How to Tell if Your Hotel Room is Actually Clean

By: Lindsay MacNevin

We have all heard the horror stories; the bed bugs, the dirty sheets and the filthy washrooms. And most of us have at least thought about it or experienced it at one point or another when staying in a hotel room. How does one really know if the sheets were washed, the water glasses are clean and the coffee maker is safe to use? Is it necessary to pack your own sheets, pillowcases and black light to check for stains? How far should one go to ensure that their hotel room is clean? Before you kick off your shoes and hop into that bed there are a few things you can do to make sure your hotel room is actually clean:


Do Your Research

If you are booking a hotel yourself it always pays to do a little research beforehand. A quick internet search of the property often brings up many traveler review sites where previous guests have posted about cleanliness. Trip Advisor is a popular site to use and one of the most trusted out there. Use the word “clean” when searching and the results will be much more specified and organized. Most hotels are inspected annually for cleanliness and don’t be afraid to call up the hotel and ask them for their latest score. Hotels depend on a great reputation for business and a four or five star rating normally ensures they are up to par in the cleanliness factor. Rental properties and B&B’s are less likely to be federally inspected and heading to the Internet is usually your best choice to see what others have to say. One thing to note is that the Internet has a lot of information and it is easy to get sucked into reading review after review after review. Likely every hotel will have one or two bad reviews so don’t get hung up on reading too much into them. If you are worried just be sure to throw some anti-bacterial wipes in your luggage.

hotel room being cleaned

Do a Visual Check

The first impression is important and before you get to your room make sure to take a look around at the grounds, lobby and elevators. If things are dusted, polished and clean it is normally a good indication the hotel cares about its cleanliness. Once you are in your room all it takes is five minutes to visually inspect the room. Key areas to look at are the bed where bedbugs hide and can be recognized as tiny brown bugs that often run when they are disturbed. Make sure to check the sheets, mattress and headboard for these nasty critters. A good tip to remember is to call housekeeping when you arrive and ask that they change the bedspread and pillowcases as studies have shown these often get missed. The bathroom is the second place to check out as a dirty bathroom warrants a request for a new room. If there is any sign of mildew around the bathtub or shower; chances are you won’t want to be walking around barefoot in there. Make sure to look around for dirty fingerprints and hair that is caught in the drains. A quick check of the light switches and door handles will truly tell you if the room has been wiped down. Don’t be shy about asking housekeeping to return if you feel your room isn’t up to par; after all, you’re paying for it.

hotel bathroom counter

Don’t Use the Glassware

At most, glasses get rinsed with hot water before getting wiped down with a semi-clean towel before being put back onto the table for you to use. Your safest bet is to use the individual wrapped plastic glasses or at least wash the glass ones yourself before you use them. Speaking of things not to use: if you didn’t take the above tip about changing your bedspread you should now go ahead and throw it off your bed. Bedspreads do not typically get changed between each guest and can be a haven for germs. As for the pillows; most hotels hide extra ones in the closet that are sure to be washed and clean. The dirtiest of things in a hotel room tends to be the television remote so if you happen to be packing an anti-bacterial wipe; this would be a good thing to use it on. Other things to avoid are the ice bucket and the coffee maker as one can never be sure what those containers were used for before you got to them. Eating ice out of a bucket that was used for garbage by the guest from the previous night is just not a vision we want to have. A good rule of thumb is never to place your toothbrush on the bathroom counter as housekeepers often use the same towel to wipe down multiple surfaces. Do yourself a favor and keep anything that goes in your mouth or on your face in your travel bag. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently as good hygiene will protect you from any germs that may be present.

hotel glasses

Don’t Overdo It

All that being said, realistically we live in a world where there are germs and most likely when you are traveling you will come into contact with them. Don’t expect that the carpet will be shampooed between every guest or that the bedside table will be polished. Be sensible in what you touch and what you don’t touch and know that germs lurk in the hidden corners that may have been forgotten by the cleaners. Be smart about what to look for and do follow the above steps to ensure you will be comfortable staying in your hotel. Don’t be afraid to ask for a different room, an extra wipe of the bathroom or a change of sheets. When your hotel experience is complete; help other travelers out by posting a review about your experience on the Internet; whether it was positive or negative. Remember, bad hotel experiences can happen but you don’t just have to sit in misery. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want because after all, you’re the guest!