How to Check for Bed Bugs in a Hotel
Tips to help keep the pests from hitching a ride home with you
Checking into a hotel for a holiday vacation? Beware of bed bugs. Hotels and motels can be hot spots for infestations of the small reddish-brown insects, which can live happily in a bed and hitch a ride home on luggage and clothing.
Bed Bug Tips
These pests are more common than you think. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Haniya Rae explains how you can protect yourself against a bed bug infestation.
Tips for Traveling Without Bed Bugs
1. When you first enter a new hotel room, put your luggage on a luggage rack or in the bathroom—an unlikely place for bed bugs to hide—while you inspect the bedding and furniture.
2. Pull back the bed sheets and blankets and check the mattress and box-spring seams for bugs, especially at the head of the bed. Adults, nymphs, and eggs are visible to the naked eye. Also keep your eyes peeled for exoskeletons (casings that the bugs leave behind when they molt) and dark, rust-colored spots. You can also lift the mattress and check underneath, too, using a flashlight if possible.
3. Consider checking upholstered furniture, too, says Potter. "If I'm traveling, I'll take a quick look at a couch or recliner, if there is one—at the seams and the head and neck area."
If you see any telltale signs, tell hotel staff and ask for a new room, preferably in another part of the building.
4. Stow your suitcases, zipped closed, on a luggage rack or a hard surface for the length of your stay. You can also pack large plastic trash bags and keep your luggage in them during your time in the hotel. "The other thing I do is try not to spread my stuff all over room," says Potter. "If there happen to be bugs, they sometimes will get into things and the more stuff you have around, the higher the probability of that."
5. When you get home, if you have any concerns that you've brought home a stray hitchhiker or two, tumble your travel clothes in a hot dryer for up to 30 minutes. (The heat will kill bed bugs, but simply washing the clothes usually won't.)