Paris and other French cities have been struck by a plague of bedbugs and Britons are growing increasingly alarmed that the outbreak could be spreading to the UK.
One way bedbugs – which leave you with itchy bites – can spread is through hotels, where they hitchhike lifts in the guests’ clothing and luggage.
Thankfully, certain telltale signs will alert you to the presence of bedbugs in a hotel, Martin Seeley, CEO and mattress expert at MattressNextDay reveals. Here’s what to watch out for, so you can avoid bringing bedbugs back from your travels…
1. RUST-COLOURED DOTS ON THE MATTRESS
Inspect the hotel mattress for rust-coloured dots, Martin advises, saying: ‘Unfortunately, this is as gruesome as it sounds. When the bugs get squashed, they release a lot of blood, especially around the seams of mattresses – which is where they tend to hide.’
Mattress expert Martin Seeley outlines the telltale signs that will alert you to the presence of bedbugs in a hotel
He continues: ‘These spots can start to look a rusty colour the longer they have been there. Ensure both sides of the mattress are free from any blood stains before hitting the hay.’
You should also keep your eyes peeled for eggs, Martin says. He explains: ‘It may sound obvious that spotting eggs would be a tell-tale sign of a bug infestation but they’re not always hiding in plain sight. The eggs are tiny and can be found in numerous places, not just on the mattress.’
What do they look like? Martin says: ‘They are about 1mm wide and are often a pale yellow colour. If you do find any of these eggs, it could mean the bedbugs are still very much alive and this should be reported immediately.’
3. A MUSTY ODOUR
Be alert to musty odours once you’re shown to your room, Martin warns. He says: ‘You may have been to a hotel that smells a little strange before but the odour excreted by bedbugs is certainly distinguishable.
‘If the bedroom area has a strong, musty and unpleasant odour. This could possibly come from a bedbug’s scent glands and is strongest when there are large amounts of bugs present.’
Be alert to the odour of the hotel room when you walk in, as ‘the odour excreted by bedbugs is certainly distinguishable’, Martin explains
He adds: ‘Always err on the side of caution when it comes to a smelly room and check for other signs too.’
4. DARK SPOTS ON WALLS
‘Although this is slightly less common, bedbugs can also leave stains on walls too,’ Martin says.
He notes that ‘if you do notice any dark spots, this could be bedbug excrement’.
If you’ve spied these dark spots, what should you do? Martin advises: ‘Make sure not to touch any of the affected areas and notify the hotel or apartment staff straight away.’
5. WORN OR AGED UPHOLSTERY
Make sure to examine the upholstery in your hotel if it appears to be ‘worn or aged’, Martin advises.
He continues: ‘Old fabrics that may not have been cleaned thoroughly or are possibly second hand could house a family of bedbugs. If the place you’re staying is of a slightly older nature or a boutique style, it’s always best to double-check the fabric and furnishings before settling in.’
HOW YOU CAN PREVENT BRINGING BEDBUGS HOME FROM YOUR HOLIDAY
NEVER PUT YOUR SUITCASE ON THE HOTEL BED
‘When you initially arrive at your hotel, you might put your suitcase straight onto the bed without checking for bugs and begin unpacking,’ says MattressNextDay’s Martin Seeley.
However, he notes that by doing this, ‘you’re putting your luggage and clothes right onto the place bedbugs are commonly found and giving them a free ticket home’.
With this in mind, he recommends storing ‘your suitcase as close to the room door as possible’.
ALWAYS STORE YOUR CLOTHES IN A WARDROBE, NOT DRAWERS
It’s recommended that you avoid putting your suitcase on the hotel bed and always store your clothes in a wardrobe, not drawers
After a long day of travelling to your destination, you might be inclined to quickly throw whatever you’re wearing into the conveniently placed bedside drawers – but Martin declares this move a ‘big mistake’.
Why? He explains: ‘Although bedbugs can’t fly, they can crawl, and putting your clothes into bedside drawers gives them a perfect opportunity.’
TAKE A SPARE PLASTIC BAG FOR DIRTY CLOTHES
Martin says: ‘Bedbugs are more attracted to dirty clothes, so make sure to take a spare bag for your dirty laundry in your case and tie the bag in a knot to make it completely sealed.’
UNPACK ON A HARD FLOOR AND NOT IN YOUR BEDROOM
There are more preventative measures you can take when you get back from your holiday, Martin reveals.
The mattress expert says: ‘When you get home, unpack your luggage in another location apart from your bedroom. Even better if it’s on hard flooring, as you won’t be able to spot bedbugs on a carpet.’
He continues: ‘Inspect your suitcase closely and use a flashlight or torch to look into the seams, folds and pockets of your suitcase. Always vacuum-clean your suitcase before putting it in storage.’
WASH EVERYTHING YOU TOOK, EVEN CLEAN CLOTHES
Finally, Martin recommends that – even though it ‘may seem like overkill’ – you ‘wash every single item of clothing you took on holiday with you, even those that are clean or you didn’t wear’.
He explains: ‘If bedbugs have crawled into your suitcase, they won’t discriminate between items of clothing.’