You expect hotels and the nicer "brand name" roadside motels to be clean and healthy places to stay, but don't bet on it. Researchers at the University of Houston School of Hotel and Restaurant Management say hotel rooms are nowhere as clean as they look, and they can even make you sick.


The UH researchers took bacteria samples from several common items and places in nine hotel rooms in three states -- Texas, Indiana and North Carolina.

They expected to find high levels of bacteria in the bathroom, but they also found surprisingly high levels in other places, such as the TV remote and the switch on the bedside lamp.

The biggest surprise was finding the highest levels in the maid’s housecleaning cart, specifically on the mop and sponge. That means bacteria are carried from room to room.  The lowest levels were on headboards, curtain rods, and bathroom door handles.

Lead researcher Jay Neal says this study shows hotels need to be more diligent in keeping their rooms clean. He says they don't have to be so clean doctors could perform surgery in them, but there's a lot of room for improvement.

The researchers wouldn't reveal which hotels or hotel chains they studied. They say only that they studied hotels with names everyone knows, from expensive to less expensive, and found consistently high bacteria levels in all of them.

This is something to remember the next time you decide to stay in a hotel. We suggest packing a bottle of antiseptic cleanser and some sponges, and giving the room a good once-over before you settle in.  And throw the sponges away when you leave.