How to inspect your hotel room for bedbugs

From Issue: 
Vol LV No. 3, July 2011

Step 1: Try to avoid booking a hotel room without first enquiring if it has a bedbug problem.

Before you book a room, do a search of your hotel’s name along with the word “bedbugs”. You can also look a hotel up on www.tripadvisor.ca, where customers review their stay at a hotel, and if they had bad service, a small, outdated room, or bedbugs, you’ll hear about it. If you see one bad report take it with a grain of salt. But multiple bad reviews, or reviews which repeat a particular critique, can be bad news.

The BedBugRegistry.com is also a great place to start because it indicates places where people have experienced bed bugs. Travellers voluntarily submit the name and location of the infestation and the date they encountered it.

Step 2: Leave luggage outside the door or in the bathroom when you arrive.

If it turns out that the room is infested, why go all the way in? Luggage is one of the known ways that bedbugs travel from place to place. So try to avoid picking up any hitchhikers.

Step 3: Case the Joint.

Because bedbugs are active at night, they need a place to hide during the day. Pay special attention to the bed, bed frame, and the headboard (often fastened to the wall in hotels). These are the prime spots you’ll see signs of an infestation.

Start by pulling the bed away from the wall, if possible. A flashlight is handy for shining behind headboards and under beds. Peel back the bed sheets and check the mattress, paying special attention to the seams of mattresses, the box springs, and the mattress tag, as bedbugs often hide there. Check for bloodstains and bedbug droppings as well, since they’re often the easiest to spot.

Step 4: Check everything else that could potentially harbour bedbugs.

Check bedside tables and drawers and anywhere else that is unlikely to be disturbed by cleaning staff or guests. Make sure to not unpack your clothes into the dressers. Always hang them up in the closet, or leave them in your suitcase, and make sure to leave your suitcase on the luggage rack.

Step 5: If signs of bedbugs are detected, request another room.

Inform hotel management the reason for your room change. Simply moving to a different room may not be the full solution. Make sure to repeat the inspection of any new or different room you are offered.

Step 6: Check the next morning.

Look on your sheets when you get up the next morning. If you see little bloodstains on your sheets, or tiny rusty spots, beware. Reactions to bedbug bites vary widely, from no reaction at all to lots of swelling and redness, so the presence of bites isn’t always a reliable check.

When you pack to leave, inspect your luggage carefully first, and inspect every item as you pack to help detect any bedbugs or their signs.

If you find bedbugs, have bites, or know that you’ve spent time in a room harbouring the bugs, vacuum your suitcases, backpack, and camera bag. Wash everything washable in the hottest water possible and dry on the highest setting possible for 30 minutes.