How to Check for Bed Bugs in Your Hotel Room

Hotel Bed Bugs

I have a bit of a bed bug phobia. Just thinking about those creepy crawlers gives me the heebie-jeebies!

This is incredibly terrifying after hearing on the news that bed bugs have spread through hotels, trains, theaters and more in Paris. Luxury and budget travelers alike are falling victim to these blood-sucking bugs.

So you can imagine how I feel arriving at a hotel room after a long day of travel. Before I even consider resting my weary head on those pillows, I have to do a thorough bug inspection.

I’m no professional pest control agent, but I’ve perfected my own method of hunting for those blood-sucking vampires. Hotel bed bugs definitely don’t want to mess with me!

In this guide, I’ll share pro tips for checking all the sneaky spots bed bugs like to hide, from the headboard to under the mattress. Bring your flashlight and detective hat, and I’ll have you finding (or not finding) bed bugs in no time.

They may be small, but they’re no match for my detailed hotel room sweep. Then you can finally relax on your trip knowing you outsmarted those pesky bed bugs.

When You Enter, Don’t Unpack Yet

luggages on bed

The very first thing to do before settling in is inspect your room for signs of bed bugs.

So don’t unpack or place any belongings on surfaces yet. If the hotel has provided a luggage rack, use this to keep your bags off the floor initially. Hard surfaces prevent bed bugs from crawling inside.

If there is no luggage rack, the bathtub is another good place to put your suitcase while inspecting. Bed bugs gravitate toward beds and upholstered areas, so keeping luggage contained aids inspection.

Why You Should Thoroughly Check for Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are extremely adept at clinging to fabrics and hiding in the smallest cracks and crevices. They feed on human blood, usually at night when people are sleeping. During the day, they reside right near beds and furniture within a room.

Their small size allows them to spread easily from room to room in hotels, feeding on unsuspecting guests at night before hitchhiking along in clothing and luggage.

Once established, bed bugs are very difficult and expensive to eradicate entirely. That’s why it’s crucial to inspect properly and avoid transporting them home with you, where they can multiply and require professional pest control.

A thorough inspection takes only 10-15 minutes but gives you vital peace of mind.

Have the Proper Tools Ready

Before getting started, assemble any tools you may need for a proper inspection:

  • Flashlight – Illuminates dark corners and crevices bed bugs like to hide. Use your phone’s flashlight in a pinch.
  • Credit card – Slides into cracks and seams to feel for bed bugs and spot fecal stains.
  • Magnifying glass – Helps visually spot the small insects, eggs, and skins which are telltale signs.
  • Gloves – Protects hands from touching bed bugs directly. Disposable gloves work well.
  • Vacuum cleaner – For sucking up any live bugs found to contain them.
  • Plastic bags – To isolate items or collect specimens while changing rooms.
  • Camera – Documents proof of any infestation found to show staff.

What to Look for When Inspecting

scary bed bug

Bed bugs are sneaky creatures but leave behind evidence of their presence. Learn how to recognize signs of infestation:

  • Live bed bugs – Small (1-5 mm long), oval, flat, wingless insects. Reddish-brown in color. Sort of apple seed-shaped. Move quickly.
  • Fecal stains – Dark brown or black spots often found in clusters. Stain fabric and often appear along mattress seams or box springs.
  • Egg cases – Tiny white sacs bed bugs deposit in cracks and crevices containing eggs. Each can hold 1-5 eggs.
  • Cast skins – Light brown, molted exoskeletons bugs shed as they mature. A sign of reproduction.
  • Blood spots – Reddish stains on sheets or mattresses from crushed bugs or blood excrement.

Where to Inspect for Bed Bugs

Bed bugs like to reside right around beds and upholstered furniture. When inspecting, focus efforts closest to sleeping areas, then work outward.

Mattress and Bed Frame

This is the prime real estate for bed bugs, so inspect thoroughly:

  • Remove all bedding – mattress pad, sheets, blankets. Pull the mattress away from the headboard.
  • Check along mattress piping and all seams on both sides. Run fingers along for bumps.
  • Inspect tufts, creases, and underside. Use flashlight to illuminate.
  • Check screw holes on bed frame and cracks in wood. Common hiding spots.
  • Pull out drawers in platform beds and check inside, top, and underneath.
  • Flip over the mattress to inspect the underside for signs of infestation.

Headboards, Footboards, and Bed Skirts

These areas touch the mattress and provide access to guests.

  • Unscrew or detach headboards (if possible) to check the backside. Especially important if against a wall.
  • Check crevices in ornate, upholstered headboards thoroughly.
  • Lift bed skirts and shine flashlight underneath at platform base and legs.
  • Inspect back and screw holes of footboards.

Nearby Furniture and Electronics

Bed bugs wander from the bed, looking for hiding spots.

  • Remove drawers from nightstands and other bedside tables to inspect inside, top, and underside.
  • Check power outlets, clocks, phones, lamps. Remove plates to inspect inside.
  • Open books, remote controls, Bible nightstand drawer.
  • Lift picture frames off the wall to inspect behind.

