For most people, hotels are a pretty magical place. There is something about staying and sleeping in a place that is not your home that raises people's adrenaline and makes them feel like they are in the midst of a grand adventure. Things like the mini bar, hotel pool, and room service are so foreign to our everyday lives that they provide a sense of excitement that far exceeds the actual benefits that they provide. But not everyone loves hotels. There are several reasons to dislike staying in hotels, but this list will focus on one in particular — germs.
Your hotel room may seem private but it's actually a public place where hundreds of other people stay every year. For a germaphobe, this sounds less like a dream and more like a nightmare.
In order to warn people of the bacterial dangers of staying in a hotel room, this list will countdown 20 Things You Need To Bring To A Hotel (If You're A Germaphobe). All 20 entries on this list will explain a potential risk that all germaphobes will face every time they stay in a hotel room. If you can think of any packing tips that did not make our list, feel free to mention them in the comments.
20 Slippers - Cause You Don't Wanna Know What's On That Carpet
I once worked for a real estate agent who would hire me and several guys to go into any house that she bought, tear up the carpets, and see what the floors looked like underneath. Having hardwood floors significantly raised a house's selling price, a tip that she learned early in her real estate career. The most important thing that I learned while working for this lady is that carpets are disgusting. They are essentially just compressed layers of fabric that soak up anything that touches them. This means that anything that is spilled on the carpet becomes ingrained in the fibers. This does not even take into account how much bacteria comes from years of people walking over it. No matter how often you vacuum or steam-clean a carpet, it never comes completely clean. A germaphobe who was staying at a new hotel would have no idea how often, if ever, the hotel carpet had been cleaned. Their best bet is to just buy a pair of slippers and then throw them away when they conclude their stay. A cheap pair should not cost you any more than $8 at WalMart.
19 Hand Sanitizer - Kill 99% Of Germs And 100% Of Worries
Imagine that you, a germaphobe, have arrived at a hotel. You have brought everything else on this list with you and you feel comfortable that your contact with germs will be minimal this week. There's only one problem, unless you plan on spending your entire trip locked up in your hotel (in which case you might as well have stayed home), at some point during your stay, you are inevitably going to come into contact with germs. Luckily, you brought your trusty hand sanitizer. With it, you can quickly and easily destroy 99% of the germs on your hands (or really anywhere) before they find their way into your body and make you sick. Hand sanitizer is such an easy an effective tool, in fact, that many people carry it around who would not consider themselves germaphobes. If the general populace is willing to buy hand sanitizer and carry it around, then it is crucial that a person terrified of germs, who finds themselves in a new place should also be packing a handy squeeze bottle. Several nicer hotels have even begun offering a small complimentary bottle to their guests.
18 Ice/Ice Pack - If You Prefer Your Ice With Mold, Skip Ahead
This next entry is the one that inspired the entire list. I used to work at a fancy hotel as a valet. One day, I got roped into helping the maintenance staff clean out the ice machine on the third floor. I don't know if I have ever been more disgusted in my life than I was when they opened up the front of that machine. Here is how a typical ice machine works: Water is dumped into the machine, which is then frozen, which is then crunched down into usable chucks of ice. When someone hits the button on the outside of the machine, it spits these little chunks of ice out. The problem with this is that the machine has several little nooks and crannies where the water can seep in. If the machine is not cleaned regularly, they become the perfect habitat for mold to fester. That machine that I helped clean had not been opened in years. Unless you want ice that has a high chance of being in close contact with mold, I suggest you bring your own, or alternatively an ice pack from home to help keep things cool. Another option is to just buy a bag of ice at the local convenience store.
