Written by AJ Durtschi

What’s Lingering In Your Towels and Linens?

What's Lingering In Your Towels and Linens? | by AJ Durtschi

When someone checks into a clean hotel, the last thing on their mind is the linens on the bed. But those sheets do have the potential to be deadly if they aren’t properly washed and handled.

Dr. Philip Tierno, Clinical Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Pathology at the NYU School of Medicine and author of “The Secret Life of Germs: Observations and Lessons from a Microbe Hunter,” says what might be hiding out in your bedsheets of hotels might be more than you would want to know.

Communicable diseases lurk in every hotel, which is the reason why maintaining cleanliness in a hotel is so important.

Dr. Tierno says, “There are many bugs that are present, multi-drug resistant bugs that dwell in hospital and hotel environments. You need an active ingredient like bleach to sanitize those linens.”

Dr. Tierno also says, “Institutions, like hotels, are where sheets pose a threat. In a hotel, you’re subject to the vagaries of the institutional policies.”

But Tierno says it isn’t the cleaning that poses a problem; it’s the lack of a guarantee that you won’t be sleeping among the last occupant’s skin cells.

“You have to make sure that there is a change of sheets occurring between hotel guests,” Tierno said.

Dr. Tierno’s advice is if you are staying at a hotel, thoroughly examine the bed before using it. He recommends inspecting the ribbing of the mattress for any traces of bedbugs and utilizing smell as well as sight.

“The odor should be fresh and clean, and you should not see any stains. If you see debris that might be there, that should not be there, and if it doesn’t smell clean or look clean, it likely is not clean.”

Many luxury hotels are using new technologies such as RemUVeā„¢ which is a mattress-sanitizing machine. This hygienic mattress sanitizing solution is safe, clean, green, chemical free, and 100 percent water/stream free. It is also guaranteed to destroy harmful micro-organisms safely — not chemically.” I recommend for peace of mind that you check with the hotel and learn about their sanitizing practices before making your reservation.

Dr. Tierno also advises paying special attention to the cleanliness of the towels. Towels can very quickly become hosts to microorganisms and dust mites. He recommends letting towels dry unfurled between uses, as folding a damp towel can foster further growth of bacteria.

“There are organisms that are from your body that are brought into the towel itself. If you leave it in a damp environment or fold the towel and maintain the dampness, you can have growth of those organisms.”

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