The holiday season is nearly upon us! November through January is also the busiest travel time of the year. Whether you plan to or not, you may find yourself staying in a hotel over the next few months. Hotels are very careful about bed bug infestations, but sometimes they still happen. Here’s how to identify the presence of bed bugs and what to do about them if you think your hotel room (or your own bed) may be infested.

While it’s not fun to think about, if you have an infestation best to deal with it early so that it doesn’t spread or worsen. Bedbugs are brown ovular, flat bugs that live off of blood from humans and animals. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed.

Bed bugs can enter your home on clothing, luggage, or used furniture such as couches and mattresses. Identifying bed bugs via bites is difficult because bites can look like many other insect bites. A better way to identify bed bugs is to look for their physical signs in furniture. Signs of bed bugs can occur on sheets, mattress, and box spring. Look for:

  • Adult bugs (again, about the size of an apple seed, brown and ovular)
  • Small dark spots about the size of pen tip (bed bug excrement)
  • Small rust-colored or reddish dots or smears (crushed bed bugs)
  • Tiny pale yellow eggs and egg shells (about 1mm)
  • Musty odor around headboard, baseboard, and mattress

If you’ve identified signs of bed bugs, remove all bedding, linens, clothing, shoes, stuffed toys, curtains, essentially that can be washed into a washing machine on a hot-water cycle. Dry on the hottest dryer setting.

Vigorously brush mattress seams with a stiff-bristle brush before vacuuming the entire mattress, box spring, and floor. Focus especially on corners and crevices. Clean the vacuum cleaner immediately and place contents in outside trash can.

Bed bugs can live up to a year without feeding and are very difficult to completely remove. Encase the mattress and box spring in a tight zippered cover to keep bed bugs from coming into or leaving the mattress. Keep the cover on for at least a year.

If you choose to get a new mattress, be sure to clean the rest of your home for bugs before brining the new mattress in otherwise it may become infested quickly.