How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Hotels in 6 Easy Steps

The last thing you want to bring home from vacation are hotel bed bugs. Unfortunately, picking up bed bugs in hotels or motels is one of the most common ways to get bed bugs.

Lucky for you, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent picking up unwanted hitchhikers during your next hotel stay!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to avoiding bed bugs in hotels!

#1. Check for bed bug reports

The easiest way to avoid bed bugs is to simply not stay at the Bed Bugs Hotel – which could be any hotel or motel that’s dealing with an infestation. And there are a lot of hotels with bed bugs so you want to make sure you choose wisely.

If you’re thinking of staying at a particular hotel, take a minute to check out the Bed Bug Registry for any reports of bed bug problems before you press “Book.”

If you there’s no information on the Registry but you want some extra reassurance, look no further than your friend Google – simply type in “name of hotel,” “city, state” and “bed bugs” into the search box (i.e. La Quinta Inn Andover Hotel Andover, MA bed bugs) and see what comes up. 

Planning to stay in an area with a bed bug infestation? It doesn’t hurt to go an extra step – go ahead and shoot the hotel a quick email expressing concern at the bed bug situation and asking if they’ve had any incidents or reports. Feel free to also ask the hotel what they’ve been doing to prevent bed bugs.

A few well-placed questions can keep bed bugs out of your life so don’t be shy!

#2. Stash your stuff in the bathroom

Bed bugs are least likely to take up residence in the bathroom since they don’t like tile floors and there aren’t many places for them to hide.

Plus, bed bugs like to shack up as close to you as possible. Because they can’t jump far or fly, they have to crawl in order to get to you, which means, they’re going to choose to live near where you sleep and rest.

So store all your stuff in the bathroom until you’ve completed the next step.

#3. Do a bed bug inspection

A thorough bed bug inspection will take you 20 minutes to do and save you months – seriously, months – of trouble.

Oh, you’ll probably want to don some disposable sanitary gloves for this.

Here’s what you’ll be looking for:

  • Bed bugs and eggs. Adult bed bugs are copper-colored and about the size of Abe Lincoln’s head on a penny. Nymphs, or young bed bugs, are lighter-colored and smaller, ranging in size from 1mm to 7mm.  Bed bug eggs are ivory white, shaped like rice granules and around 1mm in size.
  • Fecal spots. Bed bug feces are tiny dark brown or black spots that look like mold or black pepper and are usually found sticking to a surface – if you see something like this, take a wet piece of tissue and wipe the spot. If it falls off, it’s not bed bug poo. If it smears, it could be bed bug feces.
  • Blood smears. This looks like tiny specks and smears of blood.
  • Shed skins. Young bed bugs molt several times before reaching sexual maturity – look for tiny, translucent skins that look like bed bugs.

Here’s where to look for bed bugs:

  • Start with the bed. Pull up the comforter, sheets, and mattress pad so you can check around and under the mattress. Make sure you look closely along the upper and lower seams and check the mattress tag as well. Use a flashlight is necessary.
  • Don’t skip the headboard. Look around the headboard – if it’s bolted to the wall, use the hotel key card to swipe in the crevices to dislodge bugs or shed skins.
  • Check everything at least within 6 feet of your bed. This means looking behind picture frames, under the telephone and lamps, and even inside the drawer of your bedside table and books. Also check the cushions and seams of couches and soft chairs. Be thorough especially when looking at objects in areas that have low light – bedbugs don’t like the light so they’re likely to choose a dark hiding spot.

Here’s a helpful video that shows you how to do a quick and thorough bed bug inspection:

#4. Ensure a bed bug free stay

Didn’t find any evidence of bed bugs? Fantastic!

But that isn’t a 100% guarantee there are none – if it’s during the early stages of an infestation, there might just be a few bed bugs or eggs that might’ve escaped your bed bug inspection.

To be completely safe, make sure that your luggage, clothes, and purse are stored in bed bug-free areas. This means doing an inspection of the closet before putting your clothes away as well as the luggage rack.

Also, don’t leave your suitcases and bags on the floor or on the spare bed – bed bugs like to live in soft fabric so it’s safer to store your bags on the desk, dresser or the luggage rack.

You can also go a step further and spray the mattress, headboard, surrounding walls and furniture as well as any other possible hiding places with a non-toxic bed bug spray.

#5. Checking out – without bed bugs

You have a flight to catch and all you’d like to do is shove everything into your suitcase and get home to your family – but don’t leave the hotel without taking the last step to prevent carrying bed bugs back home with you.

Before checking out, give your luggage, purse, and clothes a final check. Yes, it’s bothersome but it’s a helluva lot easier than dealing with a bed bug infestation!

What to do if you find a bed bug? Uh oh – but hey, at least you caught it before it could sneak into your house. If you spot a bed bug hanging out in your luggage, purse or piece of clothing – soak it in scalding hot water and then blow dry it on the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes.

Easier bed bug solutions are..

  • Get a portable bed bug heater. The ThermalStrike Ranger is big enough to fit a carry-on inside as well as everything that’s in your carry-on so you can kill all the bed bugs in your belongings in one go. It’ll also fold up to fit easily inside a carry-on so you can take it with you whenever traveling as an easy bed bug prevention aid.
  • Another option is to bring a mini steam iron, although this would only allow you to protect your clothes and maybe purses.

Oh, and if you find a bed bug – inform the hotel staff immediately.

#6. Post-trip bed bug prevention

When you get back home from your hotel stay, take the final step against bed bugs by washing all your clothing – even if you didn’t wear it – in super hot water. Bed bugs can’t live in temperatures above 122 degrees Fahrenheit so this will make sure your clothes remain bed bug free.

Also, do a final inspection of your bags and suitcases and steam clean them as well for a final preventative measure.

Okay, that’s it – follow the steps and you’ll avoid picking up bed bugs in hotels!

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