Traveling? Watch Out For Unwanted Hitchhikers!

The best rule of thumb for dealing with bedbugs? Try not to get them in the first place. Otherwise, read on:

Be careful where you put your suitcase when you travel. “These guys are fantastic hitchhikers,” says the University of Maryland’s Michael Raupp. “If you have a luggage rack with metal racks, put your suitcase on that.”

Check behind a hotel headboard. That’s one of their favorite spots, Raupp says. Pull back the comforter and sheets and look for the fecal stains on the mattress seams and ticking. Shine a penlight behind the headboard and look for dark fecal stains.

If you do wake up with red welts, assume the worst. “At that point, when you go home, all laundry goes into a trash bag outside, and then right into a washing machine on a hot cycle, and then a clothes dryer,” says the University of Kentucky’s Michael F. Potter. “As little as five or 10 minutes kills everything on high heat. Cold will not kill the eggs and not all the adults.”

Don’t pull mattresses and dressers off the street. Steer clear of yard sales or flea markets. And don’t ever buy used bedding.

If you do get them, don’t use a bomb or spray, which will only scatter them through your home. “Find a good pest-control company. This is not one where you buy bug spray and battle it yourself,” Potter says.

In many cases, pros suggest getting rid of your box spring and mattress, or if you can’t, using a bug-proof zippered mattress cover that traps the buggers inside for at least a year.