When you go away on a trip, you’ll end up staying in a hotel most of the time. Even the nicest hotel and the most wonderful vacation can suffer from the frightening reality of bed bugs. Bed bugs may be small, but they’re no laughing matter.
They cause rashes, pain and paranoia as you work to get compensation and prevent those bugs from coming home with you. Don’t panic though: take a look here to figure out what you should do to keep yourself safe and clean while staying in a hotel.
Table of Contents
- What to Do
- 1. Find the Bed Bugs
- 2. Take Photos
- 3. Protect Your Items
- 4. Alert the Hotel
- 5. How to Find It in A Hotel
- 6. What to Inspect
- 7. Signs of Bed Bugs
- 8. Monitor Your Luggage
- 9. How to Prevent Bed Bugs From Traveling With You
- 10. Bring Machine-Washable Clothes
- 11. Be Aware of Where You Put Your Luggage
- 12. Try a Natural Insecticide
- 13. Don’t Use a Dark-Colored Bag
- 14. Safeguard Your Stuff
- 15. Contain Your Clothes
- 16. What You Should Do on Returning Home
- 17. Don’t Unpack in Your Room
- 18. Vacuum Your Luggage
What to Do
One of the most unnerving discoveries you can make is the discovery of bed bugs in your hotel room. Your room should be a place of rest, but bed bugs make it tough to relax.
Whether you’ve seen some bed bugs or not, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe in any hotel room you stay in.
1. Find the Bed Bugs
Search any room you check into right away, especially if you’re not staying in the most well-maintained place. Check out creases in the sheets and crevices in the furniture. Start with your mattress by lifting it up and checking underneath.
You might not see any bugs right away but be sure to check using a flashlight of some sort.
2. Take Photos
If you do happen to find bed bugs, or any spots in the hotel that indicate that they’re hiding somewhere, take pictures. You want to get shots both close up and far away to show management that there really are bugs in their hotel.
Build yourself an airtight case by taking pictures of yourself too. If you’ve got bite marks, take pictures to keep them as evidence. Any treatment you receive for the bites should be documented as well.
3. Protect Your Items
If you’re sure that you have bed bugs, work to keep your items safe. Check your bags and clothing and empty each bag out completely. Put all of your belongings in plastic bags that you can seal until they can be properly inspected.
4. Alert the Hotel
Before you go about your day, let your host know right away that there are bed bugs in your room. They may not even know that bed bugs are present, so try to be diplomatic.
Of course, we understand that you might want to explode, but calmly show off your evidence and request a refund or request for them to cover the cost of your ruined belongings. You can even alert the local health department and let them know.
They can always help you keep your belongings safe as well.
5. How to Find It in A Hotel
When you first enter your hotel, there are a few things you can do to keep your items safe. Start by placing your luggage in the bathroom, which is a very unlikely place for bed bugs to hide. Use this time to inspect both the bedding and the furniture.
6. What to Inspect
Pull back the bed sheets and check the mattress and box springs for bugs. You’ll want to check especially at the head of the bed. Any bed bugs will be visible to the naked eye but keep your eyes open for waste and rusty spots spread around the room.
Lift up the mattress and check with a flashlight as well. You’ll even want to check creases on the sheets and even within the curtains. After all, any places that have creases can be a possible home for bed bugs.
This even includes bedside cabinets and wardrobes. Check between every crevice in every joint, crack and dent. Keep in mind that every gap is a possible place for a bed bug to hide. That’s why you should take a look in arm chairs and couches too.
7. Signs of Bed Bugs
If there are bugs, you might see rusty dark marks on your sheets, bed springs, or on the walls. Check on Google Images to see what the spots might look like and what type of bug you’re looking for.
If you see any actual bugs, dark red spots, or any red marks on yourself, tell the hotel immediately. Even if you can’t find any evidence right away, you’ll feel better knowing that you checked.
8. Monitor Your Luggage
Place your luggage on a luggage rack or a hard surface after checking it to make sure there are no bugs. Storing your items in plastic bags can be a big help throughout your stay at the hotel, at least until you get home to clean up.
