1. A musty or ‘dirty socks’ smell
“You’ll know it when you smell it,” says Rajiv Sahay, Ph.D., the director of the Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory at Pure Air Control Services, an indoor air quality firm. “It’s a pungent smell, like when you take your socks off. This is indicative of contamination, or especially, bacteria.”
That smell is often a signal that your room is poorly ventilated. And poor ventilation may not inspire confidence that there aren’t also coronavirus particles from the last person who stayed there lingering in the air. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says aerosol particles can remain suspended midair for minutes to hours.
This room probably isn’t one you want to stay in, pandemic or not. But if you just landed from a midnight flight and every other hotel is booked, you may have no choice. If so, open the windows to enhance ventilation.
What to do: Get another room. If that’s not possible, open the windows and doors, and (maybe) turn on the air conditioning.
Similarly, another indicator of contamination is a room that feels hotter or more humid than normal.
While you’re likely not traveling with a humidity meter, humidity is easy to spot with the naked eye by looking for condensation collecting on windows. As before, you can open windows to improve ventilation, or lower the room temperature by turning on the air conditioning.