Don’t be Bugged by Bed Bugs

Never mind the sparkling countertops or bleached sheets, the crumb-free floor or snug bath robe hanging in the closet. What lurks beyond the hotel room door that requires your immediate attention are the uninvited guests who remain there long after the last guest - bed bugs. When traveling, be on the lookout for the parasitic hitchhikers to avoid an outbreak in your own home. Bed bugs affix themselves to clothing, furniture and bedding and are transported from place to place by humans unaware. In an effort to keep homes clean and healthy, The Maids offer these simple steps to minimize exposure to bed bugs. Before you embark upon your journey, troll the Internet for bed bug registries that list affected hotels. Check travel websites that catalog travel reviews; travelers who’ve had a run-in with an infested hotel will likely “talk” about it online.

Upon entering a hotel room, place luggage in the bathtub or atop the toilet seat. Wayward bugs can’t crawl up these surfaces and keeps them from unwittingly spreading to your home. While in the room, keep luggage on the luggage rack, off the floor. Hard-sided luggage lacks the folds and creases of its soft-sided cousin making it more difficult for the pest to hide in your bags. Since bed bugs are large enough to see, check the mattress and bed frame for any signs that the pests have been comfortably hiding. Do you notice any tiny black spots?  Spots and stains are good indicators of either a current or prior presence. Pull back sheets, inspect mattress seams and examine any other upholstered items in the room.

 Bed bugs are drawn to wood – don’t neglect the nightstand and dresser. If it appears as though the critters have invited themselves into your hotel room, ask the management for another room. Before packing the car for the trip home, place luggage in large plastic bags and knot securely. Once home, immediately wash all clothing on the hottest temperature setting suggested by the care labels. Dry on high heat for at least 30 minutes. Avoid packing items that can only be laundered on a cold-water setting.

Keep in mind that the presence of bed bugs is not a condition of an unsanitary environment; bed bugs are carried from homes to hotel rooms and back by people. The recent resurgence of bed bugs offers travelers an opportunity to learn all they can about prevention. Bagging luggage or engaging in diligent inspections may seem like overkill, but eradicating the bugs can be timely and costly. As is often said, it’s better to be safe than sorry.