Hotels are gross. There, I said it. It’s something we often forget about, especially if we’re staying at a place that’s a bit classier than the Schitt’s Creek Motel, but anywhere you sleep where 1) other people have slept and 2) someone else has to clean is invariably going to fail you. That’s just the way it is, and we don’t like to think about it, but that doesn’t make the fact go away.
And if you’re unlucky (or foolish) enough to be travelling during these joyful pandemic times, I wouldn’t assume for a second that the hotels promising an ultra-clean experience in your room are actually following through on that. Inside Edition recently investigated just how well hotels are following through on their COVID-19 cleaning policies — which can include promises like wiping down surfaces or, what I’d consider a basic, changing the sheets between different guests’ stays.
So, what can you do about this?
Well, for starters, I would take the annoying, but personally satisfying step of bringing your own wipes whenever you’re travelling. You don’t have to go wild and pack a bottle of bleach spray in your carry-on bag, but a little pack of disinfectant wipes is the easiest and most transportable item you can then use to wipe down the surfaces in your room.
Say what you will about the length of time certain diseases linger on surfaces; I don’t think you have to assume that you’re going to die if you sit on a hotel couch that someone else sat on. However, for peace of mind, it wouldn’t hurt to give the remote, the thermostat, the counters, your room’s handles, and even the bathroom counter a quick little wipe. (Feel free to modify that list as your anxiety permits.)
Also, maybe … bring your own water bottle to drink from. Nothing against that which you find in your bathroom, but I would be a bit more sceptical that they are actually clean, dishwasher-style, and have also managed to avoid any cleaning sprays previously used for said room.
A fresh pillowcase is your new best friend
And now we come to the biggie: What about the bed? Well, don’t wipe down the sheets with your pack of wipes, because that will make the friends and/or family you’re travelling with really start to wonder. However, you should assume your sheets could be the same sheets someone else used, and your pillow hasn’t been replaced since who-knows-when.
You probably don’t want to pack an extra pair of sheets whenever you travel, because that’s getting a bit cumbersome, but you can at least bring along an easily folded pillowcase. That doesn’t take up a ton of room in your luggage, and it at least allows you to pretend like you’re sleeping on a clean surface. (Said pillow might not be that clean underneath, nor the various cases covering it, but at least the top layer will be fresh.)
Oh, and if you don’t need that top comforter on your bed, maybe don’t sit on it; if I recall, that’s another item that’s less likely to be regularly cleaned than its peers.
You probably don’t need to bring a towel
Should you pack your own towels? Survey’s out. Again, towels are bulky and cumbersome, and I feel like that’s at least one area where your hotel is more likely to offer something that’s fresh and clean. If your towel smells funny or is still damp when you check in, you shouldn’t hesitate to call up for something new. However, only the scuzziest of places would put a prior guest’s used towel back for another person to use; sheets are more of a pain in the arse to deal with, but draping a new towel on a rack is a one-second affair.
And that’s it! I don’t like germs, but that’s about as far as I would go to ensure my hotel room is reasonably clean. Just don’t think about what isn’t probably clean — and definitely don’t watch a series like Another Dirty Room, which will make you never want to travel again.