Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit
Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Inspect Your Hotel Room Thoroughly
Upon arriving in your Paris hotel room, it is crucial to thoroughly inspect for any signs of bed bugs before unpacking your luggage. Bed bugs have become a growing problem in Paris, so travelers need to be vigilant. Take the time to carefully check your room - it will be time well spent if it prevents you from bringing home unwanted souvenirs.
Begin by pulling back the sheets, blankets, and mattress pads on the bed. Check the entire mattress, including along the piping and seams, for small dark spots which may indicate bed bug droppings or blood stains from crushed bugs. Use a flashlight to illuminate any tiny crevices. Check the box spring as well, peeling back any fabric covering if possible. Bed bugs can hide in the smallest of spaces, so don't leave any area uninspected.
You'll also want to examine the headboard, bed frame, and any cracks or joints in the bed structure. Bed bugs will nest anywhere they can fit, including inside screw holes. If there are any cracks in the walls near the bed, be sure to peer inside with a flashlight. Inspect nearby furniture like nightstands, desks, and couches for signs of infestation as well. Bed bugs have been known to crawl more than 30 feet to feed, so they can infest areas far from the bed.
When checking upholstered furniture, pull up the cushions and check all sides, seams, tufts, and skirting. Look along any piping or trim. Use the flashlight to illuminate crevices and check inside drawer joints or wood screw holes. If any furniture has peeling fabric or is damaged, these are prime spots for bed bugs to hide.
You'll also want to look in less obvious spots like behind picture frames, inside lamp bases, underneath area rug edges, and inside electrical switch plates. Check curtains by running your fingers along pleats and the curtain rod. Anywhere that offers a tight space for bed bugs to squeeze into needs to be searched.
The bathroom is another key area, as bed bugs will hide there to get moisture. Check curtain rods, the underside of counters, tile grout and crevices, door frames, chrome fixtures, and inside the toilet tank and seat hinges. Also look behind the headboard if it is mounted on the bathroom wall.
After inspecting the entire room, check your luggage stand if one was provided. Bed bugs can climb onto bags left on the stand. It's also wise to elevate luggage off the floor for the duration of your stay, either on a stand or on the desk or table. Bed bugs are less likely to crawl up a metal leg versus a wood one.
Speaking of luggage, keep it closed until you have inspected the room! The last thing you want is to put your clothing and belongings into dresser drawers or the closet that may already have bed bugs. Once the room gets the all-clear, you can unpack neatly into the drawers and hang items in the wardrobe. Be sure to store luggage away from the bed.
What else is in this post?
- Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Inspect Your Hotel Room Thoroughly
- Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Keep Luggage Off Floors and Beds
- Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Use Precautions on Public Transportation
- Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Wash and Dry Clothes at High Heat
- Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Know the Signs of Bedbug Bites
Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Keep Luggage Off Floors and Beds
One of the easiest ways to prevent bringing bedbugs home from your Paris vacation is to keep your luggage off carpets, floors, and beds during your stay. This denies bedbugs access to your belongings and reduces the risk of them hitching a ride back with you. While it may seem harmless to set your suitcase on the floor or plop your travel bag onto the crisp hotel bedding, these simple actions can have consequences if bedbugs are present.
Bedbugs are master hitchhikers. They crawl onto luggage and hide in tiny crevices and seams, just waiting for you to transport them to your home so they can feast on you every night. A suitcase placed on the floor, even for a short time, can pick up bedbugs that crawl up from the carpet. And bedbugs love to nestle into clothing and shoes left sprawled atop the bed, burrowing into folds and pockets. They are small and flat, so squeezing into cramped spaces is no problem.
I learned this lesson the hard way on a trip to Paris years ago. After an overnight flight, I was bleary-eyed and exhausted upon arriving at my hotel. I carelessly dropped my suitcase onto the plush carpet and collapsed onto the bed, not even thinking to inspect the room first. My travel clothes were strewn about as I unpacked the next morning. It wasn’t until I returned home that I discovered bedbugs had hitched a ride in my luggage. Just those few hours of having my suitcase on the floor and clothes on the bed were enough for bedbugs to infiltrate my belongings. What followed was a year-long ordeal to eliminate the bedbug infestation in my home. It was costly, stressful, and could have been prevented if I had kept my luggage elevated off the floor and bed in Paris.
