If you’ve never experienced a bed bug encounter before, consider yourself lucky. Bed bugs are very common in the United States, with 97% of pest professionals responding to bed bug infestations over the last year. Hotels are one of the top three places you’ll find bed bugs, particularly in the summertime, when more people are traveling.
A majority of pest professionals also say that bedbugs are the hardest pest to eliminate, once an infestation occurs, which is why it’s so important to avoid bed bugs while traveling and not make the major travel mistake of bringing them home with you.
One Way to Keep Bed Bugs Out of Your House?
Don’t travel where bed bugs are already living, i.e., infested hotels. Luckily for modern travelers, there are resources available that can keep you pretty well informed as to which hotels to avoid.
One is the highly touted Bed Bug Registry.
Here’s how you can steer clear of bed bugs on your next trip, by checking the Bed Bug Registry.
What is the Bed Bug Registry?
The Bed Bug Registry is a public directory of reported bed bug sightings across the United States and Canada. The site dates back to 2006 and was created by a writer who was traumatized after a bed bug encounter at a San Francisco hotel — and they had plenty of reason to be traumatized.
Bed bugs are parasitic animals that feed off human blood. Similar to lice, they hitch a ride on fabric and bodies and make their way to spots where they’re most likely to find a free meal. While bed bugs don’t carry diseases, they do cause itching and welts on the skin and severe allergic reactions are possible, leading to death.
The Bed Bug Registry currently features about 20,000-bed bug reports for hotels and apartment buildings across the United States and Canada. Reports are provided by witnesses either publicly or anonymously and you can search through reports to find a hotel where you might be staying.
If a hotel has not been reported for a bed bug issue in the last two years, the hotel’s previous infestation report will be removed from the site, which is why it’s crucial to report any infestations you know of on Bed Bug Registry immediately, to keep the website as updated and accurate as possible.
The Bed Bug Registry isn’t the only website with this mission. BedbugReports.com is similar, allowing you to search for offending hotels by state or hotel name, as well as see the latest reports and worst offenders.
BedBugs.net offers comparable information, with user-submitted information on bed bug infestations in hotels not only in North America, but all over the globe.
How Can I Tell if My Hotel Has Bed Bugs?
So you think your hotel has bed bugs? There are a few ways you can know for sure. You’re going to need your phone and a credit card.
You’ll want to start looking at the hotel bed first, but do more than just pull down the sheets.
Look into the corners of the mattress, where the sheets fold under the mattress and even lift up the mattress itself. Bed bugs like to hide in little, warm corners and crevices.
You’re looking for tiny, tiny bugs and any blood spots. Bed bugs aren’t much larger than about a half a centimeter.
Don’t forget to check in the mattress seams. You can use the credit card to scrape along the mattress seams and folds, to reveal any bed bugs who might be extra skilled at hiding. The flashlight app on your phone is good for this as well.
Be sure to check each side of the mattress, not just one, and remove the bed’s comforter completely.
Once you’re finished with the bed, you can move on to other fabric around the room. Couches and chairs are another potential hiding place, particularly the seams, crevices and corners. Use the credit card to scrape along the seams to reveal any hiding bed bugs and your phone for extra light. Curtains are another spot to check.
Related: How To Find Last Minute Travel Deals
What Do I Do if My Hotel has Bed Bugs?
Did you find anything? You’re not going to want to stay in that hotel for the night, but don’t be so confident in your findings. You’ll want proof before you go to the hotel staff.
Take photos of the evidence, including all bugs spotted and bloodstains.
Try to get enough of the furnishings in the photo to show that the picture was actually taken in the hotel room and isn’t just a photo of some random mattress.
Then, alert the hotel to your findings and ask for a refund.
You may or may not get one, but even if you do not receive your money back, you don’t want to stay in the hotel. If there’s evidence of bed bugs, you can be assured you’ll be accosted by these little critters during the night.
After leaving the hotel, report your findings on Bed Bug Registry, so others know to avoid the property.
Will Bed Bugs Come Home With Me After I’ve Stayed in a Hotel With Bed Bugs?
Unfortunately, there’s a real risk of bed bugs coming home with you via your suitcase, clothing or any other cloth item that you may have brought into the hotel room.
One way to avoid this is, upon entering a hotel room, to leave all cloth items on a hard surface, like in the bathroom or even in the bathtub — so long as there’s not a cloth shower curtain — until you’ve finished your inspection and deemed the room safe.
If you’re pretty sure the bed bugs came home with you, you’ll want to sanitize your belongings as soon as possible. Wash all your clothing and cloth items in hot water and then dry them on high heat. Shower, to remove any bed bugs that might be on your body or in your hair. Then, vacuum any items you can’t throw in the washing machine, such as your luggage and shoes. Empty the vacuum’s dirt receptacle immediately.
If you still feel like you’re risking an in-home infestation, there are bed bug sprays you can purchase in stores and online.
No One Wants Bed Bugs
Remember, no one wants bed bugs, but with a few proper steps, you can keep your life bed bug-free.
How Can I Keep Bed Bugs Out of My House?
- Check any hotels on Bed Bug Registry before booking with them.
- Inspect for bed bugs before unpacking your belongings or even sitting on the bed in your hotel room.
- If you do notice any bed bugs, leave and report your findings to the hotel and on Bed Bug Registry.
- When you arrive home, sanitize all your belongings.