Have a bed bug-free holiday

Dec 12, 2019

'Tis the season for holiday travel. As you make reservations for rental accommodations to visit family and friends, we wanted to share a few suggestions to help you avoid bringing bed bugs home with you. Regardless of what type of lodging you choose-- hotel, motel, cabin, or other type of rental-- no place is immune to bed bug introductions or infestations.

We don't wish to alarm you, but we do want to point out that bed bug infestations are on the rise in the United States. Take precautions to save yourself from later issues and costs in case bed bugs do find their way into your home.

When settling into your room

  • Before plopping your luggage down on the bed, couch, or floor, we recommend doing a quick bed bug check of the room. You can either leave the luggage in the hall or place it in the bath tub, where bed bugs are not likely to be. Traveling with the family? Let them and all the luggage sit comfortably in the lobby while you do the room inspection.
  • Do a thorough inspection of the bed, night stand, upholstered furniture, and closets. You can use a flashlight or a phone light to help you look for bed bugs, shed skins, or fecal matter.

  • Some establishments use bed bug mattresses and box spring encasements. These can make it easier to detect bed bugs or be used as a preventative measure.

  • Not sure what you are looking for? We created this video to show you what bed bugs look like and how to search for them.


After you return home

  • Before you bring luggage back into the house, inspect it for any signs of bed bugs that may have hitched a ride. Store luggage away from the bedroom to prevent potential introductions.
  • To be cautious, launder all the clothes from your trip on the hottest settings to kill bed bugs that may have gone unnoticed. For items that cannot be washed, freezing them for several days will also kill bed bugs.

  • If you do find bed bugs, these steps will help reduce the risk of infestation. See more about identification and management in our Pest Notes: Bed Bugs

Follow these tips to enjoy your holiday travel, reduce your risk of getting bitten by bed bugs, and not bringing bed bugs home with you.


Egg, immature bed bugs, adult bed bugs (Credit: DH Choe)

Bed bug-free holiday hosting

Holidays are a time for welcoming family and friends. But what if your loved ones accidentally bring along unwanted guests—bed bugs? These insects are excellent hitchhikers, hiding easily in luggage and sometimes on clothes. Bed bugs can be found in the finest hotels and accommodations such as dormitories, senior living facilities, and nursing homes, both in the United States and overseas. 

Whether you are hosting a dinner party or overnight guests, below are a few tips to prepare your home for welcoming visitors and deter unwanted ones.

Make it easy to monitor for bed bugs


  • Clean your space and reduce clutter to minimize hiding places and make it easier to inspect for bed bugs.

  • Use a bed bug detector on furniture such as couches and beds to monitor for bed bugs. Learn how to use a bed bug detector from this video.

  • Use mattress encasements designed to prevent bed bugs from establishing on the mattress.

Bed bug prevention tips for hosting guests

  • For short visits, hang your guests' coats and scarves away from sleeping areas, such as on a coat rack. If you hang coats in a hall closet, remove all clothing prior to your guests' arrival and use it only for guests.

  • Ask guests to remove shoes upon entering your home and leave them by the door.

  • If your overnight guests have or have had bed bugs, offer to launder all their clothing when they arrive. Wash and dry all clothing at a high temperature.

  • Place luggage and bags in a large plastic tub that can be sealed.

After your guests depart

  • Thoroughly inspect for bed bugs immediately after your guests leave. It is much easier to manage a bed bug infestation when the population is small.

  • Vacuum all areas where you suspect bed bugs may be, including the seams of mattresses and box springs, couches, along perimeters of carpets, and other cracks and crevices.

  • It is not necessary or recommended to spray pesticides or use foggers or “bug bombs”. Inspection and vacuuming are usually enough and will be safer than using pesticides.

  • Wash and dry all bedding at a high temperature.


These tips can reduce your risk of bed bug infestations when hosting visitors over the holidays. Traveling this holiday season? Check out these travel tips to keep you and your home bed bug-free.

For more information on identification and management, see our Pest Notes: Bed Bugs and read our Bed Bugs Quick Tip.


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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist