How Do I Treat For Bed Bugs in My Airbnb?

So it’s not a matter of IF you will have bedbugs, but WHEN.

A bed bug is a wingless insect that survives on the blood of animals and people. Their bodies are generally flat and roundish and brown or red in color. An adult bug can be about the size of an apple seed. Once they are full of blood their bodies tend to be more round.

While they can be spotted by the human eye regardless of the stage of life (egg to full-grown adult), it tends to hide in crevices and is not generally seen. If one is spotted, however, you can be certain there are more.

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult insects to treat and eradicate. Each infestation can vary, and as such the process of killing the bugs depends on the severity. Most pest companies will not give a specific quote over the phone (we’ve tried). Instead, they prefer to investigate the situation and give a prescriptive solution to the hosts.

Bedbug Cimex lectularius isolated on white background

How To spot Bed Bugs in Your Airbnb

Bedbugs are not fast trotters and may be spotted on sheets occasionally, but the telltale sign is generally the reddish spots they leave (blood from their victims) or blackish/brown small flecks from their feces. Make sure you or your cleaning crew carefully inspect sheets so you can quickly take appropriate action to prevent the spread.

These pests like to hide and generally can be found within 8 feet of where people sleep. Look particularly in the nooks and crevices of mattresses and frames. Some travelers have suggested using a credit card and scrapping crevices of a bed frame, particularly the headboard to find them.

How to Kill Bedbugs in Your Airbnb Properties

Bed bugs can generally be killed with heat, but obviously, not all items can be treated with heat. After all, it’s difficult to toss a mattress into a dryer.

Treating for bed bugs on your own is really a daunting task and probably will not be done as well as working with a professional pest company. Be warned; not all are the same and not all treat exactly the same way.

A new way of treating is with UV lighting; however, none in my area were available. So for now, let’s talk about chemical treatment. The Pest company may spray the entire house including beds, carpet, drapes and all surfaces. They may require you to bag all lose items (things like pictures and nicknacks) and place them in a plastic bag for two weeks. They will insert chemicals into these bags so they cannot be opened.

Needless to say; this could be a huge impact on your business. Couple this with Airbnb’s propensity to punish Hosts for canceling bookings by giving them a lower ranking or removing their Super Host badge. You can see where having bugs can severely damage you in terms of earnings and ranking.

bedbugs leave rusty stains (blood) or black spots (feces)

How To Prevent Bed Bugs in Your Airbnb

To prevent bed bugs you can use a mattress encasement. This encasement should have small zippers and made specifically for bug infestation prevention. It’s purpose is two fold; it can lock in and prevent bugs from exiting a mattress and can prevent bugs from burrowing into the mattress. Unfortunately, in cold weather bed bugs can last for months. This can be purchased on Amazon.

The quicker bed bugs are spotted and treated the less impact they will have on your business. you can be proactive and have a reservoir placed under the bedposts. These reservoirs are plastic and since the bugs cannot crawl out of them they can be spotted quickly. Note: so your guest will also spot them quickly if they think to look.

If you do use the reservoirs (Amazon carries them) you can train your cleaners to inspect every cleaning so you can react promptly at the first sign of the troublesome bugs. In short, there really isn’t any prevention – there is only quick remedy.

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