Airbnb bed bugs can turn a guest’s vacation stay sour in an instant and bring about bad reviews in the process. Not to mention the headache it causes hosts when they need to get rid of an infestation.
Airbnb bed bugs are especially nasty pests because they are difficult to spot and are often found in hard-to-reach places. This is why every host’s “Plan A” should be to prevent infestations from the get-go.
Still, even if an Airbnb host orders every cleaning service off the menu, Airbnb bed bugs can still creep in.
So, here is the ultimate guide to preventing and dealing with bed bugs, so that your Airbnb rental remains pest-free.
Airbnb bed bugs are parasitic insects that are usually a red-brown color and the size of a long grain of rice or apple seed. They can hitchhike in guests’ luggage and invade any home, regardless of its cleanliness, as long as the Airbnb property has a livable climate and a source of food. A bed bug feeds off human blood and can cause allergic reactions and leave itchy welts on the skin.
Because sleeping guests are their food source, they’re usually found in pillows, bedding, mattresses, headboards, bed frame, box springs, bedroom furniture, and luggage. They are hard to get rid of because they can survive for many months without a blood meal.
Airbnb does not have a specified bed bug policy. However, they do follow up on bed bug complaints on a case-by-case basis and take the issue very seriously. If your guests complain to Airbnb about bed bugs, your listing will most likely be suspended until you can produce proof that a professional exterminator has resolved the problem.
The bottom line for any Airbnb host, though, should be to act immediately when an infestation of bed bugs is reported. Having one bad review about bed bugs is bad enough, but having multiple reviews out in the Airbnb community could sink your Airbnb reputation and business altogether.
With that in mind, let’s explore how to prevent bed bugs from invading your rental property.
Unfortunately, there is no absolute way to prevent bed bugs from finding their way into the nooks and crannies of your Airbnb rental. However, there are a few best practices you can use as the first line of defense to avoid pesky bed bug bites. Implement the following preventative measures to safeguard your Airbnb property:
There is a good chance that an Airbnb guest could bring bed bugs into your property. This is why it is especially important to clean your Airbnb rental thoroughly after every guest’s stay. If a guest brings bed bugs into your home and you don’t clean after their stay, it will go undetected until your next guest complains about it. Thus, you should at least wash linens and bedding at high temperatures after every guest, and vacuum often.
It’s also a smart idea to hire a professional cleaning service for your rental property if you are able to. Professional cleaners are trained to maintain high cleaning standards and do a thorough cleaning job. This will ensure your Airbnb property remains spotless after each stay, reducing the risk of a bed bug infestation.
If managing a professional cleaning team seems like too much trouble, you might consider using vacation rental software to help you out. Vacation rental software, like iGMS, can:
With iGMS, you can also:
It’s important to deep clean your rental property every 3-4 months to ensure dirt does not build up over time.
This includes shampooing any carpets, deep cleaning your mattresses and couches, and washing your curtains and rugs. It will also include more extensive dusting, vacuuming, and sanitizing of your rental space.
Beg bugs are known for sneaking into your home through cracks and gaps in your walls and hard flooring. So another good practice is to ensure these crevices are well sealed off.
This is easy to do with a foam sealant, which can just be sprayed or applied onto the cracks. You should be able to do this yourself, but you could also get an expert to do it for you for extra peace of mind.
Because mattresses are one of the top spots for bed bugs to inhabit, using a mattress cover is one of the best preventative measures you can take.
If guests bring bed bugs into your property through their luggage and other clothing, a good-quality mattress cover will help prevent the bugs from setting up a new home in the mattress.
A metal surface deters bed bugs from crawling on them because it is a slippery surface. Opting for a metal bed frame and metal-based bedroom furniture is another excellent measure to keep the pests at bay.
Luckily, even if furniture has metal as a base, there are good-quality options available so that comfort is not compromised.
Providing luggage racks for your guests is a smart idea because it means that your Airbnb guest is less likely to put their luggage on your beds.
This will help prevent your bed and furniture from getting infested if your guest brings bed bugs into your property.
When it comes to furnishing a property, one simple trick for Airbnb hosts is to opt for a wardrobe over a chest of drawers.
To reduce the likelihood of bed bugs, you will need to reduce spaces where they can thrive. Drawers provide more surface area and crevices for bed bugs to hide than a wardrobe, making it the less logical option when it comes to preventative measures.
One of the most important ways to prevent a few bed bugs from turning into an infestation is to act immediately when you or your guest spots any signs of them. The longer you put it off, the more chance they have to spread.
