how to sanitize hotel room

Hotel hacks: The 2-minute cleanliness sweep

Sanitizing your stay in 7 easy steps

Germs: They’re not the first thing you think about—or want to think about—when you enter a hotel room or a vacation rental. Yet, most unfortunate organisms go unnoticed to the human eye, begging the question: How clean is my quarters?

While I’d rather not know the gritty details of my room’s polish-factor, I’ve been in enough travel situations involving critters, splatters, and grime, that I employ a few basic (but effective) hygienic habits when I check in. Another reason I’m ultra-careful is because of what I learned as a travel expert on Marketplace, a Canadian investigative report-style TV program, which sent a microbiologist to 54 hotel rooms across the country and tested 810 items. 

After all, hotels host a revolving door of people who have various spic and span standards. Couple this with an often overworked housekeeping staff, and sometimes surfaces get missed or cleaned less thoroughly than they should. So, for the sake of “staying well” when you travel, consider these seven essential steps for quickly sanitizing your space.

Two-minute hotel room cleanliness sweep

1. Arrive smart. The moment you step into your hotel room, beeline for the bathroom, wash your hands, and park your luggage here (see why below) while you “sweep” your space.

2. Critter check! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but bedbugs don’t discriminate between one- and five-star stays; therefore, check bedbug hotspots such as the headboard and under the mattress, or any upholstered area. To do this quickly, stand level with the top of the surface to see if any flax-shaped critters are crawling. If you spot anything questionable, hightail it back to the front desk!

3. Spot clean. If you’re really into a dirt-free domaine, swipe high-touch zones—door handles, bathroom fixtures, light switches, hairstyling tools, the remote control—with disinfecting wipes. If you’re a real keener, breeze over the bath, too.

Viewfinder Tip: Our eyes can only tell us part of the space’s sanitizing story. So remember, just because you can’t see germs, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

4. H2Oh-Oh! There are multiple conspiracy theories regarding the frequency and method housekeepers use to wash in-room water or wine glasses. Because it’s impossible to know when, where, and how glasses are cleaned in e-v-e-r-y situation, I take 20 seconds and wash the glass myself. Alternatively: BYO water bottle.

5. Spring in your step. Since it would be weird to wear shower caps over your feet in your hotel room, if you’re afraid of filth on the floor bring washable slippers, which you can throw in the laundry when you return home. 

6. Sleep soundly. Nowadays comforters are typically cocooned in clean sheets; however, sometimes the sheets can escape the duvet. (Duvets are not regularly washed after every guest.) For a sound sleep make sure there’s a clean sheet between you and the bedspread.

7. Hand-in-hand. Of course, any talk of hygiene goes “hand-in-hand” with regular hand-washing with soap and warm water.

Now that you’re more confident in your room’s cleanliness, take your luggage from the bathroom (per step 1) and place it on the luggage rack ensuring it does not touch the bed or any other furniture in the room.

How do you “stay well” on your vacations? 

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Trip Styler

Trish Friesen chose an unlikely profession given her fear of flying and propensity toward car, air, boat, train, and chairlift sickness. Thanks to Gravol, Sea-Bands, and cruise ship stabilizers, the reluctant—yet enthusiastic—jetsetter packs her bag once every two weeks to swim with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef or to sample the latest libation in Portland. Trish unpacks her suitcase in Vancouver, Canada, Eh! where she’s the editor-in-chief of TripStyler.com, a travel lifestyle website for aspiring jetsetters. Find her moonlighting on Expedia, Fodor's, Jetsetter, and as a travel expert on TV while circumventing the globe with her entourage: a MacBook Air, an Olympus camera, and the biggest carry-on she can fit on the plane.