These Are the 4 Things You Should Never Touch in a Hotel, CDC Says

If you're planning on traveling this summer, here's what to avoid in order to keep yourself safe.

After months spent at home, countless Americans are eager to start returning to a sense of normalcy—including putting travel back on their schedule. However, with the coronavirus still spreading throughout the country, staying in a hotel could present a potential risk of contracting the virus. That doesn't mean you need to cancel your plans entirely, though.

On a call this week with members of the media, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified exactly what you should avoid touching in a hotel in order to stay safe—so read on if you want to make your next trip a little less nerve-racking. And if you're wondering how your next vacation may look different, check out these 8 Things You May Never See in Hotel Rooms Ever Again.


close-up of white hand touching ATM

Whether you're hitting up the tables in Las Vegas or need to tip the housekeeping staff, getting out cash is par for the course on many vacations. However, Allison Taylor Walker, PhD, Epidemiology and Surveillance Lead with the Travelers' Health branch of the CDC, says that ATMs' frequent use by guests makes them a potential source of coronavirus transmission.

To minimize your personal transmission risk—and the risk of getting others sick if you happen to be asymptomatic—Walker recommends using contactless payment methods whenever possible. And for more advice from the CDC, check out these 50 Essential COVID Safety Tips the CDC Wants You to Know.

Business Center Computers

white woman using a computer with a mask on
Shutterstock/Drazen Zigic

Eager to protect yourself on your travels? You might want to think about bringing your laptop with you. Walker says that business center equipment, including computers, are high-touch surfaces, meaning they're more likely to be contaminated by coronavirus and other potential pathogens.

So, just how grimy is your average computer? According to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 96 percent of employee computer keyboards sampled in a university setting were contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria. And while COVID-19 is a virus, not bacteria, those germs are just as likely to lurk in the hotel business center.

Vending Machines

Hotel vending and ice machines

That late night snack could be putting your safety in jeopardy. Walker notes that vending machines are another potential source of coronavirus transmission, due to the number of people likely to use them in a given day.

If you want to play it safe, she recommends calling the hotel prior to your arrival to ask about their procedures for disinfecting high-touch surfaces. If there's something you can't live without in one of those machines, wipe down the surface with a paper towel misted with a cleaning product known to kill coronavirus first, and use hand sanitizer containing 60 percent alcohol immediately afterward. Walker says that, if you're famished, you can safely order room service, but she recommends asking for a contact-free delivery. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Remote Controls

white hand cleaning remote control

If you're planning on watching TV or movies on your trip, make sure you've got plenty of cleaning products on hand before you pick up that remote. Walker says that you'd be wise to avoid touching hotel remote controls whenever possible; in fact, a 2012 study from the American Society for Microbiology found that remote controls were among the most frequently contaminated items in hotel rooms.

If you do want to watch TV in your hotel room, make sure to wipe down the remote with a disinfectant prior to use, or put it in a plastic bag to avoid coming in direct contact with contaminated buttons. And for more on which cleaners are safe to use, check out These Are the Only Two Disinfectants Proven to Kill COVID-19, EPA Says.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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