CNN-Go ahead and get your hand sanitizer ready now, because a new study has revealed the dirtiest areas in your hotel room, and ... you know what? Just ... don't touch anything for a second.
According to an experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Houston, when it comes to contamination, there are the usual suspects topping the list -- bathrooms, sinks, all of the places you do those things you do -- but other high rankers on the germ scale include bedside lamp switches and, most disturbingly, the TV remote.
OK, it kind of makes sense. People manhandle the remote with their grubby fingers, and they may paw at the light switches (Goodnight moon! Goodnight, microscopic particles of fecal matter!) But the university's results also found a few major culprits nestled behind enemy lines -- in hotel cleaning supplies. One of the study's researchers says this could lead to high instances of cross-contamination between rooms.
"Currently, housekeeping practices vary across brands and properties with little or no standardization industry wide," says the University of Houston's Katie Kirsch. "The current validation method for hotel room cleanliness is a visual assessment, which has been shown to be ineffective in measuring levels of sanitation."
The study tested 19 surfaces in hotel rooms in three states, and identified levels of aerobic bacteria and (gulp) coliform, or fecal, bacteria.
Lest you feel inclined to get up from the bedspread with your hands outstretched, avoiding contact of any kind, consider this: The study, which was a preliminary experiment for larger, more comprehensive plan for improved hotel room cleanliness, says squeaky clean rooms are becoming more of a priority for travelers, which means they are becoming more of a priority for hotel management and staff.
In the meantime, feel free to go wild with the curtain rods, headboard and bathroom door handle -- three areas rated among the cleanest in the room. You could just bring your own Lysol wipes, scrub down, and hope for the best.