You may never be able to relax in a hotel room again – not without a lot of antibacterial, anyway. A new study done by the University of Houston, with help from Purdue University and the University of South Carolina, looked into what surface areas in hotel rooms were most contaminated. Their hope was to identify “high-risk items,” to help hotels figure out where to spend the most time cleaning.
While certain obvious items made the list, like the bathroom sink and toilet, less apparent surfaces were also indicated, like the bedside lamp switch. The TV remote was the biggest culprit, while the bed’s headboard, the bathroom door handle and curtain rods were found to have the least amount of bacteria.
“Hoteliers have an obligation to provide their guests with a safe and secure environment,” explains Katie Kirsch, an undergraduate student at the University of Houston who presented the study. “Currently, housekeeping practices vary across brands and properties with little or no standardization industry wide.”
Apparently, the current method used to validate hotel room cleanliness is a simple visual assessment; however, this has been shown to be ineffective. Hopefully, this study will begin pushing hotels to up their sanitation efforts.
[image via counselman collection]
When my family and I went to Aberystwyth in Wales last month, we visited the Ceredigion County Museum and saw an amusing exhibition called At Your Convenience all about historic toilets. The hardworking curators had amassed an impressive collection privies, commodes, chamber pots, early flush toilets, even an entire outhouse.
Needless to say, my five-year-old son loved this. Imagine, getting to make toilet jokes under the guise of education! This chair that lifts up to reveal a chamber pot especially impressed him until he noticed the yellow stains.
Being the highbrow kind of guy I am, I’m always interested to see historic toilets. These don’t get mentioned in history books much, and are generally not displayed in museums, which makes this exhibition a pleasant surprise. That such an important day-to-day item is blotted out of history tells us something about how the past is written and presented.
The sharp-eyed traveler can still discover privies from the past. Many survive in Roman archaeological sites. Ephesus has well-preserved Roman latrinae consisting of a stone benches with holes in them. Housesteads Roman Fort along the Hadrian’s Wall Path has a military toilet that gets lots of attention from younger visitors. The Romans had running water to clean these commodes.
They weren’t the first, however. The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands had flush toilets 5,000 years ago. The ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan had toilets at around the same time. More modern toilets can be of interest too. In Addis Ababa, the Institute of Ethiopian Studies is housed in one of Haile Selassie’s palaces. The tour takes you through his private chambers, where you can visit the Imperial bathroom and see his baby blue toilet and bidet. Sadly, they don’t let you take photos.
Loo lovers will want to check out the Museum Für Historische Sanitärobjeckte in Gmunden, Austria. This toilet museum has probably the largest collection in the world. There’s a great gallery of photos here.
At Your Convenience is open until September 3.
Willy wrote a post about the Smiley toothbrush holder, a worthy travel pal. Here’s another addition to the how to take your toothbrush with you when you travel, and the how to take care of it when you get to your destination question. The Flipper toothbrush holder brings a zoo and good hygiene to any bathroom or suitcase depending how many people are your traveling cohorts.
Although there are holders available in non-animal designs, what’s the fun in that? The neat thing about the Flipper toothbrush holder is that it can fasten onto a bathroom mirror so you don’t need to worry about your toothbrush dropping onto a dirty carpet or into a questionable sink, or whether the sink counter is clean enough.
The holder is also designed to let moisture evaporate so you’re less likely to get that crud build up. As you move from one place to another, the holder can be taken off and refastened with the bristle end of your toothbrush safely protected all the while.
I like that the holder is in one piece so the top or the bottom won’t go missing. The company also makes razor holders that fasten to a mirror or shower stall using the same concept.
India isn’t the only country having toilet summits; one is going to kick off in Korea on November 21. This one takes a special twist though as it encourages people to open their homes in the name of improving world hygiene — according to the UN about 2.5 billion people live without proper toilet facilities.
To commemorate the General Assembly of the World Toilet Association in Korea and to amplify his call for toilet sanitation, former Korean Mayor Sim Jae-Duck has demolished his own house and constructed a US$1.6 million house in the shape of a loo. Before he moves in, the house can be stayed in for a rent of US$50,000 a night and proceeds will go into building toilets for those who cannot afford them.
In the West, toilets and toilet paper are taken for granted and people complain about the dog poo they occasionally step into. In India, the government lets out pigs into the street to eat people’s excretion — there’s just so much of it.
In some villages of say 300 people, residents share one toilet. Hard to contemplate huh.
People crap isn’t the only problem, cows crap in the main streets too. That cow-dung we actually use as manure and fuel to cook on. It’s even splat onto walls of houses in villages where electricity is unaffordable, to keep them cool in scorching summers.
I think I don’t need to elaborate further on how unhygienic things can get from lack of toilets and sanitation facilities. I’m really happy that nations are collaborating to think of solutions for this massive problem.
If eating out of a toilet doesn’t sound edgy enough–grand enough, how about a night in a house that looks like one? Might sound odd, but don’t be hasty. The Toilet House may not be so weird. The guy who had it built, Seoul, Korea’s, Sim Jae-Duck, is the founder of The World Toilet Association and wants to make sure that people have clean toilets to use. By this, I don’t mean toilet hygiene, per se, but toilets that are clean to use–meaning people have a place to go do their business without creating a health hazard. If you’ve ever lived in an African village, you understand the need for a good latrine that’s far enough away from the village well.
If you pay the $50,000 a night to stay in this house, you’ll be adding money towards Jae-Duck’s work to make sure that people in the world can get rid of their bodily waste without the danger of making people sick. Not a bad idea. Plus, the house does look funky. Again, thanks to Tom Barlow from BloggingStocks for sending this treasure my way.