Clean Insights Blog

A Dirty Hotel Can Give Guests These Gross Infections

| August 21, 2019

A dirty hotel poses many threats to guests coming to relax, unwind, and explore. And with the current average hotel occupancy rate sitting at 73.5 %, your hotel likely hosts hundreds of people at a time. 

Guests won’t be the only ones checking in, though. Germs and bacteria are sure to come along for the trip, contaminating every surface in your hotel. Counters and tables, remote controls, light switches, gym equipment, and doorknobs and handles will be contaminated by dozens of pathogens. Because of this, infection and sickness could be right around every corner.

The likelihood of these bacteria being killed is slim, as most hotel cleaning checklists only encompass light tidying and cleaning which doesn’t fully eradicate pathogens. Proper disinfection and sanitizing practices aren’t often strictly followed or enforced, allowing germs to run free.

Given that hotels are considered high-traffic facilities where many people share the same surface, they are prone to spark and spread specific types of bacteria and illnesses. Here are some infections guests and travelers are most likely to acquire in dirty hotels and useful prevention tips you should implement today.



Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash


Gross Infections Guests Get From A Dirty Hotel



Norovirus 

While these bacteria are the top cause of foodborne illnesses, they’re also a threat outside of the kitchen. The CDC estimates that norovirus sickens between 19 to 21 million people in the United States each year. Outbreaks of norovirus typically peak between November through April. 

Norovirus is notorious for spreading quickly and easily. Contact with an infected person, consuming contaminated food, and touching a contaminated surface are all ways that this pathogen can spread through a dirty hotel, resort, spa, or inn. 

The virus can invisibly live on high-touch surfaces and objects like counters, tables, toilet seats, and toilet handles. It’s also native to certain areas like kitchens, in pools, and eating areas such as bars and dining rooms.

Rhinovirus and Influenza (Cold & Flu)

The average adult will cycle through an average of 2 – 3 colds each year. On top of this, up to 20% of the population will get the flu. Both rhinovirus and influenza can live on a surface and remain potent enough to cause infection for up to 24 hours

Thousands of travelers contract both the cold and flu in various places. From germ-ridden offices, daycares, trains, and everywhere in between, these bacteria are known to inhabit any facility and surface. 

Rhinovirus and influenza germs are most commonly spread through touching, sneezing, and coughing. They are especially prone to living on doorknobs and handles, light switches, remote controls, check-in desks, and on fitness equipment.

If surfaces in your hotel aren’t disinfected regularly, they can contain dozens of strains of rhinovirus and influenza. This puts multiple people at risk including staff and employees. 

MRSA (Staph)

 

MRSA, a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics, spreads easily and is extremely difficult to treat. It’s one of the top antibiotic-resistant bacterial threads of our time and infects about 90,000 people each year.

MRSA is generally passed between people via skin to skin contact or skin to surface contact. It can also travel from a contaminated guest to healthy ones via sharing equipment or objects. Your hotel gym, pool, towels could have traces of this bacteria.

MSRA can also be found on most hotels on pool chairs, toilet seats or in bathtubs. It tends to live on any surface that comes into contact with skin. And if it’s found in your hotel, your reputation can flip from being a “dream destination” to being a “dirty hotel to avoid”. 

E. Coli 

These bacteria live in human and animal intestines and is categorized as a foodborne illness. A person can get sick from E. Coli several ways: 

  • Consuming contaminated meat
  • Consuming improperly cleaned produce
  • Ingesting water that contains traces of sewage or fecal matter. 

These bacteria also spread via the bathroom when guests do not wash their hands properly after using the toilet. The pathogens then migrate from their hands to other surfaces in your hotel. 


Hotspots for E. Coli include kitchens, prep tools, and any surface that comes into contact with food. Eating areas, tables, refrigerators, and high-touch items like light switches, toilets and sinks, and remote controls can also be contaminated with E. Coli. 



Photo by Google Images



Tips to Prevent The Spread of Illness & Disease In Your Hotel

 

Many of these germs can survive on a non-porous surface for longer than 24 hours. Rhinovirus can live for up to 7 days if it isn’t killed with a disinfectant. Norovirus can survive on surfaces for weeks if not killed, and the flu lives for up to 24 hours if it isn’t eliminated.

Light cleaning alone can still leave you with a dirty hotel which is why it’s important to have a thorough cleaning protocol in place that includes disinfecting to kill germs. Doing so can keep bacteria from spreading to surfaces and reduce the risk of infection and sickness. 

Consistent disinfection is your best defense against unwanted pathogens and fighting the stigma of a dirty hotel. Here are a few best disinfection practices you should implement: 

  • Use disposable disinfecting wipes in public areas and bathrooms where norovirus is especially prevalent. This ensures germs are not being spread to uncontaminated areas via cleaning cloths. 
  • Create a system to keep soiled and unsoiled linens and towels separate to avoid cross-contamination. Supplement this by pre-washing linens and towels before running a normal wash cycle. 
  • Provide disposable disinfecting wipes in rooms for guests to do their own cleaning. Many savvy travelers are aware of the health risks of sharing a space with others. They will appreciate your proactive accommodation, allowing them to feel secure and in control of their environment. 
  • Have your front desk staff take note of guests who appear or mention they are ill at check-in and check-out. Be sure to pay special attention to thoroughly disinfecting their rooms. 
  • Stock rooms and public bathrooms with liquid hand soap and hand sanitizers. Bar soaps create several barriers to guests washing their hands after using the toilet – many are wrapped and must be opened to use, most leave an unpleasant film on the hands, and many people use liquid soaps and hand sanitizers in their homes and would be more likely to choose these options in your hotel. 


Photo by Discover Magazine


When to Disinfect In Your Hotel 

Here are some scenarios where disinfection is mandatory: 

  • If a guest vomits or if staff discovers vomit. 
  • When blood is discovered in any area of your hotel or on any surface, such as in bathrooms, on floors, if someone is injured in your lobby. 
  • If a sick guest sneezes or coughs, spreading germs, especially at your reception area or in shared areas like saunas, pools, and restaurants/ dining rooms.
  • Any time raw meat or unwashed produce touches a surface in a kitchen.
  • When a noticeably ill guest checks out of a room their entire room should be disinfected with extra attention.
  • If staff discovers excrement anywhere in bathrooms or shared spaces – including on toilet seats or on floors.
  • Any time a noticeably ill guest uses shared facilities such as a serving spoon at a breakfast buffet or an ice scoop that goes back into the ice machine after being touched.

Conclusion

The last thing you want is for a guest visiting your hotel to get sick. You’re in the business of creating an environment for people to relax, feel comfortable, and have a good time. If they contract an infection not only does it ruin their stay, but it leaves a bad impression on your top-of-the-line hotel.  

Providing a safe, sanitary environment should be a vital part of the customer experience. A clean hotel goes beyond the surface. Even a tidy hotel can be a dirty hotel if it lacks cleanliness. With so many people entering your facility and sharing the same surfaces, you’ll need to make sure you’re going the extra mile to make sure they remain healthy and safe. 

While implementing new disinfection practices can seem overwhelming,  we can assure you it doesn’t have to be. Investing in the right products, such as disinfectant wipes, can kill germs quickly and efficiently – saving you time and money in the long run. 

In addition to having the right tools, creating a system and schedule for staff and employees to follow can take your hotel to a new level of clean. Ultimately sanitation procedures and facility hygiene should be prioritized at the same level as providing good customer service and tidy, welcoming rooms.