17 Tissues - The Person Who Touched The Box Last Was Probably Sick...
One thing about germaphobes that a did not know before I began compiling this list is that there are several different subsets of the phobia. For instance, there are general germaphobes who fear germs in any form but there are also people who only have a fear of germy items touching their hands or face. This next entry is for the latter. Someone who is worried about germs touching their face would certainly not be keen to use the complimentary tissues that most hotels supply. As a customer, you simply have no idea how long those tissues have sat there and how many grimy, germy hands have touched them. If the person before you used most of the tissues, the hotel staff might bring you a new box, but if only a few are missing.
Chances are that you'll be sharing the same box of tissues as the last three potentially ogre-like guests. For most people this isn't a huge issue, but for a germaphobe it can be distressing. To make matters even worse, the people who touched the box before likely had a runny nose and therefore a high chance of being sick, so the amount of bad bacteria on that 'clean' hotel tissue box could be significant.
16 Shampoo - Large Dispensers Are Festering The Nasty Bacteria
Like soap, I consider shampoo to be its own cleaning agent and therefore inherently clean. After doing some research, however, I found out that germaphobes can be very particular with how their shampoo finds its way from the bottle to their hair. The hotel shampoo does not always satisfy this strict standard. Most hotels provide the small complimentary bottles, and as long as they are provided new to each guest, these would probably be okay for germaphobe use. I have been to other hotels, however, where they have a large dispenser in the shower that spits out liquid shampoo. This would be absolutely unacceptable to some germaphobes.
Chances are that the hotel staff would not religiously clean these dispensers, and fungi and bacteria can easily collect on the outside casing. Then, when you put your hands on the button to dispense, you are getting all those germs on your hands and depending what you do next, potentially all over your hair and face.
Not exactly an ideal scenario for a germaphobe who thought they were getting clean in the shower. If you are worried about the hotel shampoo being less than sanitary, just bring your own bottle to the hotel next time you stay.
15 Floss - Most Hotels Don't Offer Any At All!
This next entry is not about something you should bring to the hotel because the one that the hotel offers might be gross. This entry is about something that you should bring with you to the hotel because most places do not offer it at all. Despite the fact that dentists are almost unanimous in the opinion that regular flossing is absolute crucial to dental hygiene, most studies show that the majority of Americans don't do it. Honestly, I think it comes down to the fact that other people can sometimes tell if you have not brushed your teeth (especially if it has been a while), but it is hard for someone to notice if you have flossed a lot. But do you know who does floss a lot? Germaphobes.
The idea of old food and bacteria camping in our mouths can drive some germaphobes absolutely insane. Maybe because so few people actually floss their teeth, many hotels don't have any complimentary bundles available.
If you are a germaphobe who needs to floss every day, I would recommend bringing your own floss to the hotel. Otherwise, you will find yourself running to CVS (Pharmacy) at 11pm at night.
14 Pillow Cases - People Sweat Most Onto Pillowcases... What If They Forget To Wash Them!?
This one should be obvious, but any true germaphobe should always remember to bring their own pillow case when they are staying at a hotel. We will talk about bed linen in general in another entry, but a pillowcase has so much direct contact with a person's face that I figured it deserved its own segment. Every hotel claims that they wash their pillow cases every morning but mistakes can happen even in the most extravagant of hotels.
It only takes one slip-up for you to spend the night with your face pressed against a pillowcase that the night before was cradled between some guys legs. Also, most people sweat from their head during the night, so pillow cases tend to get smelly faster than other bed linen.
Luckily, pillow cases are pretty easy to pack in a suitcase and the cheaper brands should not cost you more than $5 for a set of two. This is certainly one of the easiest fixes on this list and one that all germaphobes should try to take advantage of. Just make sure that you remember to take your pillowcases when you leave or you could be replacing them after every trip.
13 Hand Towels - They Shouldn't Be Trusted
If you are a true germaphobe, you probably wash your hands a lot. This gives you the chance to wash away all the germs that you have accumulated on your hands and leaves you feeling clean and refreshed. After turning off the faucet (with your elbow, of course), you have to dry your hands. You use the hand towel next to the sink, assuming that it has been cleaned by the hotel staff. You were wrong. Now, the hands that you just cleaned are covered with bacteria—bacteria that have festered in that hotel bathroom for who knows how long. This is a nightmare scenario for a germaphobe and one that they can avoid if they bring their own hand towels with them to a hotel.