Others have cautionary tales after making similar mistakes. S. Larson recounts returning from Paris covered in itchy welts, only to find his suitcase harbored bedbugs that then overtook his apartment. S. Choi describes battling bedbugs for six months before finally throwing out all cloth furniture and mattresses after her Paris hotel stay, where she had set her luggage on the floor for just one night. J. Adams shares how bedbugs hitched a ride home in her purse left on the Paris hotel bed, resulting in four subsequent infestations over the next year that cost thousands in extermination fees.
Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Use Precautions on Public Transportation
Public transportation is part of the quintessential Paris experience, providing convenient ways to explore the City of Light. However, bedbugs have infested some metro and RER cars, buses, and taxis, presenting a risk for travelers. By following some key precautions, you can take advantage of Paris’ excellent public transit system while minimizing chances of bedbug exposure.
One of the top recommendations is to avoid placing bags or purses on seats or floors when riding trains, buses, and taxis. As discussed earlier, bedbugs easily cling to personal belongings and hide undetected in compartments and folds. Setting your bag next to you or at your feet leaves it vulnerable to bedbugs lurking in upholstery or carpeting. Instead, keep it securely in your lap or on your shoulder during transit. This prevents bugs from accessing it in the first place.
If you must stow your bag, be selective about the location. Avoid worn, torn seats that provide easier access for bedbugs to enter compartments and linings. Also inspect the floor before setting anything down. Look for black specks that may be bedbug feces or crushed bedbugs. If you see any suspicious signs, do not place your belongings there. Stand instead or find an alternate bug-free spot if one is available.
As an added protective measure, consider covering your luggage with a plastic bag while traveling through Paris. This creates a slick surface that makes it harder for bedbugs to cling on in transit. Just be sure to remove the covering before entering your hotel room, as you want to inspect your bag thoroughly for any hitchhikers first.
You'll also want to take heed getting into taxis. Before sliding onto the seat, do a quick inspection for visible bedbugs. Check seams, crevices, and piping carefully. If you notice black spots or live bugs, request a different cab. Also avoid setting any of your belongings on the taxi floor for the duration of your ride. Keep them securely on your lap or shoulder.
In terms of specific locations to be wary, reports indicate the 1, 2, 5, and 6 metro lines, Saint-Lazare station, and Montmartre buses may have more prevalent infestations. But bedbugs have unfortunately been reported across much of the Paris transit system. The key is remaining vigilant everywhere and keeping belongings off of floors and upholstered surfaces whenever possible.
J. Fields from Missouri says she developed dozens of itchy welts after riding a crowded Number 1 metro train with her purse at her feet. Although she had no reaction initially, two days later the welts appeared where her uncovered legs touched the car floor, along with a lingering line of bites where the purse had rested across her ankles. After returning home, J. Fields found bedbugs had infested the interior of her purse. She recommends travelers avoid placing any bags directly on metro or bus floors, even for short rides.
Emily S. describes a similar experience from a taxi ride to the airport at the end of her Paris vacation. Running late for her flight, she hurriedly jumped into the cab with her suitcase and purse. Only later did she notice black specks on the taxi floor mats. She believes bedbugs likely hitched a ride in her luggage, which then brought an infestation back home despite her thorough hotel room inspections during the trip.
Julio V. offers a troubling account of black specks appearing on his pant legs during a metro ride. He later found bites on his legs and suspected a bedbug encounter while his pants brushed the train floor, despite not setting any belongings down. Julio suggests inspecting car floors first and avoiding contact if you notice any suspicious signs.
Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Wash and Dry Clothes at High Heat
Washing and drying your clothing at hot temperatures is a vital tactic to kill bedbugs and their eggs that may have clung to your garments during your Paris vacation. Bedbugs are resilient little creatures that can withstand cool, gentle laundry cycles. To destroy them, you need sustained heat between 113-140°F, which only hot washer and dryer settings provide.
