Posted: January 27, 2016

How to check a hotel room for bed bugs
It's easy to pick up bed bugs at a hotel - here's what you can do to reduce your risk.

The more frequently you stay in a hotel room, the higher the possibility that you will encounter bed bugs at some point. Since bed bugs are easily spread, it's important to give your hotel room a thorough inspection to make sure there are no creepy-crawlies living in the mattress. If you're not careful, you could easily bring some of these creatures home with you. Bed bugs are not only a nuisance, but they can also be incredibly expensive to treat. According to Angie's List, full removal can cost between $500 and $1,500, depending on the size of the house and the intensity of the infestation.

Whether you're checking in for business travel or on a family vacation, here's what you should do to make sure your hotel room is in the clear:

The Mattress

Remove all of the sheets and comforters from the bed so you can see the bare mattress. Take a look in the corners, being sure to move the fabric so you can look into the nooks and crannies. Although there is a chance you'll find bugs themselves here, you're a lot more likely to find evidence they've left behind. Light brown, scaly flakes might be a sign of bed bugs, as this could be exoskeleton that's been left behind after a shedding cycle. On their own, however, flecks like these could also just be accumulated dust and skin particles – gross, but not as worrisome.

A more sure sign of bed bugs is droppings – look for small, brown spots that indicate bugs have been there recently. Be sure to check all four corners of the mattress – just because one is clear doesn't mean the entire mattress is as well.


Any furniture in the room can hold bed bugs, provided it's got a soft surface for them to hide in. Check in creases and folds – again, you're more likely to find droppings and shedding than you are to find bugs themselves.

The Sheets

Although your sheets should be clean when you check in to the room, you can still use them to monitor the possibility of bed bugs through your stay. Every day, take a good look at your sheets to check for any brown or red spots that could be drops of blood. Now, this isn't a sure sign of bed bugs – you could have scratched yourself at night, for example – but it is a strong indicator that you should be cautions going forward.

Quick Tips to Avoid Bringing Bugs Home

  • Don't put your luggage on the floor or any furniture before you've inspected the room. For extra caution, keep it on solid surfaces for your entire stay.
  • Avoid putting your clothes in the hotel drawers.
  • Bring along a set of "safe" clothes you can change into before you board the plane home.
  • Wash all clothes you brought with you in hot water, and dry them on the hottest setting.
  • Regularly check your mattress at home for a month or two after your trip. If bed bugs are caught early, they're far easier to treat.
  • Keep an eye out for bites – the characteristic sign of bed bugs is three small red bumps in a row. However, some people aren't allergic to bed bug bites, so don't assume you don't have bugs just because you're not covered in spots. 

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