When you’re planning a vacation or travel experience, you want to choose a clean, safe hotel with a good reputation. As part of that, you might also look into whether there are any complaints about bed bugs.
The following is a guide to everything you should know about bedbugs in hotels like a traveler.
What Are Bed Bugs?
A bed bug is a small insect that lives on the blood of humans or animals. Adult bedbugs are around the size of an apple seed, with flat bodies. After they feed, they’re swollen, and they become reddish in color.
A bedbug can’t fly, but it can move fast over floors as well as ceilings and walls. A female bedbug can lay hundreds of eggs, and the eggs are only around the size of a single speck of dust.
An immature bedbug is a nymph. A nymph sheds its skin around five times before it becomes mature. Bed bugs are gross and can be annoying, but they don’t spread diseases.
If you stay in a hotel with bed bugs, they can hitch a ride and get into your home through your clothing and luggage. They don’t have nests, but they group together in hiding places, which are most often mattresses, bed frames, and box springs.
They aren’t a sign of dirtiness since they live on blood. They can be found in impeccably clean hotels and homes as well as dirty ones.
Bedbugs are most active at night, and they usually bite while you’re sleeping. The bite is often initially painless, and then it turns into a welt that’s itchy.
The Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
If you have itchy places when you wake up that you didn’t have when you went to bed, it’s a red flag.
Signs of bed bugs can include:
- Bloodstains on pillowcases or sheets
- Rusty spots or dark spots on sheets, walls, or mattresses
- Fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins of bugs
- A must odor from their scent glands
What to Do When You Check Into a Hotel
When you’re traveling, the first thing you should do when you check-in and get to your room is check for bed bugs.
Use the light on your smartphone, and begin by looking for rusty, dark marks anywhere in the room. You can look for these marks on sheets, the walls, and around the bedsprings. These marks are often from the feces of the bugs.
Check around the joints of the bed and the bedsprings, as well as near cracks on the wall or other furniture. Also, check around the luggage stand.
Pull back the bedding and make sure you check the actual mattress and the seams of the box spring. Check upholstered furniture like recliners and couches.
When you go into a new hotel room, put your luggage either in the bathroom or on a rack off the floor. You should do this as soon as you come into the room so that if you do find anything indicating bed bugs, they have less of a chance of getting into your luggage.
Whenever you stay in a hotel, keep your suitcase zipped on a hard plastic surface or luggage rack throughout the time you’re there. You might also want to bring plastic trash bags with you and then put your luggage into them during your stay. You should keep your items picked up in the room. The more stuff you have lying around a hotel room, the higher the likelihood bugs could get into your items.
What If You Think You Find Bed Bugs?
If you’re in a room and you think your inspection revealed potential bed bugs, you should pack up your items and get them as far away from wherever the infestation is as you can.
Notify the hotel staff and request that you change rooms.
Don’t panic, and don’t become combative with the hotel staff because these things can happen, and they’re probably going to be as stressed by it all as you are.
When you’re moved to a new room, check it as well.
You don’t want to be moved to a room next door to the one where you found the bed bugs initially.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
What if you stayed in a hotel and didn’t realize it had bed bugs or maybe didn’t notice until all of your things had been exposed?
You have to clean anything where the bugs could be living. You’ll need to clean your clothing and anything else in hot water in the washer and then dry them on the highest dryer setting. This includes shoes and stuffed animals. If you have something you can’t put through the washer, run it on high in the dryer for at least 30 minutes.
As far as your luggage, it’s probably not washable in your machine. Empty it and put the contents in plastic bags, sealing them until you can wash them.
Then, take your luggage outside and scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush. This will help get rid of egg clusters and dead bugs. Vacuum your luggage carefully.
Then, keeping your luggage outside, for the time being, find a pesticide specifically for bedbugs. You can spray your luggage to kill any that remain.
If you don’t want to use a pesticide, you can also use a steam cleaner. Go over the luggage at least two or three times with the steam cleaner.
Then, after you take these steps, vacuum your luggage again, and if your vacuum has a bag, get rid of it right away. Wrap the used vacuum bag in garbage bags, tying it tightly.
Leave your luggage in the sun, and do a thorough inspection. If you see any other bugs, steam clean it again. Keep repeating the process until you don’t see any more bugs.
No one wants to run into a disgusting bedbug problem, but when you frequently travel, it can and does happen. The best thing you can do is prepare for the next steps to take.