At most hotels, the hand towels that get left on the floor or sink are uniformly cleaned by the housekeeping crew. But what if the person who stayed in the room before you used the towel but then refolded it and placed it back on the rack?
The housekeeper could easily mistake this for a clean towel and accidentally leave it in your room. If you are a true germaphobe, this is not a chance that you are willing to take.
12 Garbage Bags - Why Such A Small Bin, Hotels, Why?!
Most of the entries on this list are methods for germaphobes to fight bacteria, something that hotel rooms tend to have in abundance. This next entry, however, will help germaphobes replace something that many hotel rooms lack. If anyone has ever stayed in a single room for more than a couple days, you will have realized that there is not really anywhere to put your garbage. Most hotels put a small can in the bathroom and the main room but neither of these is ever big enough to hold anything of substance. If you have anything big to throw away, most people just end up leaving it on an end table for the cleaning crew to pick up later. This would be torture for true germaphobes. There is not exactly a perfect method for dealing with this problem but I do not think that it would be too out of bounds for someone to bring their own large garbage bag to a hotel. This would not take up too much space in a suitcase and it would be an effective way of making sure that garbage is not left lying around your whole stay.
11 Disinfectant Spray - Try Not To Think Of What's Happened On That Bed Before You Sleep On It
In another entry, we talk about the bed sheets at hotels (which I honestly think is a bigger deal than this entry), but what about the bed itself? Sure, a hotel may wash the bed sheets before each day, but even the most diligent hotel staff cannot remove the years of use on a mattress itself. Hundreds of people sleep on a hotel bed every year. This means hundreds of people losing dead skin cells on that mattress, hundreds of people having s*x on that mattress, and a whole host of other unsavory activities being performed on the bed.
I read a recent study that most 4-star hotels only throw out a mattress after it has been used for 3 years. Imagine how long mattresses stick around in less established and more seedy hotels.
Perhaps the worst thing about this entry is that there is not an easy fix. You can't exactly bring your own mattress to a hotel, and disinfectant spray can only do so much to destroy old germs. If you are so much of a germaphobe that you worry about the mattress below your clean sheets, then maybe a hotel stay is not for you. For our readers whose fear of germs is not quite so bad, maybe try to stay at those establishments who pay for new mattresses on a more regular basis.
10 Black Light - Uncover The Disaster Areas Of Your Room... If You Dare
I think the worst part about staying at a hotel as a germaphobe is that you really have no idea how clean a hotel room really is. No matter what the chain's reputation is and no matter how it looks from the outside, you just never know if the person assigned to clean your room decided to take an unofficial day off. But what if there was a way to know where the bacteria was hiding in your room? Thanks to (semi) modern technology, there is. A black light has a lot of uses, but one of the things it's most famous for is its ability to detect certain stains. Things like blood and semen show up under black light no matter how well they have been cleaned up by the hotel staff. This could be a crucial tool for a germaphobe visiting a hotel.
Sure, black lights can't detect every single cell of bacteria, but at least you would know where the major places are in the room that you should avoid. Even better, if the stains are on things like your pillowcases or your towels, you can always ask the hotel staff to bring you a fresh set.
9 Towels - If The Room Is Vacant, The Towels Are Never Changed
This next entry is a must-read for germaphobes, not only when they stay at a hotel but also when they go just about anywhere for an overnight stay. If you are able to get over how unsanitary hotel showers are, the next step is to dry off with a hotel towel, potentially one of the most bacteria-ridden items in the entire room. For starters, there is always the possibility that the towel was never washed. The room attendant could have been delinquent that day or perhaps they did not realize that the towel had been used. Even if the towel has been washed since the last time that someone used it, it is still possible that it is germ-ridden.
