5 Steps for a Healthy Hotel Stay

by Paul Konrardy

5 Steps for a Healthy Hotel Stay

Planning a stay at a hotel? Whether it’s a five-star accommodation or a budget-friendly lodging, you’ll want to take some precautions to make sure that you don’t acquire any unexpected and unwanted souvenirs. Follow these five steps to keep you healthy during your stay!

WHN TIP – Do Your Research: Check the ratings and comments for hotels before you book, looking for any references to cleanliness or overall condition. If you see remarks like “the sheets were dirty” or “the room smelled musty,” you might want to choose another location. You can also call the hotel and ask if it belongs to the International Housekeepers Association or has been certified by the ISSA: Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, recommends USA Today in How to Check the Cleanliness of a Hotel.

By the way, any time you use a self-service kiosk, thoroughly clean your hands with an antibacterial gel. Odds are that touch screen hasn’t been cleaned in a really, really long time!

Step 1: Conduct a room check.

Before you unpack, give the room a visual once-over. Look for evidence of bed bugs in the bed (on the sheets and mattress) and on any upholstered surfaces. Not sure what to look for? The EPA has downloadable bed bug cards with information about how to identify bed bugs and protect yourself from them. Find bugs? Ask to be moved to another room far from the one you’re currently in. Then check the new room!

Inspect the overall cleanliness of the room including the bathroom, drawers and closet. Look for trash in the corners, dust on surfaces or indications that the toilet or tub needs a more thorough scrubbing. If you are dissatisfied with your room, request another or have the one you’re in cleaned again.

WHN TIP — Look before switching: If you need to change rooms, tell the hotel manager you want to see the new room first before you move. After you’ve checked it, have the staff transfer your luggage to the new room.

Step 2: Sanitize surfaces.

Use antibacterial wipes to thoroughly clean the following items: the television remote, all light switches (wall and lamp), the telephone, the HVAC control, the bedside clock, inside and out of ice bucket (check for a clean plastic bag to hold the ice), the wands that operate the curtains, and all door and drawer handles.

Wipe out the inside of any drawers you’re planning on using, checking in the corners for any trace of bugs. If your room has a microwave or refrigerator, wipe out both before using. By the way, individually-wrapped plastic glasses may be less classy than in-room china and glassware, but they are probably cleaner, according to Escape Here.

In the bathroom, wipe the faucets, toilet handles, the sink and hairdryer. And don’t forget the toilet seat and lid as well as the entire bathroom vanity surface. Also, consider doing a wipe-down each time housekeeping has cleaned your room. Need more tips? Watch the Staying Healthy in Hotels: 5 Tips to Avoid Getting Sick on Vacation video.

WHN TIP – As you’re doing your wipe-down, check the operational status of every item. Make sure everything works the way it should. Better to learn now that the hairdryer doesn’t turn on or the coffeemaker is DOA rather than when you need it.

Step 3: Put on “inside footwear.”

If you’ve been on your feet all day, you may be tempted to slip off your shoes and walk around in your bare feet. Don’t do it. It could have been months since the carpeting was last cleaned. Instead, wear slippers or flip-flops while in the room including in the bathroom.

Step 4: Unpack with care.

Don’t dump your clothing and toiletries on the bed. The bedspread probably hasn’t been laundered since the last guest left. First, remove the bedspread and set it on the other bed or chair. Then, set your suitcase on the luggage rack and transfer your clothing right into the drawers or hang in the closet. For extra protection, consider packing your clothing in reclosable plastic or vinyl bags. Once in your room, transfer your bagged clothing from the suitcase into the drawers.

Don’t set your toothbrush on the vanity or set it in the bathroom glass with the bristles uncovered. When housekeeping is cleaning the bathroom, the bristles could be exposed to sprays, cleaning products or other people’s hands. Instead, after using it, consider slipping it in a resealable plastic bag and then storing it inside your toiletry case. Or use a toothbrush sanitizer.

WHN TIP – Worried that the pillowcase or sheets aren’t up to your cleanliness standards? Consider bringing your own or packing a lightweight travel sleeping liner.

Step 5: Re-think spending time in the pool or hot tub.

A swim or a hot soak might sound relaxing, but there could be hidden dangers lurking in the water in the form of parasites and bacteria, according to a CNN article. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the parasite Cryptosporidium (commonly called Crypto) is the most common, and can survive even in well-maintained pools. Others include Legionella and Pseudomonas—both of which can withstand disinfectants.

WHN TIP – If you are sensitive to cleaning products, ask before booking if the hotel uses nontoxic cleaning products or has an allergy-free room. None available? Ask if the hotel has allergy packs with items like mattress covers, special pillows, and face masks, says Reader’s Digest. Or travel with your own supply.

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Photo Credit: Hermann

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