How To Look For Bedbugs And Avoid Them In A Hotel


Seems simple enough (how to look for bedbugs)… Be sure to do this the next time you are staying in a hotel or a motel. It’ll save you some headaches and it’ll save you from getting bedbugs in some cases.

The following instructions and ‘how-to’ video will tip you on where and how to look for bedbugs in your hotel or motel room while traveling.

The situation could potentially become your own personal ‘disaster’ in today’s modern world of travel… so here’s how to avoid it.

Traveling & Tips Looking For Bedbugs


First Put Your Luggage In The Bathtub

When entering a hotel room, the first thing most people do is throw their stuff on the bed, the luggage rack or maybe even both. When you’re traveling in this day and age, that’s a no-no, because bedbugs could be in either of those places.

Chances are there will not be bedbugs in the bathroom. It could occur, but once you put your stuff in the bathtub, it’s pretty safe. The best thing to do when you enter a room is to bring what you’re carrying into the bathtub. After you’ve done that, it’s time to start checking your room.


Check The Bed Backboard For Bedbugs- behind and all around it

The first place to check is behind the bed backboards, in the corners, along the creases of it, any place you can see on the bed backboard.


Check The Piping Of The Mattress For Bedbugs

The next place you look is along the piping of the mattress edges, looking for either the adult bedbugs, immature bedbugs or anything that looks suspicious to you. Check the piping all the way around the entire bed, along the top part and the bottom part.


Check The Mattress and Mattress Pad For Bedbugs Or Spots

The next place you look is more disgusting. You need to be looking either directly on the mattress or on a mattress pad. You take the sheet off, and what you’re looking for here is actually blood spots where the bedbugs have been feeding.


Check The Bureau And Night Tables Beside The Bed For Bedbugs

The next place you should look is the bureau . You want to look all along the inside drawers, pull them out and tip over while looking along the corners.


Bedbugs Will Be Within 20 Feet Of Their Host

Bedbugs are very secretive. In most cases, they’re within 20 feet of their host, so in most hotel rooms, you know there’s not a lot of space for them to be. Chances are they’re going to be right on the bed or in the night tables beside the bed.


Check The Luggage Rack For Bedbugs

A luggage rack is a very good place for bedbugs to hide. Because this webbing is so nice and snug, the bedbugs really like to get in underneath here. So when in a hotel room, fold up the luggage rack and look underneath the webbing. By folding it, you have plenty of give to the fabric so as to look between the webbing and the frame.


What If You Find Bedbugs?

All right, so you’ve gone into your room, you’ve checked your room and you’re happy you haven’t found any bedbugs, so you can be content and hope there are no bedbugs. But the question that remains is what if you found a bedbug? The first thing you can do if you found a bedbug is pick up your luggage, get out of the room, go to the head of the hotel and just say, ‘Please give me another room.’ Of course, you could always check out of that hotel.


Bedbugs Might Only Be In One Room…

Bedbugs are kind of strange in that they could be in your room and that might be the only room in the hotel they’re in.


Bedbugs Are Easy To Transport

But bedbugs are very spotty: They can be in a five-star hotel or a dingy hostel you may be staying in. And they’re easily transported. That’s why the whole thing about the luggage. Bedbugs have a tendency to crawl into anything that’s around to hide, and that’s why they’re transported to your house, to another hotel, to movie theaters, to train stations, you name it. That’s where they are, and they’re a serious problem…


Keychain & Luggage Flashlight

This is why it is a very good idea to always have a keychain flashlight and/or to always keep a separate flashlight in your luggage when you travel!


My Keychain flashlight:
Olight i3E Compact Keychain Flashlight

My travel luggage flashlight:
Streamlight Stylus Pro Black LED Pen Flashlight

Informational Source: University of Maine Cooperative Extension


  1. good info for folks to know.

    I knew some of this, but not all. For example, checking under the webbing on the luggage rack.

    Also, there are a few websites you can check, which might list if your “intended” lodging has had bedbug complaints/persistent bedbugs. (of course, those are only good if someone has taken the time to go online and put in a notice)

    the sites are something like

    registry bedbugs
    Bedbug Registry (different than first).

    I know of one occasion I looked up a hotel for someone who was to stay in, and they had a narrow escape.

    also know of a few folks who brought home bugs from reputable hotels.

    it does not seem to matter ..

    Also, have know of a few cities that were spraying their public libraries, as they had infestations of bedbugs. Had no idea these critters could survive in libraries.

    1. You may have noticed that many “street people” use the public library, sitting and sleeping in them the entire time they are open.
      They are warm, have water and bathrooms, chairs to sit in..and books to look at.

      1. yes, this has occurred to me.

        a few yrs back I used to frequent libraries regularly…loved them.

        after these reports came out….not….

