can i get sick from a hotel pillow


Can I Get Sick from a Hotel Pillow?


Have you ever wondered about the cleanliness of the hotel pillow you rest your head on during your travels? It's not uncommon for travelers to be concerned about picking up germs or getting sick from hotel pillows. While hotels strive to maintain high cleanliness standards, it's still essential to be aware of potential health risks. In this article, we will delve into the topic of whether or not you can get sick from a hotel pillow. We will discuss the various factors that can contribute to the cleanliness of hotel pillows and provide tips on how to stay safe during your stay.

The Role of Housekeeping in Maintaining Cleanliness

Housekeeping is a crucial department within hotels responsible for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene for guests. It is expected that pillows are cleaned and sanitized regularly to ensure a healthy environment. However, the efficiency of housekeeping practices can vary from one hotel to another. Some hotels have rigid protocols in place, including regular pillow cleaning, while others might prioritize speed over thoroughness.

Hotels often use a combination of pillow protectors, pillowcases, and regular pillow laundering to maintain cleanliness. Pillow protectors act as a barrier between the pillow and the guest, protecting the pillow itself from stains, sweat, and bodily fluids. Experts suggest that pillow protectors should be washed or replaced regularly. Pillowcases, on the other hand, are usually changed after each guest's departure, but it is always a good idea to inspect them for cleanliness before using.

The Risk of Bed Bugs and Allergens

One of the primary concerns related to hotel pillows is the risk of bed bugs. These tiny pests can infest pillows, mattresses, and upholstery, causing itchy bites and possibly leading to more severe skin irritations and allergic reactions. While bed bug incidents are relatively rare, they can occur in any hotel, regardless of its star rating. To minimize this risk, hotels typically have stringent pest control measures in place, including regular inspections and treatments.

Another factor to consider is the presence of allergens in hotel pillows. Dust mites, microscopic creatures commonly found in bedding, can trigger allergies or worsen existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. Hotel pillows that haven't been adequately maintained or laundered can harbor dust mites and their allergenic waste particles. However, hotels that prioritize cleanliness and have rigorous housekeeping protocols in place tend to mitigate the risk of allergens.

Contagious Illnesses and Viruses

Hotel pillows can potentially harbor contagious illnesses and viruses if not adequately sanitized. Guests who are ill while staying at a hotel may cough, sneeze, or drool on pillows, leaving behind germs that can survive for varying periods depending on the virus. While it might be unlikely for the average traveler to catch an illness from a hotel pillow, it is still essential to take precautions.

Hotels usually ensure that any pillow suspected of being contaminated is removed from circulation until it can be properly cleaned or replaced. However, it's always good to exercise caution, especially during flu seasons or other periods of increased illness prevalence. If you have a weakened immune system or are more susceptible to infections, it might be wise to consider bringing your pillow or using a protective barrier like a personal pillowcase or cover.

Best Practices for Guests

While hotels are responsible for maintaining cleanliness, guests can also take certain measures to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some best practices to consider when it comes to hotel pillows:

1. Inspect Pillows: Upon entering your hotel room, inspect the pillows for any visible stains or signs of bed bugs. If you notice anything concerning, contact the front desk to request a change of pillows or even a room.

2. Consider Pillow Protectors: If you are particularly concerned about the cleanliness of hotel pillows, consider bringing your pillow protectors. This extra layer of protection can alleviate worries and provide peace of mind.

3. Personal Pillowcases: Pack a couple of your own pillowcases to place over the hotel's pillowcases. This way, you have a barrier between your face and the pillow, reducing the risk of direct contact with allergens or potentially contaminated pillowcases.

4. Practice Good Hygiene: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any potential contact points, including hotel pillows. It's also a good idea to avoid touching your face as much as possible.

5. Maintain a Strong Immune System: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and getting enough rest are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. When your immune system is strong, you are less likely to fall ill from potential contaminants.


While the idea of getting sick from a hotel pillow might be concerning, the risk is relatively low if you stay at reputable hotels that prioritize cleanliness. Housekeeping practices, including pillow laundering and the use of protectors, are key factors in maintaining the cleanliness of hotel pillows. However, guests can also play a role in their own safety by inspecting pillows, using pillow protectors or personal pillowcases, practicing good hygiene, and maintaining a healthy immune system. By being vigilant and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy your travels with peace of mind, knowing that your hotel pillow is unlikely to make you sick.


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