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As a former ‘carry-on only’ kind of traveler, I would never dream of packing my hair dryer when I travel. In an effort to conserve space and streamline my packing process, I’d eliminate anything that I knew the hotel would already have. That included shampoo and conditioner and of course, a hair dryer. Why take up valuable suitcase space with these items when you don’t really need to cart them along?

Well, after reading this, you might change your mind about that hair dryer …

ABC conducted an in-depth investigation about hotel hygiene and there was a surprising finding. It’s been well researched and widely shared that things like the bed spread, remote control and drinking glasses in the bathroom are pretty nasty but until now, the hotel hair dryer has flown quietly under the radar. But according to the results of the ABC study, the hair dryer is one of the dirtiest items in your hotel room.

RELATED: The All-in-One Hair Styling Tool Travelers Need

Microbiologist Chuck Gerba is behind the findings. After swabbing things in nine different hotel rooms in the Los Angeles area, he discovered just how disgusting hair dryers are. In fact, in some cases, the hair dryer in your hotel room might be even dirtier than the toilet, if you can believe that. “There must be some things you can do with a hair dryer that I am not aware of, because some of them were pretty germy,” he said.

So, why are hotel hair dryers so dirty? According to the study’s findings, it’s because the hair dryer is often overlooked when the room is being cleaned. While the toilet might be cleaned after every guest checks out, the hair dryer might not be disinfected for months, maybe even years.

RELATED: 11 Tips for Traveling During Cold and Flu Season

“The biggest concern in a hotel room is picking up cold, flu virus or viruses that cause diarrhea,” Gerba said. “It doesn’t take very many to make you ill.” If the thought of all those germs makes your skin crawl, take precautions to protect yourself. Pack disinfectant wipes in your bag and wipe everything down: Light switches, door handles, the remote control and, apparently, the hair dryer. Or just bring your own!


I’ve tried a lot of hair dryers in my day but the only one I use now is the Baby Buttercup Travel Blow Dryer from Drybar. There are lots of reasons to love this peppy little hair dryer. First, its cheery colour is sure to add a dose of happy to your morning routine. But more importantly, it packs a big punch for a compact travel hair dryer. It features ionic technology, which is said to improve your hair’s condition by reducing the frizz factor and amping up its shine. It’s got a powerful motor to dry hair quickly (unlike a lot of travel hair dryers, which take ages to dry long, thick hair like mine.) And it offers up most of the same features of a regular sized hair dryer like two speed settings, two temperature settings and a button to give your hair a cool shot. It’s pricey for a travel hair dryer but it’s so compact and powerful that I use it every day at home, too. I love how lightweight it is and it comes in an adorable canvas travel bag that says ‘I’m full of hot air!’ Check out other travel hair dryers here.


And while we’re on the topic, if you need more than one hot styling tool for your hair, then you definitely need to invest in the Revlon hair dryer brush, which was a total game changer for me. It is a brush, a blow dryer and a hair straightener all in one and I use it every day. You can read more about it here and buy it on Amazon here.

All I know is that after reading the results of ABC’s hotel hygiene study, I won’t be leaving home without my own personal hair styling tools again. And PS: Speaking from experience, these hair styling tools make great gifts for the holidays!

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5 Comments On "The Grossest Thing in Your Hotel Room Isn’t What You Think ... And Might Even Be Dirtier Than the Toilet"
  1. MarIs Somerville|

    Another disgusting hotel room feature can be the leather or leatherette desk chairs. Sometimes, a guest will undress for the shower, then head for the desk to check email. He or she will sit on that chair with a bare rear end, and as you can imagine, it’s unthinkable that a guest’s child could climb onto that chair.

  2. Margaret H.|

    I do appreciate the information regarding the hair dryer and will probably just make sure I wipe it down if I ever use one. That being said, I must be honest and say that I would never spend over $100.00 on a travel hair dryer that u recommend. Amazon sells one for $15.00 that I’m sure would be the equivalent of the one in the hotel room.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Hi Margaret – here’s a reply from Natalie, who wrote the article:

      Thanks for the feedback, Margaret! You’re absolutely right – $100 is a lot of money for a travel hair dryer. I have updated the article to say that this particular hair dryer is much more powerful than your typical travel hair dryer so I use it every day at home, too. I have pretty thick hair so I find that most travel hair dryers are not up to the task. This one has the benefits of a travel dryer (small, foldable and lightweight) but the benefits of a regular hair dryer (powerful and fast-drying). But you’re right – it’s a pricey option, however I do love it. Thanks for your comment :)

  3. Marlin Yoder|

    I travel a lot and don’t worry about germs, and also don’t get sick much. Fear is also something that can cause a person to get sick.
    And germs aren’t all bad https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/hygiene-hypothesis-could-more-dirt-and-germs-boost-your-health

  4. Lisa Schwartz|

    There was a criminal case in NYC around ten years that required a hotel room at the 5* Sofitel in Manhattan to be searched for DNA. The results were disturbing. See https://www.gawker.com/5833440/dominique-strauss-kahns-hotel-room-was-a-semen-stain-a-palooza

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