Investigative reporters have been tracking cleaning methods and habits in hotel rooms, public restrooms and other public domains for quite a few years. They have come up with appalling reports about the blatant disregard for cleanliness practiced by hotel cleaning staffs. We are wondering how safe or hazardous is this to a hotel guest’s health? We will enlighten you with some very surprising findings of maintenance patterns in three, four and even five star hotels. We will also inform you of some very unexpected and intriguing modern theories of the benefits of certain bacteria’s to our health.
Here is an example of intentional negligence of hotel hospital staff as recorded on medicinenet.com. In more upscale hotels where actual glass drinking cups are used ( as opposed to plastic disposables) the housekeeping staff was caught on hidden cameras washing the glasses with water only or even more startling using dirty towels from the prior guests to dry the glasses after rinsing. Another scene showed the housekeeper using the same latex gloves to clean the toilet and then continuing to rinse the drinking glasses, without changing the gloves. If the prior guest had an infection it could have been easily transmitted through the glass. Many infections are spread by respiratory secretions like those that may contaminate a drinking glass. To be specific serious diseases are spread by the fecal – oral route, in which contaminated fecal matter ( for example, the toilet – cleaning gloves or drying glasses with soiled bath towels ) come in contact with something that touches or enters the mouth like a glass.
Some viruses and bacteria’s do not live for extended periods of time on tainted surfaces such as glass, but there are many of them including those that can cause deadly or at least serious infections that do. What is quite frightening is that travelers who stay in hotels often come from foreign countries bringing strange and deadly infections with them and even diseases.
A recent article in The New York Post, claimed that there is more harmful bacteria teeming in the average hotel room that in a typical home, school or even airplane. Teams headed by Travelmath ( an independent study group ) equipped with plastic bags and cotton swabs, tested rooms in nine different hotels. Various hotels ranging from three to five star in different locations were included in this study. The results of the study were staggering – Not only did Travelmath find that hotel rooms were filled with populations of microscopic creepy crawlers, they discovered that four and five star hotel rooms could often be dirtier that the three star rooms.
What type of germs are included in this study?
Yeast was the biggest problem in bathrooms of the three star hotels. Remote controls were often contaminated by Bacillus spp ( which cause both stomach and respiratory infections) . This bacteria was also encountered on the remote and phone of four star hotels. Five star hotel phones were contaminated by cocci. This form of contamination can be identified as gram negative cocci which develops neisseria gonorrhea and n.meningitis and gram positive cocci which is the cause for staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pyogenes and streptococcus pneumonia. Both of these types of cocci are the primary pathogens which resonate from the human body. Similar to bloodborne pathogen waste, these types of bacteria play host to many dangerous and infectious diseases.
How was the Travelmath study conducted?
Four swab samples were taken from the same four surfaces in each hotel room. For example, the remote control, the phone, the desk and the bathroom counter. Here are some results of the study.
- Remote controls – The study found that the more luxurious the hotel was the dirtier the remote control was. This was quite puzzling to the participating study partners. Why are so many people watching TV and what are they doing with their hands before switching channels? One of the researchers suggested that perhaps they are business travelers who come from a long day of meetings and just plop down in front of the TV without washing up after a long day of conferences and meetings. Has anyone actually seen a housekeeper clean a remote? Statistically speaking Arizona researcher Charles Gerba told news.com, that the average household remote has a bacteria count of 17,000 CFU (colony forming units ) per square inch. Compare this rate to a three star hotel that has an average of 232,733 CFU per inch, four star hotels an average of 1,400,027 per square inch and five star hotels an average of 2,002,300 per inch. The overall hotel average is 1,211,687 cfu per square inch. As you study these statistics you will notice that the higher the star rating the more bacteria per square inch.
- Hotel phones – Most people in today’s day and age are using their own mobile phones, yet hotel phones had a fairly high incidence of bacteria when swabbed.
- Hotel room desks – Please refrain from putting your sandwich on the hotel room desk. The overall average for hotel desks is 604,907 CFU per square inch . Again four star hotels ( 1,800,003 CFU per square inch ) scored more bacteria per square inch than the three star hotels (( an average of 11,403 CFU per square inch ). Business travelers may be the culprit again here, perhaps because they are likely to eat while working at the hotel room desk.
- Bathroom counters – A WebMD study cited that the average home bathroom had 452 CFU bacteria per square inch as opposed to three star hotel bathroom counters measuring in with an average of 320,007 CFU per square inch, four star hotels with an average of 2,534,773 CFU per square inch, and five star hotels averaging , 1,011,670 CFU per square inch of space. The overall average of CFU was 1,288,817 per square inch.
How concerned should hotel guests be?
The author of The Germ Files, Jason Tetro, a microbiologist is skeptical about these findings. Tetro believes that most bacteria that the study mentions is actually harmless. His only concern is antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. which can cause blood poisoning, dangerous skin lesions and boils with tendency to return repeatedly). However, the study that we are discussing does not mention MRSA which is mostly prevalent in hospitals and nursing care facilities. He claims that bacillus spp is everywhere including the very air we breathe daily.
How can you protect yourself from dirty hotel rooms?
Dr Maxwell recommends the following supplements to his patients.
- A high quality multivitamin – for nutrition and protection to fill in missing gaps created by the Standard American Diet.
- Eighty five percent of Dr. Maxwell’s patients are lacking in Vitamin D. A reliable quality vitamin D supplement boosts the immune system protecting you from serious infectious diseases. The reason for this vitamin D deficiency is under exposure to the sun. Next time you reserve a hotel room ask for a room with a terrace facing the sun and sit outside for a while instead of using the contaminated remote ( hopefully your next business trip will be to a sun-drenched climate).
Practically speaking, bringing along some lysol cleaning wipes to your next hotel stay should give you peace of mind during your next hotel stay no matter your itinerary.
Can too much sterilization and cleanliness be detrimental to your health?
Cooking Light Magazine (June 2018), questions the validity of the insufficient ingestion of bacterial microbes in the American Standard Diet.
Americans and Europeans tend to have fewer types of good bacteria’s in their gut when compared to people in developing nations . This is due to sanitation, hygiene and most importantly diet (including overuse of antibiotics). The variety of each person’s microbiome (the microorganisms in a particular environment including the body or a part of the body ) is individual for each human being. People from Western countries tend to have limited varieties of microbiomes.
Jeff Leach, director of the Terlingua, Texas based Human Food Project, claims that the Hadza (or Hadzabe) Tribe located in north central Tanzania have almost twice as many types of good bacteria in their guts than an average American. Jeff spent five years with the Hadza Tribe studying their lifestyle including their diet,( eating low fat plant based foods ) Unlike typical City Dwellers, the Hadza live in a dirty environment according to Western standards. They drink unfiltered water from contaminated sources ( from animal waste) and sleep on the ground. We, on the other hand live in so called sterile environments ( and if they are not sterile as the hotels mentioned previously we will make them sterile with extremely high standards of sanitation). To replace this advantageous diversity of good gut bacteria, drug companies will try to bottle some of these microbes that can actually be obtained through our natural environment. Jeff Leach says, “ The best caplet free alternative is spending more time getting dirty outdoors. You can lick your finger and be better off than taking a probiotic.”