Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Don't let the bed bugs bite...

As a frequent traveler, one of the things I'm concerned about is bed bug infestations because, from what I hear, bed bugs are very difficult to get rid of once you get them.  A common vector for acquiring bed bugs is from hotel rooms and other people's luggage in baggage compartments - the bugs get into your luggage, you go home, and they spread directly from your suitcase.  That doesn't sound like much fun.

How do you keep from getting bedbugs?

  • Let's start with some great advice I got from an exterminator friend of mine:  When you arrive at your hotel room, don't start unpacking right away.  Instead, put your luggage in the bathtub and don't take it out until you've checked your room for signs of bed bugs.
  • Before you travel, check the Bed Bug Registry to find out if any of the hotels you'll be using have been reported for bed bugs.
  • Reduce your risk by putting your luggage on a luggage rack (there is often one folded up in your room's closet) away from the wall, or by placing your luggage on a desk, dresser, or other hard surface.  Don't put it on the sofa, carpet, or bed - if there are bed bugs hiding out, that's where they're likly to be.
  • To reduce the risk of contaminating your home, I've heard you should immediately put all the clothes from your luggage in the dryer for 15 minutes when you get home.
    • While I think this is a good idea, this won't deal with any bed bugs that may have chosen to hide in your suitcase itself.
  • I have heard mxed opinions about "anti-bed bug spray" that you can buy at Home Depot, department stores, etc.  I know someone who always sprays his suitcase with it before and after trips, but I've also heard it does no good unless you you spray it directly on the bugs.  It probably doesn't hurt , but it may not help either.
  • Check for bed bugs no matter how tired you are.  If you get in late, the temptation to jump in bed and nod off may keep you from checking - don't let yourself off the hook.

What do bedbugs look like, and how do I check for them? 

  • To check for bed bugs, peel back the sheets on the bed and look for signs of the bugs directly on the mattress, under the mattress cover.  Run your fingers along the seams to get them to move in case they are well-hidden - you can also check under the tag as I hear they like to hide there.  Bedbugs are tiny but, if you do this, you will see them if they are there.  You should also look for small, rust-colored donts on the sheets or mattress material - those are bed bug waste.
    • Note:  Also take a look at the sheets in the morning - if you were a food source during the night, they will leave those rusty spots on the sheets after they've eaten their fill.
  • If you want to know what they look like, there is a good slide show on WebMD that shows you what different types of bed bugs look like.  They slide show also includes examples of what bed bug bites look like, so you can tell if you've been bitten - apparently they bite most just before morning.

There is also a good collection of information on bedbugs on the MSNBC site - I recommend checking it out.

This may not be a perfect set of recommendations, but I have been following it for a long time and haven't had bed bug problems yet (knock on wood).  If you know of other good tips or resources, please leave a comment.

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