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How to Tell if Your Hotel Room is Clean: a Former Hotel Manager tells all

… This is a guest post by Mel De Vries of The Sleep Studies …

Did you ever get into a hotel or hostel room and you felt like need a black light before you even lay down your backpack?

For nine out of ten travelers, the answer to the question will be YES, especially if you are traveling on a budget.

How to tell if your room is clean

The world has never been “smaller” and travel has never been easier, which is great. On the flip side, the increased demand had a direct impact on the erosion of hotel standards. That especially goes for the exotic destinations we all love so much.

How do you know if your hotel room is clean enough for your stay? Should you be worried about the bed bug stories?

Below are some actionable tips that will allow you to know the answers, relax in your accommodation and fully enjoy the trip.

1.    Look it up!

Hotel reviews from guests can often be your first red flag that something is wrong. If several reviews mention that the cleanliness left something to be desired, it’s a safe bet to look elsewhere.

Most of the better hotels receive a yearly inspection for their cleanliness, and will be happy to provide you with the scores if you call and inquire about them. With so much competition, hotels can’t afford to get a bad reputation because of subpar cleanliness.

Online reviews can help let you know if your hotel is clean

However, many bed and breakfasts and small, local hotels do not get inspected. So, it’s even more important to look up reviews from past guests before committing to stay at one of them.

Some hotels belong to Housekeeper’s Association or the International Sanitary Supply Association. The ones that are listed with these associations typically have high standards of cleanliness.

2.    Trust your first impression

Take in the hotel as a whole. Do the grounds look well-kept? Is the lobby pristine? Do the elevators look like they haven’t been cleaned in years?

When you actually get to your room, check out the bed first. Get a good look at the sheets, headboard, and top and bottom of the mattress, too.

We recommend asking for your bedspread and pillowcases to be changed as soon as you arrive. These are commonly overlooked, and you want to make sure you have fresh linens for your stay.

Next, check out the bathroom. You’d be wise to look for any stray hairs or dirt pushed in the corners against the wall. Check the mirror for any fingerprints, and look at the light switch and door handle from different angles. These are commonly missed, so a sign of a good hotel is if these are wiped down. There obviously shouldn’t be any mold or mildew anywhere.

A clean bathroom in a hotel is a welcome sight

If you’re not satisfied with how clean your room is, don’t hesitate to call and have it cleaned again.

3.    Glassware, linen and the TV remote

The glassware is usually wiped off with a cloth at best, so it’s always a good idea to just use the individually wrapped plastic cups.

Go ahead and toss the bedspread on the floor right now. Typically, they don’t get cleaned between guests and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Use the pillows from the closet; they’re more likely to be freshly washed than the ones on the bed.

There are some easy signs to spot if your hotel room is clean or not

The worst culprit in the hotel room is usually the TV remote. Be sure to either not use it, or give it a good clean using a disinfectant wipe. Never use the coffee machine. There’s just no way to tell what the last guests used it for.

Play it safe by not using the ice bucket either; we’ve seen guests use them for chewing tobacco.

Be careful where you set your toothbrush and toiletry supplies. Housekeeping often uses the same rag to clean everything in the bathroom, even if it is against official protocol.

4.    Be vigilant, but chill

Germs are everywhere and there’ simply no way avoiding them altogether when travelling.

Use common sense and know that not everything will be sterile. No hotel room will ever be completely clean, but that doesn’t mean you should put up with obvious grime. Help people who will be staying at the hotel soon by posting reviews of your stay on travel websites.

5.    Come prepared

If you’re traveling to a corner of the world that’s notorious when it comes to budget accommodation, come prepared, especially when it comes to sleep.

Wherever you might go, you will likely spend most of the day outside exploring, but come night time, you’ll have to face whatever you left behind in that hotel or hostel room.

Read: Why I travel with my own pillowcase and other packing tips

When traveling on a budget, there will be cases when you dread the moment of going back to your room.

It’s these outlier scenarios when sleeping on an air mattress will be your best bet. Today, they make them make them small and light enough that you can easily pack and bring one from home.

Alternatively, you can add getting one from a local store to your to-do list for the first day. They’re relatively cheap and you’ll be the first person to ever sleep on it.

6.    Don’t be afraid to ask

You’re the guest and you’re the one paying good money for your stay. So, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If something is concerning to you, let them know.

Bell at Hotel

If it’ll make your stay better to have the room cleaned again, then by all means call the front desk and have them accommodate you. Most hotels will be very willing to work with you and make your stay the most comfortable that it can be.

Use the tips above to take precaution, but don’t obsess about it

The tips we’ve covered above will allow you to be safer than 99% of travelers. What you should not do is develop a pattern of obsessive behavior about the cleanliness of the place.

