The short answer is that any home can become infested with bedbugs, and they are more common than you may think. About 20 percent of Americans have had an infestation or know someone who has had a run-in with bedbugs at home or in a hotel.
To debunk a common myth: They are as likely to infest a sparkling-clean home as they are one that is unkempt. However, they are more likely to be found in larger buildings with many occupants, such as apartments, dorms, movie theaters, and hotels. And if you visit an infected area, there’s a chance that bedbugs may hitch a ride back to your house on your luggage or clothing.
If you travel frequently, you may be at a higher risk of a bedbug infestation. That’s because bedbugs are more likely to be found in places where there is a lot of sleep traffic. So if you stay in hotel rooms often, it’s a good idea to inspect the room for bedbugs by thoroughly checking the mattress, headboard, and box spring.
While bedbugs aren’t a medical hazard, their bites can be itchy, can sometimes cause allergies, and can leave blood stains on your sheets. In addition, their presence can cause a lot of anxiety, potentially leading to less sleep.
To steer clear of bedbugs, avoid places that you know are already infested (go to one of these free online databases—bedbugregistry.com or registry.bedbugs.net—to search by location for current and previous infestations in hotels and apartments, as reported by users) and practice smart prevention methods. For instance, don’t put your luggage on a hotel bed and wash your laundry in hot water (or at least in high heat in the dryer) after traveling to kill any bedbugs. If you do suspect that there may be bedbugs in your home, don’t panic. A professional exterminator can help handle the problem.