60-Second Health

Hotel Rooms House Bountiful Bacteria

A new study locates the bacterial hot spots of your hotel room. Tip: don't turn anything on. Katherine Harmon reports

What's the first thing you do when you get to a hotel room? Turn on the light, kick off your shoes and turn on the tube? If so, congratulations: you've likely just made a quick tour of the places in the room that harbor the most bacteria. 

Sure, there are a lot of bacteria in the bathroom. But that’s not the hottest spot for bugs. Some of the highest concentrations of microbes were on the light switch, the carpet and the television remote. The findings were presented at the American Society for Microbiology's 2012 general meeting. [Katie Kirsch et al., "A Microbial Analysis of Environmental Surfaces in Hotel Rooms"]

The researchers sampled 19 surfaces from nine hotel rooms in three different states. They found that 81 percent of those surfaces had at least some fecal bacteria on them. But, of course, not all of these bugs are going to make you sick. The study was in part to help inform cleaning protocols. 

Some hotel chains are already pledging to keep their properties a little more germ-free. So your next stay might be a little cleaner. Just don't investigate CSI-style with a black light. You’ll never be able to sleep.

—Katherine Harmon

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]      


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