Wipe Down That TV Remote Control In Your Hotel Room If You Hate Germs

If you’re the kind of person worried about what’s lurking unseen in hotel rooms, now might be the time to pack your travel Lysol and start making a plan of attack. A new study looking at surfaces in hotel rooms found that television remotes are one of the most heavily contaminated with bacteria. And then there are those housekeeping carts, which are veritable cross-contaminating trolleys for germs.

Researchers from the University of Houston discussed their findings from the study at the recent 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

“Hoteliers have an obligation to provide their guests with a safe and secure environment. Currently, housekeeping practices vary across brands and properties with little or no standardization industry wide. The current validation method for hotel room cleanliness is a visual assessment, which has been shown to be ineffective in measuring levels of sanitation,” said one of the students who presented the study.

Researchers from the University of Houston teamed up with others from Purdue University and the University of South Carolina to sample a variety of surfaces from hotel rooms in their home states. They tested levels of various bacterial contamination on each of the surfaces.

Areas like toilets and bathroom sinks were expected to have high levels of contamination, but the high levels on the TV remote and bedside lamp switch were a bit of a surprise. And then even scarier were the levels of germiness on items that go from room to room on housekeepers’ carts, like sponges and mops.

Bed headboards, curtain rods and the bathroom door handle were areas of the least contamination.

One of the biggest turnoffs of a hotel room is if it appears unclean, but what these researchers are saying is even the cleanest rooms might be far from it. No one wants to get sick because they touched something a previous sick guest sneezed on.

The researchers say the lack of standardization of hotel room cleanliness poses a risk for hotel guests, especially those who are more susceptible to infection. But by paying attention to the germiest areas, say the researchers, housekeepers could more effectively attack those spots and efficiently reduce the potential health risks.

The Most Contaminated Surfaces in Hotel Rooms [ASM 2012]