With the 21st century reemergence of bed bugs as a common pest, hotels have been besieged by problems with bed bugs. They’ve lost customers, damaged their brands, and have been sued.
But as long as hotels follow strict pest control procedures and have regular pesticide treatments, there’s not much else they can do to prevent bed bugs.
That’s because bed bugs like to hitch a ride in people’s clothing and luggage. With all the travelers in and out of hotel rooms, it’s only natural that occasionally some bed bugs will crawl from someone’s clothes or luggage and make a new home in the hotel room. There’s a bed right there!
Then you come along, and you unwittingly carry some of the bed bugs home with you in your clothes or luggage. All of sudden the hotel’s bed bug problems have become your bed bug problems..
How to Protect Yourself
These four steps can keep you bed bug free when you return home after a hotel stay:
1. When you first enter a hotel room, set your luggage in the bathroom and then inspect the room. Check: • the mattress—pay close attention to seams, holes, and the mattress tag. • the headboard and bedframe—find and inspect any cracks; look in the crevices where pieces fit together • picture frames • the luggage rack—look under the straps • the backs and undersides of furniture • inside chests and the desk, paying close attention to the “nooks and crannies”
2. If you see bed bugs or signs of their presence, demand another room. Ask for a room as far away as possible from the first room, and then conduct an inspection of the new room.
3. Even if you find no signs in the room, always act as if the room has bed bugs. Keep your luggage off the floor on the luggage rack (which you now know is free of bed bugs). Hang up your clothes. You can use large plastic Ziploc bags to store clothes in drawers and for dirty clothes. You can also buy dissolvable laundry bags into which you can put all your clothes before returning home, so that you can throw them directly into the washer without risking contamination.
4. Heat your luggage before taking it into your home. Washing clothes in hot water and drying them on high heat will kill bed bugs on your clothes (being sure to put clothes directly from their airtight bags into the washer). But you’ve still got the luggage itself to worry about. The safest solution is a PackTite portable heating unit specifically designed to hold and heat up luggage (or shoes, dry-clean-only clothes, etc.) to the 120 degrees necessary to kill bed bugs.