Bed Bug Guidance for Hotel Managers
Because hotels have a high rate of turnover, they are especially vulnerable to bed bug infestations. Preventing guests from bringing in bed bugs is difficult. In most cases, guests carry bed bugs into hotels in infested luggage, clothing, blankets, and pillows.
Develop a bed bug inspection plan. Train all staff (especially cleaning and maintenance staff) how to identify bed bug infestations. Perform inspections routinely, each time a room is vacated, and whenever a guest complains about bed bugs.
Train staff to look for:
- Black spots and stains — dried bug feces — on the mattress, box spring, bed frame, or a nearby hiding place
- Rusty or reddish blood smears on bed sheets, pillowcases, or mattress — possible evidence that a sleeping person rolled over to crush an engorged bed bug
- Bodies of dead bed bugs
- Live bed bugs
- Cast-off tan-colored skins of immature bed bugs
- White-colored eggs in cracks and crevices (usually overlooked because of their small size)
- An obnoxiously musty, sweet, and sickly odor (usually only detectable in heavy infestations)
Train staff to inspect rooms for bed bugs. Hiding places include:
- Behind wall-mounted headboards, picture frames, and mirrors. The area behind the headboard is often the first place that bed bugs become established.
- On linens (along seams, piping, folds, tufts, buttons, labels, or anywhere fabric is torn)
- On or in mattress, box springs, and upholstered furniture (along seams, piping, folds, tufts, buttons, labels, tacks, screws, or anywhere fabric is torn)
- In cracks in walls, ceilings, or floors
- Along baseboards or other molding
- Along junctions of ceilings and walls (where they meet)
- Under loose wallpaper and under dangling bits of chipped paint
- In curtain folds and hems, and inside hollow curtain rods
- Under electrical outlet covers and lighting switch plates
- Inside of electrical devices and appliances (televisions, stereos, refrigerators, light fixtures, clocks, phones, smoke detectors, etc.).
Have a plan in place to address bed bug infestations as soon as they occur, and train staff accordingly. Act quickly to prevent bed bugs from spreading to adjoining rooms.
When a guest complains, hotels should:
- Immediately offer a new room to the guest.
- Inspect the new room into which the guest will be moved.
- Provide a fact sheet about bed bugs.
- Provide bags in which the guest can seal their luggage and possessions before relocating them to a new room in order to prevent spreading bed bugs.
- Offer to launder the guest’s clothes. Potentially infested clothing and bedding should be washed separately in the hottest water and dried on the hottest cycle that is safe for the materials. Provide bags in which the guest can seal their luggage and possessions once their clothes have been cleaned and they relocate to a new room.
- Immediately bring in a licensed pest control professional for a complete inspection and treatment of the room, including adjoining rooms that share a wall, floor, or ceiling.
- Do not use the infested room or adjoining rooms until a pest control professional treats the rooms for bed bugs or certifies them free of bed bugs.
Hotel staff can take the following precautions to prevent spreading bed bugs:
- Train your staff to make a visual inspection for bed bugs at every cleaning and every time a room is vacated.
- Repair cracks in plaster, glue loose wallpaper, and fix other damage that might provide places for bed bugs to hide.
- Seal cracks around baseboards, molding, heating or air conditioning units, pipes, etc. completely with caulking material.
- Follow good laundry handling practices
- Do not place dirty linens in the hallway.
- Keep housekeeping carts in the hallway during cleaning service.
- Keep clean and dirty laundry separate. Store clean and dirty laundry separately in closets. Transport clean and dirty laundry separately in housekeeping carts, laundry carts, and vehicles.
- Vacuum or steam clean areas prone to bed bugs (for example, under and around beds, headboards, end tables, upholstered furniture, etc.).
- Treat, bag, or wrap all items in plastic before moving them to avoid spreading bed bugs and their eggs to other rooms.
- Render discarded items unusable by slashing or breaking them to prevent them from being salvaged by others.
