Scientists probe hotel rooms for lingering bacteria


Checking in at a hotel or motel, you might hang out the do not disturb sign - but this could disturb you.

Of bacteria in such facilities, Dr. Barbara Almanza with Purdue University's School of Hospitality Management says, "There are some that are disease-carrying. We sampled for all kinds of bacteria."

Dr. Almanza and a team of scientists surveyed three rooms in three hotels in different regions of the country, all in an effort to find out what cleaning staff could be missing in those rooms. They looked at common spots that cleaners may commonly miss. They found bacteria from the bathroom on the telephone keypad, the room's main light switch, even the TV remote.

"If you order room service, you may want to wash your hands after you've been using the remote control," recommends Almanza. Those surfaces may be hard to clean. Cleaning staff may not want to spray down sensitive devices with liquid disinfectants.

They found germs on the bathroom floor and toilet, of course. But the shower was pretty clean. Sinks showed bacteria near the drain but very few germs on the faucet handles.

And carpets?

Almanza says researchers were worried about those carpets but, in fact, found the "carpets weren't much of a problem, so there was some good news."

The table lamp beside the bed was pretty clean too.

Ultimately, keeping free of the germs depends on us.

"You can get your Clorox wipes out if you want to," said Almanza, "but hand washing is also a good practice."

Keeping your hands clean means you don't pass those germs into your mouth and into your body.

Almanza says she's not criticizing hotels. It's about finding better ways to clean and improving service. She says hotels are "excited" about the research.