How contaminated is your hotel room? Brush up on your travel advice


Research reported on BBC Breakfast has revealed that your hotel room may be a hotbed of bacterial contamination. The bathroom in particular is cited as a major culprit; as not only is the toilet area riddled, but the door handles and surfaces around the sink are equally dirty, since hotel housekeepers use the same cloths for multiple surfaces.

A Twitter response to the programme revealed that not only is the hotel room a threat, but so are the housekeepers working there, who have been caught using guests’ products, including their toothbrushes!
Liz Smith-Mills of the British Institute of Cleaning, who was featured on the programme, reported that even five star hotels can be worryingly unclean because management are cutting down the time staff spend cleaning each room.

To counter the threats, Liz Smith-Mills stated that some people bring their own surface cleaner with them when they travel, but thought that this was a little extreme, whereas the Steripod toothbrush protector she presented she considered a necessity – something she always uses

She said: ‘I always like to keep my toothbrush covered as one never knows what is coming out of the toilet when you’re flushing and you never really know what has been put on the bathroom surfaces.

The Steripod recommend in the programme creates a protective guard around a toothbrush for £2.50. The potector simply clips on to the head of any manual or electric toothbrush, creating a protective ‘pod’ which physically surrounds the head and shields it from both airborne and cross contamination.

Toothbrush contamination
The research in the programme concurs with a recent study at the University of Manchester which showed that there are more than 10 million bacteria on your toothbrush right now. That means there are considerably more bacteria on your toothbrush than your average toilet seat – which has 50 bacteria per square inch , or average public lavatory floor – which has two million bacteria per square inch .
Most people don’t realise that every time you flush the loo, an aerosol spray of tainted water is released with droplets able to land as far away as 10 feet. Researchers from the University of Alabama found that brushes stored in the bathroom – in other words all of them – are contaminated with faecal matter lingering in the bristles. Toothbrushes aren’t particular about whose faecal matter it is, so it’s likely it won’t just be your own that is going into your mouth every time you clean your teeth. (I expect you will never flush the toilet with the lid up again!).
It is likely your toothbrush will have been exposed to numerous invisible contaminants in the months that you use it, including a high proportion of pathogenic nasties such as E.coli and staphylococcal. Airborne bacteria are not the only pollutants which sully your toothbrush. If it touches another, germs and bacteria can pass from surface to surface, spreading the likes of oral herpes (cold sores), candida (oral thrush) and the HPV virus.

How to protect your toothbrush while travelling
Normal toothbrush caps actually foster contamination as they trap bacteria and encourage proliferation in the warm, most environments they create. By contrast the new Steripod device is designed protect against environmental contamination, keeping it clean and smelling fresh, for up to three months using a patented design with ‘active vapours’ – a laboratory formulated thymol compound. Thymol is used in many mouthwashes and oral antiseptics. The compound is encapsulated in plastic with small holes which allows the thymol vapours to escape and protectively encircle the toothbrush bristles. The product has been specially designed so that air can circulate freely which means your toothbrush can dry naturally – contaminants require a moist atmosphere to multiply most effectively, so the drier your brush, the lower the risk of bad bugs on your bristles.

Unlike expensive toothbrush sanitisers, Steripod does not require batteries or cables, meaning that it’s easy to protect your brush wherever it is; at home, on holiday, or out and about. Plus, unlike antibacterial sprays, the active ingredients don’t come into contact with the brush bristles, so you aren’t at risk of ingesting unwelcome chemicals.

Passport to a healthy holiday
So what’s the best way to keep your toothbrush protected during your travels?
 Never place your toothbrush on the bathroom counter, as housekeepers often use the same cloths to wipe down multiple surfaces.
 Keep anything that goes in your mouth (or on your face) in your travel bag.
 Hide your toothbrush if you are concerned that the housekeeper may use it.
 Flush the toilet with the seat lid down.
Plus of course, use a Steripod.

There are a wide number of people for whom a Steripod will offer a compelling prospect; people travelling for work or pleasure; festival goers, students in university halls of residence or going to camp as well as the increasing number of us, aware of the health and aesthetic benefits of regular brushing, like to pop a toothbrush in our gym, hand or wash bags.

For anyone undergoing orthodontic treatment, carrying a brush to clean the teeth after meals is imperative.

For all these, and many others, Steripod is ideal to ensure their toothbrush remains hygienic and fresh.

A pack of two Steripod costs £4.99 from larger Boots stores,,, Sainsbury, Superdrug, ASDA, Boyes Stores and selected independent pharmacies. For more information visit

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