Let’s face it: even the nicest hotels can be hotbeds for germs. And that risk can double when you’re trying to save cash with a cheaper room, as many of us do when traveling for business. Whether you’re a true germaphobe or just appreciative of clean surroundings, staying in a room you suspect isn’t clean is a bummer that can put a damper on your whole trip—or worst case scenario, distract you and throw off your confidence for a big presentation. But there are always things you can do to prevent the headache ahead of time, without spending on an upgrade.
Oftentimes, your dissatisfaction with a hotel room owes a lot to a feeling of “stuffiness” or air stagnancy in the room. This can make fabrics and porous materials in your room hold onto smells longer, which adds to an overall lack of that “freshness” feeling a lot of us crave. Ironically, sometimes the frequent use of formaldehyde-heavy cleaning products between stays can contribute to this heavy, stagnant air quality. The best solution for this is an easy one: make sure the room you book has a window you’re allowed to open or crack to let fresh air in. Alternatively, check with management ahead of booking to see if the hotel has a commitment to using nontoxic cleaning products, which will reduce that common heavy formaldehyde smell.
Don’t Dread the Bedspread
It’s true: the biggest carrier of germs in a hotel room is usually the bedspread. Quality hotels will be aware that this is a common concern among their guests and will launder them more frequently, but this is definitely not a guarantee. Hotels often use duvet covers that are easily removable for washing so that the entire bedspread doesn’t have to go in the wash as often, which is enough to eliminate most germs. But a hotel bed with no duvet cover on the comforter might only have freshly laundered sheets. One option is to directly request your bedspread be laundered before you arrive. Or, simply remove it from the bed when you arrive—if you choose this option, it’s good to have a spare blanket of your own packed, just in case you get chilly.
Do a Quick Germ Spot-Check
Once you’ve figured out the bedspread situation, take a look around the room for germ “hot spots”: all the places that are touched most often by any guests. This includes door knobs, landline phones, drawer pulls, chair armrests, blind rods—anything your bare hands are likely to come in contact with most often. Take a minute when you first walk in to just wipe these surfaces down with some easy to pack antibacterial wipes of your choice, just for a little backup cleaning power on top of the cleaning service’s pre-sweep of your room.
Follow all of these steps, and you can feel reasonably clean and fresh in almost any chain hotel room. Of course, if you encounter a room with actually visible signs of dirt and unsightliness (we’ve all got our horror stories), you’ll want to take that up with hotel management—and possibly, take your business elsewhere.
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