Recommendations to prevent bedbugs in hotels.
January 12, 2014 11:10 AM   Subscribe

We will be travelling soon using different hotels I'm not familiar with. Now I do my spot checking for bed bugs. I'm more concerned with clothing. When travelling I hang up as much as I can in the closet and then try to leave everything else in the suitcase. But it's really difficult and I would like to have this stored in bags. What bags do you recommend are best to buy that we can keep everything else in but that they will stay well sealed. Can we leave these bags in hotel drawers? Is a luggage liner suggested? what else should we get? I'm so unclear with the reviews on the internet. I want to do my due diligence and try to be reasonable. Thanks.
posted by Tziv to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Ziploc XXL.

Instead of putting things in the closet or drawers, keep your luggage in the bathroom, on the little luggage stand the hotel provides you.

Bed Bug Registry has more useful info on how to prevent picking up bugs while traveling.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:24 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you are really concerned about bringing bedbugs home with you, then I think the main thing you should do is not bring your suitcases back into your home when you return.

Leave your bags outside. Shake out your clothes thoroughly. Wash them in hot water and run them through a hot dryer; or if you can't wash in hot water just run them through the dryer cycle several times. Vacuum out your suitcase and immediately throw out the vacuum bag and filters or alternatively bag them in plastic and put them in the freezer for a week.

Any thick plastic bag that seals should be fine for packing your clothes. You could also try to make something using sheets or pillow cases that are made for dust mites. If a dust mite can't get through, than neither can a bedbug.

I say this as a someone who lived through a major bedbug infestation and knows far more about them then I wish.
posted by brookeb at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Brookeb's suggestion is good, I would also go one step further and buy some luggage from your local thrift shop so you can get rid of it once you're done traveling. That way you don't have to worry about missing a spot in a small cranny when you vacuum.
posted by zug at 11:34 AM on January 12, 2014

Two suggestions:

1) I think you could just buy a packtite and treat everything as soon as you get home.

2) Separately, for me, bed bug worry is more of an attachment point for general anxiety than a significant threat. I'd enjoy your traveling, and try to distance yourself from your anxiety as much as possible. (Yes, bed bugs exist, and yes there are horror stories. But most people travel without bedbug problems, and most bed bug problems can be dealt with by an exterminator.)
posted by mercredi at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2014 [9 favorites]

I've just done some Googling and apparently Permethrin is effective at killing bed bugs. The sites I've looked at say it's safe to be sprayed onto clothes, will last for a few washes and is effective for at least two weeks after application (I had a household flea spray with permethrin as the active ingredient that was effective for 6 months) and is supposedly non staining. So if you can get hold of some test it on some fabric, then spray your clothes and suitcase before you start travelling.

Another thing you could do is when you get home spray the suitcase and clothes one last time to make sure nothing gets in the house. I used to do this with my guinea pigs when I got home from a show to make sure we didn't bring any visitors home and it worked a treat.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 11:57 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

@ Zug....I would be VERY concerned about buying luggage at a local thrift shop. Wouldn't that be a potential source of bedbugs in and of itself?
posted by Lylo at 12:56 PM on January 12, 2014 [9 favorites]

Okay, here is what I would do: get soft luggage, duffel bags or similar, in canvas, leather, ballistic nylon - whatever, it just needs to be something that can be treated in the dryer.

Take routine precautions in hotels - keep luggage in the bathroom, don't unpack too much, use big ziplocks.

Then, when you get home - before you get into the house - put everything into those XXL ziplock bags (partially unpack into them if you need to). Inspect and separate everything that can't be heat-treated, such as books and electronics. Everything else goes in the dryer in medium-small batches on high for at least twenty minutes a load, including your luggage itself.

Alternatively, you can just get a packtite and treat everything, but they are a bit expensive and they're electricity hogs. I usually just run things through the dryer.

Even leather and other fancy materials (except for waxed canvas and certain fragile plastics) do well in the dryer - the dryer only damages fragile materials when they are wet first. I have dryer-treated silk, leather, rayon and cashmere and they all emerge fine.
posted by Frowner at 3:18 PM on January 12, 2014

When I check into a potential bed-bug hotel room... I check for two things:

1. A weird smell. Apparently bedbugs, or the chemicals used to try and get rid of them leave behind a peculiar and pungent smell. I can't explain the smell, as I only recall it after discovering I'd been bitten 14 days earlier.

2. Blood stains around the edges of beds, in cracks near walls, on white sheets etc.
posted by panaceanot at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2014

I wouldn't be that concerned about bed bugs, tbh. Just take all your clothes and run them through a dryer before you get home.

I spent three months travelling through Central America staying in dirty hostels with backpackers and ran into a single person that had experienced bed bugs in that time. I actually stayed in a hostel that had bed bug problems and the next place I stayed at ran all my clothes through a dryer for me, and it was fine. When I got home, I just ran everything through a dryer before I brought it in the house.

If you're staying in a decent hotel, the chances of the room having a bed bug infestation is pretty small. Relax and enjoy your trip.
posted by empath at 8:06 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

My husband and I travel for a living. My husband stayed (pretty much) in a different hotel every week all across the US for over a year and a half. I don't travel as much as he does but for five years now most of my travel has been to countries outside the US. I think it is worth noting that we have never had a single bed bug. I hope that might help you feel a little less stresed about your travels.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2014

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