Recognising bed bugs and how to terminate them

Recognising bed bugs and how to terminate them
Airbnb Advice
February 14, 2020

Just the mere mention of bed bugs and my skin begins to itch. Although this topic may make your skin itch, it is an important topic to understand when you are an Airbnb owner. Following on from last week’s article, this article will go over what bed bugs are, how to recognize if your Airbnb property is contaminated with them, and what to do if your beds are contaminated.

What are bed bugs? 

Bed bugs are small brown oval insects which are parasites. These creatures do not fly but prefer to move relatively slowly around floors, walls, and beds. The terrifying thing about bed bugs is that they can be difficult to get rid of, as the female bed bug can lay 100 eggs in her lifetime. These bugs can reach your apartment by stowing- away in traveller’s clothes, luggage, and other items. For more information on bed bugs, click here.

How to recognize a contamination 

Bed bug bites: 

If you, or your guests, have red itchy bumps which are mainly in straight lines and form on areas of skin exposed whilst asleep (hands, neck, face, arms, and legs), then these bites are likely to be from bed bugs. However, if your Airbnb caters to pets and the bites are around the ankle, then this is more likely to be fleas. 

Dead skin

Before a bed bug becomes a fully formed adult, it has to go through a molting process five times. This means that if you have a bed bug contamination there will be a lot of dead skin and egg-shells on the mattresses, couch, and pillowcases. 

Bloodstains on the mattress, couch, and pillowcases 


If you have a bed bug infestation at your Airbnb property then you may find black/rust coloured stains on your sheets, mattresses, and walls. These stains are caused by bed bug excrement. 

Small brown dots moving in your bed 

The more bed bugs you have, the more likely you’ll spot one. This can be a horrifying thing, finding a singular, or collective, of bed bugs, moving through the sheets. The most common places to find these bugs are near the pipings, seams, and tags of the mattress or in small cracks in the bed frame and walls. You may even find them in the seams of your chairs and couches, as well as between cushions, curtain folds, and drawer joints. 

A horrible smell 

This musty odor you may pick up on, is dispersed from bed bug’s scent glands. 

How to get rid of bed bugs once you have them 


If you only have a small infestation of bed bugs, then pesticides could be the way to go.

Hot water and drying

For a more thorough decontamination of your Airbnb property, first clean all bedding, linen, curtains, clothing, and other fabrics in hot water and then dry them on your dryer's highest setting. For items that can’t be washed, such as teddy-bears and shoes, put them in the dryer for 20 minutes.

Stiff brush and vacuuming 

Using a stiff brush scrub mattress seams to remove bed bugs and their eggs. Once done, vacuum the bed and other affected areas. 

Mattress cover

Once this cleaning has been done, make sure to seal your mattress and springs with a cover that has a tightly woven zip. This is to avoid any bed bugs that haven’t been killed, from escaping as horrifyingly these tiny vampires can live up to a year without any food source. This mattress cover must be left on for a year, although it’s a great idea to continue to use this afterwards as it will help prevent future infestations.

Hire an exterminator

Another option if the infestation is particularly bad, is to hire an exterminator. However, this option can be very expensive because exterminators generally charge between $200-$400 for one room. Ouch!


In conclusion, even though this article may have made you uncomfortable in so many ways- especially the 'recognizing a contamination part'- yuck! But regardless of how uncomfortable this was to read, having bed bugs is so much less fun than reading about them, so it is important to take precautions to avoid them, as well knowing how to recognize them, and terminate them if they appear. 

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