Making Sure Your Hotel Room is Actually Clean

by sleep wellness, travel

We’ve all heard the urban myths about hotel stays, the horror story of a deceased guest lying under the bed and not discovered until morning.

The reality is, in most developed countries especially in the US, regulations are in place to set a standard for guest accommodation.

In many States annual inspections are to insure best hygiene standards are practised.

cleaning hotel room towels

Another influence is the internet. According to Statista, US travellers who had their travel plans influenced by online reviews increased by 10% between 2014 and 2015.

It is in the interest of the hotelier to have facilities up to date and clean. Guests are more inclined to write about a bad experience than about a happy one. Checking reviews online is a good pace to start.

Trust First Impressions

If the gardens and parking lot, along with the foyer, lobby, and elevators are clean, chances are the rooms will be likewise.

Hotel Rooms are Not Like Homes

dusty hotel table

When it comes down to it, only you and your family live in your house.

A hotel room may have hundreds of strangers staying there before you. Every adult sheds around 30 to 40 thousand dead skin cells per hour—it is mostly the fine dust that accumulates on your television screen.

For this reason, hotel surfaces must be wiped down and clean bed linen supplied.

The same can’t be said for the bedcover which in almost every incidence is not changed between guest. A baby with a soiled nappy must be attended to and the logical place is on your bedcover. In fact bedcovers may be cleaned only a few times per year.

A good idea is to take it off the bed. While pillow cases are clean, chances are pillows stored in the cupboard will be cleaner than the ones on the bed.

white hotel towels on bed

Bedbugs Do Not Live in Beds

Despite their name, the tiny blood-sucking insects no thicker than a sheet of paper do not live in beds. Bedbugs can live in crevices and travel along pipes or wiring conduits in buildings.

They can be carried in by guests in their luggage, even in their clothes. In the Middle Ages landlords sent a pig into the room for the bedbugs to have their fill, ensuring guest got a peaceful night’s rest.

bed bug

Nowadays low pressure steam cleaning keeps them under control. It is wise to check for signs behind peeling wall paper, cracks and nooks, and especially the headboard of a bed. Bedbug droppings are light brown and smell of coriander.

Never Trust Things Touched

cleaning the remote control

No surface is without bacteria. Thankfully, Mother Nature made sure they are the non-dangerous kind. Micrococcus makes seafood go bad and turns human sweat into body odour.

Staphylococcus is found in noses, throats, and in the hair of half the population of healthy humans. While it can be an opportunistic pathogen, it is fair to say both will not infest healthy people.

But when you think of the hundreds of strangers, many of whom may not have your standard of hygiene, it is wise to wipe door handles, light switches, and remote control units with a sanitizer.

The University of Houston conducted a study on places commonly handled by humans. They discovered a bedside lamp switch can harbour as much bacteria as a toilet seat. For that matter, every time a toilet is flushed with the lid open, tiny invisible droplets called the aerosol effect deposit material on surrounding surfaces.

toothbrushes in a glass

Something to consider before laying out your toothbrush on a bathroom bench top. If in doubt, store your toothbrush in a toiletries bag.

Check for mildew in corners of the shower. If the bathroom is tiled, look at the grouting in hard to get places for signs of mould.

This includes a quick check around the S bend of toilet bowls. It is easy to overlook, but check for strands of hair in the drain rosette.

Wash drinking glasses before using them, even the ones in the mini bar. Most get a quick rinse, or wiped over with the same micro-cloth or sponge used in other rooms.

Anyone owning a coffee machine knows how quickly spent coffee grounds grow unsightly growths. Check the inside of your coffee maker before using it.

Perfection Is Hard To Come By

Not every room will be perfect, even in the best hotels: freshly shampooed carpet, walls sparkling clean is probably an unrealistic expectation.

If a hotel or guest house is struggling in peak demand times, such as the holiday season, room turnover is high and the time to clean each room squeezed.

If your room is not up to standard, politely request a change.

hotel reception desk with bell

At the end of the day, you are the paying customer parting with hard earned cash, and your stay should be as enjoyable and worry free as possible.


  • Bob Ozment

    Bob has been testing and writing about all things sleep (and especially blankets, air mattresses and folding beds), for 8+ years now. before that, he worked as a Quality Assurance Manager with one of the bigger names in the sleep industry. He holds a masters degree Statistics, Actuarial & Data Sciences from the central Michigan University at Mount Pleasant. He's one of the people who designs our producing testing and statistical models. He’s a stomach sleeper, but nobody’s perfect.