Travel

How to Tell if Your Hotel Doesn't Actually Wash the Bedsheets

Published On 09/16/2016 Published On 09/16/2016

You know how when you go to a hotel, you do all kinds of gross stuff in bed you wouldn't do at home? Like eating Doritos! Or whatever other kinda gross thing you were thinking about.
 
Despite the disgusting habits of strangers, climbing into a hotel bed probably doesn't skeeve you out. That is, unless the hotel doesn't change the sheets before you arrive with your bag of Cool Ranch. Lo, that's what Inside Edition found when it recently took some time off from harassing Kanye West.

The show checked people into New York City hotels -- decent ones, like a Residence Inn by Marriott -- on consecutive nights under different names, booking the same room both nights. The first night, the show's plants stenciled "I SLEPT HERE" in invisible fluorescent paint on the sheets. Upon returning the next night, they inspected the sheets with a blacklight.

Turned out that three of the nine didn't change the sheets. The managers, confronted, had such hard-hitting responses as, "I do not know what happened in this situation," and "I expect them to be changed every day." Yeah, no kidding, you and everyone else.

A sample size of nine may not be statistically significant, but statistics aren't the ones who have to sleep in someone else's back sweat in one hotel stay of every three. That, you shouldn't have to do, either. And regardless of a hotel's standard practices, you don't need to.

Inside Edition

So what can you do about it?

Those of us who aren't germaphobes can simply accept this as the cost of doing business on planet Earth. We ride in airplanes with hundreds of sneezing strangers. We ride buses and trains rubbing up against sweaty people. We eat food we didn't farm. So we're probably also going to sleep in someone else's drool from time to time. That said, if you want some peace of mind, here are a few tips.
 
1) Buy a portable blacklight. You don't need to get the full-on purple wand they use on Inside Edition. Pocket-sized ones are available online for less than $20, and will allow you to fully inspect your hotel sheets before jumping in. That said, if you find they're dirty, then demand a room change, and those are dirty, then change hotels and find THOSE are dirty too, we can't be responsible for your overnight stay in your backseat.
 
2) Don't stay in a hotel. Simple enough, right? It's 2016 and Airbnb is what all the cool kids are doing anyway. Then again, there's no guarantee your host is washing his or her sheets either. But since they don't have 400 rooms to clean, your odds might be better.
 
3) Bring your own sheets along. Does that immediately make you known amongst your friends as "that guy who, no joke, brings his own sheets to hotels because of something he saw on Inside Edition"? Yes, yes it does. But it's not completely unheard of, and might be the only way you can guarantee a clean bed.
 
So if you're reading this in a hotel bed right now and are severely grossed out, sorry 'bout that. But now at least you know. And be kind -- you may be leaving crumbs behind for tomorrow's unwary traveler.

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Matt Meltzer is a staff writer with Thrillist who never eats Doritos in bed. Follow him on Instagram @meltrez1.

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