Hostels provide a valuable alternative to pricy hotels for travelers looking to meet new people, experience a community setting, and save some money along the way. Unfortunately, the volume of guests going in and out of hostels could pose certain challenges for facility managers.
While managers and staff work hard to keep facilities neat, clean, and ready for newly arriving guests, the truth is that travelers themselves can introduce health concerns upon arrival, especially if they unwittingly carry in pests like bed bugs. What can facility managers do to prevent bed bugs in hostels? It begins with learning about these pests in order to properly treat and prevent infestation.
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny, light brown parasites, measuring about 4-5mm in length, that feed on blood. They earned their name because they generally prefer to nest in plush furniture like beds, coming out at night when people are asleep to feed on them unnoticed. Those who are bit generally suffer itchy bumps, blisters, or rashes. While bedbugs don’t appear to transmit human pathogens, some people have allergic reactions to their bites.
Bed bugs were largely eliminated throughout the developed world thanks to pesticides, but a growing resistance to existing pesticides, paired with increased global travel, has led to a resurgence of bed bug infestations across the globe. In particular, there have been more bed bugs in hostels, hotels, and other hospitality establishments, although infestations in private homes are also on the rise.
How Do They Spread?
Bed bugs like to hitch a ride with unwary travelers, hiding in clothing, shoes, and luggage. Although adults tend to feed every few days, they can survive for several months without feeding.
Once they reach a new destination, they hide in the seams of furniture and mattresses and begin to reproduce. They can also hide in cracks in wooden furniture. With a steady food source streaming in, bed bugs in hostels can spread rapidly.
How to Treat and Prevent Bed Bugs in Hostels
There are several ways to treat bed bug infestations and prevent recurrence. Deep cleaning is a must, and this includes decluttering rooms, with special attention to areas around and under beds where bed bugs are most likely to hide. In most hostels, vacuuming is a regular occurrence, with rooms cleaned daily, or at least once guests have vacated. However, you should make sure to vacuum behind and under furniture frequently.
It’s also important to choose the right furnishings – ones that are going to be inhospitable to bed bugs or at least make them easy to spot. Metal bed frames, desks, tables, and chairs are preferable to wood since bed bugs can’t really hide in these materials. What about plush furniture?
You can’t let guests sleep on metal mattresses, and plush chairs and couches are a comfortable addition to guest rooms and common areas. In this case, you’ll want to choose light-colored textiles that bed bugs will stand out on, and check the seams regularly for bed bugs or traces of their presence (like waste products in seams that look like strewn pepper).
Heat treating plush surfaces like carpeting and furniture is a good way to eliminate bed bugs once they’ve established colonies, so look for equipment designed for this purpose and make sure you understand proper heat settings for your climate.
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