5 things at hotels you should avoid touching

The average hotel room is filthier than a typical home, school, or even a plane, according to the study Hotel Hygiene Exposed. With quick room turnarounds, cleaning staff often overlook some unexpected items. 

The study, conducted by TravelMath with laboratory testing by EmLab P&K, found the highest bacteria-filled areas were the bathroom counter and remote control, while an ABC News investigation “uncovered hotel drinking glasses that were so dirty they could pose a serious risk to your health.”

And don’t let a clean-looking room fool you-- even the most expensive and attractive hotel rooms have hidden germs.

Some of the most frequently touched places — phone, light switches, pillowcases — are contaminated with harmful bacteria. Before you tuck in, remember to properly inspect your room and bring disinfectant wipes so you can wipe down any frequently touched surfaces. 

1. Remote Control

Focused on the hand holding a remote control with a television in the background.


Believe it or not, one of the dirtiest items in your hotel room is the remote control. The cleaning staff has a quick turnaround for rooms and don't always disinfect smaller electronics. Scary fact? Your remote may have the same amount of bacteria as your toilet seat.

2. Phone

Closeup of male hand holding telephone receiver while dialing a telephone number to make a call using a black landline phone. With retro filter effect.


According to investigations at five of the top hotel chains in the country, in-room telephones were teeming with bacteria. People touch them a lot, but they also breathe into them, which causes germs to spread easily. And this is one item in rooms that often goes overlooked by maids. If you’re trying to avoid the cold and flu, bring disinfectant wipes with you and wipe down the phone before use.

3. Bathroom Counter

Hotel sink with soap and folded washcloth, towel, and mirror. Horizontal image.


Think twice about touching the bathroom counter, especially the sink. A study called Hotel Hygiene Exposed, found bathroom counters in several three-star hotels had yeast, gram-positive cocci, and gram-positive cocci, type II.

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4. The Comforter

Neatly made hotel bed with 4 pillows.


Always check the mattress and comforter before sleeping in it. If you're really worried about your hotel's cleanliness, bring your own comforter, instead. Bed bugs like to hide in the crevices of the mattresses, headboards and box springs-- so don’t be surprised if they've made their way onto the comforter and sheets, too. 

5. The Ice Bucket

Champagne in bed in a hotel room, ice bucket, glasses and fruits on white linen


This is another item hotel cleaning staff tend to skip over so they can quickly get contaminated and be full of germs. If that’s not enough, the ice machine itself is another item that rarely gets cleaned. Tip: If you really need ice, call the front desk and ask for plastic bags to hold ice. You can avoid drinking harmful bacteria this way.

Worried about germs? Check out the full list of items you should avoid touching at hotels.