Headboard Wall and Perimeter

Bed bugs may nest along edges of carpet or baseboards.

  • Check crevices in headboard wall, peel back wallpaper.
  • Inspect baseboards with credit card, especially where it meets carpet.
  • Look behind electrical plates, thermostats, artwork.
  • Peer inside heating units, curtain rods, smoke detectors.

Other Furniture Away from Beds

Couches, chairs, and other furniture can also be susceptible.

  • Lift cushions, inspect seams, crevices, and undersides.
  • Check inside cabinets, drawers, shelves.
  • Look under TV remotes, phones, clocks.
  • Inspect luggage racks or shelving holding your bags.

Closets and Bathrooms

Bed bugs may spread to these areas over time.

  • Scan shelves, floors, ceilings inside closets for signs. Hang shirts and check underneath.
  • Look behind bathroom headboards, artwork, cabinets, and under sink.
  • Check folds and seams of shower curtains.
  • Inspect under toiletry bags sitting out. Keep sealed in bathroom until the inspection is over.

What to Do if You Find Signs of Bed Bugs

hotelroom inspection

If you spot bed bugs or convincing evidence like fecal stains:

  • Remain calm – An infestation is unpleasant but manageable if addressed properly.
  • Document evidence – Catch a bug in plastic bag or tape down on paper. Photograph stains, eggs, etc. This provides proof when notifying staff.
  • Call the front desk immediately – Explain you found bed bugs and need a new room. Detail what signs you saw and where in the room.
  • Don’t unpack any belongings – This avoids spreading bugs to your items. Leave luggage sealed on rack or bathtub.
  • Get rid of any bugs – Remind the housekeepers to vacuum up live bugs and seal bag. Wash clothes worn in the contaminated room. This helps isolate the infestation.
  • Move to new room carefully – Inspect new room first. Keep items sealed in plastic bags until entering clean room to avoid transfer. Leave luggage in sealed bags if concerned.
  • Launder items at home – Wash all clothes, shoes, backpacks, etc from trip in hot water once home. Dry on high heat. Scrutinize luggage inside and out before bringing it indoors.

Being proactive allows you to catch bed bugs early before they spread. Notify staff right away and take measures to isolate belongings. This way you can contain the infestation, switch rooms, and avoid bringing bugs home.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Bed Bugs

While you can’t fully guarantee avoiding bed bugs, there are some precautions to minimize risks:

  • Choose a higher floor room if possible. Bed bugs infest lower floors first. Floors 3-5 or above are ideal.
  • Keep suitcases zipped shut and bags sealed in plastic during inspections. Only unpack in a confirmed clean room.
  • Use hard-sided luggage which bed bugs can’t penetrate as easily as fabric bags.
  • Vacuum suitcases inside and out before traveling. This removes any potential stowaways.
  • Inspect mattresses, box springs, and headboards in vacation home rentals thoroughly upon arrival too.

Things Bed Bugs Hates

While bed bugs are adept at hiding, they do have some weaknesses we can use against them. Natural essential oils like tea tree, peppermint, lavender, and lemongrass make bed bugs cringe. The strong plant oils disrupt the waxy coating on their exoskeleton that protects them.

Without this armor, bed bugs become dehydrated and die off. Just a small amount of these oils rubbed onto bags, furniture legs, bed frames, and mattress seams creates a lethal forcefield against the bugs.

The pleasant natural scents also appeal to the human nose while repelling those uninvited guests. Deploying essential oils is an easy, non-toxic way to send bed bugs packing without having to call in the exterminator.

Key Takeaways on Checking for Bed Bugs

awake in bed

Stay vigilant and know where to look. Conduct thorough inspections before settling into any hotel or rental room. Being informed arms you to combat bed bugs properly. Now you can be bed bug free when you travel!


FAQs About Checking for Bed Bugs

What are the most obvious signs of bed bugs to look for?

Look for dark fecal spotting or staining on mattresses, box springs, and walls. Live tan-colored bed bugs visible along mattress seams are also clear evidence of infestation.

How can I prevent bed bugs from crawling into my luggage?

Keep suitcases zipped shut on a luggage rack or hard surface away from beds and upholstery during inspection. Only unpack into drawers and hang up clothes after you confirm the room is free of infestation.

What should I do if I wake up with mysterious bites?

Note the location of bites, then thoroughly check the mattress, sheets, and room for any signs of bugs that could have caused them. Notify hotel staff to investigate and provide a different room. Most importantly, don’t scratch the itchy areas.

Can bed bugs cling to clothes and hitchhike home?

Yes, bed bugs can easily hide in clothing folds and seams to be carried home. Launder all items in hot water and dry on high heat before unpacking at home. Inspect bags carefully inside and out before bringing them indoors.

How can I avoid bed bugs when staying with friends or family?

Inspect beds, mattresses, and furniture in any space you are sleeping in to confirm no signs of infestation. Keep luggage closed and sealed in plastic when not in use. Be observant of any signs bed bugs may have spread to your belongings.

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