Outside of airports, hotels are a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. And if you’re a frequently traveling consultant, you’re constantly in and out of both situations.
Since the 2014-2015 flu season kicked off last month in the United States, it’s best to prepare early to protect yourself against germs. In addition to washing your hands at the airport and using hand sanitizer wherever you go, follow the five tips below to make your hotel room healthier during your stay.
Remove the bed cover
Right when you arrive, put the bedspread or bed cover in the closet, said microbiologist Phillip Tierno in an interview with CNN. “It’s certainly true that bedspreads, or the quilts inside duvet covers, don’t get thrown in with the sheets for a daily wash … Germs … tend to congregate in places touched multiple times by multiple people that may not be cleaned thoroughly, if at all,” Tierno said.
Wash your hands
Tierno said that while hotel rooms may be germy, they shouldn’t be considered dangerous. “Exposure to germs in hotel rooms is generally nothing some timely and thorough hand washing can’t fix,” he said. That means wash your hands before and after eating, after using the toilet, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing or after handling garbage, and scrub your hands for 20 seconds each time.
Disinfect everything you touch
Pack disinfecting or antibacterial wipes in your suitcase (or purchase Lysol from the hotel gift shop), and wipe down the TV remote, telephone, hotel information book, lamp switches, clock, doorknobs, toilet handle, faucet handle, wall light switches and thermostat controls when you arrive. While you’re at it, disinfect your cell phone, too.
Use disposable cups
Avoid the reusable glasses and coffee cups, even if they’re covered with paper on top. Instead, opt for plastic-sealed cups, bring your own or wash the reusable cups yourself.
Wear shoes or slippers
Bathroom floors in hotels can house bacteria, according to a 2012 microbiology study conducted by the University of Houston, Purdue University and the University of South Carolina. Because hotel bathroom floors may not be very clean, wear shoes or slippers when you’re walking around the hotel room, advises Sheryl Kline, associate dean of the University of South Carolina’s school of hotel, restaurant and tourism management.