, FEBRUARY 5, 2008 - (STAR) PURPLE SHADES By Letty Jacinto-Lopez - Here,” said my husband as he tore a page from USA Today. “Show this article to Barbara, Cory, Boots, Glo, Tish, and Lulu. It will reinforce that interesting topic I raised to them on what not to use in a hotel room.”

The article was about an investigative team from Atlanta Fox5 TV that placed random hidden cameras in hotel bathrooms of budget and luxury hotels in America, focusing their lenses on the bath sink.

What the camera recorded would have made my grandson shriek, “Ewww, that’s the height of yuckiness, Nonna.”

It was hideous.

Housekeepers were cleaning glasses in the bathroom sink. After cleaning the toilet, flushing it and wearing the same pair of rubber gloves, one was caught swooshing glasses around under the bathroom tap; another sprayed a toxic cleaning solution on the glasses even though the solution clearly had a warning sticker that read “POISON: not to be taken internally.”

One housekeeper rinsed the glasses and then she picked up one of the soiled terry cloths and dried the glasses with it. Another, obviously at the end of her shift, wiped the glasses with her apron and set them back up on the bathroom counter and the mini bar wrapped in waxed paper with a printed message, “Sanitized for your convenience.”

“Always travel with a plastic drinking glass that folds like an accordion — the same kind that our mothers used to pack in our lunch boxes or disposable cups,” advised my husband after showing me the article.

My husband explained, “No matter how strict the policy a hotel management group has about cleaning and sanitary procedures, anything goes once the housekeeping staff are on their assigned floors.”

Who can watch all those people all the time? What they do behind closed doors remains exactly that: closed.

But not anymore. The random video captured unsanitary practices that were clearly in violation of health codes. Worse, the used glasses could contain traces of salmonella, the flesh-eating bacteria, strains of hepatitis virus or fecal deposits — and lots of other stuff we don’t want to know and cannot see.

My husband emphasized though that in big chain hotels, it is a standard practice to remove glasses from all guest rooms to the main kitchen to be washed and sanitized and then returned to the rooms.

What other things must we look out for?

Cover and keep your toothbrush and other dental paraphernalia away from the bath counter so that when the housekeeper cleans the bathroom, she/he won’t accidentally dislodge your toothbrush into the dirty sink. (Take the time to store such items inside the wardrobe closet before you leave your room).

Fold the quilted bedspread away and use only the white bed linens that are changed every day. (Bedcovers are not automatically washed after every guest checks out.)

Similarly, use your own rubber tongs when you take a shower because the bath tub may not have been properly cleaned, either. This is to prevent you from catching any foot allergy, or worse, foot fungus.

Wear slippers in the bedroom at all times because carpets, even if vacuumed, can contain bits of street dirt and germs. Door knobs may contain mucus and other grimy stuff that can spread disease.

As an added measure, designate someone from your family or alternate with your room mate to be the “germ buster.” Simply put, don’t allow anyone to use the hotel room until all the knobs, the tables, the phone, the bath counters, the toilet seat and the water closet are wiped with rubbing alcohol or disinfectant.

Incidentally, grocery push carts should be sanitized the same way.

I was planning to bring the article to the next luncheon get-together with my friends when someone asked me, “What about in the restaurants? Are there any dirty dining secrets?”

Do we really want to know?

That could be just as disgusting as a disgruntled waiter exacting revenge on you.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved