Skip to content

How to ward off coronavirus in your hotel room

Feb. 28, 2020
5 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As the novel strain of coronavirus that causes the severe respiratory disease known at COVID-19, continues to spread around the globe, the travel industry is taking some serious hits.

Airlines are cancelling services and offering flexible cancellations: major world celebrations and gatherings have been cancelled, and some countries have even closed their borders. Travelers are fearful about traveling and are taking measures into their own hands to prevent infection -- including cleaning their own hotel rooms.

Related: Complete guide to traveling during the deadly coronavirus outbreak

Sign up for our daily newsletter

The CDC reports that COVID-19 is most commonly contracted through human-to-human contact.

TPG asked Kelly A. Reynolds, a professor and environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona what precautions travelers should take and whether hotel rooms should be a concern during this outbreak.

"Respiratory agents, including cold and flu viruses, can persist on surfaces for hours to days. Since it’s impossible to know if the person who stayed in the same room before you harbored an illness, it’s best to be proactive with wiping down surfaces with a disinfecting wipe and increasing your hand hygiene practice." says Reynolds.

Here’s what you should do to stay healthy on the road:

Head straight to the sink

The CDC reccomends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Photo by Jay Yuno/Getty Images)
The CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Photo by Jay Yuno/Getty Images)

Wash your hands. Prior to entering your room, you probably touched doorknobs, elevator buttons and maybe even took public transit. All of these touch points are places where germs may linger.

"Hand washing remains your best defense for infection prevention. Remember to pack your own disinfecting wipes. I often bring my own pillow too, since hotel pillows could be full of allergens and residual saliva," says Reynolds.

Related: How to tell if you're staying in a dirty hotel room

Get out the wipes

Clorox To Go travel disinfecting wipes kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, including staph, E. coli, MRSA, salmonella, strep and Kleb. (Photo by AlexandrVedmed/Getty Images)
Clorox To Go travel disinfecting wipes kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. (Photo by AlexandrVedmed/Getty Images)

Your hotel room should be clean and tidy upon arrival, but that doesn't mean the housekeepers did a deep clean of all the surfaces. To be safe, get out your Clorox To Go wipes and focus on disinfecting the surfaces that are known for being the germiest, such as the remote control, light switches, bedside lamp switches, the alarm clock, the phone, the bathroom sink — essentially any surface that is frequently touched.

Related: How to thoroughly disinfect your airplane seat

Ditch the comforter

(Photo by Inti St Clair/Getty Images)
(Photo by Inti St Clair/Getty Images)

If you thought the comforter was safe because linens are changed between guests, think again. Comforters are typically washed on occasion, but rarely between guests. Various reports suggest that hotel comforters may only be washed four times a year. When you start to think of all the things people may put on their bed, like a suitcase for instance, you really start to question the cleanliness.

"Many hotel comforters are not designed for routine washing or the use of disinfectants in the wash. I recommend travelers remove the comforter to avoid potential contact with lingering bodily fluids that can harbor germs." advises Reynolds.

If you're the type of person who gets chilly, pack some cozy pajamas for your hotel stay.

Bottom line

In general, coronavirus is believed to be most commonly transmitted via human-to-human contact. There's certainly the chance of contracting the virus through contact with contaminated surfaces, but according to the CDC, this is "not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

Related: Myth-busting: Will a face mask keep you safe from viruses?

However, Reynolds says, "Our studies [at the University of Arizona] show that housekeeping may not be using proper disinfectant products or disposable cleaning tools. Reusable sponges and mops can spread contaminants to multiple rooms."

There's no harm in giving your hotel room an extra round of cleaning. To keep yourself safe during this outbreak, remember to be diligent about washing your hands and cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces. These are the best precautions you can take.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of AC Hotel Park City)

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases