6 Signs of Mold in Hotel Rooms
Mold grows in buildings whenever the conditions are right. It causes damage to the fabric of your home and is potentially harmful to people.
Most people have seen mold growth in their homes—kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most favorite locations. But few people expect to find a mold infestation in places like hotels.
Mold is a fungus and a health hazard. There are different types, and some cause chronic and severe health conditions.
The best protection against this hazard is detection. Don’t let a moldy hotel room ruin your vacation. Here are the signs of mold in hotel rooms and what you can do to ensure you don’t pay the price.
What Causes Mold in Hotels?
Mold in hotels results from the same issues that can cause it to develop in your own home. The main culprits are excess moisture levels, water damage, and warm and damp areas.
However, hotels also have unique features which are not present in domestic properties, and these can also be a potential breeding ground for different types of mold.
Communal living and constant occupancy changes make it harder to keep control of the conditions in which this fungus thrives. These hazards compound the situation and add to the hotel’s health risks.
Check out genuine reviews thoroughly before you book a hotel and ask the hotel about their cleaning protocols. Look at images of your room and try and ascertain whether the room has a ventilation fan.
Where Can It Be Found?
Acremonium is a common type of mold in hotel systems like cooling coils, humidifiers, and drain pans. It starts as a moist spore but changes to a fine powder that may be white, orange, grey, or pink.
Other types of mold occur in and around air conditioning and HVAC systems.
Alternaria is a common mold underneath bathtubs, showers, and leaking sinks. It is often the result of water damage or a leak that has gone undetected. Alternaria can cause allergies and asthma.
Some mold types thrive in both warm and cold conditions. One of these is Cladosporium. It thrives indoors on fabrics like soft furnishings, curtains, and carpets. Hotels use carpets almost everywhere in guest rooms and communal areas, so Cladosporium may be more common than you’d think.
6 Common Signs of Mold Damage in Hotels
Your hotel room should be a home from home. You don’t expect to live with mold in your home, so why would you want it in your hotel room?
Unfortunately, fungus growth is not uncommon in hotels, and the trouble is that it’s not always easy or obvious to detect.
The high footfall of guests can make it hard to keep track of insidious mold growth. It might show up more quickly in your home, and you are not responsible for or in control of the cleaning.
The best solution here is to know how to identify mold so that you can report it to the hotel management. Here’s what to look for to spot mold damage in hotels.
1. Bathroom Mold
The en suite with your hotel room is one of the most likely locations for mold, particularly as most bathrooms don’t have any external windows or ventilation to the outside.
Spores can flourish between the grout of the tiles due to constant moisture and humidity. It’s usually easy to spot, and corners or wall joins are the most likely locations near drains or taps.
Mold may be visible in a hotel bathroom but don’t overlook a musty, moldy smell even if there are no obvious tell-tale signs of spore growth. There could be a hidden leak under the shower or sink, causing spore growth and the release of toxins.
2. General Odor
When you walk into the hotel room, it should smell pleasantly fresh and aired. Beware of the heavy scent of room fragrances as these can be used to disguise a moldy atmosphere.
Peeling wallpaper is a real giveaway, and, let’s face it, who wants to stay in a room with peeling paper anyway, regardless of the cause? Peeling wallpaper can result from water damage, which can lead to mold growth. Even if you can’t smell it or see it, you’ll know it’s there from the strips of wallpaper peeling away.
4. Respiratory Problems
If you are staying in a hotel for a few days or even a couple of weeks, then you may start to experience health issues due to fungal spores. Symptoms can include a runny nose, sneezing, or irritation of your eyes or skin.
Mild allergic reactions can affect some people, but in susceptible individuals such as those with pre-existing respiratory issues, mold can cause asthma attacks.
Suppose you don’t usually suffer from respiratory problems and these symptoms develop after you arrive at the hotel. In that case, it may be worth looking around your room for a possible culprit.
5. Itchy Skin
Mold in sheets or towels can make your skin feel itchy.
Ask for a thorough room inspection. Request a change of towels and bed linen. Sometimes laundry piled up, particularly wet towels, can develop fungus growth. The hotel laundry usually does not deal with this issue properly.
6. Issues with Air Quality
One of the biggest reasons hotels struggle to control mold growth is the type of cooling systems they employ. Fungus spores are tiny and lightweight and easily transported around heating and cooling systems.
These may be very effective at lowering the temperature and cooling the air, but they don’t necessarily dehumidify it at the same time. Humidity is a significant factor in mold growth.
The problem may not be visible in your room but could be present in the building’s communal systems like air ducts. Your health can still be affected, even if the room itself seems clean and fresh.
Read more: How to tell if mold is toxic
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do You Do If Your Hotel Room Has Mold?
If you suspect or are sure that your hotel room has mold, you should report it immediately to the management and ask them to move you to another room.
If the hotel manager won’t support your claim or moves you to another room with the same problem, protect your health and just check out. You can argue about the cost later from a mold-free location.
Don’t allow the hotel management to say that some extra housekeeping services will eliminate the problem in your room. If mold is present, a general clean won’t deal with it, even if it looks better superficially.
The infestation could result from a hidden leak or have been present in HVAC systems for months. Identification and analysis take time, and one extra room clean is just not going to cut it.
Can Mold in Hotels Make You Sick?
Some people are more sensitive to mold spores than others, but even those who are pretty resistant will experience some health symptoms with prolonged exposure.
People with allergies or asthma will react to mold more quickly, and some people are allergic to mold itself.
Allergic reactions include a runny nose, sneezing, sore red eyes, and a skin rash. More severe reactions include shortness of breath and asthma attacks. Milder symptoms usually present like a slight cold, so they are easily confused with a virus.
Around 25 million people in the US have asthma, which equals 1 in 3 people, so mold is a potentially severe problem for the unsuspecting traveler.
It’s good to be savvy when traveling, not only regarding the quality of the accommodation but also the prevalence and spread of disease. Avoid hotels that don’t offer a robust response to cleanliness and mold prevention.
Fortunately, for the tourist, internet reviews mean substandard hotels can’t hide poor cleanliness protocols or lack of maintenance to the structure and systems of the building.