‘Tis the season for festive cheer, but MattressNextDay is on a mission to shed light on the often overlooked aspect of holiday joy: the hygiene of your staycation surroundings. In their new study, they’ve uncovered a shocking truth about the hygiene of the soft furnishings in hotel rooms.
Throws and comforters are more than just warm hugs, and could be home to 15 litres of sweat and 9.6 million dead skin cells
According to insights from hotel cleaners shared on Reddit, throws and comforters are often left out of daily cleaning routines, meaning they’re only washed during a deep clean, which can happen every month or so.
Now, brace yourself for the numbers: An average person sweats up to 500ml each night, and over an 8-hour slumber, we shed a whopping 320,000 dead skin cells. In a month, that adds up to a staggering 15 litres of sweat and a jaw-dropping 9.6 million dead skin cells – and remember, some of those may have been lingering from previous guests. Add in saliva, body oils, and other liquids, and you’ve got yourself a real wake-up call.
Hotel sofas and chairs are “germ motorways”
Previous studies have uncovered a disturbing fact: sofas and chairs in hotel rooms can be breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. While they may seem like a comfortable place to relax, these soft furnishings are shared by numerous guests and often go without a thorough cleaning between stays.
The same study showed that chairs in hotel rooms act as “germ motorways”, carrying bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, which can lead to skin infections. Additionally, bed bugs can hide in wooden or plastic chairs, making them invisible to the naked eye.
Fabric headboards are not only harder to clean but also more prone to bed bugs
Fabric headboards, unlike their metal and wooden counterparts, are much harder to clean as they require a steam cleaner, meaning they’re less likely to be cleaned until the room receives a deep clean.
However, more worryingly, bed bugs have a preference for soft furnishings. They can gather within the fabric of the headboard and lay up to 20 eggs per time, making their removal a complex task, often necessitating professional intervention.
Similarly, dust is attracted to fabric and can pool in the headboard, making it a very uncomfortable stay for people with allergies, especially if the headboard hasn’t been cleaned properly.
Curtains, drapes and carpets could be hidden germ havens
Curtains and drapes can be perfect hiding spots for harmful bacteria. Think about your hotel room: those fabric coverings, especially the ones that touch the floor, rarely get the thorough cleaning they need. This oversight creates a welcoming environment for various germs and dust mites.
In a regular household, curtains should ideally undergo a deep cleaning every 3–6 months. But in hotels, where numerous guests come and go, more frequent cleaning is crucial.
Similarly, carpets can also hold bacteria – more than you might think. One study discovered that the shoes tested had an average of 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe. And, if you think about how many other people have stayed in that room before you and the number of shoes in that room, it highlights just how dirty those carpets could be. So, we recommend wearing slippers or even socks when in hotel rooms.
7 ways to make soft furnishings sanitary during your festive stay
We’re not suggesting you should avoid hotels altogether; exploring new places is one of the joys of travelling!
Nevertheless, being aware of the areas in your room that require extra attention and taking a few preventive measures can significantly improve your sleep, particularly if you’re prone to allergies triggered by dust mites, which can disrupt your rest.
- To prevent bacterial transfer, neatly fold the throw or comforter and stow it in an unused corner of the room.
- Choose hotels that offer white linens, as they make stains and dirt more visible.
- Keep your suitcase off the bed to avoid germs hitching a ride from the wheels.
- Avoid placing damp towels on the bed to discourage further bacterial breeding.
- When using a chair or sofa, consider sitting on a clean towel for added protection.
- Keep your clothing away from soft furnishings to minimise contact.
- Before settling into bed, consider changing your socks to prevent bacteria from being tracked onto the carpet
These simple steps will help you enjoy a cleaner and more comfortable stay during your travels.