Bed Bugs: The Holiday Gift No One Wants

Bed Bugs The Holiday Gift No One Wants

Ask people what kinds of pests they’re most likely to bring home from their holiday travels, and most will crack jokes about never drinking the water in Central America or whether certain relatives qualify as pests. Crazy Uncle Albert aside, though, the pests most likely to hitch a ride with you after your stay in grandma’s house or that hotel with the amazing continental breakfast are actually bedbugs. Yes, those bedbugs. First, they were a city problem – spreading like crazy wherever subletting was de rigueur. Then, bedbugs started showing up in college towns. Now, bedbugs have turned into an almost unavoidable scourge, burrowing into everything from hotel mattresses to your sister’s sleeper couch.

In fact, staying home for the holidays has never looked so good, in part because the very iniquitousness of bedbug infestations means that plenty of people who don’t know they have bedbugs are traveling domestically and abroad. They are staying in the same hotels and houses you are, just a week before your visit. They are tossing their clothes over the backs of chairs you’ll later sit in. They’re tucking themselves into the bed you’ll eventually sleep in, wearing the pajamas that have already been the playground for thousands of bedbugs.

How to Prevent a Post-Holiday Bedbug Infestation

Luckily, bed bug infestations caused by holiday travel are preventable. Here are some steps you can take before, during, and after traveling to keep bedbugs out of your home:

  • There are numerous products on the market designed to make your luggage and personal possessions less attractive to bedbugs, including sprays, plastic encasements, pest strips, and portable heating units.
  • Learn to recognize bedbugs and to spot the signs that indicate they’re on the loose. Adults are flat, plump, brown, and about a quarter of an inch long. Juveniles are white and smaller than the period at the end of a sentence.
  • Hotels don’t always do everything they can to prevent or eradicate bedbug infestations on the premises. Before you book, see if that otherwise gorgeous hotel has a listing on
  • Once you’re home, toss all of your vacay clothes in the dryer for a cycle or two of very high heat – an hour or more will kill any bedbugs that have hitched a ride home in your luggage.
  • Did you see a bedbug in your home after traveling? Don’t wait to trap it and kill it, because even a single female bedbug can totally populate your home in a matter of months or even weeks.
  • Bed bugs will hitch a ride anywhere – even in holiday gifts sent by regular mail. Be wary of secondhand gifts, especially clothing and furniture. Regifting is awesome, so long as the gift doesn’t include bedbugs.

Staying in a Hotel?

To avoid bringing bedbugs home when your hotel has no history of infestations, the first step you should take is contacting the establishment. Don’t be shy! Simply ask them what they do to prevent bed bugs. If they can’t answer to your satisfaction or say “Nothing, because it has never been an issue,” it’s a sure sign that you should consider taking the aforementioned crazy uncle up on the offer to stay in his guest room.

On the other hand, if you find yourself satisfied with the hotel’s answer, and your room is already booked, here are five extra steps you can take to protect yourself from previous guests who checked in but never checked out:

  1. Check your bed and mattress thoroughly for bedbugs and the evidence they leave behind
  2. Use plastic hard case luggage instead of cloth duffels
  3. Don’t keep luggage or clothes on the floor or on upholstered furniture
  4. Pack your belongings in sealed, plastic bags
  5. Wash everything once you get home and dry on high for at least one hour

And If a Post-Holiday Infestation Does Occur…

Unfortunately, once bedbugs crawl out of your luggage and into your life, you’re going to be stuck with them until you contract with an experienced pest control company. While some infestations are definitely DIYable, a case of bedbugs is always best left to the pros. Learn more about the best way to get rid of the bugs and flies from the house and ensure your hygienic safety, on this website: