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Bed bugs in hotel -- not sure if they came home

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  1. akh24

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Jul 3 2015 19:14:15
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    Hi everyone,

    I had a recent brush with bed bugs at a hotel and I'm looking for some insight and/or reassurance about the measures I did and did not take to minimize the risk of an infestation at home.

    My boyfriend and I went to Montreal last Friday and stayed for four nights in a small budget motel. After two nights I started noticing a few bites that I attributed to mosquitoes, since it's summer and we'd been walking around a lot outside. Another night passed and I had enough bites that I started getting suspicious. I read up a bit on bed bug signs and checked around the mattress/bed frame/dresser but didn't find anything (or possibly didn't ID any signs properly). The morning we checked out, I was looking behind the bed near the wall and found a single live bug.

    The room was very small, and my boyfriend had put his clothes away in the dresser next to the bed while my suitcase was on the (tile) floor a few feet from the foot of the bed. Before we left the room, we put all of our clothes into garbage bags and then into our luggage. When we got to our car, we put all the luggage and my purse into additional garbage bags and into the back (we have a hatchback, so not a true trunk).

    When we got home, we put everything we were wearing into another garbage bag and left everything in the back of the car and took a shower immediately. The next day we opened up the bagged luggage and dumped all of our regular clothes directly into the washing machine and did a load on hot water, dried 70 minutes on medium + 20 on high (the machines came with the apartment and are old-ish so I've always watched out for scorching). We vacuumed the luggage as well as we could and threw out the filter (bagless vacuum). Our luggage then went into new garbage bags and back into the car, along with a small garbage bag of clothes that couldn't be hot washed and dried. We did a (much-needed) deep clean of the bedroom, washing all our sheets and blankets and vacuuming (with a new filter!) all around and under the furniture -- mostly for easier detection should we catch a hitchhiker. I should mention that all the used bags and vacuum trash and stuff went into a garbage can in the garage, not in our house.

    All the stuff we from our trip that we hadn't yet dealt with stayed in the car for another day as we tried to figure out what to do. Today (a full week after the first day of our trip, three days after we drove home) I went back into the bags in the car and laid everything out in the driveway for inspection. My boyfriend had packed in backpacks, which we threw in the dryer on high along with his sneakers for 40 minutes. They are now sitting in our living room. I also put the cold wash clothes in the dryer separately for about 40 minutes. I threw out one purse I had brought (it was falling apart anyway) and carefully inspected the second, a small leather handbag. I didn't find anything, but tied it up in a garbage bag and put it up on a high shelf in my closet anyway. I put my suitcase into a new garbage bag and left it in the garage so I don't have to think about it right away.

    Here are some things we might have done wrong that I'm worried about:

    - Didn't treat my laptop or kindle in any way. They spent most of their time in the hotel desk drawer. The laptop traveled home underneath one of the front car seats.

    - Didn't do anything to two pairs of sandals (one leather, one plastic) that I brought. They're currently sitting in the entryway of our apartment, the farthest place from the bedroom.

    - Put the washed and dried trip clothes directly back into our dressers. Not sure if this is a problem.

    - We were attending a sporting event in Montreal and we both wore jerseys to a game on our final day and then in the car home. They can't be treated with heat because of how the numbers and names were applied. I left them in the sink in a mix of cold water and detergent for a couple hours and then washed them in cold water in the machine. Normally I'd hang them to dry but I'm worried! They're still (wet) in the washer currently.

    - The purse that I eventually threw away WAS quarantined in a bag in the car, but I had to get it out a couple times during the drive because I'd forgotten things (passports, for one) in it. Worried it could've had bugs that got into the car (though it was hanging up most of our stay, or out with me).

    The main reason I'm so distressed and worried about this is that my reaction to the bites has been RIDICULOUS. While they started out looking like normal mosquito bites, they have flared up hugely in the past couple of days and are now enormous welts the size of silver dollars all over my arms and legs. Many of them didn't show up until after we left the hotel, but given that it took several days for me to notice any bites at all and several more for them to really get inflamed, I'm guessing they are all from being bitten there rather than at home (though I suppose I can't be sure). If my reaction was more mild, I think I'd be more comfortable with the whole wait-and-see thing, but I'm completely terrified of getting more bites. (My boyfriend has gotten NONE, naturally.) I went to the doctor today and got a prescription for prednisone, so hopefully that will help. Oh, and I should also mention that our apartment is all ceramic tiles floors with some rugs (one by the couch and one by the bed).

    Sorry this is so long! I'm trying to be as detailed as possible. I'm guess I'm mostly just looking for some expert opinions on the possibility that we carried anything home with us and if any of the missteps I listed above are likely to be a problem (could our car be infested? are the cold wash jerseys a problem? or the clean laundry we put away?). This website has been a great resource and I will credit it 100% if we manage to avoid any kind of infestation. Thanks so much!

  2. akh24

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 7 2015 14:12:55
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    A follow-up: it's been a week since we got back and I don't have any new bites. My anxiety level is... not great, though.

    I called a local pest place to ask for their thoughts and got this gruff and uninterested guy who basically told me that they can travel on anything and you wouldn't even be able to tell for three months because if you brought home a single bug it wouldn't necessarily bite you right away. Does this sound reasonable to anyone, or is he just covering his butt?

    Any comfort or insight would be really really great... I'm trying not to freak out but not really succeeding.

  3. buggyblue

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 7 2015 14:55:35
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    Have you put any monitoring systems into place, such as climbup interceptors or passive monitors? You can place these onto your furniture and check them once per week. There are also active CO2 monitors. These things would help you monitor the situation and give you some peace of mind.

  4. akh24

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 7 2015 15:24:46
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    Sort of -- the ClimbUps don't fit my bed or the couch, but we have a guest bedroom next to our bedroom with a very basic bed frame that they do fit. We've put the ClimbUps in there and are sleeping in that bed hoping we'll coax out any that are trying to locate us. Nothing so far.

    Does anyone have a good sense for how long it might take to notice a problem in a case like this? Three months just seems SO long and I honestly can't imagine worrying this much for that length of time.

  5. buggyblue

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 7 2015 15:32:06
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    Ah, I wish I had the answer to that. I don't remember, but I have seen one of the pros answer that question here before, and I remember it being shorter than that. Hopefully someone who knows the timeline will answer soon!

  6. akh24

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 7 2015 15:48:41
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    Thanks!

    One other thing -- I've been in touch with the hotel since I originally posted and they claim they had an inspection done and "a couple" bugs were found in the room, but no eggs or anything like that. Assuming they're being up front, does this bode well for my chances of coming home clean? (They've been very nice and I like to think they're not lying to me)


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