How to Check a Hotel Room for Bed Bugs

No matter the time of year, traveling is always attractive. The idea of getting away from it all is always appealing. But there’s something you can get when you travel that is not so appealing, and of course, it’s bed bugs. No one likes bugs, but these little creatures are some of the worst. Why? They like to room and nest in hotels, which is an essential staple and stopping place for traveling. And once they’re there, it’s very easy for them to get into your suitcase and clothes, which means you bring them home and then get your own home infested in turn. That’s not exactly an ideal or fun situation, so in this article, we will cover how to look for bedbugs in a hotel, what to do if you find them, and what to do if your belongings get infested or attract bed bugs.

But we have a quick disclaimer for you. Don’t think the sketchiness of a hotel has anything to do with bed bugs. Even luxury hotels like New York City’s Ritz-Carlton are susceptible to these pests. With so many people moving in and out of hotels every day, it’s nearly impossible to find a hotel that hasn’t had bedbugs in the past or the present. Luckily, in most hotels, it’s only one room. Nevertheless, you might be the person unlucky enough to get it, so we’ll go over a few ways to find out.

What is a Bed Bug?

But first, for those of you that don’t know or haven’t been traveling, what’s a bed bug? Bed bugs are tiny bugs (about 4-7 mm in length, the size of an apple seed) that feed on human and animal blood. Contrary to popular belief, they do not carry disease. Still, the bites are annoying and itchy, and if you get an infestation, it can turn into quite the problem. Some people are even allergic to bed bugs, though those cases are pretty rare. The bites can range from a spot of redness the size of an ant bite to prominent and painful blisters.

How Do I Check a Hotel Room?

So how do you know if your hotel room has them? First, we recommend bringing a small flashlight with you when you travel, but if you don’t, the flashlight on your smartphone will work just fine. You’ll need that and some flat, stiff card (such as a credit card or gift card).

First, when you reach your hotel room, keep your belongings and suitcases off the bed and the floor, which are common areas for bedbugs. Put them on the desk (if there is one), TV stand, or on the bathroom counter – as far away from the beds and the ground as you possibly can. You can even leave them in your car if you want to be extra safe. Second, go to the bed and pull back the blanket, sheets, mattress pad, and topper. You want to get to the box spring and mattress. Then, go around all four corners of the bed looking for bed bugs. You’re looking for bugs smaller than an apple seed, shell casings from said bugs, or dark, rust-red spots (dried blood). Use the edge of your stiff card to lift the edges of the mattress, and use your flashlight to examine the areas underneath. Make sure you go around all the corners of the mattress and boxspring. Also, flip back the sheets and blanket to ensure those don’t show signs of bed bugs.

Next, move on to the furniture. If there’s a couch or chair, inspect the cracks between the cushions and the areas around where someone’s neck would be with your card and flashlight. Check behind picture frames, too, using your flashlight. If you wish to check the floors, you can use your flashlight or put on a pair of cotton socks and scoot across the floor (they’ll stick/cling to your socks). Finally, be sure to check the luggage rack and any linens, blankets, or pillows stored in the closet. Should you come across any bedbugs, or any signs of bedbugs, go back down to the front desk and demand to be moved to another room immediately. And make sure the new room you get isn’t next door to the one you had, or even in the same section of the building.

What If I Missed Them?

Are there ways to prevent bringing home bedbugs if they are there and you didn’t detect them? Yes, there are. First off, make sure your luggage is hardshell, and you keep it zipped closed as much as you can. It makes it harder for the little bugs to hitch a ride home with you. Second, keep your dirty clothes in a plastic bag. Bedbugs are attracted to a chemical on dirty clothes, and that’s where they’ll go first. We recommend laundering your clothes daily if you can, but if you can’t, keep your dirty laundry in a sealed plastic bag for the entirety of your trip. Third, don’t spread your belongings about the room. In case there are bedbugs you didn’t see, this lowers the likelihood of bringing home unwanted visitors because there is less material to land on and hide in. If you want to make it as sure as possible, you can pack all your clothes in bags, and then store them in your suitcase. But that’s a little difficult and time-consuming, so feel free to try the other options listed above.

How Do I Get Rid of Them at Home?

Should you bring bedbugs home, there are some ways to handle them, though they aren’t necessarily easy. Just washing clothes doesn’t kill bedbugs, much to everyone’s sadness. Heat does. If your clothes or fabric possessions have bedbugs, here’s what you should do. First, the second you find the bedbugs, store the fabric object in question in a sealed bag and take it to be washed. If there are multiple pieces of clothing, sort them depending on how it needs to be cleaned. Then, dump the bag into the washer. Immediately close, seal, and dispose of the bag your clothes were in. Next, wash your fabric on the highest heat it can stand. Then dry it for thirty minutes in the same high heat level – as high as the fabric can handle. This will kill the bedbugs. If your objects need to be dry-cleaned, through them in the dryer for thirty minutes. Again, this will not eliminate the bugs, only kill them using heat.  Take them to the dry-cleaners after you’ve killed the bugs.

So those are some simple ways to avoid unwanted guests to take back home. It may be a hassle, but it’s better than dealing with a bed bug infestation. So stay safe on your travels, and if you do get an infestation, don’t forget to call an exterminator!