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Looks can be deceiving

Looks can be deceiving
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Since there’s such a quick turnaround between guests, perhaps it shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise that hotels aren’t as clean as they should be. In fact – and only read on if you have a strong stomach – one study found that 81 per cent of hotel surfaces contained at least some faecal bacteria. Here’s the issue: hotels are in the business of making money, and one way they keep more of that money is by cutting corners where they think they can get away with it. And we hate to break the news to you, but surfaces aren’t the only things you need to worry about in your guest room, though, of course, some spots are dirtier that others.

They reuse the sheets

They reuse the sheets
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If there aren’t stains, some hotels won’t clean the sheets regularly between guests, says Philip Biton, the co-founder of NDOband who also helps hotels find ways to generate money from their rented rooms. In fact, three out of nine hotels tested secretly didn’t change sheets (insert vomit emoji), according to an Inside Edition investigation. But, Biton says, “sheets should always be replaced.” After all, bodily fluids, hair, and other seriously gross stuff from previous guests could be lurking there. In your own home, this is how bad it is to not wash your sheets every week. Now imagine that at a hotel, with multiple people you don’t know rolling around on them.

These red flags will warn that you’re about to stay at a bad hotel.

They choose colourful carpets on purpose

They choose colourful carpets on purpose
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The purpose: to hide stains. Let your mind envision any stains you want, and chances are, they’re embedded in your lush, colourful carpet, according to Bustle. Yes, tiles are easy to clean, but those colourful carpets can also be viewed as works of art, according to Hotel Management, so they’re technically doing double duty. The most recent popular colours include greys, brown tones, and non-directional designs with heavy layers of texture.

Here are the first things you should check for in a hotel room.

They skimp on washing the glasses

They skimp on washing the glasses
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It’s easy to make a glass look clean: You simply have to rinse it under some water or quickly wipe it with a towel, especially if the previous guest only drank water out of it. And if the housekeepers have limited time to clean each room, there’s a good chance they’re going to save some of those precious minutes by not washing the glasses properly, according to an undercover investigation by ABC News in 2009. As a result, 75 per cent of the glasses failed ABC’s clean-glasses test. Most were just wiped down and rinsed out instead of being properly sanitised.

While this study was the most in-depth on the topic, a more recent look at the state of hotel glasses didn’t find any better news, according to the Daily Mail: instead, they reported that cleaning staff washed the glasses with dirty cloths and with spray that was not suitable for drinking. Pro-tip: BYO reusable water bottles when you stay in a hotel.

They don’t wash the coffeepots

They don’t wash the coffeepots
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Let’s be honest here: when was the last time you washed your own coffeepot? Exactly. So, you really shouldn’t expect a hotel to do a better job. One ABC News exposé found that hotels aren’t using soap or any other cleaners to clean their coffeepots. And researchers from the University of Valencia examined nine hotel Nespresso machines that had only been used for a year and found bacteria in all of them. That’s why we bring our own mini French Press with us when we travel. We know the last time it was cleaned properly.

Wondering how to make a good coffee? Find out here.

They don’t change their mattresses often

They don’t change their mattresses often
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Mattresses are expensive. As a result, high-end hotels tend to change their mattresses every three to five years, while less expensive hotels will change mattresses every ten years, according to Traveller.com. Even if the mattress is torn or stained, many hotels will simply hide or clean the issue, as it’s too expensive to swap out a mattress every time there’s a problem.

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They neglect the pillowcases

They neglect the pillowcases
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Often, hotel beds are piled high with pillows, and chances are, you aren’t actually sleeping on all of them. And even if you do sleep on a pillow, do you really leave a mark? The Today Show investigated top hotel chains in the United States and found that many of the housekeepers put the pillows on the chair next to the bed while they changed the sheets. Then, they fluffed the dirty pillows and put them back on the bed. No visible stains equals a reuse. Plus, the pillowcases last longer that way, saving the hotels even more money in the long run.

The light switch is never cleaned

The light switch is never cleaned
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We all touch them multiple times per day, but the light switches in hotels aren’t cleaned properly…or maybe ever, say researchers from the University of Houston. And this is a huge problem because the light switches – especially those on bedside lamps – are covered in bacteria. Light switches and TV remotes were the worst offenders in the room, according to this study. Since housekeepers are only allotted 30 minutes to clean each room, they don’t have time to wipe down everything, and they also inadvertently carry bacteria to multiple rooms by reusing the same sponge and mop. As a result, bacteria in the hotel rooms were found to be between two and ten times higher than the levels accepted in hospitals. For this reason, you should probably skip the hotel hair dryer as well, or use antibacterial wipes first.

They don’t change the bedspread

They don’t change the bedspread
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The first thing you should do when you get into your hotel room? Don a pair of gloves and remove the bedspread from your bed. Seriously, don’t touch it. Most hotels clean bedspreads just four times per year, according to TravelTruth.com. If that bedspread is colourful, it’s more likely that it’s one of those special ones that’s not changed regularly. It was created to look good and hide stains, saving the hotel money in the process since it doesn’t have to be washed for each new guest.

They don’t bother with the throw pillows

They don’t bother with the throw pillows
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You know, the decorative ones that you toss off your bed and onto that gross carpet as soon as you enter your room? The housekeeping staff simply pops those germ-laden throw pillows back onto your bed – touching your (hopefully) clean pillowcases, according to Thrillist. Super-duper gross. Are their throw pillows ever washed? Are yours?

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Philippines lockdown update:
Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, we hope to have the April print issue available by the middle of July, and the May, June and July issues available by the end of July, but this is dependent on when local lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team