Staying at a hotel can be convenient, but it also exposes you to germs left behind by previous guests. If you want to sanitize the towels in your room, here’s a quick answer: Wash towels in hot water with bleach or an disinfectant additive. Alternatively, use a portable UV sanitizing device.

Also, hang towels to dry completely.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the risks posed by hotel towels and linens. You’ll learn professional techniques used by hotels to wash and disinfect towels, along with DIY sanitizing tips you can use in your guest room.

With proper sanitation methods, you can enjoy fresh, clean towels on your hotel stay.

Dangers of Hotel Towels

When it comes to hotel towels, many people assume they are clean and safe to use. However, there are several hidden dangers that can lurk in these seemingly innocent linens. Understanding these risks is essential for maintaining good hygiene and avoiding potential health issues.

Bacteria and Viruses

Hotel towels are constantly being used by different guests, making them a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Studies have shown that towels can harbor a variety of harmful microorganisms, including E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and influenza viruses.

These pathogens can cause illnesses such as gastrointestinal infections, skin infections, and respiratory illnesses.

According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, hotel towels were found to contain high levels of bacteria, especially when they were not properly sanitized. This highlights the importance of proper cleaning and disinfection procedures to protect guests from potential health risks.

Skin Cells and Hair

Hotel towels also accumulate dead skin cells and hair from previous guests. When you use a towel that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned, you are essentially rubbing someone else’s skin cells and hair all over your own body. This can lead to skin irritations, allergies, and even infections.

According to dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban, “Using a towel that has not been properly cleaned can introduce foreign bacteria and allergens to your skin, leading to breakouts or rashes.” Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that hotel towels are washed and sanitized properly to remove any traces of previous guests’ biological matter.

Chemical Residues

In addition to bacteria and skin cells, hotel towels may also contain chemical residues from detergents and cleaning agents. Some hotels use harsh chemicals to clean their linens, which can cause skin irritation, dryness, and allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

It is important for hotels to use gentle, hypoallergenic detergents and ensure proper rinsing to minimize the presence of chemical residues on their towels. Guests can also take precautions by rinsing the towel thoroughly before using it or opting for their own personal towels.

Professional Hotel Sanitizing Methods

High Heat Washing

One of the most common and effective methods used by hotels to sanitize towels is high heat washing. This process involves washing the towels at a temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) to kill any bacteria or viruses that may be present.

High heat washing not only cleans the towels but also helps to eliminate any potential health risks.

Bleach and Disinfectants

Another method employed by hotels is the use of bleach and disinfectants. These cleaning agents contain powerful chemicals that can effectively kill germs and bacteria. Hotel staff carefully measure and add the appropriate amount of bleach or disinfectant to the laundry cycle to ensure that the towels are thoroughly sanitized.

It’s important to note that bleach should be used sparingly and according to manufacturer instructions, as excessive use can damage the fabric.

Ozone Cleaning

Ozone cleaning is a more advanced method used by some hotels to sanitize towels. This process involves using ozone gas, a powerful oxidant, to disinfect and deodorize the towels. Ozone has been proven to be highly effective in killing bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

It also helps to remove any unpleasant odors. Ozone cleaning is considered to be a safe and eco-friendly method of sanitization.

Steam Treatment

Steam treatment is another method that hotels may employ to sanitize their towels. This process involves exposing the towels to high-temperature steam, which effectively kills bacteria and other pathogens.

Steam treatment not only eliminates germs but also helps to remove stains and freshen the towels. It is an efficient and environmentally friendly method of sanitization.

It’s important to note that hotels follow strict guidelines and protocols when it comes to sanitizing their towels. These methods ensure that the towels are thoroughly cleaned and safe for guest use. By implementing these professional hotel sanitizing methods, hotels can provide their guests with clean and hygienic towels, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

DIY Techniques to Sanitize Towels

Wash in Your Room’s Sink

One easy and convenient way to sanitize hotel towels is by washing them in your room’s sink. Fill the sink with warm water and add a small amount of laundry detergent. Make sure to thoroughly agitate the towels in the water, paying special attention to any stained or soiled areas.

Rinse the towels well and hang them to dry. This method is effective in removing dirt and bacteria from the towels, leaving them fresh and clean for your use.

Use a UV Sanitizing Wand

A high-tech solution for sanitizing hotel towels is to use a UV sanitizing wand. These portable devices emit ultraviolet light, which can kill bacteria and viruses on contact. Simply wave the wand over the surface of the towel, making sure to cover all areas.

UV sanitizing wands are convenient and effective, making them a popular choice for travelers who want to ensure their towels are germ-free.

Steam with an Iron or Kettle

Another method to sanitize hotel towels is by using steam. If you have access to an iron or a kettle, you can use the steam function to effectively kill bacteria and remove odors from the towels. Hang the towel on a hook or clothesline and hold the iron or kettle a few inches away from the fabric.

Allow the steam to penetrate the towel for a few minutes, then remove and let it air dry. This method is particularly useful for refreshing towels that are not heavily soiled.

Disinfectant Sprays and Wipes

If you prefer a more traditional approach, you can use disinfectant sprays or wipes to sanitize hotel towels. Look for a disinfectant that is safe for fabrics and follow the instructions on the label. Spray or wipe the towel thoroughly, making sure to cover all surfaces.

Allow the disinfectant to sit for a few minutes, then rinse the towel well and let it air dry. This method is effective in killing germs and leaving your towels clean and ready for use.


While hotels have thorough sanitizing procedures, additional measures like washing towels yourself, using UV wands, and proper drying can further eliminate risks. With the proper technique, you can relax knowing your hotel towels are clean and germ-free.

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