Warning on bed bugs – and how to check your room

When you check in to a hotel, arguably at the top of your checklist should be the cleanliness of your room.

This includes checking for bed bugs, which bite people mercilessly and then hitch a ride back to their own homes.

Unfortunately, these pests are found in the majority of hotels throughout the world. They don’t differentiate between a 5-star hotel and a cheap, low-amenity motel.

Bed bugs are nocturnal so they’re more likely to be out and about looking for their prey

Travel experts suggest, before unpacking your bags or putting them on the bed, you turn off lights, close any shades, and use the flashlight on your phone. Place your suitcase in the bathroom as that is the safest place for it. Bed bugs are least likely to hide in a bathroom.

Then check under the bed and in any dark nooks and crannies of the room as bed bugs like to live in “corners and the creases” of bedclothes.

Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for pepper-like stains or spots or even the bugs themselves. Adult bed bugs resemble flat apple seeds.

Check behind the headboard, inside couch and chair cushions, behind picture frames and around electrical sockets.

If you see anything suspect, notify management and change rooms or establishments immediately.

If you do need to change rooms, be sure that you do not move to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected infestation. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets. If an infestation is spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the origin.

Even if you determine your room is clear of any bed bugs, consider placing your suitcase in a plastic trash bag or protective cover during the duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there before departure.

If you think you may have been infected by bed bugs, when I return home:

Inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house.

Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing it. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which can kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have hitched a ride home.

Wash and dry all of your clothes – even those that have not been worn – in hot temperatures to ensure that any bed bugs that may have made it that far are not placed into your drawers/closet.

Keep clothes that must be dry-cleaned in a plastic bag and take them to the drycleaner as soon as possible.

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