The data is in and it's not pretty. The folks over at travelmath.com have undertaken a study of just how clean (or otherwise) a typical hotel room may be. The study in fact showed it can often be worse than imagined including that a hotel room can contain more nasties than an airplane cabin or school, and given the number of people who stay in them its easy to see why.
When we think of dirt we often consider 'grime' to be the culprit however the study looked at such nasties including bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can produce skin and respiratory infections including pneumonia.
The methodology utilized was conducted by EmLab P&K, who performed all laboratory testing. The numbers collated represent an average of all the samples taken. The sample pool was collected from nine different hotels and the items swabbed in each hotel included the televison remote control, bathroom counter top, desk and phone.
The measure of a hotel room's hygiene used for the study was the number of bacteria cells (known as colony-forming units, or CFUs) per square inch. On average hotel bathroom counters and remote controls top 1 million CFUs per square inch.
So let's take a look at the results contained in the graphics sourced, credited and provided by travelmath.com which follow.
Results of the study indicated that three star hotels appeared to be cleaner on average than that of four or five star rated hotels. It's considered by some that this is due to the limited number of amenities provided in this lower classification of hotel style.
Among three star hotels tested, bathroom counters were found to contain the highest number of bacteria however they were far cleaner than those tested in the upscale hotels. Bathroom counters at the four star hotels appeared to contain the most bacteria of all hotel surfaces tested, with remote controls at five star hotels being a virtual germ factory for bacteria.
So this begs the question - what can you do to minimize the risk of picking up the bacteria and viruses lurking in your hotel room? Wash your hands frequently, disinfect surfaces including the phone, bathroom counter and desk before touching.
While I think this information is useful it's important not to become germaphobic when it comes to staying in hotels. To put it into context, after leaving your hotel room, you will likely travel to the ground floor using the hotel lift touching the buttons to get there, and then opening the door to your taxi as you grip the handles to sit down on the germ coated seat which harbor many bacteria.
My common sense advice is to wash your hands frequently using soap & water. If no water source is available, consider packing an antibacterial hand washing gel. Refrain from touching your eyes, nose & mouth with your hands to minimize risk of transferring bacteria or viruses into your body.