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Suitcases open and unpacked on a bed
shintartanya | Adobe Stock

Why You Should Never Pack Your Suitcase on the Bed

When packing your suitcase for a trip, the natural inclination is to place it on your bed. After all, the bed is at a comfortable height and within easy reach of your closet, making it a convenient spot to sort through and fold your belongings. However, this seemingly innocuous habit is actually quite unsanitary. Would you come home and put your shoes on your bed? Likely not, as we generally understand the importance of keeping our footwear off of the place we sleep.

Yet, when it comes to our suitcases, we tend to forget that the wheels have rolled over a multitude of unclean surfaces—from city streets to airport floors to hotel carpets. These wheels are essentially the “shoes” of our luggage, and they’ve encountered a host of germs and contaminants along the way.

Woman packing suitcase on bed
K Abrahams/ | Adobe Stock

A recent study by Reckitt’s Lysol Pro Solutions reveals the alarming level of contamination that can accumulate on everyday items we use while traveling, such as backpacks. The results were staggering—backpacks picked up as many germs from a desk as they did from a public bathroom floor, with levels akin to what is typically found on a toilet seat or in a garbage bin. The backpacks tested harbored E. coli, fungal species of yeast, and intestinal bacteria, all of which can make you sick.

Now, consider the fact that your carry-on bag has likely endured an even busier journey than that of the backpacks in the study—it’s been stowed under an airplane seat, placed on the floor of a bustling airport, and shoved in the backseat of an Uber. And now, you’re bringing that very same bag into your home and placing it directly on your clean bed to unpack. This practice can unknowingly introduce a veritable host of unwanted germs and bacteria into your personal sanctuary.”

As Dr. Igor Ignatovich, Senior Microbiologist at Reckitt, aptly stated, “Like many other items we carry with us each day, these could be significant vectors of germ transmission.” The implications are clear—the suitcase that we so casually plop onto our beds can serve as a conduit for the transfer of all manner of undesirable microbes.

If the germ factor doesn’t sway you, consider the risk of bedbugs. When you travel, you could unknowingly stay at a hotel with a bedbug infestation. When you place your suitcase on the hotel bed to pack and then put it on your bed at home to unpack, you’re essentially providing a direct route for the pests to hitch a ride back to your own home and invade your mattress. 

Instead of putting your suitcase on the bed, we recommend utilizing the luggage rack to pack and unpack your suitcase at a hotel. (Ideally, you’ll place your suitcase in the bathtub at a hotel while you check the bed for bedbugs before unpacking.)  Packing and unpacking on the floor is the safest option when you’re at home. If you’re a frequent traveler, you could even invest in your own luggage rack for your house. If you must use your bed, consider placing a large trash bag or towel underneath your suitcase as a barrier. Just be sure to wash and thoroughly dry that towel on a high heat setting to eliminate any potential stowaways. 

To keep things extra sanitary, consider cleaning your suitcase after each use by swabbing the handles and wheels with an antibacterial wipe.

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