  2. Eeeuuuuwwwww.

    We always stay in our camper. Never in the public bedrooms of motels & such.

    Yes, we occasionally miss out on something where camping is not available, but, hey…thats ok with me.

    This article reminds me of why we don’t stay in motels.

    1. Unconstituional body searches, NSA thugs, guaranteed getting sick after flying and bedbugs in hotels pretty much sum up why we also got an RV 10 years ago. Haven’t flown since. The only thing I miss is Hawaii! But even that is worth the trade-off to sleep in your own bed and have your own bathroom.

  3. Ken
    Thank you for this information, now more reasons to purchase a small travel trailer for the time we may wish to travel.

  4. Bedbugs are difficult to get rid of with sprays. The best way is to heat the room or house to 140 degrees for two hours, enough to permeate mattresses, walls and corners under moldings.

    Our family cabin had them brought in by bats who nested under the eaves of the home, and our cousins cabin next to it got them too. Seems the family of bats went from one cabin to another and spread them inside the homes. They were trapped and examined to be the cause. They even set gooey mouse traps outside the home in case they helped spread the bugs. That way bedbugs would also get trapped in the goo.

    They tried sprays, insecticides in the homes and they were not all killed, so the ultimate solution was to seal every crack and crevice on the outside of the cabins, remove the bats, and hung up bat houses in the woods away from the cabins. Then remove anything that would melt like plastic from the homes, inspected and washed them in hot water. They took all the sheets, towels and clothing and put them in a commercial dryer on high heat. They next step they brought in propane heaters for every room, opened cabinets drawers and closets, stood up all the mattresses in the rooms, closed the house up, and monitored the temperature at 140 degrees for two hours. Opened the house up and the bedbugs were gone.

    It is an arduous project to rid these pests, as my cousin told us what had to be done. It happens to the wealthy as well as the poor, the super clean homes to the filthy ones. It can travel as hitchhikers on or in anything or animal or even bugs.

    1. Stardust

      I have heard of someone who also had to “heat” their apartment…for this reason.

      they had to remove most things to a trailer or some such, which was heated, and then the apartment was heated too.

      truly I have not heard if it was totally successful..

      I have wondered, if it was in an apartment, wouldn’t the bedbugs basically travel to the nest apartment when the “heat” started? Then return, possibly.

      I am not planning a trip their way, but if I do, I suspect I wont be asking to “stay over”/”come for lunch”. Always good manners to offer to take them out…

    1. Goofy2,
      Great idea! I’ve used permethrin on my hunting gear for years to keep fleas and ticks away, never thought about using it on luggage. Thanks.

  5. Ok, I know this might sound like a stupid question but… How does one heat the inside of their house to 140 degrees?

    1. Propane Gas heaters. No one can be inside because of the heat and fumes they put out.

    2. CrabbeNebulae

      very hot/very cold

      either one, I am skeptical it can really heat/cool the inside of a home to sufficient degree to get them all.

      these critters are adept at hiding in cracks and crannies, and getting under protection….

  6. I wonder if one can buy an ultraviolet flashlight, which makes the biologic substances associated with the bugs glow? I know Streamlight makes a flashlight that has two frequencies of the regular white light…for cops to check IDs and Passports. It would be much easier to use a light that makes the blood and bugs glow.

  7. I think using COLD would be better than HEAT. Bugs can withstand VERY hot temps, and the eggs even hotter. I think using Liquid Nitrogen, as is offered by pest companies, would be the least hassle.

  8. I deal with this from time to time for my job. I am a principal. My school was unfortunate enough to have the first known case in my state. Needless to say, this resulted in a close relationship with our local and state department of health and also an entomologist from one of our state universities. After working with them, I ended up writing the policy and procedure for out district. Fast forward 5 years, and our health department doesn’t even bat an eye when I report we found a bug. I have dealt with this 5 times this school year already. There’s nothing really more we can do that we are not already doing, but I learned this year that they can be spread by library books.

    Needless to say, I am a freak about this when staying in a hotel. After doing everything Ken said above, I also keep all luggage outside the house when we first return home. Cloths are taken straight to the wash/dryer and all other items, including the suitcases, are tied up in 55 gallon trash bags and placed in the pole barn for at least 5 weeks (which is how long they can live without feeding). After 5 weeks or more, items are taken out and inspected. Once cleared, the luggage is put back in the bags until needed again.

    Now for the part that makes my blood boil. I had a family living out of a hotel who had bed bugs. I called the health department to report it, and they told me they don’t do anything about it because they are not considered a health risk! There’s your tax dollars at work!