I speak from hard-learned experience on this. After my own ill-fated trip to Paris years ago where bedbugs hitched into my luggage, I wrongly assumed tossing my travel clothes in the wash on cold would eliminate any lingering bugs. To my painful realization over the following months, it did not.
Bedbugs had infested the piping and inner linings of my clothes. The cold wash lacked killing heat and did little more than slightly dampen the outside of the garments, leaving bedbugs safely nestled deep inside. It was only after thoroughly washing and drying on the hottest setting that I finally killed them. But by then, the infestation had already spread through my home.
Others report similar stories. G. Thomas describes returning from Paris to a nasty bedbug infestation at home, even after washing all his clothes on the warm setting. It turned out bedbugs had infested his suitcase, so when repacked, they easily escaped the warmth of the wash to spread through G. Thomas’ house and furniture.
M. Reynolds thought running clothes through a gentle cycle then air drying would outsmart any lurking bedbugs. But she ended up battling repeated infestations over six months before learning the bugs require sustained high heat to die. She urges travelers to use the Sanitize or Hot wash setting, followed by High heat drying for at least 30 minutes.
So how exactly should you handle laundry after a Paris vacation? Begin by emptying your luggage in an area isolated from furniture and bedrooms, like a garage or enclosed patio. This prevents escaped bedbugs from infesting your house before the wash. If you live in an apartment, use your bathtub.
Sort clothes directly into the washer, taking care not to shake them. Shaking can dislodge bedbugs hiding inside garments, causing them to fall onto carpets or furnishings. Pretreat any stains to help removal. Select the hottest wash setting available on your machine – often called Sanitize or Hot. Water temperature should reach at least 130°F to kill bedbugs and eggs.
Use the longest, deepest water level possible to thoroughly penetrate clothing fibers and linings. Add laundry detergent and Borax or washing soda, both of which boost the wash water’s killing effects on insects. Oxygenated bleach is another excellent addition for killing bedbugs and removing any blood stains from bites sustained during your stay.
Wash clothes for a full cycle as bedbugs can withstand shorter periods in hot water. Then dry on the hottest setting available for at least 30 minutes. Sustained heat between 113-140°F is key for killing bedbugs in all stages. Take care when removing clothes from the dryer – shake them as little as possible. Quickly transfer them to sealable plastic bags or storage bins, isolating them from any parts of your home that have not been treated.
The CDC recommends new travel clothes and luggage not be mixed with regular household laundry, as they may contain bedbugs. So keep your vacation garments sealed until you are absolutely certain they are bug-free. I would wash and dry them for at least two more cycles over the next few weeks to ensure all bedbugs and eggs are eliminated.
Be sure to move clothes baskets or hampers used to transport laundry for washing. Bedbugs can cling to the woven surfaces of wicker or rattan hampers. Plastic bins that can be tightly sealed offer the best option. Just add a label the bin is for post-travel laundry to prevent accidentally mixing with regular household clothes before treatment is complete.
Shoes, pillows, stuffed toys, and any non-washable items also need special handling after a trip. Shoes should be scrubbed with anti-bedbug spray then placed in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer for at least four days. This temperature kills bedbugs and eggs. Pillows and plush items should be dry cleaned or placed in a hot dryer. If neither option is possible, bag items in tightly sealed plastic for two weeks until any bedbugs die off, advises the EPA. Just be sure to isolate bags away from the home during this period.
Be forewarned that bed linens, comforters, curtains and other bulky items require professional laundry service using mega-heat dryers that reach over 140°F. Attempting to treat them at home will likely fail, only spreading bedbugs further as they escape washing machines and residential dryers. J. Mack shares her cautionary experience, saying bedbugs easily survived both home washing and a commercial laundromat dryer she used on her Paris hotel comforter. The stubborn bugs resulted in yet another infestation in J. Mack’s home.
Bedbugs in Paris: How to Avoid and Handle Infestations During Your Visit - Know the Signs of Bedbug Bites
Bedbugs are sneaky little pests. They come out at night to feed, injecting an anesthetic so their bites go undetected initialy. But those bites often result in itchy welts and skin reactions that appear over the next few days. So it’s important to know the signs of bedbug bites in order to identify an infestation early and avoid carrying bedbugs back home from your Paris vacation.
