The # 1 mistake you make in your hotel room, bed bug experts warn
Staying in a hotel should be carefree. From the complementary bathrobes to the cozy bed linen to the minibar with goodies – a luxurious hotel room can make your vacation even more relaxing and enjoyable, even if it is a business trip. But while you might not want to think about it, the truth is that hotel rooms are full of germs, and not only that, but they could harbor bed bugs too.
Dreaded beggars are often guests in hotels. In fact, a study published in Insects magazine in 2021 found that hotel bed bug treatments rose nearly 114 percent from 2011 to 2016, so you can only imagine how high it is now. And since even the highest quality hotels can have bed bug issues, it’s up to you to reduce the likelihood of an infestation. While most people know to check the bed for these blood-sucking pests, there is one common mistake hotel guests make in their room that experts say could result in bed bugs being brought home. Read on to find out what it is and how to avoid these insects.
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Never put your luggage on your bed until you’ve checked for bed bugs.
While you might want to drop your heavy luggage in your hotel room when you check in, don’t throw it directly on the bed as this could be a common practice that could put you at risk. Nancy Trojan, PhD, a certified entomologist at Ehrlich Pest Control, says you should never put your luggage on the bed before checking for bed bugs. “When traveling, bed bug luggage is the one-way ticket to a new home,” explains Troyano. “Bed bugs are most often transported to new places with luggage.”
Instead of putting your luggage on the bed, Anthony O’Neill, a pest expert with more than 20 years of experience in the industry, recommends that you temporarily put your luggage in the bathtub or shower when you enter your hotel room. “Bed bugs can’t climb on smooth surfaces, and a bed bug would be easily spotted in a light bathroom,” she says.
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After storing your luggage in a safe place, check the mattress for any signs of bed bugs.
Bed bugs, which are small and brown, “prefer to hide near their hosts so they can sneak out at night and have a blood meal without being noticed,” says Troyano – hence their most common hiding place and name.
According to Troyano, there are several signs that bed bugs could be in your hotel bed. An important indicator is the skin that bedbugs molt before each new stage of life. “Often you can find these sloughed skins on infected areas such as mattress folds, on the edges and in crevices on the bed,” explains Troyano.
Other signs are fecal deposits, which Troyano says can be seen as small black dots on the mattress or mattress cover. There may also be blood stains on the sheets from previous bites of previous guests, or you may spot bed bug eggs. They are pearly white and can be found in tufts about a millimeter long, says pest control company Terminix.
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Bed bugs can hide in other places besides the bed.
Despite their name, bed bugs can hide in other crevices of your hotel room besides the bed. Troyano says you should also look for bed bugs next to closets, in dressers, around picture frames, and on furniture, especially fabric-covered ones. Megan Cavanaugh, Co-owner of pest control company Done Right Pest Solutions, says you should also inspect the edge of the carpet along the wall of your room.
“If you’ve found anything suspicious near the mattresses, look near the walls. Bed bugs hide in the cavities in the walls, ”she explains.
Jordan Foster, a pest control expert at Fantastic Pest Control, says a bed bug infestation also tends to have a specific odor, which he describes as a musty, sweet smell similar to lemonade.
Certain items of luggage can also attract or deter bed bugs.
Nobody wants to take bed bugs home as a souvenir, so it is important to keep your luggage organized. And apparently the color of the bags you choose could play a role in this. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, bed bugs prefer red or black shelters while being repelled by the colors yellow and green. This is likely because darker colors offer better hiding spots, the researchers note.
Dirty laundry in luggage can also attract bed bugs. A 2017 study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that these pests were twice as likely to accumulate on bags of dirty clothes than on those with only clean clothes. According to the researchers, you may be attracted to the smell of dirty laundry, so you should keep clothes that you have been wearing in a sealed bag to keep the odor out.
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