Undercover Investigation: Dirty Hotel Drinking Glasses

An ABC15 investigation uncovered hotel drinking glasses that were so dirty they could pose a serious risk to your health.

Arizona health code requires that hotel drinking glasses be "cleaned and sanitized," using a dishwasher or three-compartment sink. Three of the four hotels ABC15 tested failed: not replacing dirty glasses with clean ones, and using only a towel or sponge to wipe them clean before putting them back out for the next guest.

State health officials are already reacting to the investigation's results.

"It's just plain gross," says Will Humble from the Arizona Health Department. Humble called the incident a clear violation of Arizona's health code, explaining that the dirty glasses can transfer viruses or even influenza from guest to guest. None of the hotels tested have been cited.

In a joint investigation with sister stations across the country, ABC15 found that the Arizona incident is not an isolated problem.

From Kansas City to Cincinnati to Baltimore, 11 of 15 hotels tested did not take dirty glasses out of the room for cleaning and sanitizing.

At one Kansas City Holiday Inn, a hotel worker wiped her hands with the same towel she used to dry the dirty glasses.

The Holiday Inn says it "set stringent quality standards." They put out a statement saying "as we work to ensure 100 percent execution of these standards, we have changed to the use of prewrapped plastic cups exclusively."

At the Millennium Hotel in Cincinnati, the investigation found a housekeeper who used a spray bottle to douse the dirty glasses and coffee pot in the sink with a bottle of Lysol mildew remover.

Though the video does not prove there was actually mildew remover in the bottle, if it was Lysol, the label clearly states "harmful if swallowed."

At the Embassy Suites in Phoenix, the investigation found that instead of replacing dirty glasses, housekeepers rinsed and dried with a rag. An undercover camera caught staff doing this not just once but both times the investigators stayed at the Embassy Suites.

The Embassy Suites responded by saying, "glassware must be replaced daily and sanitized...we are re-emphasizing this training."

At another Embassy Suites in Cincinnati, the investigation found glasses that were dried using a dirty hand towel. The same maid then used a clean towel to wipe down the dirty floor, using her foot to do the work. After the bathroom floor, she next used the dirty towel to wipe down the coffee pot.

Dale Grigsby of the Cincinnati Health Department says, "To take that towel that they used to clean up a bathroom floor where there's even more of a chance of there being pathogens in there … to use it on to wipe off glassware it's just like playing with a loaded gun."

Both the Embassy Suites and the Millennium Hotel in Cincinnati say they are looking into the issue.

Ohio has no health code pertaining to hotel drinking glasses, but after viewing the investigation's video, officials said they were working on creating new regulations.

Click here to watch ABC15's video in full on its Web site ABC15.

Millennium Hotel Cincinnati "Response to Recent Hotel Cleanliness Incident"

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