Just the thought of these little creatures gives everyone the heebie jeebies. Bed bugs are a nightmare no one wants to deal with—especially during a family vacation. But unfortunately, they can be an unexpected reality, so it’s best to be prepared in the event they appear. Follow these expert tips to identify and deal with bed bugs in your hotel room.
1. Store Your Luggage
Before checking for bed bugs, store your luggage in the bathroom or bathtub, or, if possible, leave it in the hall with a family member. “The bath is not an ideal place for a bed bug to live, so it’s a great place to store your luggage while you do a thorough search of your room,” says Caitlin Hoff, health and safety investigator for .
2. Know What to Look For
Know what to look for when searching for bed bugs. While the obvious sign of bed bugs is the bugs themselves, these are not the only indicators of bed bugs. “Look for rusty or reddish stains on the sheets, mattresses and upholstery,” says Jordan Foster, pest technician for Fantastic Pest Control in London. “Also look for dark spots on the bed frame, bed bug eggs and eggshells, bed bugs cast skins, and live bed bugs in the cracks and crevices of the bed and mattresses.”
3. Search the Bed
Start your search in the most obvious spot: the bed. Strip off all the bed covers to expose the mattress. “Check all the corners and seams of the mattress, and see if there aren’t any tiny dark bugs or brown spots in the crevices of the mattress corners and seams,” says Karen Thompson, main editor of. “Use your phone’s flashlight app for this to provide you with some extra light so you can spot even the tiniest little bugs or blood spots.” If the bed has box springs, give it a thorough examination as well, along with the bed frame, headboard, and between the headboard and wall.
4. … Then Search the Rest of the Room
Don’t limit your search to just the bed. “Bed bugs can hide in other places around the room,” says Howard Bright, owner of Anti-Pesto Bug Killers in Tampa. “I always check every piece of furniture, including dresser drawers, chairs or sofas, the luggage rack, under pillows and under cushions.” If the room contains window curtains, give those a good look, too. “Bed bugs like to hide in cozy spaces or in fabric,” Bright says.
5. If You Find Them, Leave the Room
If you find evidence of bed bugs, head back to the front desk. “If you have even the smallest suspicion that the room, in fact, does have bed bugs, leave it immediately and notify the hotel about your discovery,” Thompson says. “Request a new room, preferably one that is as far away from the room where you discovered the bed bugs as possible. And make sure to do your bed bug inspection again once you get to the new room, because you can never be too sure if the bed bug problem might be contained to only one room or might be a hotel-wide problem.”
6. Wash Everything When You Return
Once you return home, make sure the bed bugs didn’t return with you. According to the National Pest Management Association, you should thoroughly vacuum your luggage before storing it. In addition, you should wash and dry all clothes, even those not worn, in hot water to kill any lingering bugs.
7. Buy Protection for Your Luggage
Consider protection for your luggage to prevent bed bugs from traveling with you. “Hardshell suitcases are less likely to transport bed bugs home with you,” Bright says. “You can also purchase zipper bags that fit around luggage to protect you from bed bugs that might be hiding on planes, trains or in your Uber.”