If you’re travelling this year, you might reconsider using the ice bucket in your hotel or motel room. According to this video posted on TikTok by former hotel manager Melissa Hanks, there’s a good chance someone has used the receptacle for something unspeakable.
“I will not use an ice bucket, at all,” she says in the video, “People use these for things you don’t even want to think about.”
But I actually do want to think about them, Melissa, and so do the commenters on the video, many of whom are hotel employees or guests who want to tell on themselves. (Warning: If descriptions of the foul activities of disgusting people make you sick, I’d stop reading now.)
A partial list of the disgusting things people use hotel ice buckets for
- Dog bowl: Housekeeper MaeeGnav_ reports, “I do not trust ice buckets… ppl use it as dog bowls”
- Garbage can: “That’s an ice bucket?” Asks vitalina_vs, “I thought it’s a little trash can.”
- Vomit catcher: “I’m guilty of puking in the ice bin. It was either that or the floor,” says Mckooldude.
- Foot bath: “I remember reading that a Disney ‘hack’ was to soak sore feet in the ice bucket,” reports sm.865.
- Diaper pail: “People use the ice bucket as a diaper pail and I’ve never fully recovered from it,” said The Real Deal Jill.
- Toilet: “My ex got drunk and pooped in an ice bucket once, so beware,” warns kmoneyy26.
- Severed digit transporter: The grand prize for most disgusting use of a hotel ice bucket goes to nykko393, who commented: “When I was an EMT, we would get called to accidental amputations and the fingers or etc would be on ice in the ice bins.” (Shudder.)
So how can you get ice in a hotel room without using the ice bucket?
Fortunately, most hotels and motels provide plastic liners to separate your much-needed ice from the sides of the room’s portable toilet/diaper pail. Use those. If you don’t want to get your ice even close to the bucket, feel free to use the bags alone, or fill the disposable cups in your room with ice (if your room has glasses instead of cups, though, they could be filthy too). You could pack your own gallon Ziplock to fill with ice, too. Large, sealable plastic bags have any number of travelling uses and should be on your list of essentials. You could even bring your own, personal ice bucket — that’ll show ‘em.
Ice machines are gross too…and everything else
Bringing your own ice receptacle on vacation might solve the immediate issue of disgusting ice buckets, but it leads to a larger sanitization problem: The ice machine itself. There is no way to determine how often the management at a vacation lodge cleans that machine, and mould, rust, E-coli can build up. Other hotel guests plunge their dirty hands in there to grab ice, and, as depicted on that episode of The Office, someone could have used it to soak their feet. A drunk could have peed in it. It’s all too much to think about.
So maybe you should stick to hot drinks from your room’s coffee maker — but on second thought, maybe not. Those things are rife with bacteria, fungus, and mould, and people reportedly use motel coffee makers to cook food and do who knows what else. And don’t get me started on how gross the duvets and sheets can be in motel rooms. And the carpets. And the air from the vents. And the inside of the drawers. And the toilets.
What can you actually do about a gross hotel room?
Checking online reviews is an obvious first step. If a motel room is not clean, people will register their displeasure on the internet, I promise. But Yelp alone isn’t going to save you.
Hotel rooms are disgusting because other people stay in them, and people are disgusting. This can’t be avoided, only mitigated, but the workers who clean rooms aren’t paid enough to deal with our grossness. Even if they were the most meticulous cleaners in the world, something would get missed. Someone would vomit somewhere novel, hide a corpse under the mattress, or use the TV remote as a sex toy.
You could pack an arsenal of cleaning and disinfecting products to try to fight hotel room scum, though.
On acceptance and ice buckets in hotel rooms
Personally, I don’t do any room disinfection or inspection when I travel. I take the “I’m not going to think about it” approach to filth and just assume everything is clean enough if it looks clean and doesn’t smell. If I don’t bring my own UV flashlight in the first place, I’ll never know there’s a dried bloodstain on the carpet. As far as I am aware, I’ve never gotten sick from a motel room, and I have stayed in some nasty rooms. It’s ultimately a matter of risk assessment.
You probably won’t get sick from a hotel room
Beyond the “I’m grossed out” factor, people fear infections or illness spread through a lack of cleanliness in hotel rooms. But that’s not a common way people get sick while travelling. According to the Centre for Disease Control, if you want to avoid illness on the road, you should wash your hands, stay away from people who are sick, make sure your food is fully cooked, and drink bottled water. “Avoid the ice bucket” did not make their list.
Obviously you could get sick from the detritus left behind in a rented room, but at least hotel rooms are cleaned and disinfected regularly, even if it’s often halfhearted. You never know about restaurants, public transportation, your friend Gary’s house, or anywhere else you visit. Exposing yourself to foreign pathogens is a necessary risk of doing anything except rotting in your bed, and it usually isn’t worth thinking about beyond taking a few common sense steps. So go ahead and use that ice bucket if you want! Just because I soaked my socks in it yesterday doesn’t mean you’ll get sick.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.