Bed bugs are insidious little blood-sucking creatures that can easily hitch a ride to your home via your luggage. They are tough to spot and even tougher to get rid of, so an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you love travelling and want to save yourself a lot of trouble, vigilance and proper prevention remain your best defence.
Inspect the mattress
When you arrive in the hotel room, the first thing you should do to make sure you avoid bed bugs is to never put your suitcase on the bed. Instead, leave it in the bathroom or the luggage stand.
Some people who have had previous encounters with the little bloodsuckers would even bag their entire suitcase, just to be extra-sure.
Once you’ve secured your luggage, the first place to inspect is obviously the mattress.
Gently pull back the sheets and check the seams, particularly the corners, for tell-tale signs. You might need to carry a small flashlight (or use your mobile instead) to assist you in the inspection, as spotting these elusive bugs is often tricky.
Look for any dark spots in the joints of the frame and along the slats. Don’t forget to look in the crevices of the headboard as well. If everything seems alright, the last place to look is to lift the mattress itself and look underneath. Don’t try to do this on your own if you are not comfortable or physically able to do it, for mattresses are heavy and you risk injury.
Even if the initial inspection seems satisfactory, you should further extend it to the other areas, just to be sure.
Inspect the towels and bedsheets
Bed bugs love soft fabrics, so don’t forget to check the towels and bedsheets.
Slowly pull back the bedsheets, inspect them for any signs, and extend your look under the linens and pillows. You want to do this slowly and watch out for your clothes not to touch the surfaces, as there might be eggs that could stick to them.
Do this with the towels as well. If you notice any black or reddish stains, you should immediately notify the staff and either change rooms or establishments.
Leave the luggage in the bathroom
As we mentioned before, once you enter the hotel room, the first and best thing you should do is to leave your luggage in the bathroom, never on the bed. This will help protect your suitcase while you proceed to safely inspect the environment.
It’s not unheard of bed bugs being spotted in bathrooms, but generally they are the safest place in hotel rooms. If you want to be extra sure, you can always bag your luggage for maximum protection.
The little critters usually dislike bathrooms, as there are few nooks and crannies to hide, while the smooth surface makes it hard for them to climb around. The light colours of the place also make it fairly easy to spot them.
All of this makes the bathroom the safest place to place your luggage before doing a preliminary check of the premises.
Check behind furniture
Bed bugs, despite their name, will also hide behind furniture, as well as the paper backing of picture frames, headboards, and sometimes even electrical outlets. Be sure to thoroughly check all those areas as well and look for the usual tell-tale signs.
Upholstered furniture can be a real risk however, for once inside, the bed bugs become almost impossible to detect. Neither extreme heat nor cold might be enough to penetrate deep enough into the padding to kill the insects and their eggs, and using a chemical treatment might be inefficient, as some are immune and might survive for a long time without feeding, making re-infestation likely once the chemicals wear off.
Store clothes in plastic bags
To prevent any bed bugs from getting into your clothes, store them in tightly-sealed plastic bags or boxes. It’s best to use clear plastic bags, which will allow you to easily see the contents. Be cautious when storing any objects with sharp edges, as they might poke a hole in the bag and provide an entry point. Make sure the bags are tightly sealed as well.
Try bed bug repellents
They simply can’t stand its smell, as it can also dry out their bodies, which might lead to their death. The odour is also known to prevent them from laying eggs in the area. However, rubbing alcohol should be handled with care, as it might lead to a fire hazard.
The smell of this citrus is pleasant to humans but will result in death when it comes to bed bugs. Fresh lemon juice has the most potent properties against these insects, and if you could spray it around, it works even better.
Powdered Black Pepper
A common household item, black pepper, especially the powdered version, is very effective in driving away bed bugs and other types of insects.
A very unpleasant smell for the little bloodsuckers is also the smell of cinnamon. Sprinkling onto the bed might help ward them off as they find the smell repelling.
Peppermint is one of the most-researched plants that repel any type of insect. It will help ward any types of insects off and keep the place smelling fresh and clean. Either leave the leaves around the bed or spray peppermint oil onto the area.
When you get home
It’s very easy to bring these annoying pests home, so proper prevention here is key.
Even if you haven’t detected any bed bugs, it doesn’t mean they are not present. A little precaution goes a long way when it comes to them, so before entering your home,it’s best to leave the luggage outside before you proceed to thoroughly clean it.
You should use a garment hand steamer to steam your baggage and or vacuum both the outside and inside using the highest setting possible. Only after doing this can you store the item safely away.
Next, put all your clothes, even the unworn ones, in the dryer on the highest setting for bed bugs cannot survive temperatures over 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Once done, you can safely store them away.
If you somehow brought bed bugs and they managed to establish an infestation, it’s highly recommended that you do not try to solve the problem on your own but call professionals instead before it spreads and becomes even more difficult to deal with.
Bed bug infestations are becoming more and more prevalent in hotels over the past decade, so proper prevention is key to having a good night’s sleep and preventing bringing them over into our homes. With little prevention and vigilance you could ensure yourself safe travels and a pest-free home to come back to.