In many ways, the best hotels are the ones that can offer some of the same comforts of home. But while a warm, comfy bed and an updated TV are to be expected, there are other seemingly harmless touches to your accommodations that can be surprisingly gross. In fact, experts warn there’s one common appliance that you should never use in your hotel room. Read on to see what gadget you should avoid after you check in.
No matter where you are, sticking to your preferred morning routine can be vital for getting your day off on the right foot. But if you’re accustomed to getting caffeinated while you’re getting ready, you may want to order room service or stop by a local cafe for your morning cup. While they may seem like a convenient feature, experts warn that you should never use the coffee maker in your hotel room because of how dirty they can be.
Superficial cleanings and wipe downs usually leave hotel coffee makers looking tidy. But just like the infamous black light tests that can pick up stains on furniture, a look under a microscope would reveal a very different level of cleanliness for the appliances, according to research that has found that they can be full of germs.
In a 2015 study, researchers from the University of Valencia took samples from nine different Nespresso instant coffee machines that had been in use for a year in communal spaces. “Our results reveal the existence of a varied bacterial community in all the machines sampled,” the study’s authors wrote, saying that they had identified 35 to 67 different strains in each—which is described as a “moderately to highly abundant” quantity—including strains that have been linked to urinary tract infections and pneumonia, Travel + Leisure reports.
If you think waiting until you leave your room to serve yourself some joe will spare you the unwanted germs, you may be wrong. While COVID precautions may have made them a rare feature lately, research has shown that communal coffee stations in the lobby could be dirty in their own right.
“In studying the spread of a tracer virus, we found that the coffee pot handle in the break room was one of the first contaminated articles with the virus,” Charles Gerba, PhD, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, told Smarter Travel. “So, my suggestion is to always get your coffee first in the morning.”
Whether you’re in your hotel room or not, people often assume that their coffee pots will run forever so long as they’re filled with water and plugged in. But all coffee machines—including the Nespresso machines that were tested—regular maintenance is required, including cleaning with vinegar to make sure mold and bacteria are killed off, Smarter Travel reports.
“Our results show, for the first time, that coffee leach from standard capsule machines is a rich substrate for bacterial growth,” the authors of the University of Valencia study wrote. “The presence of bacterial genera with pathogenic properties and the fast recovery of the communities after rinsing the capsule container, strongly suggest the need for frequent maintenance of the capsule container of these machines.”
If you’re unsure, ask the front desk if the machines are regularly cleaned or maintained by staff to ensure their cleanliness. Short of cleaning the appliance yourself or packing your own method for brewing coffee, you can also treat yourself to a cup from a local cafe or have room service bring a fresh mug to you from the hotel’s bar or restaurant.