For many of us, the holiday season is a time of joy. It is also a time for travel as we look forward to spending time with family and friends. One thing that can damper our holiday season is dealing with unwanted visitors – no, not that cranky Scrooge of a relative – but bed bugs! Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers, tagging along with unsuspecting travelers on their clothes and luggage. As we enter the biggest travel season of the year, check out these tips for preventing bed bugs and preserving your holiday cheer.
1. Prepare For Your Guests
When you have guests staying with you, make sure you are prepared for the possibility of bed bugs being brought in with them. Don’t put your guests’ coats and bags on the bed. Instead, clean out a closet and use it to store their belongings. If you have to put their items on the bed, lay a sheet down first. It can be cleaned later. Place a plastic mat by the door for them to place their shoes on. If possible, provide luggage racks for them to use to store their belongings on. Use a bed bug mattress cover on any beds your guests will be using. If your guests will be sleeping on the couch, lay a sheet down over it first.
2. Clean Up After They Leave
Once your guests leave, make sure to go behind anywhere they kept coats or luggage and clean. Vacuum closets where luggage and coats were kept. Vacuum the beds and couches where they slept. Seal the vacuum bags immediately and dispose of them outside. If you used sheets under luggage or on your couches, wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat. Wash the plastic mat you used for their shoes with hot, soapy water.
3. Be On The Lookout
Whether you have guests who just left or you are the guest yourself, check your surroundings for signs of bed bugs. Inspect the mattress, box springs, and headboard, especially around edges and seams. Make sure to check couch cushions and chairs, as well. The most common sign of bed bugs is small, rust colored spots. Avoid using dresser drawers if possible. When you arrive at your destination, especially if you have been in a heavily populated area (subway, bus, airport, etc) check your shoes, jackets, hats, and luggage immediately. Be sure to check around zippers and seams. If you spot bed bugs, remove the clothing immediately and wash in hot water and dry on high heat. Vacuum luggage and seal and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. If you are going to be a guest at a hotel or other lodging accommodation, you can also check the Bed Bug Registry, which is a free user-submitted database of bed bug reports across the US and Canada.
4. Don’t Wait Around
Once you arrive home from your travels, unpack your luggage and change your clothes immediately. Wash everything in hot water and dry on high heat. The heat of the water and air from the dryer will kill any bed bugs that may be lingering around. Once unpacked, vacuum or steam your luggage and seal it in plastic bags or containers. Store your luggage outside the home (in a garage, shed, etc) until you need to use them again.
5. Call The Pros
Bed bugs are resilient and can be extremely difficult to get rid of. If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, call a pest control professional who can come in and provide you with a thorough evaluation and comprehensive treatment plan.
When traveling this holiday season, be careful not to pick up the dreaded hitchhikers…bed bugs.
Bed bugs can be found in homes, hotels, trains, buses, anywhere that people are traveling. Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures that make their home in the seams of mattresses, cushions, pillows, and other linens. They spread from place to place by getting into purses, suitcases, or other belongings that people are traveling with.
There are ways to protect yourself from bed bugs:
(See bed bug ID)
Do not put any furniture on the floor, instead use luggage racks or the bathroom. It’s important to check mattress seams when you arrive at a home or hotel. You can do this easily by pulling back the sheets and mattress pad and checking along the seams for bed bug casings. Bed bugs are small, flat, and a reddish-brown color. Since they are nocturnal, you may not see actual bed bugs but you can see the casings or the rusty colored spots that they leave behind. If you do find signs of bed bugs, immediately notify the hotel or the homeowner so that different sleeping arrangements can be made.
Whether you’ve seen bed bugs or not, when returning home, make sure to inspect your luggage before bringing it into your home. You can do this by checking the seams of the bags and by placing all of your clothes and luggage in the dryer on the hottest setting. This will kill any bugs that may have found their way home with you.
Bed bug infestations can be difficult to treat. It is highly recommended that a trained professional who specializes in bed bugs perform bed bug removal treatments.
The holiday season is a busy time for travel. People visiting family or taking holiday trips…it is a fun and exciting time. But there are precautions to take when traveling. Bed bugs have made a comeback in recent years and are a real concern for travelers. Not only are they a concern for while on a trip but bringing them home can cause thousands of dollars and loss of sleep.
But this shouldn’t discourage people from traveling. With knowledge and diligence, you can protect yourself and your home from bed bugs.
Tips for Avoiding Bed Bugs While Traveling:
- Research the hotel. If staying in a hotel do your research by reading reviews on the website and visiting The Bed Bug Registry. The Bed Bug Registry is a free, public database where people report bed bug infestations across the US and Canada.
- Keep luggage off of bed and floor. Place your luggage on a luggage rack, bathroom floor, or balcony when you enter the room. Placing it on the bed or carpet could give present bed bugs easy access to your luggage.
- Inspect your bed. Check the headboard, foot board, mattress, sheets, pillows, and comforter for little bugs or dark red or brown spots that mark a trail. Check seams and corners closely and the box springs. If you see scurrying, dead bugs, or dark colored trails, notify the hotel management immediately.
- Inspect your room. Check sofas and chairs, or other places that bed bugs could be found.
- If you find bed bugs after you’ve slept in the room, notify hotel management right away. They should launder all of your clothing and give you a new room immediately.
Preventing bed bugs from making their way home with you:
- Unpack your bag in the garage or on a hard, light colored surface. Do not unpack on the bed or carpet. This will allow you to see any bed bugs if they scurry out of your bag.
- Wash and dry all clothes as soon as possible on hot.
- Vacuum your suitcase.
- Although it’s unusual for bed bugs to travel on a person, shower before you sleep in your own bed.
If you suspect that bed bugs have made their way into your home, there is a solution. Northwest Exterminating has a dedicated team of experts that specialize in the treatment of bed bugs. Call the Mouse to get rid of bed bugs in your house.