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Inspecting your hotel room - how far do you go?

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  1. bugration

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 12:35:01
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    So I just saw a useful video on how to inspect a bed for bedbugs (evidently from one Jeff White, spideyjg posted it on this page). In the video the guy says that bedbugs rarely settle on the mattress itself. This, despite the "textbook" location for bedbugs being in the seams of the mattress.

    My question is, how accurate is this? I would be devastated if, throughout all my hotel stays over the last two years, I had been carrying out a virtually worthless check! I have only had two known encounters with bedbugs, both in youth hostels, and in both cases I either saw the bugs walking near the bed or else I saw some in the seams of mattresses and/or fecal stains etc on the mattress/walls by the bed. Yet the video implies that these explicit signs are quite unlikely!

    My standard hotel room inspection is basically a very thorough inspection of the entire mattress and its seams for any bugs or any suspicious dark marks. I then also look around the bed for similar marks or signs. The whole procedure takes perhaps 15 minutes. I have no illusions of this being a fully comprehensive check, but I was under the impression that it would be quite reliable at detecting most moderate to heavy infestations.

    In any case I have stayed in maybe 20 hotel rooms in the last two years and have never found anything, nor been bitten to my knowledge (I am now clearly reactive to the bites ever since that hostel experience, when I started reacting after a few weeks of being bitten).

    So my question: how far to go with an inspection? I am sure not more than 1% of all hotel guests even bother to do a bedbug check lasting more than about a minute! But yeah, do you guys seriously take apart the entire bed and check the box spring in every hotel room you stay in?

  2. MBcowboy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 13:23:38
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    bugration,

    I am in the industry and when I travel I conduct the same type of room inspection you indicate. This type of rudimentary inspection is sufficient for identifying if you have a moderate or heavy infestation. Be thorough, be observant and be diligent and you will likely have success. Rest assured, even a detailed inspection by a seasoned industry professional does not always find evidence of light infestations as there are many harboring places these little fellas can hide in that we just can not see.

    The only difference I do in my inspection is I spray all cracks and crevices on the bed frame, head board, carpet seams/baseboards, night stands, etc. with a contact kill spray registered for bed bugs. When I am done with the room it looks as though a bomb went off but it all goes back together pretty quickly albeit not quite so fresh looking. This may be overkill if nothing is present however I want to be as sure as possible I did everything I could to avoid taking home any active bed bugs. To date, I have taken nothing home and we deal with bed bugs and worse every day.

    I am not advocating carrying around an aerosol contact spray however it works for me and our team. If you do wish to carry a can in your travels, go to a local reputable pest control company store and buy an off the shelf product ensuring it is registered for bed bugs. This contact spray will not kill egg stages but will kill all instar stages through adults bed bugs.

    Good luck & safe travels.

  3. DougSummersMS

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 14:04:37
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    I usually pull the headboards off the wall and pull the dresser drawers out of the cabinet, in addition to looking at the mattress and nightstand, if I am traveling without my K9.

    I opened & examined both box springs after I found three dead bed bugs in my room in Orlando during PestWorld 2007, but I usually don't spend that much time on a routine basis.

    I have my K9 screen any baggage when I return... before I bring the anything back into the house.

  4. MBcowboy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 14:18:00
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    We have a k9 team as well however it is not me. I do not get involved too much in the field with treatments however take very single precaution I can when time finds me at a project or travelling.

    I stand in my garage and strip down to the undies bagging everything I wore. From there immediately to the dryer with everything and a hot shower for me. Suitcases are sprayed with a contact kill and my bags are isolated in plastic until I get to our heat chamber at the shop.

    I appreciate this is overkill in many respects but my wife would be beside herself if I brought home bed bugs from carelessness. It should be noted I do the same thing with our 4 kids whenever they have had a sleepover, been on a hockey trip, etc.

    I have every imagineable resource at my avail to eradicate bed bugs and just about anything else that walks, flies or crawls and it would not ruin my life should I get them in my home but I really do not want the hassle. Just the same, I'd use every method to treat my entire home so nothing was left alive when I was done.

  5. spideyjg

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 14:38:36
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    I rip the place to shreds.

    I start with a sweep looking for obvious signs and clear the outside aspects before tackling the bed. Dr. Dini Miller was on TV one time and found a cast skin on the wall.

    If you listen to Jeff's discussion he refers to keeping the object being flipped away from your body. Tricky to do alone. I carry an inspection mirror to look for gross evidence before flipping for details.

    I inspect, remove, inspect, remove until I covered everything. Last thing is checking the headboard since it can be a pain to remove.

    Last trip I found 5 dead ants, a few abandoned but one occupied spider web, and one live mosquito. Took about 45 minutes.

    Jim

  6. BostonBugterfuge

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 18:08:12
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    Just the headboards...

