Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hotel Health

It's a dirty little secret. When you travel, everything you touch in your hotel room is a public surface, and many of the surfaces you touch are not cleaned after each guest check-out.

Bed Bugs are Back
Virtually eradicated in the United States in 1950's, bed bugs have made a resounding recovery, and infestations have been found in the finest domestic and international hotels. While they don't typically carry disease, bed bugs cause itchy bites, and may hitch a ride home with you on your clothing or luggage. Once established in your home, they are very difficult to get rid of.

As soon as you arrive at your hotel, look for small rusty or dark brown spots on the bedding, mattress, and in the corners of the room. Bed bugs love the dark, so check the nightstand, behind the headboard, and under or behind any other furniture or fixtures within 15 feet or so of the bed. Use the luggage stand to keep your bags off the floor, bed bug luggage liners to keep your luggage contents free from infestation, and a bed bug laundry bag to seal your soiled clothing away from bed bugs, larvae, mites, and other pests. Check your luggage and clothing carefully before you leave. Should you find evidence of bed bugs on your belongings, treat your luggage and contents immediately.

The bed is typically the largest feature of the room, and as a result the bedspread gets a lot of use - sitting, reading, watching TV, etc. Bedspreads are not washed daily - in fact they may be cleaned just once a month or less. Blankets and pillows are not on the daily laundry list either and in addition to bed bugs, dust mites, dander and other human detritus can be a problem for those with allergies.

As soon as you enter your room, remove the bedspread, fold it up, and stow it in a corner for the duration of your stay. To avoid contact with pillows and blankets, use a sleep sack and pillow protector.

While carpets are vacuumed daily, they are rarely shampooed, and dirt and germs are left behind. Wear shoes or slippers, and never walk barefoot on the carpet.

Drinking Glasses, Ice Buckets and Coffee Makers
Several news reports have captured hotel housekeeping on tape giving glasses a cursory rinse, wiping them "clean" with the same rags that cleaned the bathroom and drying them with used towels in preparation for the next guest (ice buckets and coffee makers often receive the same treatment). Many viruses and bacteria can live for extended periods on these surfaces. Wash glassware, ice buckets and coffeemakers in hot, soapy water before using, or bring your own travel cup for extra peace of mind.

TV Remote, Phone, Alarm Clock, Light Switches and Doorknobs
It is unlikely that any of these often-touched items are cleaned on a regular basis. Clean them with disinfectant spray or wipes, and use hand sanitizer frequently.

Article courtesy of Magellan's Travel Supplies. You can visit their website at http://www.magellans.com


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