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hotel room coffeemaker

How Dirty Is Your Hotel Room Coffeemaker?

Before you pour yourself a free cup of joe from that hotel room coffeemaker, ask yourself—does it come with a side of germs? 

How Clean Is Your Hotel Room Coffeemaker?

Good news: Your hotel room coffeemaker probably isn’t any dirtier than the one at your office. The bad news is, that one is pretty germy, too.

Excited to see a coffeemaker stocked with free K-cups or Nespresso pods in your hotel room? Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re probably better off sampling the local coffee shop instead to get your caffeine fix.

Dr. Aaron Glatt, the Chairman of South Nassau Communities Hospital‘s Department of Medicine, told me: “Any food-related item could potentially be a source of contamination, but as the coffee is brewed or boiled, this is less likely to be a common source of infection transmission. In any event, these items should be regularly cleaned as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

It’s the “regular cleaning part” that’s the issue here. In order to prevent mold and bacteria from growing inside of coffee makers, they need to be cleaned every few months with vinegar. Hot water alone won’t kill the mold, so don’t think a quick rinse in the sink will cleanse your communal coffeemaker.

How often do you think hotels are doing this to in-room coffee makers?

A study by the University of Valencia tested nine different Nespresso machines that had been in use for at least one year. The report states: “All the machines revealed a significant bacterial diversity, with the total number of identified genera ranging from 35 to 67,” meaning a “moderately to highly abundant” quantity.

But it’s not just the inside of the hotel room coffeemaker that you have to worry about. “An interesting thing about germs in hotel rooms is that they aren’t solely due to the people staying in those rooms,” Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, warns. “In fact, we’ve done virus tracer studies where we found that maids move the viruses from room to room during cleaning.”

Think the coffee pot in the hotel lobby might be a better choice? Dr. Gerba has studied communal coffee machines in office breakrooms, too. “In studying the spread of a tracer virus, we found that the coffee pot handle in the break room was one of the first contaminated articles with the virus,” he says. “So, my suggestion is to always get your coffee first in the morning.”

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Caroline Morse is a Senior Editor with SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @TravelwithCaroline and Twitter @CarolineMorse1 to see her adventures around the world.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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