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Avoiding Hotel Room Germs

Here's how to protect yourself from germy hotel rooms.

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Photo: Courtesy of espensorvik/Wikimedia Commons
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Meet a hotel room's most germ-ridden resident.

Every hotel room comes with a supply of microorganisms, says Charles “Dr. Germ” Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona. An example? Norovirus, famous for sickening cruise ship passengers, can thrive in hotels, too.

“The worst thing is the TV remote,” Gerba says, because it might not be cleaned very well. In-room phones also used to be a hot spot for viruses, he adds, but cell phones have largely eliminated that problem. Drinking glasses with cardboard lids remain risky: They may be rinsed rather than washed.

You can’t clear your room of germs, but you can protect yourself. Consider hand-washing the glassware or packing your own, along with disinfectant wipes for suspect surfaces. Remember that when it comes to cleanliness, you often get what you pay for. “Older, cheaper hotels tend to be the germiest,” Gerba says. Consider the healthy traveler credo: Wash your hands three times a day. Or do as Gerba does: “I use Purell.”

This article was first published in January 2015. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.