Jodi explains in full detail in today’s show podcast starting at 27:55
- Pack a travel-size Lysol disinfectant spray, some alcohol (or disinfecting) wipes, slippers, and a clear plastic bag.
- Wash your hands. You’ve probably turned a doorknob, pushed an elevator button, and handled money. Up to 80 percent of infections are transmitted by hands—and tons of people have touched that doorknob, elevator button, and cash—so it’s important to eliminate any potential pathogens on your hands before you contaminate everything else in the room. Don’t eat, drink, or touch your face until you’ve washed up.
- Inspect the room, starting with the bathroom, which is the biggest source of germs. With a tissue, lift the toilet seat and spray both sides of the seat with Lysol, even if it looks spotless. Wash glasses or mugs with hand soap and hot water if they’re not sealed in a wrapper, and leave them open-side up to dry. The same goes for ice buckets without plastic liners. Next, use alcohol wipes on frequently touched hot spots: faucets, the toilet lever, doorknobs, light switches, the phone, the clock radio. Don’t bother trying to clean the crevices of the remote control. Instead slide it into a clear plastic bag. Use it this way during your stay, inside its protective cover.
- Don’t sit or place any belongings on the bed until you’re sure it’s parasite-free. Peel back the fitted sheet and examine the mattress for bedbugs or signs of them. Alert management right away if you spot dried blood stains, tiny white eggs, or bedbug skin or shells, which are often transparent or pale yellow. You probably won’t catch a norovirus (the stomach virus that recently plagued cruise ships) from the bedding, but it may be full of allergens or just plain dirty. If there’s a bedspread, put it away in a corner. It’s unlikely to have been washed or changed recently. (Leave a note for housekeeping to not make the bed with the bedspread during your stay.) A duvet tends to be safer, but keep the top sheet between you and the cover and fold the sheet over the edge so your chin is protected.
- Hands off the drapes. They trap a lot of debris and allergens, and the germs build up over time. Also limit direct skin contact with the carpet and furniture so you don’t pick up any potential fungus. That means wear socks or slippers and be fully clothed when sitting on chairs or the sofa.
- Before a shower, squirt shampoo in the tub and run the water on hot for a minute to decrease the number of germs where you’ll be standing, even if the bottom of the tub looks clean. As long as you don’t have abrasions on your feet, it’s not likely that you’ll contract something. If you have a cut on your foot, though, bandage it and wear flip-flops. As for taking a bath, you may want to skip that entirely due to biofilm, a nearly undetectable layer of bacteria that sticks to tubs and other surfaces. It comes off only with vigorous scrubbing with a hard-bristle brush and soap.
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