmission doesn't just happen at the airport or aboard the plane. No, the risk for infection can follow you all the way to your hotel room.

Even if you're staying in a five-star destination hotel, germs can hide in places that the housekeeping staff tends to overlook. If you thought the hair dryer and remote control are safe and sanitary? Think again. The bathroom, bedspread, and, yes, even the carpet are some of the most germ-prone areas in your hotel room or suite.

Since you can't spend your entire vacation wearing a mask and gloves at your home away from home, here are seven simple ways to sanitize your room and the objects you'll most likely touch during your trip. Just make sure to pack plenty of hand sanitizer and a travel-size can of disinfectant.

1. Try not to use these complimentary hotel items.

The ice bucket, coffee maker, bedside light switch, telephone, and TV remote control are, arguably, the dirtiest objects in a hotel room because they're touched frequently by countless strangers. It's safe to assume the cleaning staff doesn't wipe ice buckets down often. When they do, you can't be sure they're using a brand-new towel or cloth every time. To be safe, fill the plastic liner bag with ice and forgo the bucket altogether.

We know how important a cup of coffee is to jump-start the day. But before you reach for the coffeepot and cream, think about how often you clean your own pot at home. Yeah, it's far less than that at hotels. Instead, make a pit stop at a nearby coffee shop to get your caffeine fix. If you just can't bear the thought of leaving your comfortable and cozy room, clean your in-room coffee maker with hot water to reduce germs.

Regarding the light switch and telephone, keep an extra box of tissues or sanitizing wipes handy to wipe their surfaces. This will reduce the spread of germs when you need to flip the switch or call the front desk. Another tip is to put the remote control in a plastic freezer bag. You won't have to touch it, and you'll still be able to access those premium channels through the plastic bag.

2. Wash your hands—often!

It goes without saying, but make sure you wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap during your stay. Sanitizing wipes are a great alternative for cleaning your hands, hotel door knobs, and all those germ-infested objects we listed above.

3. Disinfect all surfaces.

Use disinfecting wipes or disinfectant spray to clean door handles, tables, bathroom countertops, sinks, shower faucets, toilet flushers, etc.

4. Ditch the bedspread.

It's common knowledge that spreads and bed covers aren't cleaned frequently at hotels. But have you stopped to check the sheets and mattress for stains and bedbugs? Of course, you can't clean those yourself, but you can bring your own travel sheets and toss the bedspread to the side. If you do find bedbugs, though, you'd be better off asking for another room.

5. Wash glassware.

Inspectors have determined that some hotels don't wash the glasses after each guest's stay. The housekeeping staff just wipes them off, so avoid drinking from glasses until you've had the chance to wash them in hot, soapy water first. In addition, you can always bring your own plastic or paper cups from home.

6. Clean the bathroom before using.

Regardless if the bathroom looks and smell clean, it's important to lift the toilet seat with your hands wrapped in tissue, and spray the seat and lid on both sides with disinfectant spray.

7. Wear your shoes.

Don't walk on the carpet with your bare feet. Instead, bring slippers and wear flip flops or shower shoes in the bathroom.