Reminder: Definitely Don’t Use The Kettle In Your Hotel Room

Reminder: Definitely Don’t Use The Kettle In Your Hotel Room
Image: Getty Images

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.


  • As someone that travels quite a lot and having heard this story (and a few others about how to use the hotel room kettles), I would never say never.

    I perform a check of the state of the kettle, if it has undeniable gunk, mould, mildew etc then it’s an immediate fail and I will not use it or ask for a cleaner one.

    If the Kettle is a closed unit that doesn’t allow foreign objects to be placed inside and it’s clean it gets the double boil treatment. Fill it to Max, Boil it. Empty it, Fill it to Max, Boil it and Empty It. If it doesn’t;t give off a funny odour and the water doesn’t look to have fats or oils or other contaminates after boiling. I will then use it.

    If the Kettle is an open unit which can allow for foreign objects I do a quadruple boil before performing the same check.

    I have had Kettles fail (both my checks and burn out during the checks) and usually ask for a new one. It must be noted that even kettles which have not been used in an odd way start to get mould looking marks on the internal base, this is usually because water has been left to stand in it.

    I will note that I do have a folding silicon kettle that I have bought for longer trips so I can be more self sufficient. (I also have a single egg boiler but that’s another story).

  • OK. So hotel room kettle usage drops to 0%, microwave goes up to 100%.

    That’s till your next article on what budding serial killers do in hotel rooms with small furry animals.

    You guys… sigh.

  • OMG you have added to my super paranoid over the top clean thing. My husband & I stayed in what was meant to be a highly rated hotel as a special treat for my long-suffering hubby who has been my rock due to my ill health. Anyway, I used to be a housemaid so I help the housemaid by stripping the sheets off the bed & throw all of the used linen in a heap in the bathroom and do a bit of a tidy up. I was absolutely disgusted to find blood (not a lot but enough to for one to see) on the underlay needless to say I had something to say about it to the staff as we checked out, the look on their face was shock they apologized & said they would get someone up there to remove the underlay off the bed. I have no idea if they did. But I so wanted to leave a note for the next person to check the bed.

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