9. How to Prevent Bed Bugs From Traveling With You
It’s scary knowing that your bed bug problem may travel with you when you go home. You might be a little paranoid about this, but there are a few things you can do to prevent yourself from having this issue.
First and foremost, try placing all of your items within plastic bags. This keeps everything contained, both to prevent bugs from getting in and from getting out. Place all of your items in separate bags to make your life easier once you get home.
You can also wash your clothing before leaving in high heat for 30 minutes. The best thing you can do to prevent bugs from traveling with you is to check that you don’t have any bugs in the first place.
You may not see all the bugs though, so try to contain your items instead just in case.
10. Bring Machine-Washable Clothes
Whenever you go out to travel, be sure all your clothing is machine-washable. If you do happen to end up with bed bugs, you’ll want clothing that can easily be thrown in the washing machine so it can be cleaned later.
This is because the heat from the hot water and dryer will kill the bugs.
11. Be Aware of Where You Put Your Luggage
Right away when you arrive in your hotel, you might place your luggage in the bathroom before you check for bugs. However, you obviously can’t keep it there. After you’ve checked the room, place your luggage on a non-upholstered surface away from the bed.
You can put suitcases on the desk or luggage rack, although you should probably inspect the luggage rack first too.
12. Try a Natural Insecticide
One of the things you can do in order to prevent bed bugs from latching onto your belongings is to consider using a natural insecticide. Having said that, one good option is neem oil. Bed bugs that mistakenly consume the neem oil will end up dying.
Fortunately, neem oil is safe for humans and is an environmentally-friendly way to keep bed bugs away, especially on vacation. Other essential oils like tea tree oil, cedar oil and orange oil can also be used to keep bed bugs away, since they are harmful to bed bugs on contact.
Additionally, there are many new, effective bed bug killer sprays that are eco-friendly and non-toxic, which you can find on both physical stores and online ones. They even sell some travel-sized sprays that you can bring along with you on your trips.
Another possible option is to use diatomaceous earth. It is an all-natural, non-toxic barrier that kills bed bugs by dehydrating them. However, this option has the potential to be messier, since it is a fine, particulate matter.
13. Don’t Use a Dark-Colored Bag
As a preventive measure, you should choose a suitable bag for your travels. Since bed bugs are usually a dark shade, using a dark-colored bag makes it difficult to spot any bed bugs that may be clinging on it.
The material of your bag can make a big difference as well. You should choose a hard-sided suitcase because it can help you reduce access points for bed bugs as compared to a fabric one.
14. Safeguard Your Stuff
Another way to prevent bed bugs from accessing your luggage externally is to use a heavy-duty garbage bag. The garbage bag is a simple method to protect your luggage but can be a hassle when you try to put it on and take it off.
On top of that, you must also be careful that your bag will not be mistaken for trash. Conversely, you may choose to purchase a backpack or suitcase cover instead.
Some storage and luggage retailers also sell zip-up bags that can protect your luggage from coming into contact with bed bugs or their eggs. These options all provide similar protection. Unfortunately, this method is not completely foolproof.
If you have already spotted bed bugs in your hotel and want to immediately treat your items, you may choose to use hot water to wash your belongings. You can even use a hair dryer to add some heat to kill the bed bugs.
However, you may also choose to deal with the bugs when you go home if you feel that you have more suitable tools to treat your belongings there.
15. Contain Your Clothes
Other than protecting the outer parts of your luggage, it is also important to protect the items on the inside. By using Ziploc bags for your belongings, you can use it as another preventive measure against bed bugs.
Ziploc bags can provide protection for your clothing and other small objects inside your luggage. In addition, the Ziploc bags can also help you organize your belongings. In general, it is most important to separate your bags between your non-contaminated and contaminated items.
This rule applies especially to dirty clothes, since bed bugs can smell the chemicals we leave behind on our clothes and are attracted to this smell. Hence, these bags are a good choice, since they are relatively airtight and will prevent the smell from escaping.