    They're the most common place you find bed bugs in hotels and chances are if a room has an infestation that you need to worry about, you'll see some activity in the headboard.

    When I used to travel, coincidentally for pest control, which was about 3 weeks a month, I got tired of stripping each room. I rarely found evidence of bed bugs and I realized if I slept without clothes and kept my belongings on the desk as far from the bed as possible I would limit any chance bed bugs would be brought back with me. Who cares if you get one, two or ten bites, just as long as it is a one-time event!

  7. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 18:20:28
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    Now I have a Packtite, and I know that I respond to bed bug bites, so I'm not as crazy about inspecting my hotel rooms since I can just Packtite everything when I get home if bites appear.

    I do inspect the mattress and box spring.

    I also look around the nightstand (most are too hard for me to flip, but I'll pull up corners if I can and look at each corner one at a time) and headboards as best I can--in many hotels they are mounted on the wall, and I certainly can't get those off.

    I always check the luggage stand.

    I never put items in the dressers.

    I also carry an LED flashlight to make things easier.

  8. Adele

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 20:13:48
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    I don't know if you saw this link - but here is a good voerview as well

    http://www.bedbugcentral.com/bedbugs101/topic.cfm/protect-yourself-when-you-travel

  9. scaredsayscared

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 20:32:52
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    Do you guys think a large blood spot on a box spring is a sign? I posted awhile back with no replies about our experience in a hotel after a bed bug inspection. The room had no visible bed bug signs, although we did not flip the box spring...now I know to after Jeff's video

    The only thing of concern to us was a decent size blood spot on the box spring near the head of the bed. The blood spot looked fresh still red and it was fairly large. If you can imagine it was about the size of a quarter but stretched into a more of a pear shape. Is this anything bed bug related?

    Also, how do you check the headboards when they aren't attached to the wall? Like this one pictured below? This headboard had a million cracks and crevices in it (although you can't really see all the crevices from the picture) and it seemed like it would be a bed bug's hiding space dream. All we thought to do was check behind the headboard and on it. Anything else we could have done with this type of non-attached bed frame?

    Click here and Then scroll down and click on rooms to see the type of headboard I have questions on:

    http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/animal-kingdom-villas-jambo/

  10. spideyjg

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 20:55:46
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    buggyinsocal - 2 hours ago  » 

    I also carry an LED flashlight to make things easier.

    Yep, gotta have my trusty Coast P5. Stoopidly bright off a single AA battery. Ain't cheap but the best single AA out there.

    http://www.amazon.com/LED-Lenser-High-Performance-HP8405/dp/B001Q6X5TK

  11. MBcowboy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 21:04:33
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    scaredsayscared,

    It is plausible that the blood smear you describe could be bed bug activity. These types of stains are usually indicative of a well fed full of blood bed bug having been squished on his return journey to his hidey-hole. Did you happen to notice any brown body bits amongst the blood smear?

    The box spring by it's inherit design qualities, make it the perfect harborage site for bed bugs and this is where I spend a lot of my time looking for evidence of bed bugs. It is usually the most infested when we treat homes.

    Elaborate head boards especially when they are the color of the bed bugs are a nightmare for inspections. But a good LED flashlight, plenty of time and the know how of what you are looking for go a long way. Check the rear of the headboard as that is a more likely out of the way harborage area.

    Check for skins sheds along baseboards, on the carpet, etc. The sheds will be creamy to light brown and unless housekeeping is meticulous the edges along the carpet to carpet baseboard seam or along the bed frame legs or foundation boards are a likely spot for these findings if bed bugs are present.

    Just be vigilant, be meticulous and be prepared. And checking for bed bugs does not stop just because you leave your vacation or business accommodations - check you and your luggage including your laptop once you get home.

    Good luck!

  12. freakedoutandbroke

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 24 2010 22:50:19
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    "To date, I have taken nothing home and we deal with bed bugs and worse every day."

    I'm almost afraid to ask, but... what's "and worse"?

    I haven't traveled since being infested, but I'm hoping to get a samsonite oyster suitcase... which is basically tupperware on wheels, should be easy to spray down with rubbing alcohol or something. And also plan to heat-treat everything when I come back from any hotel.

  13. MBcowboy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Mar 25 2010 10:03:01
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    freaked out and broke,

    Depending upon the circumstances and with a real eye to public safety and health issues, the "and worse" critters are rats and mice. Rat & mice infestations create untold dollars of real damage to not only spoiled product but also building structures. As well, their urine and feces are real health hazards. Changing regulations in our industry are making it even more difficult to keep rodents at bay which in turn can endanger public safety & well being. Bed bugs are just one of the frontiers facing challenges as far as effective control products being made available to our industry. Like it or not, "green" while desirable for all is not always the best method as a stand alone tool in our trucks.

