Managing the Problem: Airbnb Bed Bugs

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Having pests in your home is a nightmare. Airbnb bed bugs can ruin your business. Without a contingency plan in place, your reputation as a host may never recover. 

Bed bug infestations are hard to shake. Almost impossible in fact. Once you know about them, you need to act swiftly and definitively to ensure that the problem is kept under control. Unfortunately, once they get into your house, they’ll likely spread from room to room pretty quickly. 

Let’s start at the beginning!

What Are Bed Bugs?

According to Wikipedia, “Bed bug bites are caused primarily by two species of insects: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus, found primarily in the tropics. Their size ranges between 1 and 7 mm. They spread by crawling between nearby locations or by being carried within personal items. Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene but is more common in high-density areas. Diagnosis involves both finding the bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Bed bugs spend much of their time in dark, hidden locations like mattress seams, or cracks in a wall.” 

Why Is My Listing Infested?

Luckily, bed bugs are rarely a sign of poor hygiene. Instead, they are believed to travel from place to place by attaching themselves or their eggs to luggage, clothing, and other materials. Bed bugs can also find their way into your property when you buy furniture that already has an infestation. Interestingly, bed bugs are increasingly found in air travel. 

What Should I Do If I Find Bed Bugs?

First, you’ll need to identify whether the bug you have found is indeed a bed bug. Bed bugs range in color between brown and reddish-brown and are roughly 4-5mm in length when fully grown. 

If the bug you found is a bed bug, you’ll need to start containing the infestation. Healthline recommends using a vacuum cleaner as a fast way to suck up all of the bugs and their eggs. Seal up the contents of your vacuum, as well as any linens, towels, or clothes until you can wash them. Wash them on the hottest setting for at least 30 minutes and dry them in a drier on the hottest heat setting. 

If the items cannot be washed and dried, tie them up in a sealed bag and leave them in there until the hidden bed bugs die of starvation. If you cannot clean furniture, the best thing to do is throw it away. Sadly, some things simply cannot be uninfested. 

Next comes the debugging treatment. If money isn’t an object, we would recommend hiring a professional. You can get things done yourself, but it’s a whole lot more work to get rid of Airbnb bed bugs on your own. There are a few chemicals you can try (all of the following are FDA-approved): pyrethrins, pyrethroids, pyrroles, neonicotinoids, desiccants, foggers, and bug bombs. 

What Should I Do If My Guests Find Bed Bugs?

If you’re unlucky enough to have your Airbnb bed bugs discovered by a guest, you’re in for some serious groveling. You’ll need to refund their entire stay and hope that they can secure another room somewhere local. Some guests may demand that you pay for their accommodation for the first night of their scheduled stay with you, which we think is also fair. Remember, it’s a housekeeping issue on your end that has changed their plans, so try to go the extra mile with your guests to make up for it. 

How Can I Prevent An Infestation in the Future?

There are a few ways that you can prevent bed bugs. First of all, if you buy second-hand furniture, check each item carefully to ensure that they do not show any signs of infestation. For mattresses, use bug-proof covers. Do the same with your pillows and cushions. Reduce the clutter in your home to limit the number of hiding places. As an Airbnb host, you should be vacuuming regularly and this has the added benefit of decreasing the probability of a bed bug infestation. It may also be a good idea to keep the number of a local exterminator close by to step in as soon as you suspect an infestation brewing. 

DPGO Airbnb Bed Bugs Top Tip 

If your guests find bed bugs in your listing, offer a full refund straight away. Request that these guests do not leave a review. If they insist on leaving a harsh review, shut down your listing page and open up a new one. Sadly, you will lose all of your previous reviews, but it is worth it in the long run. If you have future bookings, block those dates on your new calendar and contact your guests to clarify the situation. 

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Avatar for Charlotte Rogers

I love writing and I am seriously passionate about real estate and technology. I've been writing about both topics for nearly 10 years and there isn't a development in the world of tech without me reading about it!

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