Traveling for the holidays? Think twice before you grab the TV remote control.
The remote control is one of the hotel room surfaces covered with the most germs, according to several studies conducted in the United States, Canada and Britain. Researchers found that remote controls and light switches were heavily contaminated with bacteria, along with bathroom toilets, sinks and faucets.
And these are strangers’ germs, not the ones your immune system lives with back home.
Alla Gutina, an Advocate nurse and infection preventionist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., says hand washing and packing disinfectant wipes can provide protection. She carries a pack of wipes in her purse at all times, and used them during a recent trip, wiping down the armrests for herself and her husband on the plane.
In the hotel room, she used them to wipe surfaces people touch frequently. She was cautious about touching the hotel’s elevator buttons, as well.
She offers this advice: “Avoid touching your mouth and eyes after touching items that could have lots of germs. That’s not only when you’re in a hotel room, but anywhere.”
Here are other hotel room items that may have lots of germs and some suggestions for dealing with them:
Hotel bedspreads and comforters: Although sheets and towels are changed regularly, bedspreads and comforters are far less frequently cleaned. If the sheets alone keep you warm enough, consider tossing the bedspread on a chair or folding it down and away from your face and arms.
Drinking glasses: Gutina recommends using straws. If you don’t have straws handy, wash your hotel drinking glasses before sipping from them.
Telephones: Although most people use their mobile phones to make calls from their hotel rooms, they still use their room phones to call the front desk and in-house departments. Use disinfectant wipes before handling.
Coffee pot handles, door knobs and hair dryers: Pull out the disinfectant wipes again.
As for that remote control, if you want to be completely safe, slip it inside a plastic sandwich bag. You can still see the buttons, but you don’t have to touch them.