5 Tips on How to Deal with a Dirty Hotel Room: A Survival Guide


Sooner or later, every traveler will encounter a dirty hotel room that they’ve paid to sleep in that’s just downright G-R-O-S-S.

It might be that the place has otherwise great ratings but fell short in real life, or it might be that you tried to save a few bucks and it backfired.

From long strands of hair in your bedding to blood on the headboards, we’ve seen it all (yes, really!). Sometimes, despite carefully planning and vetting of lodging, things just don’t live up to expectations (or common cleanliness).

If you’re stuck because it’s late at night and/or you can’t afford to get a new place, here’s how to deal with spending a night in a dirty hotel room.

1) Try not to touch anything

This may sound simple, but it’s harder than it seems when faced with TV remotes, door knobs, faucets, light switches… the list goes on and on.

If you have disinfectant wipes, make a sweep around the room, touching all high-touch points: remotes, phone, counters, doorknobs, closet knobs.

While this may seem like an excessive step, just remember that while housekeepers routinely clean things like showers and toilets and change the sheets, many of the smaller items go untouched…except by the hundreds of people who stay in that room and use them.

And don’t, I repeat, do not use the glass cups provided in the room. Whether at a straight-up gross hotel or the Ritz, bring a bottle of water instead and forgo the cups completely.

how to deal with dirty hotel rooms

2) Don’t use the covers

If there’s no other tip you take from this, remember: Pull back the blanket from your bed.

I know it’s tempting to snuggle under blankets, especially in the colder climates, but those top blankets are gross! Bedbugs, and who knows what other kinds of disgusting germs lie amongst the fibers, just waiting for you to come along and pick them up.

In general, sheets are fine as they’re the most laundered. But avoid the comforter if you can.

If you’re worried about bed bugs in a dirty hotel room, pull the sheet back exposing the mattress. Check along the seams for anything that looks like an apple seed. Here’s another post we wrote on how to check for bed bugs.

3) Pack a sleep sheet

Once the cover is out of the way, the next logical question is whether to sleep on or under the sheets.

That’s your call, and you’ll be relieved to know that sheets are probably one of the cleanest items in any hotel or hostel room. When I stayed at the aforementioned hotel from hell, there was no way I was going to touch those sheets more than laying on top of them. Download hentaigames collection free hentai games for adult.

To remedy this, a helpful backpacker tip is to always pack along a sleep sack. A sleep sack is basically two sheets sewn together with an attached cover to put the provided pillow within. You can climb into the sleep sack and have a comfortable (and protected!) night’s sleep with no fear of bedbugs or of touching the bed itself.

You can buy these sleep sacks online, but they’re easy enough to make as well.

If you don’t have a sleep sack, just do what I did: wear long pants and long-sleeved shirt, socks and sleep on top of the sheets, covering the pillow with one of your packed shirts. That’ll do in a pinch!

how to deal with dirty hotel showers

4) How to stay clean in a dirty shower

When showering in a dirty hotel room, chances are your shower will be icky, too. There’s nothing like feeling dirty in the midst of a nice warm shower to put even the calmest traveler in a bad mood.

College rules apply in this situation: if you have flip flops, wear them.

But what if you have one of those wispy shower curtains that sticks to you?

Well that is a conundrum! Try wetting both the bottom of the curtain as well as the outside of the tub to create a suction effect. Sure, you may end up with a little bit of water on the floor, but at least you will be safe from a touchy-feely curtain.

And you may be helping to clean the floor a little bit in the process!

If you really don’t want to get in the shower, here’s how to stay clean without a shower.

5) Get out quickly

At the end of the day, the best tip of all is to just get yourself out of the dirty hotel room. This is where having extra room in your budget really comes in handy.

Even if it means losing one night’s paid reservation, your sleep and comfort is the most important thing. If you can afford a new place, move. If not, do your best to get out of the room as much as possible.

Go out to a museum, find a great restaurant, meet new people… explore! If you focus on immersing yourself in the local culture, by the end of a packed day you’re sure to be so ready to crash that you just might not care where you do it!

Did I miss anything? What are your helpful tips for dealing with dirty hotel rooms?