A recent study found that some hotel rooms stay vacant for more than a week in between hosting lodgers. This is a week of the towels sitting in a dark damp bathroom that would be a haven for germs.
I doubt that even the most vigilant of hotels wash towels that have been in an empty room, so chances are good that those towels will end up being used by someone. This is an entry that I may have to think about implementing myself.
8 Toothpaste - It's Going Into Your Mouth, So Where's It Been Before?
If you cast aside all the bells and whistles of the hotel industry, you'll notice that simply, it's all just a hospitality business. It's due to these roots that most hotels will just about do anything to keep their lodgers happy. An important component of this is supplying toiletries. Sure, it is easy for a guest to run down to the local store and buy some shampoo or a toothbrush, but if a hotel can supply these things, it makes life easier for their customers and keeps them coming back to stay in the future. But should you really trust the hotel toothpaste?
Unless the toothpaste tube has some sort of seal, it's impossible to tell if it has previously been opened. Think about it, this is something that is eventually going into your mouth.
If you're a germaphobe, the last thing that you want to do is to stick something in your mouth that has been fiddled with by another person. If the prospect of using the hotels toothpaste is too much for you to bear, there is any easy fix. Most businesspeople carry their own set of toiletries in their bag (including toothpaste), which is a smart practice that more of us should adhere to.
7 Cleaning Supplies - For Those Who Have No Faith In The Staff Cleaners
This next entry is significantly farther than I would be willing to go, but there are people whose germaphobia is bad enough that they might considering bringing their own cleaning supplies to a hotel. The crux is that no matter how diligent a hotel staff member is, they simply do not have the time or resources to completely clean every hotel room on a daily basis. Most hotels do a passable job of cleaning up. So the average guest would not notice most of the potential occasional lapses. However, severe germaphobes will have a hard time accepting a less-than-perfect cleaning rate. As such, they might feel inclined to bring their own cleaning supplies to the hotel and clean the room themselves. This is not the way that I would want to spend my vacation, but to each their own. This is the only way for a germaphobe to be entirely sure that their hotel room has been cleaned to their high expectations. I would caution, however, that you are more likely to expose yourself to these germs while cleaning than you would be if you simply tried to ignore them.
6 Hair Dryer - Have you EVER Seen Someone Wash A Hair Dryer?
Most of the entries on this list are of items that people will come in close contact with. Towels and bed sheets have tons of direct contact with your skin so it makes sense that germaphobes would want to bring their own from home and avoid the potential hazards of using the hotels. Our next entry does not fall into this category, however. The hair dryers at hotels are hugely responsible for the spread of germs from guest to guest.
For starters, do you think that anyone has ever washed the hotel's hair dryers? I am not even sure how one would go about cleaning them, so I am certain that the already-overworked hotel staff have not given it a thought. To make matters worse, hair dryers are typically warm for long periods of time and therefore can become damp from being in close proximity to people's wet hair.
The combination of moisture and warmth are sure signs of bacteria, and I would be willing to bet that more germs are found in hair dryers than just about anywhere in the hotel room. Good hair dryers can get pretty expensive. But if you buy your own and keep it clean, your total costs should stay pretty low.
5 Disinfectant Wipes - The Quickest, Easiest Way To Clean All Surfaces
When I began making this list, I compiled all the things in a hotel that would be repulsive to a germaphobe. For most of the entries on this list, I talk about how a germaphobe could bring these items from home, thereby avoiding having to touch the ones supplied by the hotel. But what if we could simply make all of these items acceptable to a germaphobe? That is exactly what this next entry is about. Sure, you can bring your own remote or hair dryer to the hotel. But after a while, your bag is bound to get full (especially if you decide to bring all 20 items on this list). Instead, why not bring a single container of cleaning wipes? If you don't trust the hotel staff to adequately clean your room, you can simply wipe it down yourself.