To do this, you’ll need to know what are the telltale signs of a bed bug infestation. Let’s take a closer look.
There are a few signs to look out for to identify an Airbnb bed bugs problem. Here are the most common red flags to quickly identify if your home is infested:
While it’s comforting to know that bed bugs are not likely to spread disease, they can, unfortunately, leave itchy welts when they bite your guests.
If your guests notify you of itchy bites showing up on their skin during their stay, it’s likely an Airbnb bed bugs problem.
When bed bugs bite guests, they usually leave behind blood stains on the sheets. Also, when they are crushed into the mattress or sheets, their outer shell could leave dark marks as well.
Therefore, it’s important for you or your cleaning team to stay observant of these signs, as they might indicate the presence of bed bugs.
Bed bugs leave behind a musty odor when they infest a room. If you notice a new odor that wasn’t there before or one you can’t get rid of, it may be a good idea to do a thorough check to see if bed bugs are present.
Of course, the most undeniable sign is if the property owner, cleaning staff, or Airbnb guests actually spot live bed bugs crawling around.
If you are sure that the property has an Airbnb bed bugs problem, there’s no need to panic. By following the correct process, you can manage the problem quickly and efficiently. Read on for the steps to take when you need to get rid of bed bugs.
So the bed bugs have gotten past your defenses and now it’s time to go on the attack. When it comes to bed bug treatment and extermination, there are only a few steps to follow. But each part of the process is crucial for getting your property bedbug-free.
This is a tough step to follow, but it has to be done. Think of it this way: it’s better to cancel one or two reservations now than to lose countless future bookings from a bad review about bed bugs in your short-term rental.
The best way to cancel your bookings is to be honest about the reason and reiterate that you are doing it for their safety and wellbeing. Travelers will understand and appreciate your honesty and your proactiveness in dealing with the problem.
You could also offer to reschedule their bookings for a later date and either offer them a discount or an extra night’s stay as a sign of good faith. It may even earn you a loyal guest in the process.
Thoroughly vacuum all surfaces in the bedroom, including carpets, hardwood floors, the box spring, the bed frame, and any other bedroom furniture and storage space to immediately start getting rid of any bugs on the surfaces.
If you are able to, replacing your bed linens, covers, and pillows may be the best idea to ensure the bugs do not linger.
If this is not feasible, you should at least wash linen and other bedding at the highest possible temperature to be as sure as possible that you’ve gotten rid of the bed bug problem.
Hiring professional pest control services is the best solution to ensure the bed bugs are properly and safely treated in the living space.
Trying to DIY the extermination process is risky because you may be working with dangerous compounds and methods to get rid of the infestation. Professional exterminators will have experience and knowledge of the insect world to best get rid of the bed bug problem without leaving any toxic chemicals that may harm your guests.
Typical extermination costs could set property owners back $300 to $500 per room, or up to $2500 for the whole house.
Once bed bugs have invaded your mattress, the ideal thing to do is treat it professionally or throw it out. The bed bugs and their eggs could be nestled deep in the fabric and it will need to be professionally treated by an exterminator if you would like to keep the mattress – provided the infestation hasn’t grown to the point that the mattress should not be used anymore.
However, if guests are aware of your bed bug problem, it may give them greater peace of mind if they know they’ve got a brand new mattress to sleep on.
Because Airbnb does not set out a clear bed bugs policy, the refund is generally up to the Airbnb hosts’ discretion, unless the guest reports the problem directly to Airbnb. It is strongly advised, however, that you give your guests a full refund if they have experienced bed bugs in your Airbnb rental.
This experience would not be pleasant for guests, and offering a full refund is the first step to remedy the situation.
The basic obligation of a property owner or Airbnb host is to provide a sanitary, liveable space for guests that will not harm their wellbeing. So, if a guest gets bitten by bed bugs, they are technically able to sue you for violating this agreement.
A guest is entitled to find themselves a bed bug lawyer and may sue for compensation for the pain and suffering caused, the money spent on medical expenses, and the damage to their belongings.
So, it’s also important to make sure your insurance policies cover your short-term rentals in the case of a bed bug dispute.
The main takeaway, though, is that prevention is better than cure, and Airbnb hosts should try their best to prevent a bed bug infestation before it becomes a real problem.
About the Author
Callan Riddles is the Content and Social Media Specialist at iGMS. Callan has a passion for finding new ways to help vacation rental businesses thrive. In her free time, she loves to travel, read, and experience all the new things that life has to offer.
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