The Dirtiest Part Of A Hotel Room Isn't What You'd Expect

When you enter your hotel room, you may wonder how clean the toilet is or if the mattress is free of bed bugs. However, there's another dirty spot you should watch out for. According to a 2023 study, swabbed a variety of surfaces in hotel bathrooms to find out where hidden bacteria may be lurking, and their findings were shocking. The researchers discovered that the sink faucet is the germiest part of the room. From their swab sample, they found the surface to be covered in gram-negative rods — a bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections. In fact, the study determined that a hotel sink faucet has 55,000 times the number of bacteria found on an average toilet seat.

According to Dr. Jennifer Stagg, a naturopathic physician, the data makes sense. "The bathroom counter and faucets can sometimes be cleaned with the same cloth used to clean the toilet, thereby transferring germs from fecal matter onto the counter and faucets," Dr. Stagg explained to Reader's Digest. "This can lead to gastrointestinal infections. There may also be GI and respiratory viruses lingering on surfaces."

Keep in mind that only tested samples from hotel bathrooms. Even in the bedroom area, 81% of surfaces were found to have traces of fecal bacteria, as detailed in a 2012 study presented at the American Society for Microbiology Conference. Of these surfaces, TV remotes were the germiest of all.

How to protect yourself

When staying in hotels, note that paying a premium won't guarantee a cleaner, more hygienic room. Your risk of exposure to harmful bacteria has much more to do with how occupied a hotel is than its price or star rating. In other words, whether you're checking into a budget motel or a luxury accommodation, be prepared to take extra measures to keep yourself safe.

First, when it comes to the bathroom — including that filthy faucet — don't let your guard down. A TikTok creator who goes by Hotel Hacks warns against drinking the bathroom tap water since the faucet and sink often aren't as clean as they appear. She suggests that if you get thirsty, ask hotel staff for bottled water or head to a nearby convenience store to purchase your own.

For high-touch surfaces, Adrian Hyzler, the chief medical officer of Healix International, told The Washington Post that a quick scrub with disinfecting wipes (look for ones containing at least 70% alcohol) should do the trick. As for the TV remote, give yourself an added protective barrier by placing the remote in a clear plastic bag. Finally, practice common-sense tips: Wash your hands regularly, keep clothing off the floor, and be mindful of surfaces that can't be easily sanitized (such as fabric furniture).