How to Spot a Dirty Hotel Room

How Dirty is Your Hotel Room?  

I have been watching a lot of Hotel Impossible on Netflix lately.  I am strangely drawn to this show where one guy evaluates hotels that are in the decline.  He revamps everything from management, the front desk area, and the cleaning crew’s philosophy on what is actually a clean room.  By the end of the show the hotel looks great, the staff is unified, and bookings start increasing.

It does have me thinking though – if all these places he is visiting have issues with cleaning, am I doing a good job finding inadequacies when I stay at a hotel.  After all, the first thing I do when I enter my hotel room is get out my antibacterial wipe and clean down the remote.  But what else am I missing?  I have come up with a few tips on what to “spot” if you have a dirty room.  I came up with these from my own experiences and from watching the show.  They have helped me on several occasions even when we have stayed in big name, five star hotels.  These tips even hold true if you are renting a house at the beach for a week.  Those cleaning crews really don’t have enough time to clean everything!

Tip #1:  Make sure you have antibacterial wipes or Clorox wipes with you when you go on vacation.  Clorox now has a convenient small pack in the travel size section.  Make sure to wipe down the remote (dirtiest thing in the room based on several studies), any handles i.e. toilet, facets and the inside door, the toilet seat and cover, the telephone even the ear piece, and if you have a kitchen you may want to do a bit more work there if you are planning on using it.

Tip#2:  Check for bed bugs!  Bed bugs are the worst thing you want to bring back with you.  In order to find them you have to pull

Our hotel room in Venice

the fitted sheet back and expose the mattress all together.  Look in the seam of the mattress at the top and bottom curves.  Some people see bugs and some people see what looks like dirt.  Either way, if you find them get another room immediately!  Don’t trust your bed bug spray that you bought at the hardware store is going to work.  Let the hotel call someone in to take care of it.  It you are renting a house, then definitely use the spray but keep all luggage outside until you know it has worked.  The last thing you want is bed bugs to get into your luggage and you bring them home!

Tip #3:  Since I was a child my mother never let me touch the bed cover, duvet, or comforter that was on the bed.  That was always the first thing off the bed on onto the floor.  Hotel policy should be to change them after each guest and clean them but that doesn’t always happen.  After all, they are heavy and thick so how can one person lug 20 of them on their tiny cart.  Check the bed cover for any stains.  The top of the cover typically has bright colors so you may not be able to detect any stains.  Flip it over and look at the white part underneath.  Any stains need an immediate call to housekeeping.  This also holds true for the sheets.

Tip #4:  Check the toilet!  I know that this can be disgusting but from watching the show I have really learned that places aren’t very good at cleaning the toilet.  Just because they lay that piece of paper over the lid that says it has been cleaned, most times, it hasn’t.  When you lift the lid try to look under the lip of the toilet or if you are even more daring take a piece of toilet paper around the lip of the toilet to check it was cleaned.

Tip #5:  Check the shower and especially the shower curtain.  I am finding that more and more hotels are not cleaning their shower curtains.  One time I even had one curtain switched out and the newer curtain had more mold and soap build up than the other one.  This was not acceptable and I told them they needed to find one that was either straight out of the packaging or washed.

Tip #6:  The one thing that most people don’t seem to check is the pillow.  It is very easy to change out the pillow cases, but I know that when I change out my pillow case my pillow sometimes needs to be washed too.  You should check both pillow cases and the actually pillow for stains.  Hotels have tons of pillows so they can easily get you more.


Remember, that you are a guest at their hotel.  You have right to request things to be switched out if they have stains, mold, soap scum, are dirty or even broken.  Most of the time the rooms that I have been staying in are brand name hotels and are over $150/night, not your highway motel with a rate at $49/night.  There are many websites that allow the consumer to rate hotels including TripAdvisor, Yelp, and to name a few.  If you may be concerned about the hotel you are going to be staying at you may want to consider checking out the reviews or even making a review based off of your personal experience.  Either way, make sure to protect yourself the next time you are staying at a hotel.

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