Getting a peek behind the scenes at any enterprise or business can be really exciting. Lots of cities have “open door” events where you can see what’s in the basement of your local museum or check out the kitchen in your favorite restaurant. When it comes to hotels, however, management seems to be much more cautious.
There’s been a lot of bad publicity in the last few years around poor housekeeping practices. Even more so that it’s the post global pandemic, we must always be wary of the cleanliness of the hotels we check into.
We’ve all seen what black lights can do to pee and semen stains. A lot of people jump to the conclusion that the cleaning crew simply couldn’t be bothered doing a good job, but the truth is that they often have no choice but to cut corners. Cost-saving measures in a recovering economy have left hotels short staffed with too many rooms to clean and not enough time to do a thorough job now that traveling has finally resumed.
What this means is that bed bugs and dirt don’t discriminate on the basis of price or stars. Some of the most luxurious hotels can actually be the most demanding when it comes to fast turnovers and cutting corners. Late check-outs and early check-ins, staples of upmarket establishments, can put even more pressure on crews to hustle. In fact, a recent Inside Edition episode exposed some high class hotels that don't take the safety health protocols seriously.
Here are some of the tricks of the trade, and what you can do to compensate for the short-comings to keep yourself healthy and clean throughout your stay.
Some Items Are Never Cleaned
Anything in a hotel room that’s made of fabric, other than the sheets, will very rarely be cleaned. That means curtains, chairs, couches and bedspreads are home to the residue of hundreds of previous guests. The most the cleaning crew will have time to do is wipe off the surfaces, but that’s a poor substitute for actually washing the fibers.
Solution: Always keep a layer of clothing between you and the furniture, and keep the bedspread away from your face.
Flipping the Sheets
Despite the various exposés, hotels are still being caught with dirty sheets and red faces. Cleaning crews in one major chain claim they continue to be encouraged to simply flip the sheets and remove any obvious dirt or hairs before tucking them right back in.
Solution: Use a travel sheet. Wrap yourself in your own cocoon just in case you’re not the first to enjoy the one provided by the hotel.
No Time for the Tub
If your hotel room has a Jacuzzi, don’t use it. Ever. They require thorough cleaning with specialized chemicals to remove the dirt, bacteria and hair from the jets. That’s not part of the crew’s daily routine and nobody seems too sure about who, exactly, ever gets around to doing it.
Solution: Like we said, never use a hotel Jacuzzi.
There’s Wiped, and then There’s Clean
Everything in the room gets rinsed, wiped or vacuumed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all clean. It’s a long way from the guest rooms to the industrial dishwasher, so glasses, mugs and ice buckets may only make the trip every couple of weeks. Cleaning crews often find the ice bucket on the floor beside the bed. You don’t want to know.
Solution: Bring your own mug when you travel. Stay away from the coffee machine, glasses, remote and ice bucket.
People die in hotel rooms. Lots of them. The normal protocol is to strip the room of anything that might have absorbed blood or other bodily matter, sanitize it with industrial toxins, and then rent it back out to the next unknowing guest. Cleaning crews are specifically ordered never to talk about people dying in the rooms. The problem is so common in Las Vegas that the coroner slaps a two-week quarantine on any room where a body was found. The stories of hotel staff moving bodies onto the grounds to avoid the quarantine are legendary.
Solution: If the AC stinks, the room is partially renovated, or there are an unusual number of flies in the light fixtures, ask for another room.
The bottom line on all of this is that no matter how many times hotels are called on their sloppy housekeeping; things don’t seem to change. The combination of poorly paid cleaning crews and the desire to maximize profits mean that hotel rooms are never going to be as sanitary as the front desk would have you believe.
Let’s admit it, post pandemic travel will never be the same. But still the best way to enjoy your stay is to assume things won’t be perfect and act accordingly. Always bring disinfectant wipes, your own drinking vessel, and carry a travel sheet.
You really shouldn’t be spending much time in your hotel room anyway. It’s a big world out there, so get out and enjoy it. And don’t forget to wash your hands.