Checking Into a Hotel Room? Here Are 5 Things You Should Clean Yourself

Don't get too cozy—these areas could probably use a little extra cleaning.
Don't get too cozy—these areas could probably use a little extra cleaning. / Twenty47studio, Moment Collection, Getty Images
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For most folks, staying at a hotel is a necessity when traveling. It could be a haven after a long flight or road trip, as well as a safe place to keep all of your belongings when you’re out and about in a new town. 

A good one can feel like a temporary home away from home, so it’s important that it’s clean. While most hotels have excellent staff for cleaning and room service, sometimes things fall through the cracks, especially if there are hundreds of rooms to get through but the staff is already stretched thin.

Whether you’re staying at a five-star luxury establishment, a mid-priced hotel chain, or a roadside motel, it’s always a solid idea to do some tidying up yourself before you place your head on a pillow for some rest. Here are a few things to wipe down, use, and/or or swap out after you check in.

1. Switches, handles, and other common touch points

A close-up of a young woman opening a hotel door using a card key.
Door handles are one of the many commonly touched hotel surfaces that could be crawling with germs. / Karl Tapales, Moment Collection, Getty Images

Consider packing along some disinfectant wipes ahead of your next trip. You can use them on common touch points around a hotel room to get rid of unwanted germs and bacteria. Below are the surfaces that are most likely to be touched multiple times per day, including:

  • Light switches
  • Tables
  • Bathroom sink faucets
  • Nightstands
  • TV remote
  • Door handles
  • Dresser handles and knobs
  • Toilet handle
  • Phone
  • Mini-fridge handle
  • Hair dryer

2. Coffee makers

Coffee cup on bedside hotel table.
That cup of java will taste a lot better if you know it was made in a clean coffee maker. / Sandro Di Carlo Darsa, PhotoAlto Collection, Getty Images

These days, most hotel rooms come with a coffee maker. However, those coffee makers may not be thoroughly cleaned between guests, and could actually be among the dirtiest things lurking in your room. 

To avoid potential problems with mold or bacteria in the device, consider running it through its cleaning cycle first before you try to brew anything.  In fact, you may want to pick up some coffee brewer cleaning tablets ahead of your next hotel stay, too. This extra step will help clear the way for your next morning cup of joe, plus it will make things cleaner for the person staying in the room after you, too. If you want to skip all that work and just enjoy your java, a portable French press is another good alternative to keep in mind. 

3. Plates, bowls, and drinkware

A corner in a hotel bathroom, with two glass cups on the table.
When it comes to hotel drinkware, you can never be too careful. / Sellwell, Moment Collection, Getty Images

Many hotel chains have replaced reusable drinkware with single-use, disposable cups over the years, but you can still find real glasses at some destinations. There’s no way to really tell how—or when—the glassware in your room was last cleaned. Even if those cups don’t seem dusty or dirty, you may want to give them a proper wash before you use them, just to be on the safe side.

The same is true if you’re staying at an Airbnb or a room with a kitchen. Be sure to clean any plates, bowls, and cutlery you intend to use beforehand with soap and water.

4. Towels, bed sheets, and other linens

Housekeeper putting a new set of white bed linens on hotel bed.
When in doubt, swap that bedding out. / Prasert Krainukul, Moment Collection, Getty Images

If you want to be really cautious about cleanliness when staying in a hotel room, then it might be a good idea to bring and use your own towels and bed sheets. While it might seem a bit extreme to some, a 2019 UK-based survey revealed that over 12 percent of the more than 1000 people polled actually bring their own linens to hotels, in order to avoid germs. 

Don’t want to go to all that trouble? Check with the front desk if you have any questions about when your sheets, pillowcases, towels, and other linens were last cleaned. Housekeeping should be able to give you extras, so you can change everything yourself. 

5. Consider your footwear

Female traveler in socks taking rest after checking into a hotel room.
Whether you're in sandals or just a pair of socks, it's better than going totally barefoot in a hotel. / GCShutter, E+ Collection, Getty Images

Even though housekeeping is probably vacuuming between guest stays, hotel carpets can still harbor all kinds of germs and bacteria. To stay safe (and to avoid doing any extra vacuuming during your trip), you may want to consider packing along an extra set of shoes.

Some people prefer to wear a pair of flip-flops or slide sandals when walking around on hotel carpets, while others use shower shoes—like at a gym or dorm—to better guard against athlete’s foot, staph, or other potential infections.