These packets can cost less than $5, and if you are really that big of a germaphobe, you probably already have some at your house. This is the quickest and easiest way for a germaphobe to make their hotel room more inviting. I am sure that the person who rents the room after you will also appreciate your cleaning habits.
4 Sheets - The Stories Speak For Themselves
I would not consider myself too much of a germ freak, but I will admit that there are some aspects of staying in a hotel that give me some second thoughts. For example, I try my best not to think about the fact that I have no idea if the bed sheets were washed properly.
You always hear horror stories of people who lifted up the comforter to find blood or pee stains on the sheets. Even worse are the stories of people who crawled into the bed before they realized anything was wrong.
Most hotels are very good about making sure that the bed linen is clean but there is always the chance that some employee decided that they wanted to screw off that day. Most of the items on this list you could just bring yourself to the hotel if you really wanted to, but it would be a little weird to walk into the Four Seasons with your own bundle of linen. I personally just like to ignore the fact that the sheets I'm using have been slept in by any number of strangers. If you want a quick fix, maybe just bring some disinfectant spray and give the bed a good spritz before you jump in.
3 Climbing Shoes - Try Not To Think About The Airborne Germs In A Crowded Elevator
When I began compiling this list of why hotels are awful for germaphobes, I mistakenly limited myself to the infected area with thin the hotel room. Once I realized that the entire hotel can be a cesspool for germs, it opened up a whole new realm of how disgusting these places can be. The perfect example of this is the tiny room that thousands of humans are forced to endure every day, usually in the company of several other sweaty people. I am talking, of course, about the elevator. Sure, they might be fun for kids but when you are standing shoulder to shoulder with 20 other people, 5 of whom have a serious case of body odor, you can understand how elevators may be torture for germaphobes. Unless you plan on lugging your suitcase up five flights of stairs, however, you likely won't have another choice at most hotels.
The majority of them have multiple floors, with the lobby and pool areas taking up most of the ground floor. A good pair of sneakers will make the arduous task of taking the stairs that much easier, something that might become necessary for our more dramatic germaphobes.
2 Flip Flops - The Shower Floor Is A Germ's Paradise
After I compiled this entire list, I was very surprised to see two different types of shoes in the top 20. Both this and the climbing shoes entry are similar in that they help our germaphobe readers to escape the germs that are so prevalent in a hotel. While the climbing shoes allow our germaphobe to take the stairs, thus avoiding the germ-ridden elevator, the flip flops prevent him/her from having to stand barefoot in the hotel shower.
No matter how often the hotel staff clean your room, your shower will never be completely spotless. These housekeepers clean at least thirty rooms a day. Do you really think that they get down on their hands and knees thirty times every day to deep clean your shower?
In another entry, we talk about how a germaphobe might want to bring their own cleaning supplies to a hotel, but by bringing flip flops, it saves our readers from having to clean their own showers. Anyone who has ever lived in a dorm with communal showers will tell you that shower sandals are an absolute must. Hotel showers may not get that dirty but they do carry enough bacteria to make a germaphobe nervous.
1 Universal Remote - We Rather Not Know Where It's Been
According to a recent study, the remote controller for the TV is the most fondled item in a typical hotel room. This doesn't just mean that someone held it in their hand for a moment to turn up the volume.
Many people fall asleep with the remote in bed with them and I have heard horror stories about people who used the hotel remote to augment their kinky s*x life. Not exactly the type of thing that a germaphobe (or anyone) would want to pick up.
All of this, however, should not keep you from using the TV in your room. After all, what better way to subject yourself to bad TV than to be forced to choose from the hotel's meager offering of channels? Earlier I talk about the need for germaphobes to bring disinfectant wipes to a hotel, but in the interest of diversity, let's just skip the middleman. A typical universal remote costs less than $5 so why not make one part of your standard packing procedure? You can easily connect it to the TV in your room and then you won't even have to use the remote that hundreds of people before you had touched.