About Author

Christina, a TV Production extraordinaire by day and a travel blogger by night, is always planning her next adventure. She's traveled solo throughout Europe, the US, Patagonia and most recently spent a month backpacking throughout Australia and New Zealand. Her greatest solo travel achievement to date is finding a bus to take her from Punta Arenas, Chile (down at the end of the world) to Ushuaia, Argentina based purely on the strength of her hand signals. Get to know her more at her website www.packedsuitcase.com and follow her on Twitter @PackdSuitcase


  1. I’ve had the pleasure of staying in a couple rooms like that. It’s actually a perfect motivation to get out and not lock yourself up with the TV.

    I bottle of that hand sanitizer would probably be a good idea.

  2. Really good tips, Christina. At the über hotel in London, did you ask for a different room? Although characterless, those places will usually try to do something about the problem, especially filth issues. I had a similar-sounding room down a long, dark hallway in a big hotel in London once and was moved to a different room and floor that was much more acceptable.

    • Thanks, Cathy!

      We did call the front desk and request another room, but in this particular situation the management was less than helpful or apologetic. Although, I will admit that we were extremely strapped for time so we didn’t push back too much.

      However, they did send someone up to fix the toilet seat… he proceeded to come into our room of 3 women without knocking our apologizing! But, our toilet seat was fixed 🙂

  3. Eew I hate places like this and avoid them at all costs. Sometimes it can be unavoidable, but ewww. Good tips for survival. Just make sure you check out in the morning!

    • Join the War on Christmas Before It’s Too Late!Culture Warriors! Fight Christmas Creep!In Charles Dickens’ day people like Bob Cratchit were lucky to get Christmas day off. That, and an extra lump of coal, and they were saifeitsd. When I was a boy we got off school for a week at Christmas time. Christmas had over-run it’s boarders from a single day into a week long holiday. Now we start celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving and it runs a good week into January. It’s taken New Years, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa without resistance and it’s licking it’s chops with an eye on Butterball Day. It’s taking holidays faster than Hitler took Europe. Veteran’s day is as venerable as a 1938 Austrian advent a0and Martin Luther King Day is looking as worried as Czechoslovakia in this blitzen blitzkrieg. Christmas has to be stopped and America is just the country to do it! Don’t be a Peace on Earth appeaser . Refrain from wishing anyone a Merry Christmas if it isn’t actually December 25th, because IT’S-NOT-CHRISTMAS!

  4. The flip flops are a must! I always use them. The hardest thing to do is not to use the cover. I like snuggling, but once you think about it, it’s not such a warm and fuzzy feeling anymore.

    • Tax breaks for the rich and copntraoiors are at an insane level. I saw a video about the Gov. of Kentucky, who gave a $40 mil tax credit to a company that wants to build a life-sized Noah’s Ark as a job creator. With millions on unemployment insurance, the President is in a tough corner. I think we all would have liked to see a real fight there, but we know the dangers of letting the benefits expire, as well. Somehow we need to close tax-loopholes and explore a real way of getting out of debt not adding to it by giving more gold to King Midas. Just the sheer numbers of people who can’t find work indicates that our country is still on the brink. The corporate structure in the USA is holding the American people hostage.

  5. Oh my god….I hope that’s a borrowed photo in slot #1 up there. Yikes! And I’ve been there, done that, too. It’s no fun. And I agree–the sleep sack is key. I also use a hypoallergenic pillow case so I never have to touch a pillow directly.

    If the shower is really bad, I take a ‘sponge bath’ and just use a washcloth. There was a place in Eastern Turkey that was simply awful where I didn’t even do that.

    Anyway, good tips here!

  6. Pingback: The Triptastic 10: Recommended Reading Right Now | Chicky Bus

  7. great tips! ever since i ended up awoken in the middle of the night by a cockroach crawling into my mouth (oh yes it did!) i never say yes or pay without seeing the room i’ll be staying in…and i really check things out- pull back the sheets if i’m at all uncertain, check the bathroom, toilet, the works. BUT i’ve definitely also arrived to foreign cities late at night without knowing where i’ll be staying and some times you gotta take what you can get…in which case proceed with all the steps you mention! 🙂

  8. Pingback: Dirty Hotels: A Survival Guide

  9. Pingback: Quiz: What Travel Movie Are You?

  10. Pingback: Booking Reservations vs. Just Showing Up

  11. Pingback: Booking Reservations vs. Just Showing Up - Go! Girl Guides - Helping Women Travel

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.