Mosquitoes flying around

What to Do if Your Hotel Has Bed Bugs

January 20, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

In recent years, bed bug infestations have risen in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With these pests becoming more commonplace, even clean, well-maintained hotels can become infested. Having a bed bug response plan can allow you to take action quickly. In this guide, we discuss what to do if your hotel has bed bugs and provide tips you can use as the foundation for a plan of action.  

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects. They feed off the blood of mammals and tend to prefer humans as hosts. Bed bugs have segmented bodies, six legs, and are flat with an oval shape. Between feedings, bed bugs have a creamy white color. After they eat, they turn red-brown. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, while immature nymphs can be as small as the head of a pin, making them difficult to detect without a magnifying glass.

close up of bed bug

How do bed bugs get into hotels? 

Bed bugs typically prefer beds, chairs, couches, and curtains, but they can also lurk in electrical receptacles, baseboards, door hinges, and electronics. Due to their size, it’s easy for the pests to hide on clothing and luggage. When a guest or staff member has been in an infested area and enters a hotel, bed bugs can jump off and begin scuttling around the establishment, looking for a more permanent place to hide.

Are bed bugs harmful to humans? 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that bed bugs don’t carry diseases. However, they do bite humans. In some cases, a bed bug bite may not produce any visible signs or symptoms. Some people may experience minor swelling and itching, and individuals with allergies to bed bugs may have more severe reactions. These people may need to visit a doctor for treatment.

Signs of bed bugs in hotels 

Because they’re nocturnal and capable of scuttling quickly, bed bugs are typically difficult to detect during the early stages of an infestation. Keep an eye out for these signs that your hotel may be home to unwanted guests:

  • Blood stains on bedding caused by bites.
  • Black, brown, or dark red spots on fabrics and upholstery, which may indicate smeared feces.
  • Musty smells due to chemicals bed bugs use to communicate.
  • Yellow to light brown exoskeletons shed as bed bugs grow.

Monitoring for bed bugs should also include checking your hotel’s online reviews regularly. Although dissatisfied guests make false claims, conduct a full inspection anytime an online reviewer says they found bed bugs on the premises.

bed bug infestation on a mattress

What to do if your hotel has bed bugs

A fast response is crucial during an infestation. Addressing the problem quickly may limit the spread and lower the likelihood of pests impacting guests. Let’s review step-by-step what to do when your hotel has bed bugs.

1. Take the room out of service and gather information

Immediately remove the room from service and gather as much information as possible from the guest or staff member. Ask what they saw, when they saw it, and where they were in the room. Write everything down in a dedicated log.

2. Conduct a thorough inspection

Go over the entire bed, checking the mattress and the interior and exterior of the box springs. Check any gaps and folds between the pillow top and the rest of the mattress. Remove the headboard from the wall and inspect it thoroughly, then look in and around baseboards, telephones, televisions, electrical outlets, closets, and other furnishings. Seal all affected items in protective covers.

3. Decide what to do with affected furnishings

Evaluate the best approach for dealing with the affected furnishings. Depending on the age and condition of the items, you may want to replace them. Make sure to bag any furniture you’re throwing away and leave clear markings that it may be infested to prevent others from taking it before it’s hauled away.

4. Inspect adjacent rooms

Bed bugs can move easily through walls, ceilings, and floors. Use the procedure outlined in step 2 to inspect the rooms on either side, above and below the affected room. If guests currently occupy those rooms, move them to another room.

5. Inspect all staff areas in the hotel

Check locker rooms, restrooms, break rooms, lounges, and other places where staff members assemble or store personal items. Pests may have spread to these areas, or an employee may have been the original carrier for the bed bugs.

6. Notify all staff members

Let all staff members know about the infestation. Review bed bug identification tips with everyone and instruct the team to notify management if they spot any further signs.

7. Communicate positively with affected guests

Guests who report infestations are likely to be upset. Train staff to deal with these complaints with empathy and to apologize for the inconvenience. Here are a few suggestions to make things right with your guests:

  • Offer to bag, wash and dry all of the guest’s clothing to remove any bed bugs or their eggs.
  • Inspect and vacuum guest’s luggage if they wish.
  • Relocate guests to a different area of the hotel.

Preparing a bed bug fact sheet ahead of time can help to calm guests’ fears. Structure the guide in question-and-answer format. Include questions like “do bed bugs carry diseases?” and “my hotel has bed bugs; what do I do?” then provide clear answers. Refer to sources like the EPA and the CDC to give guests peace of mind.

maid making a hotel bed

Hotel pest control solutions 

The above tips will allow you to respond to infestations quickly, but they’re no substitute for the services of a hotel pest control company. Hawx has years of experience performing bed bug treatments for hotels. We know the best products and tools to use to address infestations, limit business interruptions and keep staff and guests safe in the process. 

Our knowledgeable technicians can also discuss hotel bed bug prevention with you and recommend a maintenance schedule to reduce the risk of future infestations.

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