The Thing In Your Hotel Room That Almost Never Gets Cleaned

If you're looking forward to an upcoming trip, there's a good chance you're in the process of booking the perfect hotel room to match. Hotel Tech Report estimates there are more than 17.5 million guest rooms available to travelers booking hotels worldwide. That means explorers have plenty of options to customize their stay no matter where they roam.

Reaching your destination, checking in, and opening the door to that hotel room can feel like a relief after a day of travel. However, you might want to take a moment to consider your surroundings before you get to the relaxing. As luxurious or inviting as a hotel room may seem, it's simply never going to be cleaned in the same way you would care for your own home.

In a shared living space like a hotel room, germs and bacteria are nearly impossible to avoid. These high-traffic destinations are often the culprits behind travelers coming home with infections like norovirus which can be contracted from simply touching contaminated surfaces like television remotes or bathroom counters that haven't been sanitized. Skin infections are also a common complaint among returning travelers. Many hotel guests worry about the cleanliness of bed sheets and bathrooms in their hotel rooms. Surprisingly, these aren't the areas that notoriously get cleaned the least. Upholstered furniture has a way of getting skipped over by hotel cleaning teams, and often gets overlooked by guests too.

Rethink using those hotel room chairs and sofas

It's tempting to flop down in a hotel room chair as soon as you walk in. The desire to get off your feet can cause guests to overlook the fact that these upholstered furnishings play host to a variety of bacteria. Settling into furniture that likely hasn't been cleaned thoroughly can be problematic for your health.

Towels and bed sheets get washed by hotel staff regularly at high temperatures to kill lingering bacteria between guest stays, but hotel room furniture isn't as easy to sanitize. It's not uncommon for these items to be minimally spot cleaned if there are visible stains on the fabric. In the worst-case scenario, they're overlooked entirely by hotel housekeepers.

Take time to consider how furniture in your hotel room may have been treated by previous guests. Chairs and ottomans are typically arranged in high-traffic areas where guests use them as places to set their luggage or even throw dirty clothes. They also become resting places for the bottom of shoes that track bacteria in from wherever that previous guest has been traveling. If upholstered chairs and ottomans in hotel rooms aren't getting cleaned, you can confidently include upholstered hotel room sofas to the list of problematic room features as well. That sofa you want to stretch out on has likely only been spot treated since the last guest departed. There's a good chance it's teeming with bacteria left behind by dirt and grime from luggage.

Simple steps to keep bacteria at bay

Recognizing the fact that upholstered hotel room furniture likely isn't getting cleaned regularly is important. Next, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Implementing these strategies could make a difference when it comes to avoiding getting sick during your stay.

Above all, make it a priority to place a towel down on the room furniture before you sit. If you have space in your suitcase, packing your own towel for this specific purpose is a great way to know with confidence that your relaxing time settled in includes a clean, sanitized, and fresh surface fabric. It's also helpful to pack a trash or laundry bag so you can wrap the towel up safely for the trip home without exposing your clothing to germs you're trying to avoid in your suitcase.

Another great item to have on hand at all times during a hotel stay is a pair of slippers or sandals. While some hotels offer guests a free pair to use, having your own is often the more sanitary choice. Slip them on and relax with ease knowing your feet aren't touching infrequently cleaned chairs, ottomans, or sofa surfaces. Finally, it never hurts to pack a travel-size fabric sanitizer for your journey. This can be used to saturate all upholstered furnishings as soon as you walk in. While it won't entirely eliminate the potential for bacteria contact on chairs and sofas, it can help greatly reduce the risk.