    I appreciate that bed bugs are an emotional nightmare for most who are suffering. The most exasperating aspect of dealing with bed bugs is the unknown cost upfront of getting rid of them and the inability of pest control professionals to provide any assurance we can keep them out of your dwelling.

    On top of this we have landlords and property owners who are looking at costs associated with bed bugs and depending upon the feelings they have towards their investments, their ambivalence towards treatments is frustrating to tenants and pest control professionals. To be honest, I can empathize with property owners to some degree because there is nothing the pest control industry can do to prevent reinfestation the very next day after we eradicate bed bugs within any dwelling.

    It all comes down to a triumvirate partnership between the property owners, the tenants and the pest control professionals. Should any of this 3-legged stool not cooperate in keeping bed bugs out, the revolving cycle of infestation will continue.

    Good luck & we shall conquer by education, education, education!

  14. scaredsayscared

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Mar 25 2010 21:00:18
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    Hi MBcowboy,

    Thanks so much for your reply and tips! So we didn't see any brown body bits among the blood smear, but that makes sense to check for that too. We fully inspected all our luggage upon returning home outside the house and took all proper precautions, plus used our packtite. Luckily we were prepared b/c we had a bed bug scare a few months back and I started researching them.

    We still are not sure what was biting me and my son since December but we have yet to see a single sign of bed bugs and we have had no bites for a little over a month now. We are just remaining vigilant right now and taking precautions while traveling now thanks to this site! Thanks again for your information, much appreciated.

  15. bugration

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Mar 28 2010 6:18:26
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    Thanks everyone for all the replies.

    I try my best not to let the threat of a bedbug infestation in my hotel room ruin any holidays I'm on, but since I've lost my blissful ignorance it's always quite a major irritant (although to date I have found nothing). This is one reason why I would hate any kind of job that would force me to travel and/or stay in a specific hotel. If I have to stay at a hotel I insist on doing so under my own terms (i.e. vacation) - and I am always very careful to check out reviews on TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Bedbugregistry etc. If there's even one bedbug report, I won't consider the hotel.

    Does anyone have any recent estimates for what percentage of hotel rooms are infested? I know this varies greatly by hotel, but I believe I saw something in 2007 about 1-2% being infested?

    Part of me wishes to be able to carry out the thorough checks which spideyjg uses for every hotel stay (45 minutes of "rip[ping] the place to shreds") but part of me thinks that something less extreme should suffice. In fact if I wasn't still somewhat concerned about bedbugs' ability to potentially spread e.g. Hepatitis B, I wouldn't consider such a thorough check at all - I would find it an acceptable precaution to do a basic 15 minute check, along with keeping my luggage away from the bed, in the bathroom, all protected in plastic bags.

    Also, aren't there many times when taking off the headboard, exposing the box spring etc are for practical considerations quite impossible, due to the construction of the bed? What do you generally do in those situations, move hotel?

    I mean, I wouldn't even know how to take the headboard off the majority of the time, or expose the box spring. Aren't they sometimes screwed on?

  16. MBcowboy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Mar 28 2010 7:37:51
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    "Also, aren't there many times when taking off the headboard, exposing the box spring etc are for practical considerations quite impossible, due to the construction of the bed? What do you generally do in those situations, move hotel?

    I mean, I wouldn't even know how to take the headboard off the majority of the time, or expose the box spring. Aren't they sometimes screwed on?"

    bugration,

    Good question and one I have yet to encounter as far as the box spring being screwed into place. I suppose if the room were fastidiously clean, there were no reports of bed bugs I could find and all evidence pointed to no bed bugs, I would be comfortable with that and stay. But I would vigilant let me tell you. No clothing would hit the floor/drawers and luggage sealed up in plastic when not needed.

    Now if the property had been registered with a recent bed bug reporting, that would likely be enough to have me moving hotels given the scenario you describe. But there may be times when that lodging site really is your only option so then the hope and pray method comes into play.

    But I think, sometimes, I let the threat of bed bugs over ride my good common sense. Just the same, no one is immune to bringing them home and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

    I am sure some of the more seasoned road warriors among us have some sage wisdom to share.

    Good luck.

  17. bugration

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Apr 6 2010 3:18:38
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    I just stayed in another hotel this weekend. It was a new four-star hotel and, as has often happened, I was confronted with a headboard that was fastened to the wall. Furthermore, there really seemed to be no evident way to take apart the box spring without somehow going to work with a screwdriver and so on. This of course ended any hopes I had of ripping the bed apart.

    I was forced to hope that my 15-minute inspection of the mattress, walls and immediate area of the bed - which failed to find any suspicious signs - coupled with the fact that the hotel is less than a year old (which is obviously far less risky than a hotel that's been accepting guests for like 10 years) has reduced the chance of my room being infested to a very low level. But yeah, really annoying when this happens


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