How to Check Your Hotel Room for Bedbugs

Door of a hotel room opening to reveal the bed.Sompetch Khanakornpratip / Shutterstock

Hotels sometimes host things other than guests, like things that slip at night! What's hidden in your dark room? It could be bed bugs. Here's how to spot them and make sure they will not drive you home.

What are bed bugs?

Before you can start looking for bedbugs, you need to know what they are. Since they like to hide during the day and go out at night, you probably will not see them unless you know what to look for and where to look.

If you find a bed bug, it will look a bit like an apple seed: they are the same size and have an oval body. Bed bugs are brown, but they become more reddish after being nourished with human (or animal) blood. These scary little caterpillars do not fly, but they move fast and can cross the ceiling as fast as they can on the ground.

How to check your hotel room

The first thing to know about staying in a hotel or motel, is how to check for the presence of bedbugs. Before you even enter your room for the first time, you must be prepared.

Keep your luggage away from hot spots

Leave your luggage in the hallway or drop them on the luggage rack or in the bathtub. These are all unlikely places for bed bugs. They tend to hang around and around the bed, where they can feed while you sleep.

Examine the mattress and furniture

Your next step is to look for signs of bedbugs in and around the bedding and furniture in the room. Look under the sheets and between the covers. Check under the pillows, inside the pillowcases and under the mattress. When they do not feed, bed bugs hide very well. So you have to lift the mattress and look in the slots and crevices of the furniture. A good pen is invaluable in this situation.

Mature bugs and droppings along the lining of a piece of furniture.Hawaii Department of Health

Eggs, nymphs and adult bedbugs are visible to the naked eye without magnification, but you should also look for evidence of their presence. During the day, you will be more likely to see exoskeletons left by insects and rust-colored spots caused by their excrement. In the photo above, you see both an adult bug and the marks you can expect to see on absorbent surfaces, such as the mattress and upholstery of a padded furniture.

Check all upholstered furniture. If it is difficult to see in furniture or under mattresses, use a flashlight (most smartphones are equipped with a flashlight app).

What to do if you find bedbugs

If you bring your luggage, move them in the hallway. Go to the reception and tell them that you have found signs of bedbugs. It is common, so they will be generally understanding.

Ask for another room, either on another floor or in another part of the building. Repeat the same check in your next room. It is unlikely that a hotel is completely infested with bed bugs, but not impossible.

How to avoid bringing home bedbugs

Even if you do not see bedbugs in the room, it's a good idea to take precautions.

Do not let clothes hang out

Keep your suitcase securely closed and stored on the luggage rack, away from the bed and other furniture. Better yet, put it in the shower or bath because it is least likely to have bed bugs. Keep soiled clothing in an attached trash bag. If you have clothes to hang, make sure they do not touch the walls or the floor.

Do a check when you get home

Do not carry your suitcase in the bedroom and do not put it on the bed if you are afraid of having stowaways. Instead, take it directly to the laundry and throw it all in the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat. This is one of the best ways to kill bed bugs.

If you do not see the warning signs but find itchy little bites on your skin, you may have slept with bed bugs. Fortunately, these ugly leeches do not spread the disease, but they multiply. So treat them quickly by calling pest control if you suspect an infestation in your home.

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