Bed bugs are the bane of homeowners around the world. The small endoparasitic arachnids hide inside mattresses, bedding, furniture and walls, crawling out at night time to feast on human blood.
Aside from causing extremely irritating and itchy bites, these pesky insects are also notoriously difficult to eliminate from a home. The life cycle of a bedbug means that even if you manage to destroy every living bed bug in your home, a second wave of bed bugs hatching from eggs will re-infest your living space.
The bed bug nuisance isn’t limited to homes, however. Hotels are notorious for hosting bed bug infestations alongside guests. This is partially due to the high amount of transient travelers that are coming from regions or locations that are prone to bed bug infestations.
Bed bugs will stow away either inside luggage or clothes, or catch a ride on the body of a traveler, then subsequently infest a hotel. Many hotels also have surprisingly lax sanitary practices, leading to bed bug infestation.
The prevalence of bed bugs in the hotel industry is astounding. In one year in New York alone, over twelve thousand individual bed bug complaints are filed at major hotels. While there is no foolproof way to determine whether there are bedbugs in your hotel suite without actually sleeping in it, there are a number of key identifying factors you can use to check a room over before settling in.
In this article, we’ll provide a few tips and tricks on identifying hotel bed bug infestation, and provide a secret weapon critical for any traveler worried about dealing with bed bug infestations in hotels.
Identifying Hotel Bed Bugs: What to Look For
Getting caught out by a bed bug infestation in a hotel can be an awful, holiday-ruining experience. Recently, a traveler spending time in the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas pursued legal action against the hotel due to an extreme reaction she suffered from bed bug bites while on holiday.
Bed bug bites can manifest as small, mosquito bite-like lumps, but in some individuals may cause intense swelling and pain. The best way to prevent this from occurring on your holiday is to check over a hotel room before settling in.
Begin your survey with a basic inspection of the room after checking in. The best place to start in any hotel room is the mattress, as this is the location that will likely harbor the largest amount of bed bugs.
Remove the sheet and the mattress pad, looking for either small, crawling insects or tiny black fecal matter streaks. Bed bugs are roughly half the size of an apple seed when fully grown. Ensure you check around the four corners of the mattress as well as the box spring areas.
As part of your initial investigation, also check the luggage rack and valet. These are areas that are commonly overlooked but can also harbor bed bugs, as hotels are often contaminated by luggage that carries bed bugs.
Look closely into cracks, crevices and under the luggage rack. After completing a cursory inspection of the room, you may want to conduct a more thorough investigation if you notice any evidence of bed bug infestation.
Return to the bed and, using a flashlight, inspect the edging, seams, and finer areas of the mattress. Be sure to lift the mattress up and look underneath with the flashlight. In many hotels, the headboard of the bed will be attached to the wall, but if this is not the case use your flashlight to check between the headboard and the wall.
Look into any cracks and crevices around or on the mattress frame, nightstand, or drawers, ensuring you check any screw holes or joints. Be sure to also check any other furniture in the room, checking under couch cushions and around any wooden items.
If you observe any bed bugs in your hotel room, remove your luggage from the room immediately and inform the front desk. Request either a refund or to be moved into another room that is not adjacent to the infested room. In many cases, hotel management will be more than happy to offer you a room upgrade in return for your understanding.
Precautions Against Bed Bugs While Traveling
There are a number of tips and tricks you can use to minimize the risk of your items from becoming infested with bed bugs during a holiday.
- Keep dirty laundry in a plastic bag. Bed bugs are attracted by dirty clothing and will colonize it.
- Always immediately launder any clothing you bring home with you on a high heat.
- Vacuum your suitcase immediately after returning home from a holiday.
- Wipe shoes down with a damp cloth after returning home.
Diatomaceous Earth: The Secret Weapon Against Hotel Bed Bugs
There is no surefire way to determine whether your hotel room has bed bugs or not. Using pesticides or bed bug bombs is a definite no-no in any hotel room, and will likely get you kicked out with no refund. Diatomaceous earth, however, is a highly effective bed bug deterrent that will prevent you from being harmed by bed bugs in any environment.
Diatomaceous earth isn’t a chemical- it’s a completely inert white powder that destroys bedbugs through a purely mechanical process. When bed bugs encounter diatomaceous earth, the fine silica particles that compose the powder bind to their exoskeletons and abrade away the waxy outer layer.
Once this protective layer is gone, the diatomaceous earth absorbs the lipid oils and moisture from inside their bodies, fatally dehydrating them within minutes.
Using diatomaceous earth as a bed bug deterrent in any hotel is simple, effective and easy. If you’re traveling to a region or hotel in which you believe there may be a risk of bed bug infestation, carry with you a small bag of diatomaceous earth.
Upon checking into the room, distribute a small amount of diatomaceous earth beneath the mattress and on top of the sheet. This will cause diatomaceous earth to stick to you while you sleep and leave you a little dusty, but will prevent bedbugs from biting you.
Diatomaceous earth is completely harmless and non-toxic and can be quickly and easily vacuumed up. As hotels use white bed sheets, it’s highly unlikely that hotel staff will even notice the small amount of protective diatomaceous earth distributed over the bedding, leaving you safe from bedbugs and free to enjoy your holiday.
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