How to Check for Bed Bugs in Your Hotel Room

When you’re on vacation or traveling for work, it’s nice to have somewhere comfortable to rest at the end of a long day. Unfortunately, 68 percent of all bed bug infestations occur in hotels, and the lower quality ones aren’t the only ones susceptible. When you first check into a hotel, there are some steps you can take to check for these pesky critters, so you don’t end up toting some back home with you.

Woman in her hotel room, looking out the window. Suitcase in foreground.

Inspect the Room

When you first check into your hotel room, you’ll want to take a look around. Bed bugs like to hide and are really good at doing so. You won’t necessarily see them scattering about on the floor. Pull back the sheets to look for any signs of bed bugs or fecal matter. This will be a reddish brown color and may appear to be very small flecks of material. You will also want to pull back the fitted sheet on the mattress and any mattress protector that is present. You can even go so far as to look underneath the mattress seams in between the mattress and box springs.

While bed bugs often like to hang out in the different cracks and crevices of a bed, they may also be in other nooks and crannies of hotel rooms. Use a flashlight to peak underneath baseboards, in the backs of drawers and even in vanities. You’ll also want to give your hotel room a good sniff. Where bed bugs are present, there will be a strong musty odor. A clean and bug-free hotel room should smell fresh and clean.

Woman pulling back the sheets of her hotel bed to inspect for signs of bed bugs

Wait to Unpack

Don’t immediately start pulling items out of your suitcase. You might be tempted to get everything organized before you start your activities for the day, but you might want to give yourself some time to spot any bed bugs that are in your hotel room first. You might be tired from traveling and not able to spot the bugs that are in the room right away. When at all possible, keep your items in your suitcase and in the bathroom – better yet, in the tub – until you’ve had a chance to inspect the room. Bed bugs can’t crawl on the slick bathroom surfaces.

Change Rooms and Floors

If you notice any signs of bed bugs in the different cracks and crevices of your hotel room, immediately request that you leave that room and get another one. If possible, ask for a room that is on a completely different floor. The goal is to get as far away from that hotel room that’s infested. If it’s not too big of an inconvenience and there’s another hotel nearby, ask for a complete refund and book your stay at another location.

 Person wearing blue gloves, holding a magnifying glass, looking for bed bugs on upholstery in a hotel

After Returning Home

Once you’ve returned home, you’ll want to handle your items very carefully in case there were bed bugs in your hotel room, and you didn’t notice them. It’s very common for these bugs to hitch a ride back home with you, and then you have a pest problem of your own to deal with. One bed bug isn’t guaranteed to result in a huge bed bug infestation, but you may have brought a pregnant female home with you.

Immediately unpack your clothing and various laundry items, placing them directly into your washing machine. Wash the items on hot if possible and run them through the drier. This should completely kill any bugs or eggs that were brought back with you. Clean out your suitcase before you put it away for your next trip. You’ll do this by vacuuming the entire bag out. Make sure you get in all those little pockets and corners. You can also wipe the interior (and exterior) out with a diluted vinegar spray. Just make sure that you allow it to completely dry before you put it away, so it doesn’t grow mold.

Man washing his clothes once he returned home to kill any bed bugs he brought back from his hotel

If you notice that you have bed bugs in your own home, either from traveling or from some other source, you’ll want to call a professional as quickly as possible. PestNow of Central Virginia is a veteran-owned and operated local business offering professional pest-control services throughout the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Northern Neck areas. With PestNow CVA, you get the best of both worlds: The support of the nationwide PestNow organization and the personalized service, individual attention and professional expertise of the local Virginians who own and operate our three locations. We’ll take care of your bed bug problem quickly, so you don’t have to worry about unwanted guests returning home with you after your travels.