- Tape a sign to discarded infested items that reads, “Infested with Bed Bugs”.
- Never resell or donate infested furniture or other items.
- Inspect secondhand furniture and other room accessories for bed bugs before use.
- Verify furniture and other room accessories are bed-bug free before placing them in storage or moving them out of storage.
Hire a licensed pest control professional to inspect regularly and quickly address infestations when they occur. Hotel staff should work together with a pest control operator to prevent or control bed bugs:
- Isolate, bag, and seal tightly all items that can be washed, dried, or dry cleaned: sheets, bedspreads, duvet covers, pillows, blankets, pillowcases, mattress covers, bed skirts, curtains, rugs, towels, bathrobes, etc.
- Do not remove anything else from the room until either management or a pest control professional is involved.
- Clean all machine-washable items in the hottest water and dry on the hottest recommended cycle. Dry clean materials that cannot be washed.
- To remove some bed bugs and eggs, use a heavy duty HEPA vacuum on the mattress, box spring, bed frame, furniture, floor, and carpet. Pay special attention to cracks and crevices. Discard the used vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag to prevent spreading bed bugs to other rooms or storage closets. Consider storing the entire vacuum cleaner in a plastic bag when not in use just in case bugs escape and get into the housing of the vacuum.
- Seal mattresses and box springs in heavy-duty bed bug encasements to prevent interior infestation and to provide easier inspection and treatment. To protect encasements from rips, apply felt strips or duct tape to cover screws, bolts, or sharp edges on the bed frame.
- Securely bag all discarded materials to prevent further infesting other areas.
- Treat the room with special cleaning products and/or pesticides, if necessary.
- Re-inspect the room periodically to ensure that bed bugs are gone.
- All pest control exterminators in South Carolina must be licensed by the Clemson University Department of Pesticide Regulation. It is not legal for owners of apartment complexes, hotels, office complexes, etc. to allow unlicensed maintenance staff to apply pesticides. They must either obtain a pesticide license or hire a licensed pesticide company. Ask a pest control operator to see a copy of their license.
- Ask if the pest control company’s staff has been trained specifically in bed bug management and ask them to describe their treatment methods. They should list several treatment techniques and insist that treatments might take several applications over days and weeks.
- Determine a pest control company’s performance by checking a three-year database of enforcement actions against a company for licensed pesticide companies (http://regfocus.clemson.edu/dpr/greenbook.htm). Such a database will not tell you if a company is trained to treat for bed bugs.
- You can also, if necessary, file a complaint about a pest control company with the Clemson University Department of Pesticide Regulation.
A professional will have detailed knowledge of bed bug habits and hiding places and will use a combination of the latest tools, technology, and methods to control bed bugs safely and economically in a strategy known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). You must train your hotel staff how to routinely inspect, clean, and disinfest rooms while limiting the spread of bed bugs.
South Carolina law requires that you must use a licensed pest control professional to apply pesticides. The pest control specialist should follow these guidelines:
- Use the least toxic pesticide that will be effective.
- Avoid insecticide bombs/foggers, which do not penetrate the hiding places of bed bugs and make the problem worse by causing bed bugs to spread to additional rooms. Foggers create aerosols that are hazardous to health and can cause fires or explosions if improperly used.
- Follow directions on product labels. The label is the law.
- Advise hotel staff to stay out of treated rooms until it is safe to re-enter.
- Treat mattresses and upholstered furniture with pesticides only if necessary and only by applying small amounts of pesticides on seams only. Pesticides should never be sprayed on top of mattresses or sitting surfaces. Only certain pesticides are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for use on upholstered items.
- Never resell or donate infested furniture.
- Render infested mattresses, box springs, or other items unusable by cutting holes in them or incinerating them.
- Seal infested items in plastic bags to prevent spreading bed bugs or their eggs during transport to dump or incinerator.
- Tape a sign to discarded infested items that reads, “Infested with bed bugs.”
For more information contact: (803) 896-0655 Fax (803) 896-0645