  9. In our 16 unit apartment where I live downtown. I rented an apartment to someone who brought bedbugs with him. Being personable he had visits from
    three adjacent apartments and they became infested, too. It’s a long
    and expensive process and cost $500.00 for each apartment. The pest control
    guy, against company policy, told me that the best thing to use if you were
    to try something on your own is “Bedlam” insecticide. Crack open the windows when you apply it and turn off any gas heaters near the application
    area so you don’t blow up the house while your doing it.

    The tenant who brought the problem moved and the new tenant said
    he got bites on his arm an I swear they looked like bedbug bites and
    not something like flea bites. I asked him if I could try the Bedlam
    first before calling the pest control folks. He asked if he could try
    something else first and I said certainly He took diatomaceous earth and
    put it around the edge of the rug next to the wall. No bites after that.
    What can say?

    Pest control said bedbugs are everywhere. High end hotels to ratty hotels
    and expensive homes. Bugs hitch a ride on something and travel everywhere.
    The public transit system is especially bad. Someone gets on, throws down
    a backpack on the seat and when he leaves carries an extra companion and
    off it goes to a new destination. Schools are also very bad.

    You do not want to go through the complicated and involved and expensive
    process. I hope the above helps.

  10. this bedbug resurgence brings to mind what we were taught, oh say a hundred yrs ago in elementary school….(give or take a few decades)

    so, a student asked the teacher one day, why some folks insisted coats from company go on a chair in the entrance hall, some did hang them on a hook in front hall, and yet others would put them in a closet with the family coats, or even pile on a bed,especially if there were lots of company and coats

    after that lesson, even though (at the time), teacher assured us in more modern times this was not a problem, the reason was this,

    way back when it was seriously forbidden to put yours or company clothes on a bed/with the family coats



    big concern you would “pick them up”/ “leave them”.

    something to remember these days

  11. Have stayed in motels and hotels in a lot of states in the US and the world, ( Italy, Scotland, Germany, Phillipines, Japan, Canada, to name a few) and have never had a bedbug problem.
    Maybe just lucky.

  12. I use lysol spray in a hotel room and I carry a tub of clorox wipes with me. Everything gets sprayed, wiped down-remote control especially…and I do follow Ken’s steps. Since I would fly because of work, of course I have to go to the local store first to get the spray. But it works and kills anything it comes in contact with. I spray until it feels moist and then I leave for 2-3 hours so it drys out. Plus, I have my own towel, flip flops for taking a shower…Been in a high end hotel in Detroit, and had a big bad bite behind my knee…I moved mid training week to another one.

  13. My hotel choice used to be Motel 6 but no more. The Motel 6 in the town where 3 of our grand kids live is used by the city to house homeless people. Nothing against Motel 6 they probably couldn’t legally say no and certainly nothing against homeless people except that they are often mentally ill, on drugs and not to clean. The upscale motel chains don’t seem to be picked for this by the city I guess because they cost twice as much.

  14. Ken, thanks for the bedbug check. I’ll be expanding my hotel room search area! I worry that I’ll pick them up before I ever get to the room. So many hotel elevator floors are carpeted as are the luggage carts…

    I like the idea of a 5 week time-out for my luggage when I get back home.

    1. kate114

      hadn’t thought of the en route bed bug possibles..

      guess the only solution is to pack LIGHT and carry your own….

  15. I put bed bugs right up there with head or body lice. Seems they are not considered a health hazard – they don’t send kids home anymore. They both give me the creeps

  16. I will avoid libraries and use my Kindle. We also have a travel trailer. I know it’s extreme, but I don’t want to sleep where lots of others have been. No telling what else can be in there. Makes my skin crawl.

  17. We use a Roadtrek when we travel, it was mostly out of convenience and avoiding high motel tabs. This article brought a more important reason to enjoy not having to lug our lug to the second floor, etc. Great article.

  18. now you have to watch for Bedbugs on planes..

    once you are seated on the plane, not much you can “do”…

    just read this

    Bed bug outbreaks hit British Airways flights

    A British Airways plane infested with bed bugs was allegedly kept in service despite staff knowing about the problem.

    “Bed bugs can spread through close proximity with fellow travellers as well as their belongings. They also thrive where there is frequent turnover of people. On airplanes, people are in close proximity, are not able to move other than on the plane, and their belongings are required to stay untouched for long periods of time. This is an excellent recipe for bed bug transmittal.”

  19. who knew? Bedbugs have favorite colors…..

    Time to Change Your Sheets? Bedbugs Have Favorite Colors

    Do bedbugs prefer their hiding places to be a certain color?

    Researchers conducted a series of tests in a lab to see if bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) would favor different-colored harborages, or places where pests seek shelter. The scientists found that bedbugs strongly prefer red and black, and typically avoid colors like green and yellow.

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