It can become the focus of your trip and you’ll end up talking about the lipstick on the glass in the hotel room while you should be soaking in the experience of the trip.

As we said, stay vigilant but chill. It’s all about new experiences, not about hotel rooms.

This has been a guest post by Mel De Vries of The Sleep Studies

Want to check out some lovely (and clean!) hotels we’ve stayed at over the years? Our hotel reviews page is packed with great options from around the world. 

This post contains some affiliate links, so if you click on a link and book something I will get a little something to help pay those blogging bills, but don’t worry, it’s no extra cost to you.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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  1. At Hilton duvet covers are washed after every checkout. I remember the old days working at hotels that did not wash the bedspreads that often. At the Hilton I work at we also did away with the carpet and went with LVT, personally i think that was the biggest step towards a more sanitary room. Housekeepers are better trained and better compensated than they used to be. Our cleaning staff is truly professionals at their trade. They are trained on which color of rag to use on which surface, which antibacterial cleaner works best on which surface, trained on Sharps among other things. Our housekeepers have been with our property from like 8 to 15 years. Hotel housekeeping at the better chains are a whole different ballgame than they used to be. The days of just grabbing a body to clean rooms are over. Most of these folks are hard working highly skilled proffesionals.

    • Thank you for sharing, Bruce. That’s great to know that your team is doing the right things and also good to know about the duvet covers too. I hope you’re all doing okay through these changing times and are able to take care of each other.

      • Animesh says

        Its okk but some of the guests are Eco friendly they suggest not to change the linen.we know those everything. most of big hotels are doing everything for a guest like proper care to guest and need.but some of the guest are telling lie its true that you can’t deny it with my experience I know very well.but we should take proper care of our guest.

      • Hi Animesh, I’m one of those eco friendly travellers who say not to change the linen, but we do mean AFTER we’ve checked in!! So that way we have fresh linen when we start and we are the only ones to use them. So that’s not a problem at all. It never means that it can be left from the last guest!

    • Think about the mattress pad!! That is the grossest thing ever! Those do not get changed every time!! Think about clear drying fluids that go through the sheets onto to mattress pad then when new wet fluids go through from the next guest it activates the old wet when they get together! It is the GROSSEST ever!! I have every hotel change the mattress pad

  2. We have a hotel in Kibuye Rwanda Inn on The Lake, we make sure we was our bed linen and towels at 90 degrees and change them each time a guest checks out. Door handles, remote control… are every time sanitised.

    • Hi Mani, I was dreaming of travelling to Rwanda this year, but sadly Australians aren’t allowed to travel anywhere outside the country at the moment so I’ll have to wait for that travel dream to come true. But great to hear you’re taking good care of your guests.

  3. The most important thing for me when I want to book a hotel room is how clean it is. Your guide really makes it easier for me to know if I am hygiene covered. Thanks for the shared information.

  4. Helen Workman says

    I work in hospitality and as a housekeeper I would never ever dream of not stripping the beds after each checkout. Not doing so is absurd.

    • It seems like such an obvious thing that should be done, and the thought of someone not doing it makes my skin crawl! Thanks for doing the right thing by your guests 🙂

  5. Wish you wouldn’t have said toss the bedspread on the floor. So now the already gross bedspread is laying on the floor to pick up more dirt and germs when the staff makes the bed for the next guest, ewwww!

    • A guest author wrote this one for me, but I’m thinking if the bedspread is ‘already gross’ the floor is a much better place for it than against my skin! And if the floor is vacuumed regularly it’s probably a lot cleaner than the bedspread anyway 🙂

  6. Taylor Hansen says

    I found it interesting when you said to ask for the bedspread to be switched out as soon as you arrive. I need to get a cheaper hotel when I visit my brother next week for his wedding. Seems like a smart idea to find a hotel that I know is cleaned a lot.

    • Graphogally says

      I worked in the hotel industry for many years back in the 90’s… things have come a long way since then!!! Working in a 4 star hotel, in a major city, as a housekeeper supervisor, the bedspreads were rarely washed. It was normal. It sounds so disgusting now I could vomit!

      • Isn’t it crazy how some things are just the way they’re done at the time and we accept it. Then later you stop and think and go ‘wait, what?!’

  7. I’ve recently stayed at three different hotels in the last week. At all three hotels I have cleaned the floors which have been totally disgusting it’s taking me three or four times of rinsing it out to even begin to get them looking clean why is this I can’t even see my toes on the towel from the filth. Very concerned about this no one mops the floor? I have photos of all the times I’ve clean the three rooms rinsing washing the towels.

    • Wow that does not sound good at all! It might be worth leaving a review on the site you booked through to let other people know what those places are like. And it’s also worth checking reviews before you book to avoid places that aren’t doing the right thing by their guests. I hope you have much better luck for your future travels.

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