We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How to Check Your Hotel Room for Bedbugs

Door of a hotel room opening to reveal the bed.
Sompetch Khanakornpratip/Shutterstock

Hotels sometimes host things other than guests—like things that creep in the night! What’s lurking in your dark hotel room? It could be bedbugs. Here’s how to check for bedbugs in a hotel and make sure they don’t ride home with you.

What are Bedbugs?

Mature bedbugs and droppings along the lining of a piece of furniture.
Hawaii Department of Health

Before you can start looking for bedbugs, you need to know what they are. Since they like to hide during the day and come out at night, you probably won’t see them unless you know what to look for and where to look.

If you do find a bedbug, it will look kind of like an apple seed—they’re the same size with oval bodies. Bedbugs are brown, but they become more reddish after feeding on human (or animal) blood. These creepy little crawlers don’t fly, but they do move quickly and can travel across the ceiling just as fast as they can on the floor.

What Are the Signs of Bed Bugs?

Someone sees bed bugs on a mattress

Before you learn how to check for bed bugs in a hotel, you’ll need to know what to look for. Keep an eye out for small reddish-brown bugs about the size of an apple seed. Check the seams of the mattress, creases, and even the headboard for these critters.

You should also take a good look at the bedding for tiny reddish or blackish spots that might look like ink stains, and be aware of any see-through eggshells in hidden spots, which would indicate that bed bugs are laying eggs.

Besides bugs, keep an eye out for other clues like dark stains on the walls or furniture, which could be their feces. If you catch a sweet, musty smell in the room, that could be a sign too. Finding these signs early not only protects your stuff but also helps you make smart choices about where you stay, so you can have a comfy and worry-free trip.

Med PRIDE NitriPride Nitrile-Vinyl Blend Exam Gloves

Wear these while examining your room.

How to Check for Bed Bugs in a Hotel

A hotel room

The first thing you need to know when it comes to staying at a hotel or motel is how to check for bedbugs. If you’re wondering how to check for bedbugs in a hotel, here are the steps you should follow to make sure you avoid them at all costs.

Keep Your Luggage Away from Hot Spots

Leave your luggage in the hallway or put it on the luggage rack or in the bathtub. These are all unlikely places for bedbugs to be. They tend to hang out in and around the bed, where they can feed on you while you’re sleeping.

Keeping your luggage off the floor is important to ward off potential bedbug problems during your stay. Bedbugs struggle to climb smooth surfaces, which floors often are. Placing your luggage on a rack, in the bathtub, or in the hallway reduces their access to your stuff and helps with early detection.

Examine the Mattress and Furniture

Your next step is to look for signs of bedbugs in and around the bedding and furniture in the room. When you’re checking for bed bugs in a hotel, be sure to look under the sheets and between the blankets. Check under the pillows, inside the pillowcases, and under the mattress. When they aren’t feeding, bedbugs are excellent at hiding, so you need to lift the mattress and look in all the cracks and crevices on the furniture. A good penlight is invaluable in this situation.

The eggs, nymphs, and adult bedbugs are all visible to the naked eye without magnification, but you’re also looking for evidence of their presence. During the day, you’re more likely to see exoskeletons left behind by the bugs and rust-colored spots from their excrement. Finally, check any upholstered furniture. If it’s difficult to see into the furniture or under mattresses, use a flashlight (most smartphones come equipped with a flashlight app).

Escolite UV Flashlight Black Light

This can help you spot bed bugs more easily.

What to Do If You Find Bedbugs

Someone shines a light on bed bugs on a mattress

To play it safe, you don’t want to just know how to check for hotel bed bugs, you’ll need to understand what to do if you do find them. If you brought your luggage in, move it out into the hallway. Head to the front desk and let them know you found signs of bedbugs. It’s common, so they’ll usually be understanding.

Request another room, either on another floor or in another part of the building. Make sure to request a room that does not share a wall, floor, or ceiling with your previous room, since those same bedbugs could be in nearby spaces as well.

Repeat the same check in your next room once you move. It’s unlikely for a hotel to be completely infested with bedbugs, but not impossible.

Lysol Disinfectant Spray

If you do find bed bugs in your room, spray your things down with this until you can examine the rest of your suitcase thoroughly.

How to Avoid Taking Bedbugs Home with You

A woman leaves a hotel room

Even if you don’t see bedbugs in the room, it’s a good idea to take precautions.

Don’t Leave Clothing Lying Around

Keep your suitcase zipped and stored on the luggage rack away from the bed and other furniture. Even better, store it in the shower or bathtub as that’s the least likely area to have bedbugs. Keep soiled clothes in a tied trash bag. If you have clothing that needs to be hung, make sure it’s not touching the walls or floors.

Do a Check When You Get Home

Don’t haul your suitcase into the bedroom and put it on the bed if you have any fear that you might have bedbug stowaways. Instead, take it right to the laundry room and toss everything in the dryer for 30 minutes on a hot setting. This is one of the best ways to kill bedbugs.

Check for Bed Bug Bites

After returning from a hotel stay, it’s important to inspect for bed bug bites as a precaution. Bed bug bites often appear as small, red, itchy welts on the skin, resembling mosquito bites. They are commonly found on exposed areas such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. To spot them, look for clusters or rows of these bites in a localized area. Be sure to do a thorough examination of your body, especially areas that were in direct contact with bedding during your stay.

Cortizone-10 Maximum Strength Ultra Soothing Anti-Itch Cream

This will help you survive those itchy bites.

Wondering how to check for hotel bed bugs? When checking for bed bugs in a hotel, there are a few steps you’ll want to follow to make sure you identify them if they are in your room. If you do find them, be sure to contact the front desk immediately and move to a different room.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?