This is your friendly reminder to never use the kettle in your hotel room. Why? Because some people use them to boil their used underwear.
Real question: does anyone I know clean their underwear in a kettle when travelling?
Back in 2017, this was a legitimate question posed to the horrified public in a now infamous Facebook post. We really wish the answer was a uniform no. But unfortunately, we live in a world where sociopaths exist. And at least one of them has probably been in the same hotel room as you.
You may be wondering why on Earth anyone would do this. The answer is simple: it allows you to wear relatively clean undies when travelling abroad without resorting to a laundromat or buying a fresh pair. There's literally no downside. (Well, apart from the fact a bunch of schmucks will be unwittingly drinking the dregs from your loins. Like we said: sociopaths.)
When this bleak possibility was brought to our attention a couple of years ago, we reached out to an expert in molecular science to see if drinking boiled water that once contained used underwear is bad for you.
According to Dr Heather Hendrickson, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences at the Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at Massey University in Auckland, the answer is a big yes.
Boiling kills most, but not all microorganisms. For example, some bacteria form spores that are highly resistant to anything other than 120 Celsius and high pressure for extended periods of time. The Clostidium botulinum spores (which causes botulism) are a prime example of this sort of resistance to the environment.
These don't cause sickness if they are consumed, but their presence in certain environments can encourage them to produce a toxin that can be deadly. Don't put your dirty underwear into the kettle! It is super super super super gross.
Now think back to all the times you've enjoyed a nice, warm cuppa after checking into a hotel room. You're welcome.
The article was originally published 30 September 2019.