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Published 19 June 2012 05:58, Updated 20 June 2012 06:35
Dirty job ... Researchers from the University of Houston hope to help hotel housekeeping services target bacteriological trouble spots with the findings of a preliminary study into the cleanliness of commonly touched surfaces. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Don’t touch the remote. That’s the message from preliminary research that has named the grubbiest surfaces in hotel rooms.
Bedside lamps are also a hotbed for bacteria, according the study by University of Houston researchers, but bathroom door handles are surprisingly free of biological nasties that could cause outbreaks of illness in hotels.
The researchers presented the finding at the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in a bid to help hoteliers fine tune how they go about the business of keeping guest suites clean.
“Currently, housekeepers clean 14-16 rooms per 8-hour shift, spending approximately 30 minutes on each room,” University of Houston student Katie Kirsch said.
“Identifying high-risk items within a hotel room would allow housekeeping managers to strategically design cleaning practices and allocate time to efficiently reduce the potential health risks posed by microbial contamination in hotel rooms.”
The researchers used NASA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system to design their preliminary study of hotel room cleanliness, which tested a variety of surfaces in rooms in the US states of Texas, Indiana and South Carolina.
The tests scoured 19 surfaces in each of three rooms in each state for signs of aerobic bacteria and coliform (fecal) bacterial.
Areas that were among the cleanest included bed headboards, curtain rods and bathroom door handles, while the dirtiest surfaces include TV remote controls, bedside light switches, toilets and bathroom sinks.
The greatest concern, however, was the level of bacteria transported about hotels in housekeeping carts, creating potential cross-contamination between hotel rooms.