Here are some quick tips on where to look for, and find, these little bloodsuckers. Most people who end up with an infestation could have prevented it by knowing how to recognize signs of bed bugs.
When you inspect a room for bed bugs, make sure you wear disposable medical gloves! They gorge on the blood of humans, so much so that they can burst open with little pressure. When these bugs pop, the blood they consumed can splatter, and you may be exposed.
Bed Bug Checklist
Use this bed bug checklist to make sure your hotel room is bedbug free BEFORE you unpack – it should be the first thing you do!
- The first thing you need to do is check your bed. Peel back the bed sheets and check the mattress, running your fingers along the upper and lower seams. Make sure to check the mattress tag and plastic around the edges (see the picture below); bed bugs often hide there.
- Look for tiny black spots (smaller than the size of poppy seeds) behind the headboard, translucent skins or actual bedbugs. Bed bug spots (fecal matter) are dark brown to black in color and stick to the surface. If it falls off, then it’s not a bed bug spot. You can also take a wet towel and wipe the spot to see if it smears and if so, then it may be fecal matter.
- Check the bedside table or any other furniture or fixtures near the bed. Bedbugs don’t like the light, so they’ll be hiding in areas that are usually dark or very dim.
- Are there shells? (shed skins) – as the bed bug develops, it sheds the skin which looks like the bug. Also look for tiny white eggs (like rice) along the edge of the mattress.
- During the early stages of infestation (if you or someone just brought one home), the bug usually hides out in the mattress (and headboard). If this is your home and concerned few made their way to your bed, it would be wise to buy a mattress cover; this will seal in the bed bugs and over time, they will die. See our section on Mattress Covers to learn what type you need (standard covers will not work).
- If traveling, utilize the luggage stand to keep bags off of the floor and hang clothing in the closet farthest from your bed; this will help prevent them from getting into your luggage and hitching a ride home with you.
- If you see powder in the drawers or on the headboard, it is likely that an exterminator recently treated the room for bed bugs.
- If you do see signs of a bed bug, inform a manager immediately. You may request another room but remember these bugs could have easily infested adjoining rooms. Personally, I would leave and find another hotel if there is any sign of bed bugs – why take the chance!
- Just because the room is new does not mean it’s free from infestations; just one bug inside the cloths or luggage of the last occupant is enough to cause a problem for you.
- Check your bags and suitcase BEFORE you leave; this may seem cumbersome, but it is nothing to a full-fledged infestation!
- Other signs of bed bugs may include itching or a foul smell. The odor may resemble spoiled raw beef, musty, or sweet such as fresh red raspberries.
- If you spot a bed bug, wash all your items in hot water and dry on high heat for 20-30 minutes. Then place the item in a zip lock bag.
Where to check for bed bugs
Bed bugs love to hide in anything that has gaps, so consider the following when doing your check:
- behind baseboards
- around door and window casings
- around window sills and frames
- behind electrical and telephone switch plates
- between flooring and wall components
- where materials meet to form a gap
- around pipes (water, drain, electrical conduits
- seams, creases, tufts, and folds of the mattress and box spring
- bed frames and head board
- under night stands and drawers
- storage units
- items such as furniture that may have hollow legs
- between upholstered furniture
- between the folds of drapery or curtains
- in your alarm clock
- inside loose wallpaper
Here is an excellent video on how to check for bed bugs!
* If your check turns up results, then read my page on how to get rid of bed bugs – it will help you do it without damaging the environment – thank you!