How to Protect Your Luggage From Bed Bugs While Travelling?

how to get rid of bed bugs in luggage

Bed bugs are parasitic insects in the Cimex genus that feed on human blood. For thousands of years, they have been considered human parasites. And bed bug infestations have been a growing concern around the world over the last few years. There has never been a more accurate term than now when it comes to the old saying, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

How Bed Bugs Spread

It is common to bring bed bugs home accidentally or to take them to other accommodations with you when you travel. By following this guide, travellers can significantly reduce the risk of bed bug infestations in their homes. 

Hotel rooms make excellent homes for bed bugs due to the constant supply of fresh hosts, as well as the difficulty of sustaining bed bug control in such facilities over time. These insects are excellent hitchhikers, and they can easily climb onto luggage thrown on the bed, or move across an entire room in just one night.

Bed bugs thrive in dark, cool places where humans are present for long periods. So, a hotel room is not the only risky spot. You can also find them on an aeroplane, on train seats, or even buses and rental cars.

Who Let The Bugs In? Or How to Avoid Bed Bugs While Travelling

To avoid bed bugs while travelling you have a few simple options. Ziploc bags, for example,  are a great way to protect the contents of your suitcases. Whenever possible, store used clothes in sealed bags to be cleaned easier once you get home. Things that cannot be washed safely, such as electronics, books, and toiletries, should also be kept in a case or paper wrap. If you love travelling, read on to learn how to prevent bedbugs.

How to prevent bed bugs from getting in your luggage

It’s a bed bug’s natural instinct to find a hiding spot, away from light and intruders, such as cracks and crevices. That’s why your luggage in a hotel or on a train may provide ideal conditions for these pests. Show us a happy bed bug and we’ll show you a desperate traveler!

A thorough inspection of the hotel room

Upon arrival, thoroughly inspect your hotel room. Look around the room for live insects, blood stains, dead bugs and eggs. An infestation of bed bugs has nothing to do with sanitation or cleanliness. It’s therefore not uncommon for bed bugs to inhabit any hotel or motel – from a one-star establishment up to a five-star hotel. 

During a bed bug infestation, you will smell a musty, sweet odour similar to that of soda pop. Bed bugs leave marks on sheets in a brown or red colour. Pay extra attention to the mattress, the pillow, the crevices of the bed, the wooden structure surrounding the bed, and the gaps between the wall and furniture.

Keep your luggage free from bed bugs

To prevent bed bugs from getting into your belongings, try the following:

  • Elevate your luggage, as well as other personal belongings. Always inspect the luggage rack carefully for any signs of bed bugs. Keeping your suitcase off the ground and away from the bed is a great way to keep these critters out. The luggage rack can be moved away from the wall to reduce the risk of bed bugs crawling up and into your belongings, as well. Remember: bed bugs hide in soft spots, and luggage racks prevent them from climbing up the metal legs.
  • Whenever you pack to check out, inspect your luggage to ensure you haven’t picked up any unwelcome guests. Don’t forget to check your bags and clothing upon returning home, as bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. We recommend that you unpack and check your belongings in your garage or washroom.
  • In most cases, bed bug eggs and nymphs are too small to spot with the naked eye. Inspect your luggage visually for small spots that look like ink in corners and along seams. If you experience bite-like reactions or dark red bloodstains on bedding, it’s best to assume that the luggage, clothing, and other belongings in your bags are infested with bed bugs and are in need of decontamination. The majority of people consider heat and cold treatments more practical than chemicals.

How to check for bed bugs in luggage

To inspect whether your baggage has been contaminated with bed bugs first:

  • Choose a place with a non-carpeted surface.
  • Wipe the floor with a wet cloth. These two simple tips will ensure that bed bugs escaping the luggage will have a hard time finding a hiding spot.
  • Look for signs of bed bugs: young bed bugs (size : 1/16” [1.6 mm] ), adult bed bugs (size : 1/4″ to 3/8″ long [5-9 mm] ), cast skins, faecal spots.

How to get rid of bed bugs in luggage

The things you’ll need are plastic liner bags, a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner and a freezer. Unconventional, huh? Here’s what to do.

  • Upon returning home, wash all of your clothes and allow them to dry on high heat. Put all clothes and washable belongings into plastic bags.
  • Seal and put them aside until ready to launder.
  • Hot washing is recommended for all clothing (at least 60°C).
  • You should also consider treating your luggage by heating (above 60°C for at least 20 seconds) or freezing (extreme cold at or below -20°C for at least two hours).Other items that travellers bring along with them should also be heated or frozen, if possible. 
  • After the washing and temperature treatments, vacuum clean your belongings including all clothes, bag and suitcase. A thorough vacuum cleaning will remove all dead or remaining bed bugs.
  • Remove the vacuum bag immediately, wrap it in another plastic liner bag and dispose of it.

Check also: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

What is the most effective bed bugs treatment?

The most effective bed bug treatment is to hire a professional pest control company. An experienced pest control technician who has handled bed bug infestations will be able to spot and eradicate these pests most quickly and efficiently.

      Bed Bugs Facts & Myths

      As a response to the pest’s merciless invasion, travelers have invented quite a few myths on how to avoid and get rid of them. Time to tell fact from fiction!


      1. Bed bugs can’t get into hardshell suitcases! Not true – bed bugs will find their way into zippers and seams of any bag or suitcase.
      2. Sleeping bag liners prevent bed bug infestations! Nope, they don’t play a role at all.
      3. High-class hotels don’t have bed bug infestations! The class of the hotel doesn’t matter, what matters is how the owners treat the bed bug issue.


      1. Packing your clothes in plastic bags inside your luggage stops the bed bug infestation from spreading! Yes, it’s a relatively good preventative measure.
      2. You can also get bed bug on your clothes if you place them in hotel drawers and wooden hangers! Unfortunately, yes.
      3. Spreading diatomaceous earth inside your suitcase will repel bed bugs! Yes, it plays a role.

      You can check if your hotel has been reported for bed bugs in the Bed Bug Registry, yet it is a misconception that bed bugs only frequent unhygienic places.

      Image source: kwanchai.c/

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