A small study of hotel rooms in the US found that the main light switch and the television remote are among the surfaces most contaminated with bacteria.
According to researchers from the University of Houston, those are two of the top surfaces most likely to be contaminated with potentially sickness-inducing bacteria, including streptococcus and staphylococcus.
Katie Kirsch, a University of Houston researcher, led a team that measured germs on everything from curtain rods to headboards in nine hotel rooms in three states. She and her team presented the findings on Sunday, June 17, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
"A visual assessment can't tell you about bacteria and viruses," she said in a press release. "It can tell you what's on the surface, but not if it's been disinfected." Meaning, if it looks clean, it isn't necessarily clean.
The focus of the study was on both aerobic bacteria, which include germs known to cause illness, and fecal bacteria.
Other germy hot spots were bathroom sinks and floors. The highest levels of contamination were found in the maid's cleaning cart, specifically on the mop and sponge, meaning bacteria are being carried from room to room, noted LiveScience.
"Both tests showed that bacteria levels in hotel rooms were between two to 10 times higher than the levels accepted in hospitals," stated LiveScience.
Best Western hotels recently announced a new "I Care Clean" program that applies hospital-grade cleaning techniques, such as the use of UV light sterilization wands, as well as offering disinfected remote controls. The company says more than 700 hotels are currently using the program; another 1,400 in North America will be using it by the end of 2012.