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Eight Things to Disinfect When You Get to Your Hotel Room (plus a few more suggestions)

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While it’s always magical to spend time at Walt Disney World, getting sick can put a real damper on the fun. To protect you and your traveling entourage against germs like norovirus (stomach flu) and others, it’s usually a good idea to kick your sanitation routine up a notch into travel mode. And while there’s no guarantee you won’t catch something on your trip, you can minimize the chances by following a few simple steps. (Last updated / republished August 1, 2023)

You may also want to read this related article which can help you prepare and plan to stay healthy on your visit. And if, despite your best efforts, you do happen to fall ill or need any sort of medical attention, this article has got you covered with how and where to get help.

Worth noting: I’m not a health care provider. All of the suggestions below are just that: suggestions. Some are common sense, some are based on personal preference and others are widely shared. With that in mind, let’s dive in.

Before you arrive.

In this era of COVID-19, it’s not a bad idea to wear a mask on your plane. Our family still does, but we’re comfortable removing it for a beverage or snack. We also carry disinfectant wipes in our carry-on. Starting with the plane seat, we wipe down the arm rests, recliner button, tray, magazine pocket, air controllers, touch screen, and headrest. And personally, after seeing what some people put into the magazine pocket (soiled diapers!), I don’t use it at all anymore.

Standard room at the Polynesian Resort. ©Disney

When you arrive at your hotel room

Here’s a suggested routine you can follow whether you’re staying on or offsite at Walt Disney World. Of course, you can skip steps that seem like overkill to you; these are just the things I usually do.

First, if it is an option, open the window or sliding door to air out the room. Germs can linger in the air for hours and this is a great way to help the air change over so it’s fresher and cleaner.

As the room airs out, wipe down:

  1. Doorknobs: Your room door, closet, bathroom (and sliding glass door if any).
  2. Switches: Wall light switches and lamp switches. Include the thermostat buttons.
  3. Pulls: Curtains, bureau drawers, bed stand drawers.
  4. Appliances: Clock, coffee pot buttons, and safe handle and keypad. The remote control deserves a special mention Some hotels now wrap them in plastic, which is great – if it’s a new plastic bag. If you’re not sure, put it in a plastic sandwich or quart size bag of your own, after giving the remote a brief wipe down. Those little cracks and crevices are petri dishes!
  5. Surfaces: Nightstands, desk and hard surface chair arm rests.
Polynesian Resort bathroom. ©Disney

Next, head into the bathroom and wipe down these things (you already did the doorknob on both sides, right?):

  1. Hard surfaces you’ll set your toiletries on. Alternatively, set things on a new wash cloth or hand towel.
  2. Sink and shower handles
  3. Toilet seat, lid, and handle

A couple more suggestions

Most hotels have started using disposable cups individually wrapped in plastic. But if yours hasn’t, you can run glasses or mugs under hot water for a minute or two.

My wife reminds me to always put our suitcases on the luggage rack, not the bed. Those little wheels have been absolutely everywhere and touched who-knows-what in the airport, airplane, sidewalk, car trunk, bus ride, etc. But if you must use the bed, you could wipe off the suitcase and wheels before you unpack.

If your hotel room uses them (and I dare say most no longer do), it’s likely the decorative bedspread or decorative pillows on the bed aren’t washed or changed between stays (and who knows what the previous residents did on the bedspread?). Take them off and sleep with the clean sheets, pillows and a blanket..

We wear slippers or socks in our room. Many updated rooms in hotels no longer have (UGH) carpeted floors, but even with LVP or tile, we still wear slippers or socks in our room.

And FWIW, during the height of the pandemic, we would bring along a small portable phone charger/UV sanitizer to disinfect our phones. Our credit cards, cash, or coins we received during the day fit inside, too. We would throw them in at night, push the button and be good to go. Truth be told, we’ve eliminated this process in our latest travels, but wanted you to know it’s an option.

Ready to head out for the day?

We carry hand sanitizer and use it frequently. Many have improved formulas that won’t dry out your skin with repeated use. If you’re as finicky as we are, use it after riding an attraction because who knows who used the grab bar before you. After three trips with different sets of grandkids, I was reminded that it was also easier to use hand sanitizer with little ones. They’re less likely to wash their hands frequently and well – and way more likely to touch their faces a lot. On a recent trip, one grandson loved to touch or drag his hand along every fence, every handrail, and every wall as we walked between attractions. Thanks to sanitizer and good handwashing, he was right as rain!

This may sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t take much time, really – and it sure takes up a lot less vacation time than getting sick! It makes “cents,” too; if you calculate how many dollars per day your trip cost, missing out on one day’s fun can be costly…

So wash your hands, be well and enjoy the magic!

Have any other tips? Let us know in the comments. 

Originally published July 5, 2021.

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Bob Jacobs

Bob Jacobs lives in Wisconsin where he retired as Editorial Director for a well-known catalog company. He and his wife Cristie have four children, seven grandchildren and a cocker spaniel named Penny the Dog. They’ve visited Walt Disney World regularly since 1992.

9 thoughts on “Eight Things to Disinfect When You Get to Your Hotel Room (plus a few more suggestions)

  • Thanks for the pointers, Bob. It never hurts to be reminded of things to be aware of.

  • You forgot the real important part – wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face often. The rest of this is total overkill unless you are a germaphobe. Overuse of sanitizer on hands leads to dry skin which is more likely to pick up germs per medical research. Washing hands is far more effective than hand sanitizer. It’s being researched that too clean is worse for immune systems as well. So wash your hands with non antibacterial soap and try not to go crazy unless you have an issue with your immune system.

  • Since these places get so many international travelers, before we even go into our room anywhere we stay, we send one person in to check the beds for bed bugs by pulling back the covers and sheets down to the mattress pad. Only once we get the all clear will we then bring anything in. We’ve never seen any at Disney properties, but we still don’t want to take that chance!

  • As I wrote, I wanted to be more general about practices that could be used at all hotels, not just those on property, since not everybody stays onsite. Mousekeeping does a terrific job, and thanks to you for adding information that will be helpful to a lot of folks!

    • Sorry, that wasn’t clear at all since that wasn’t mentioned and the pictures are all from on property WDW room.

      • You’re right! (FWIW, my wife made a similar comment when she saw the post…lesson learned!)

  • The remotes are cleaned and already bagged at WDW these days and nothing substitutes for good hand washing . There’s also little decorative bedding like the old bedspreads, etc. Perhaps an update to this article based on current practices at WDW would be more helpful?

  • And when you’re doing all those things on the plane, make sure you’re out of the way so others can pass and continue to board, so the plane can depart on time.

    • Agreed! We’ve found we can do all of this sitting down, without hindering other passengers. It seems consideration for others while traveling is really more important now than ever! Thanks.


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