Bed bugs will also be unable to escape and wander into your other items if you contain the contaminated things.
Furthermore, by putting your items in Ziploc bags beforehand, you will not have to worry about unpacking them or removing them if you choose to freeze these items when you get back to kill the bed bugs. What’s more, you will be able to just put them into the freezer for a few weeks.
For your shoes, you should wipe them down with a damp cloth that has been wet with hot water if you want to reduce the risk of them being infested with bed bugs as well.
16. What You Should Do on Returning Home
Upon returning home, your main focus should be on preventing the bed bugs from spreading. That is why you must be very careful not to mix any belongings that are potentially contaminated with bed bugs with items that are in your home.
You must take the necessary steps to minimize any possibilities for the bed bugs to travel by isolating them from your house and killing them as soon as possible so that they never reach your household.
The next few points detail a few important steps you must follow to prevent a bed bug infestation from starting in your home.
17. Don’t Unpack in Your Room
When you arrive home, do not unpack your luggage in your room. In fact, it is a better idea to unpack your belongings in a location other than your bedroom. It could be any other place like your garage, mudroom, laundry, or foyer – ideally on a non-carpeted surface.
In fact, if you have any non-clothing items that may have come into contact with bed bugs, you should not even bring them into the house. By unpacking in these locations, the bed bugs will often just crawl off and die, since they cannot find an adequate location to survive.
To check for bed bugs, you should unpack your suitcases on a hard surface, directly under bright light so that you may see any bed bugs clearly.
However, if you do find a bed bug infestation in your luggage and/or clothing, you may be able to solve this issue without throwing them all away. Depending on the item, you may have to use heat or cold treatments.
For clothing, you should promptly remove them from the sealed plastic bags and directly transfer them to a washing machine. Then, wash on the highest heat setting that your clothing can withstand. After washing, the clothing should also be treated with high heat from the dryer.
18. Vacuum Your Luggage
After dealing with the items inside your luggage, it is time to treat the luggage itself. Firstly, use a flashlight to check the seams, folds and pockets of your luggage for bed bugs or its eggs.
After searching, you should use a vacuum with a brush and crevice tool attachment to clean your suitcase. It is important to be extremely thorough about this process, so that no eggs or dead bed bugs go unnoticed and overlooked.
Then, you should make sure to enclose the vacuum bag or empty the dirt into a plastic bag and seal it with tape. Lastly, you should wash your suitcase with hot, soapy water or other common household cleaners.
You should use a scrub brush to thoroughly treat the luggage seams and folds. If you have a steamer, you may also choose to heat-treat the luggage. This extra step can be an excellent prevention strategy and will serve as a helpful extra step.
After all this treatment, leave the luggage out in the sun to dry if needed. Before bringing it into the house, double-check for bed bugs again before you leave the luggage in a place other than a bedroom, ideally on a non-sleeping floor of the house.
In case of any other non-washable items, your first option is to try drying them for at least 30 minutes in the dryer. If not, you should wipe those items off with wet wipes.
Since bed bugs don’t really like hard surfaces, plastic or metal objects should have a smaller risk of being affected. However, cleaning these items provides an extra preventive measure that ensures any and all eggs are wiped off.
It is particularly important to pay attention to crevices and small hidden compartments.
With the rise in the appearance of bed bugs in hotels, it is imperative for us to be wary of these blood-suckers and be aware of solutions.
If you find bed bugs in your luggage and hotel room while travelling, remember that there are preventive and reparative measures that you can take. Before you proceed to throw all your belongings away, start by preventing the situation from getting worse.
By separating all contaminated belongings, you can easily identify, inspect and treat the bed bugs when you get home.
When you return home, remember to keep calm, avoid bringing the bugs into your home (especially your room) and begin a heat or cold treatment on your items to kill all the bed bugs.
After you have succeeded, you can then bring all your belongings back into your house without worry.
Furthermore, just remember that for future travel, you can do more research before choosing a place to stay by checking if your hotel or hostel has been reported for bed bugs in the Bed Bug Registry. However, also remember that bed bugs can also appear in high-end locations.