Super gross investigation reveals hotels aren’t changing sheets between guests

You know all those stories about how hotels are secretly gross? Well, that grossness isn’t so secret anymore. An investigation by Inside Edition found that hotels don’t always change sheets between guests, so the next time you stay in a hotel, you might be sleeping on someone else’s dead skin flakes and sweat. Excuse me while I go take a shower until the end of time.

To gather their findings, the Inside Edition team booked overnight stays in nine New York hotels and spray-painted the words “I Slept Here” onto their sheets using washable UV paint, which was only visible under a black light. The following day, they checked into the same rooms under pseudonyms, pretending to be new guests. They then examined the sheets using a black light. If the sheets had been washed and changed, the paint would be gone; if the paint remained, it meant the sheets from their previous stay were still on the bed.

Turns out three out of the nine hotels investigated failed the sheet-changing test — and couldn’t explain why. The managers at all three hotels claimed that hotel policy required sheets to be changed between guests, but didn’t offer any reasons why this hadn’t been carried out. Of course, the implied reason is, “We didn’t think we’d get caught,” but that probably doesn’t count.

Couple in hotel bed
CREDIT: NBC/Getty Images

These weren’t crappy little fleabag hotels, by the way. They were part of major chains such as Marriott Hotels, and this being New York, rooms in all of these locations started at three figures a night. So basically, customers at these hotels are paying several hundred dollars to sleep on dirty sheets. And expensive-but-disgusting hotel rooms aren’t confined to New York; a February 2016 Inside Edition investigation at a Santa Clara hotel, where rooms were $350 a night during Super Bowl weekend, found dead bugs, a can of nitrous oxide, and hairs stuck to the sheets in one room.

Bedspreads are even worse (sorry, germaphobes). Renata McCarthy, a lecturer in Hotel Administration at Cornell and a former hotel housekeeping manager, has said that some hotel chains only change their bedspreads four times a year. That means you could be sleeping on three months’ buildup of sweat, bacteria, dead skin, and, um, personal fluid emissions from strangers.

Unfortunately, until hotels clean up their act, there’s not much you can do besides traveling with a black light and scrubbing yourself down very, very carefully in the shower. Or you could just never sleep — which, considering how horrifying this is, shouldn’t be too hard.

Tags: hotels