A New Years bed bug nightmare went viral on YouTube last month when a California couple documented their experience staying at Astor on the Park, an upper Manhattan hotel. In the video, we learn that the faulty outlets and broken heater are not what ruined the couple’s vacation. The blame instead rests on the hundreds of bed bugs infesting the room’s bed and biting both guests in their sleep.
This itch-inducing depiction is certainly not the first bad case of bed bugs in New York city hotels that we’ve seen. It only serves as a reminder that the nationwide bed bug epidemic isn’t going away any time soon, and that the Empire State is getting more than its fair share of the critters. In fact, bed bugs may be on the rise yet again in the Big Apple.
Bed Bug Registry, an independent database for bed bug complaints, has reported a 44% increase in bed bug reports in New York City hotels last year versus the year before. That same 44% rise is shown when comparing January of this year to January 2015. This suggests that the recent bed bug growth rate will continue into this year.
Two-thirds of New York’s Hotel Association members have had bed bug complaints reported on the registry. This bed bug alumni includes some of the swankiest hotels in Manhattan, like the Millennium Hilton and the Waldorf Astoria. Keep that in mind the next time someone tells you that bed bugs only infest cheap motels.
How Bed Bugs Spread in Hotels
More cases of bed bugs in New York City hotels are being reported every day. However, there’s no point in trying to find a hotel that hasn’t had any complaints. Instead, it’s up to you to learn how bed bugs spread in hotels and what to do to protect you. Armed with the right knowledge, you can reduce your risk of bringing bed bugs home from wherever life takes you.
The risk of bed bug infestations in hotels begins as soon as a guest checks in. When most people arrive at a hotel room after a busy day of travel, the first thing they do is dump their luggage on the bed, lie down, and relax. I don’t blame them – airports are exhausting nowadays. Unfortunately, this seemingly innocent act is what exposes so many people to the risk of bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs travel from place to place by hiding on clothes, in suitcases, or in other personal belongings. When a visitor brings bed bugs to a hotel on their items, the bed bugs can spread into the room. Once a room has an established infestation, pregnant bed bugs can then hitchhike with future guests to their next destination, where they can lay their eggs and start a new colony.
How to avoid bed bugs in New York City hotels
While there is no 100% foolproof way to ensure you don’t bring home a hitchhiking bed bug, these precautions will give you the best chance to enjoy a bed bug free trip. The main thing you need to do before your trip is prepare your luggage. Your luggage is the most likely place that bed bugs will hide to go home with you, so you’ll want to take some steps to protect your suitcase or carry-on luggage.
The clothing and other items you might pack into your luggage offers bed bugs a ton of potential hiding places. We can cut off most of these hiding places by using a sealed luggage liner. It has a patent-pending zipper that is tested and proven by entomologists to stop bed bugs from getting inside. When you start packing your bags, put a liner inside the empty suitcase first, then put your clothes and other personal belongings inside the liner. Close the liner zipper to seal it, and you’re good to go.
When you arrive at your hotel room, resist the urge to throw your luggage on the bed and rest. Now is the time to be proactive and reduce your chances of encountering bed bugs during your trip. Bed bugs in the room could hitchhike home with you on the clothes you’re wearing or tucked away in your belongings. To help avoid this, don’t put your luggage on the bed and don’t put anything in those drawers.
The best way to protect your luggage from bed bugs is to leave it in your car. Just bring your toiletries and a change of clothes and leave those items in the bathroom. If you must bring your suitcase or other items into the room, leave them in the bath tub. Bed bugs are much less likely to go in there since it’s far away from the bed, and they will have a really hard time climbing up the into the smooth porcelain tub.
The last thing to do before you lay down and unwind is to do a quick inspection of the room for any signs of recent bed bug activity. Check the seams, folds, joints, and corners of the bed for things like bed bug shells, eggs, blood spots, or fecal matter. If you find anything, put a sample in a zippered bag or take a good picture and present the evidence to the front desk. They should be able to move you to another room; if they do, repeat your inspection there just in case.
When you get home, you want to make sure that your luggage, laundry, and even the clothes you’re wearing now don’t make it too far inside. Change out of your clothes into clean clothes from your home closet, and start washing your laundry from the trip. The washer and dryer cycles will kill any bed bugs or eggs that might be hiding in your laundry.
The luggage itself should be inspected for any signs of bed bugs. Check the zippers, seams, folders, and other tight spaces for live bugs, eggs, or discarded shells. If you find anything, seal the luggage in an airtight plastic bin until you can treat it with some bed bug sprays that are labeled for use on luggage.
If you’re a frequent flyer and this sounds like a lot to do in between trips, you could pick up a portable bed bug heater. This is an easy way to treat your luggage inside and out, killing any bed bugs or eggs that might be hiding inside. With a bed bug heater, all you have to do is unfold and assemble the unit, put your luggage inside, zip it closed, and plug it in.