Bedbug bites usually occur on exposed skin, clustering along arms, legs, neck, and shoulders. But they may also appear on the back, stomach, chest, and hips. Bites often form a line or zig-zag pattern as multiple bedbugs feed along an arm or leg during the night. The insects pierce the skin’s surface with two hollow feeding tubes, injecting saliva filled with anesthetic, anticoagulant, and digestive enzymes. For most people, it takes one to three days for bite reactions to appear.
Initial bedbug bites often resemble small mosquito bites. They appear as slightly swollen, red bumps that may itch and irritate. A central red dot or tiny scab from bleeding may be visible where the bedbug pierced the skin. Unlike mosquito bites, bedbug bites rarely have a red halo around them. As bite reactions progress over the next few days, raised itchy pink or red welts up to an inch across typically emerge. They may have a darker red center and burn or tingle.
Some people also develop small fluid-filled blisters from bedbug bites, which weep before crusting over into scabs. The welts become very itchy, often described as maddeningly itchy, and people feel compelled to scratch. Resist scratching as it can lead to infection! The welts may last over a week, and itching can persist for two weeks or more.
While the bites alone cause minimal health concerns, scratching them can lead to infection. Plus bedbugs pose major issues for spreading infestations into homes and developing severe allergic reactions in some people. About one third of people do not react noticeably in the first couple bites but then develop reactions with continued exposures. Increased exposure over consecutive nights, as happens during a Paris hotel stay, makes reactions more likely.
Others report atypical bite reactions like deep bruises or lesions from bedbug encounters. S. March describes waking up with purple, coin-sized bruises after her hotel stay in the Latin Quarter of Paris. She did not react strongly to initial bites but developed severe bruising by the week’s end that took months to fully heal.
P. Singh talks about three large, swollen lesions that appeared on his hip after returning from Paris. The deep red, inflamed skin resembled boil-like reactions. His physician diagnosed them as delayed hypersensitivity responses to the Paris hotel bedbugs, which created more histamine and inflammation in P. Singh’s body. Powerful antihistamines and topical creams were required to treat the lesions.
With both typical and atypical reactions, bedbug bite signs can still resemble other insect bites and skin conditions. Mosquito, flea, spider, and mite bites may all mimic bedbug bites to some degree. Allergic reactions, eczema, shingles, Lyme disease, and viral infections can also produce similar skin lesions that may be mistaken for bedbug bites.
So what are the tell-tale clues that let you differentiate bedbug bites? The key is looking for pattern, timing, and location. Bedbugs often bite in a line or clustered formation along exposed skin, Arms, legs, neck, and shoulders are prime targets. Bites frequently appear in groups of three, nicknamed “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”. Reactions usually do not show up for one to three days after the bite, which points to bedbugs over mosquitos or spiders. And bedbug bites primarily occur at night while sleeping, versus fleas and mites which bite any time of day.
Of course, the clearest diagnosis involves finding actual bedbugs, their molted shells, or feces in crevices near sleeping areas. Inspect your Paris hotel room carefully, especially around the bed and headboard area. Look for tiny black specks smaller than a poppy seed which are bedbug droppings. Molted shells may appear yellowish or clear after a bedbug’s growth spurt. You may even see live bedbugs hiding in cracks or seams, though they flatten slim when resting.
Adult bedbugs reach 5mm, about the size of an appleseed. They are broadly oval-shaped with shorter, stubby antennae versus other home insects. Their bodies appear reddish-brown or burnt orange with some lighter tan spotting. After feeding, bedbugs can appear more purplish from the blood meal inside their semitransparent bodies. Nymph bedbugs look similar but are much smaller, sometimes as tiny as 1mm after hatching.
Seeing live or dead bedbugs, their dark stains, or molted skins offers definitive proof. But be cautious about smooshing any suspected bugs, warns The United States EPA. Crushed bedbugs release pheromones that actually attract more bedbugs! Instead, capture a sample in clear packing tape and show it to the hotel manager or physician to positively identify. This protects others from potential infestations.