Yet Another Bed Bug Question
July 20, 2015 4:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm am currently at the airport on my way home from a hotel that had a bedbugs. What should I do to mitigate the damage?

I stayed there for three nights. I was bitten all three nights, but assumed/hoped that the bites were from mosquitos since I had left the window open (no A/C, sigh...). This morning, right as I was leaving, I found a bed bug. The hotel was entirely useless: they refused to refund me since I had booked on and told them that the manager wasn't there but of course he'd call me back. (No call so far.)

What should I do? I am worried about bringing bugs/eggs home because I left my belongings on the floor and on an upholstered window seat throughout my stay.

I live in an apartment building. There is a laundry room in the building (though I also have a washer and dryer in my apartment). Should I dry my clothes in the laundry room before I return to my apartment? What about my dry-clean-only clothes? And what about the clothes I'm wearing? (Note: I'll be arriving after midnight, so I can't easily go buy something else to change into. And I'm currently stuck at an airport that does not appear to sell any clothing items.)

Do I have to discard my suitcase and other bags? (Note: I can't leave any possessions outside my apartment as my building has a zero-tolerance policy regarding possessions in the hallways.) Should I suck it up and buy a PackTite? Should I seal my suitcase in a plastic bag and leave it on my roof for 24 hours in the sun? Are there companies in NYC that will heat-treat my suitcase for me?

Should I hire a bed bug sniffer dog? (If so, does anyone have recommendations in NYC?)

What else should I be doing/thinking about?

What should I do about the hotel? Or about, for that matter? It seems insane that the hotel won't refund me because I booked on
posted by unhappyprofessor to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When you get home, immediately put everything (luggage, clothing, everything you had with you) in your bathtub. Get some of these giant Ziplocs -- the XLs and XXLs are best. Put all your clothes in one -- take them to the laundry room and wash and dry on high. Anything else that is fabric or leather and seems like it can withstand high heat should go in another -- those should be run through at least one dryer cycle (you don't have to wash them first).

Papers, books, anything else should be put in another for now.

If it will fit -- most carryons do -- put your suitcase in another XXL bag and seal it. If it is hot outside, you could try leaving it on the roof, but this is not a reliable method. You may have to get another suitcase. The bag just mitigates any possible damage until you figure out what to do with the bag.

The goal here is to seal up your stuff until you can heat-treat the things that can go in the dryer.
posted by heurtebise at 4:28 PM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

The only way to be sure you aren't bringing a bug into the house is to examine every last thing on you and in your luggage before bringing it inside. I would do this in my driveway with a hose ready. One could be hiding in one of your shoes, or behind your ear lmao. They make luggage capsules that you can bring to a crazy high temperature to kill the things, but I doubt you want to order one of them and wait for it to be delivered while your luggage sits in your driveway for the next week. I'd take everything out piece by piece in my driveway and examine it very carefully, then I'd put it in a bin and bring the clothing and fabric directly to my washing machine and run it through a sani or hot cycle. Remember every tiny crevice can be a hiding spot. No stone unturned, no crevice un-eyed.
posted by Avosunspin at 4:34 PM on July 20, 2015

Well, you're asking all the right questions, that's for sure! At least, that's what I've gleaned from various bedbug-related readings. In your situation, I'd probably swing by a bodega and buy trash bags and ziplock bags on my way home. I'd go straight to the laundromat and put everything that can be heated directly into the drier. (Even many items that shouldn't be put in the drier when wet can be heated up once they're already dry, or so I've read.) Dry it on super-hot for 40 minutes. (I believe the research says 20 minutes, but me, I'd double it.) Personally, rather than going home, I'd probably hang out in the laundromat for 40 minutes, then change out of my current clothes and into some freshly-sterilized clothes in the bathroom there, then put the old clothes into the drier too. Before changing out of the maybe-contaminated clothing, I'd place my shoes, suitcase, and anything else I wasn't heat-treating into various knotted trash bags or ziplocks, to keep any bugs from spreading while I could figure out how best to sterilize those items. I'd store those bags on some non-porous surface far from my bed and couch, like in the kitchen or bathroom. Best of luck! I've had this happen to me, and by taking basic precautions, I was fine (knock on wood). Also, if you can pick up a bedbug-proof mattress cover on your way home, do that. I found mine at somewhere like Target or a local futon shop.
posted by salvia at 4:38 PM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

Make a report on
posted by larrybob at 4:39 PM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

Oh, and since I hadn't been able to shower before that clothing change in the laundromat, I actually wouldn't completely trust my new clothing either. I wouldn't go home and sit on the couch. I'd go home, take off that newly-cleaned clothing and put it into a ziplock, shower well, put on some clothes that didn't go with me on the trip, put the bedbug cover on my mattress, and then sit on the couch researching how to heat-treat my luggage.
posted by salvia at 4:41 PM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Keep receipts for everything you do and/or have to buy. I have a friend who was able to get the hotel to pay for their abatement.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:25 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Bed bugs exposed to 113°F will die if they receive constant exposure to that temperature for 90 minutes or more. However, they will die within 20 minutes if exposed to 118°F. Interestingly, bed bug eggs must be exposed to 118°F for 90 minutes to reach 100% mortality."

Suitcases, shoes, etc. in a black bag on your roof sounds like a generally good idea, except the forecast for NY shows high temps in the mid 80's for the next few days and I'm not sure it will be over 113 on your roof. We've never been exposed on vacation, but all suitcases live in our car in Memphis for a week after we get home, parked in the sun.

I think a combination of all the advice above would be my approach, especially buying the bags on the way home, going directly to the laundry room, washing all your clothes and putting everything else in black bags and ziploc bags for delivery to a thermal bedbug treatment company. Once you have everything bagged up, I would get a thermometer and check those roof temps before I shelled out money, but then again I would probably pay the money for peace of mind.
posted by raisingsand at 1:06 PM on July 21, 2015

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