The Down and Dirty: What's in Your Hotel Bed?

"GMA" teams up with Trip Advisor to make sure you have a clean night's sleep.

January 21, 2010, 11:54 AM

Jan. 22, 2010 — -- Before you flop into the hotel bed after a long trip, you might want to take a second, closer look at just what you might be jumping into.

A new user-based survey from identified the "Ten Dirtiest Hotels in the United States," and listed complaints about them -- from bed bugs in the bed to mold in the bathroom.

Click here to see the survey on

According to the online vote, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they have been surprised by the lack of cleanliness in a hotel room. While only 11 percent changed hotels because of dirty rooms, 57 percent said they changed hotel rooms because the first was too dirty.

But according to Trip Advisor spokeswoman Dr. Donnica Moore, there are steps you can take to make sure you stay clean the next time you stay the night.

When you enter a hotel, you may not know if the bed is dirty or not -- so Moore says you should never put your luggage or any carry-all on the bed.

"My pet peeve is don't put the luggage on the bed," Moore said. "Put your luggage on the luggage rack. You don't want to bring home any unwelcome visitors."

If there are bugs in the bed, they can make their way into your bag, Moore said.

In the TripAdvisor survey of more than 1,000 respondents, more than three quarters said they had stayed in a dirty hotel and the bedspread was the number one concern.

There's no definite way to know how often bed spreads get washed, but according to Moore, they don't get washed after every guest. She suggested taking it off the bed right away and keeping it off. If you get cold, it's a better bet to ask room service for more blankets.

Moore said that since bedbugs are so tiny, the best way to see if they're around actually is to look for what they leave behind.

"What you might be more likely to see is the bed bug dander, residue," Moore said. "They're messy bugs."

Moore said you can spot bedbug waste, skin and shells if you look closely. The most suspect areas of the bed include the baseboards and in the creases of the mattress.

Tip 4: If There Are Bugs...

Bedbugs tend to feed in a series of three bites, or as Moore called it, "breakfast, lunch and dinner."

If you wake up with three small bites near each other, you might have been a little critter's victim. If you see more than that, there are probably more bugs around, Moore said.

After the bites, Moore recommends using hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itch they may cause.

Bedbug bites generally aren't harmful unless they get infected, so don't scratch, Moore said.

When you get home, you should launder all your clothes in hot water or dry clean them and vacuum your suitcase inside and out.

While most travelers don't go around with a black light, the tool can pick up stains on the sheets that the naked eye could miss. But as long as the sheets look visibly clean, you're probably fine, Moore said. Same goes for the pillow.

Travel sleep sacks, which are like a cross between a sleeping bag and a bed sheet, can protect some of your body from dirty sheets, but any exposed skin still will be vulnerable to bedbugs.

Some of the things you touch the most in a hotel room you probably think about the least. Door knobs, light switches, telephones and the remote control all can harbor germs.

Some travelers suggested bringing a plastic bag to put the remote control in before use.

If you're traveling with an infant or toddler, you may have to look in a few places that you might not consider otherwise.

According to, you should check under the bed and open all the drawers to make sure there's nothing harmful around. Also look for uncovered power outlets or sharp edges on furniture.

For the on-air segment, "Good Morning America" visited two of the hotels on Trip Advisor's "Ten Dirtiest Hotels in the United States" list. One of the hotels provided the following response:

I understand you were at our property on January 19 2010 and did some sort of tests for cleanliness. I would like you to know we give daily housekeeping to each room that is occupied. The housekeeper vacuums and cleans the rooms with special cleaners for the different parts of the rooms. Our linens are sent out to a private company that picks up and cleans our linens daily. Our staff does their best to clean the rooms and make our guests happy. We have a very large number of happy guests and repeat customers. We do not pretend to be a 5 star hotel but we do clean our rooms as if we were a 5 star hotel. If a guest ever had a complaint we would take care of it immediately. We give personal service and have a large number of happy repeat customers. I believe we are the best value for a hotel on Miami Beach.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

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