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Never Forget to Do This in a Hotel Elevator, Experts Warn

If you're skipping this crucial step, you could be putting yourself at risk.

During your stay at a hotel, there's a good chance you'll be relying on the elevator quite a bit. And while you may think you have elevator safety down pat, you could be missing one crucial step in your journey from a top floor to the lobby—and it might be putting your health at risk. Read on to learn the one precaution you should be taking every time you ride in a hotel elevator.

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Never touch a hotel elevator button without washing your hands after. 


Keeping your distance from others on an elevator doesn't keep you safe from the germs around you. In a recent study published on the travel site Upgraded Points, CEO Alex Miller and his team set out to discover just how unsanitary hotel elevator buttons are. They conducted swab tests of bacteria on elevator buttons in 12 different hotels. These swabs were then sent to Eurofins EMLab P&K Laboratories for analysis.

Results found that just by touching an elevator button, you could be putting your personal health at risk. After testing surfaces from the 12 hotels, the average amount of bacteria found on an elevator button was 149,470 colony-forming units per square inch. Since these buttons are such highly contaminated surfaces, you'll want to wash your hands thoroughly after touching them.

"If these things have to be touched, remember to wash your hands afterward and avoid touching your face," Miller wrote in the study.

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Compared to a household toilet seat, a hotel elevator has 1,477 times as many germs.

woman pressing elevator button

Hotel elevator buttons may not be cleaned nearly as often as you think. Miller and his team compared their findings with data from the NSF Household Germ Study, which swabbed 30 household items to see how many germs were on them.

Results found that while a hotel might look cleaner than your home, it isn't. The average hotel elevator button has nearly 1,477 times more germs than the door handle of a household bathroom. Beyond that, the button has 737 times more germs than a household toilet seat and 83 times more germs than a home's kitchen countertop.

And don't think you can spend more to avoid germs: In comparison to the average four-star hotel elevator button, the average five-star hotel elevator button had almost seven times more germs.

Elevator buttons aren't the only hotel surfaces that are covered in germs.

Door handle of hotel

The study also tested hotel stairwell door handles, which appeared to be another highly contaminated surface. Data revealed that a stairwell door handle in a hotel had even more bacteria than elevator buttons, with an average of 186,168 colony-forming units per square inch.

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There are precautions to keep in mind when riding any elevator.

Workers waiting for an elevator
Janon Stock/Shutterstock

Whether you're in a hotel or an apartment building, there are certain precautions to take on an elevator, especially in the midst of COVID-19. In a recent study conducted by OTIS Elevator Company and led by Qingyan Chen, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, researchers set out to discover the potential risk of exposure to COVID in a variety of elevator rides. The study examined ventilation rates and airflow in elevators, along with strategies to reduce risks of COVID.

Results found that with proper mask usage throughout your entire ride, you can lower your risk of exposure to COVID by 50 percent. Your risk of exposure isn't very high, however, since elevator rides are fairly short, and the time you've spent exposed to other people is quite limited.

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