Bed bugs have always been a big issue, and even more so with the recent bed bug infestation in Paris. The most common way to get them is through travel as you'll be exposed to so many elements while travelling. We have condensed the information you need to ensure you won't get bed bugs, and if you do, how to get rid of them!
Bed bug signs
The most common way to spot bed bugs is if they have bitten you. Only 50% of people have a reaction to bed bug bites, which usually entail round red spots in zigzag clusters where they've bitten you. These bumps are usually itchy and are quite annoying to deal with when travelling.
Besides getting bitten, here are the most common signs that people look out for:
- Tiny, black dust-like specks on the mattress (especially the crevices). This is bed bug waste
- Specks of blood on the bed, couches, bed headboard, and furniture
- Off-white/Yellow eggs in dark areas of the mattress, couch etc.
- A sweet, musty odour. If the room smells as such, that means that it's highly infested with bed bugs as they use odour to communicate. There probably are a ton of them there if you can smell it.
- Brown bugs. Bed bugs look like brown circles and will be quite large when they've fed on human blood. Use a card to inspect them further if you see any.
1. Do not put your luggage on the floor or the bed
It's important to never place any of your luggage in places where bed bugs might inhabit. Bed bugs like to hide in dark crevices and are attracted to the smell of humans so dirty clothes are a big attraction to them. Put it on the provided luggage rack or any hard surfaces like the bathroom.
Once you're in the room, don't sit on any surfaces which you will frequent (such as beds or sofas) as you may bring bed bugs into the room as well!
2. Check your bed
Once you've reached your place, remove the mattress cover and check the mattress hem and the edges. You're looking for clusters of black dots, which will be the bed bug's waste. If you have a card on hand (your hotel room card, for example), you can scrape through the crevices and the edges to see if there is any debris or bed bugs on the mattress. Carpeted flooring, dark crevices or any areas with a lot of clutter are prime areas for bed bugs to thrive in. If you do find bed bug evidence, inform the owner or reception of the place you are staying.
Check for any blood spots or yellow patches as these could be signs of bed bugs as well.
3. Wash your clothes in hot water
When you've reached home or if you're at an Airbnb with a washer and dryer, make sure to put all your clothes into the washer and use hot water to wash them. Water at 50 degrees Celsius or higher would eradicate both adults and the eggs. If your washer doesn't go that high, you can use the dryer at a very hot temperature that will do the same.
4. Bring lemongrass/peppermint essential oil
There are studies that back up the claim that essential oils help to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride, although, its effectiveness is not always guaranteed. However, it doesn't hurt to pack it into your luggage! Put a cloth with a few drops of the oil into your luggage or carry-ons that can help keep bed bugs at bay, as well as keep your bags smelling nice and fresh.
5. Avoid sitting on fabric surfaces when taking public transportation
Fabric seating on transports are the most common ways for bed bugs to hitch a ride. We've all seen the videos and pictures of bed bugs crawling around on trains and buses. If you're taking a short commute and are able to stand, standing would be the best way while on public transportation. However, this isn't always the case for long-haul travel or those who aren't able to balance/stand for long periods of time. If so, just make sure to take note of any bites on your skin and bathe immediately when returning back to your accommodation!
I've got bed bugs, what do I do?
Don't panic! There are a few proven methods that kill bed bugs and ensure that they are gone. Don't go out and splurge on the latest bed bug killing technology as there are already more effective and relatively cheap ways to get rid of the bed bugs.
Before going anything, vacuum the area and the crevices where bed bugs may hide to lower the chances of bed bugs from spreading.
1. Put it in a mattress bag
Putting your mattress in a mattress bag is the best way to prevent the bedbugs from spreading to other parts of your house. If you've discovered signs of bed bugs, quickly get a bag and wash everything that came into contact with your bed into the washing machine (with hot water!). Leave the mattress bag on for 300 days, as that's how long it takes them to die. However, if you're still planning to get rid of the mattress, it'll make it easier to transport out AND you won't have to be worried about the bed bugs spreading to other parts of the house.
2. Use diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is a soft, white rock that crumbles into a powdery substance similar to limestone. It's not toxic to humans and is often used to eradicate pests. You can put a fine layer all over the places affected by bed bugs to get rid of them! The powder will stick to the bed bugs, and the silica content will absorb fluids from the bed bugs, causing them to dehydrate and die. Don't put them in clumps as they will just avoid those areas.
3. Or use a handheld steamer
If you have a handheld steamer, you can steam the bed or the affected furniture/items which will kill the bed bugs and their eggs. Since the temperature of steam is higher than 50 degrees Celsius, the bed bugs will die instantly.
Ultimately, if the problem persists, it will be good to call a professional in for help!
Bed bugs have evolved to withstand a lot of chemicals and pesticides as they are often treated with these methods to get rid of them. Seeing how they are the most common issue faced while travelling, taking steps to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride and ruining your vacation is the best possible course of action you can take!
If you have any other tips do let us know as well!