OK, I know it might seem a bit non-sequitur to mention pest control and business travel in the same article, let alone the same headline, but hear me out.
I travel a lot for business and end up staying in hotels on a regular basis. Not rundown, fleabag motels, but really nice hotels in the 3.5-4 star range—the type most business travelers stay in. So I wouldn’t typically think twice about issues of health and cleanliness related to my temporary residences. After all, they look clean.
Unfortunately, a recent experience left me so mortified that I don’t think I’ll sleep soundly in a hotel room for some time to come. And why I’m writing this is because this could happen to you.
The incident didn’t leave me permanently scarred. But it did leave me with a good number of nice little red marks all over my torso for a good few weeks. The cause: bedbugs.
I would never have considered that I could end up with a bedbug infestation while staying in a nice, resort hotel. Yet, it happened. I won’t go into all the grisly details. Suffice it to say, it has given me a new awareness for sanitation and it also prompts me to alert my fellow business travelers about the situation.
I also thought it would be good to give you some tips on what to do if you run afoul of these little critters yourself. They can hop into your luggage and hitch a ride home with you, and that’s where the fun begins. If this happens, there are measures to promptly take, and I’ve listed a handful of the non-toxic methods below. But if you find these don’t work, you may need to call a professional pest control company to do a more thorough job.
1) Clean up clutter points. Piles of junk, accumulated newspapers, and unfortunately, even piles of clothing are all points of attraction for bedbugs. Even if you clean up bedding, make sure to clean up the entire room and indeed the entire house just to be sure you get them all. Rid every room of all clutter, and then clean and vacuum.
2) Remove them physically from the premises. Simply clean them up with your own hands and labor (gloves are okay). Vacuum cleaners also work wonders in sucking bedbugs up so you can physically put them out of your house.
3) Modify legged furniture with an interception. Some homeowners put the bases of bed legs into cans that are full of soapy water, which is effective, but not necessarily attractive to the human eye. It can also be a tripping hazard and might hurt some furniture. An alternative is applying something like tanglefoot or petroleum jelly to the legs, basically, anything that stops bedbugs from climbing up the legs successfully.
4) Give diatomaceous earth a shot. This organic pest-fighter is extremely effective, and available on the Internet. Handle it with care, though, and make sure everyone in the home knows where it is and not to ignore it. The bedbugs won’t, but they won’t enjoy the microscopically sharp surfaces that diatomaceous earth has that is quite unpleasant for them.
5) Make sure your pillows and mattresses are encased. This makes them far more protected against bedbugs going forward, but they’re also going to prove easier to remove and clean as well.
6) Use heat when laundering bedding. Bedbugs are not good friends with heat, so make sure you launder in hot water when you can, and set your dryer as high as it will go, depending on what settings your bedding can tolerate.
7) Use a hot steamer wherever you can. This is a return to the idea that heat kills bedbugs or drives them out. Don’t just use this on bedding, though; use a hot steamer around cracks and baseboards all throughout your home.
8) Keep windows open. Bedbugs like CO2, and pockets of CO2 form when people are sleeping and exhaling in the same place for hours on end. Having a breeze in the room moves the air enough to break these pockets up.
9) Keep a fan running. This is the same idea as keeping windows open, as CO2 pockets are broken up and the bedbugs move elsewhere for what they’re looking for.
10) Use CO2 as bait! Get a dog dish, and then pour dry ice into it. Make sure the exterior of the dish has a climbable surface for the bedbugs. A few sheets of paper or even an old cloth will do the trick. Leave it overnight. In the morning, if bedbugs are around, they’ve hopefully climbed in and can’t get out. Remove them from the home, or introduce them to their archnemesis of heat.
Now you know the ten best non-toxic methods of pest control to kill bedbugs. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use these. If you check your hotel room carefully and mind the reviews from past guests, you may be safe. But if it comes down to ridding yourself of these pesky suckers (pun intended) then you now know what to do.