This forum is dedicated to connecting hosts with other hosts. Sign up to get the latest updates and news just for AirBnb hosts! Note that we are not affiliated with Airbnb - we are just passionate hosts!
I was just reading a horror story account of bedbug infestations in France – not in Airbnbs specifically; the headline was about a viral Tiktok video showing bedbugs crawling across a seat in the Paris metro O_O.
That got me thinking that it would be foolish to assume we’ll never have bedbugs (since travel is the main way they spread), and we would be smart to prepare for it and do everything we can to prevent a serious infestation.
So then of course I went down a really anxiety-producing black hole of reading about eradication and prevention and a gazillion conflicting ideas about what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, I found this video by Mark Rober that I thought was excellent. (For any of you who aren’t familiar with Rober, he creates popular science videos drawing on expert knowledge and experimentation.)
I can’t post the video link here because there’s some glitch in the system that isn’t recognising my as a regular contributor here (I have been able to post links before!). But you can just google Mark Rober bed bugs to find it. Rober consults with a bedbug scientist (excuse me, urban entomologist) at Rutgers and tests the various things that people recommend and pesticides. (Skip to 14:49 if you want to just read about the results of their research and not see videos of him letting the bugs feed on his arm <shudder>.)
Key takeaway points:
50% of people are not reactive at all to bedbugs, and 50% are reactive. So visible bites aren’t any indication of an infestation.
Bedbugs don’t transmit any diseases. (At least there’s that!)
All the pesticides they tested that are marketed as being effective against bed bugs were NOT effective. They were, literally, exactly as effective as water. That’s because bedbugs are endemic and are constantly evolving to be pesticide resistant.
What was definitely effective was: 1) heat (so if you don’t already always wash your bedding in hot water, then you should do that, because the heat kills bedbugs and dust mites), and 2) diatomaceous earth (the tiny crystals puncture their exoskeletons and desiccate them). The video shows how to distribute the diatomaceous earth (hint, don’t let it clump, you have to dust it very lightly).
He also shows how you can construct traps to go on bed legs that will both stop bedbugs from climbing up beds and catch them in a trap, so you can detect whether you have them or not.
For myself, I am going to start treating my home and my Airbnb as potentially always having, or being on the verge of having, bedbugs, because you just can’t know when a traveller will bring them in. (The fact that 50% of people don’t react at all to their bites means that people can be living with an infestation and not realise at all.)
I already have one of those mattress covers that completely encases the mattress and doesn’t let bedbugs or mites in, and same with pillow protectors.
I already look for them after each guest.
I already wash all linens on high heat.
But now, in addition, I plan to
systematically distribute diatomaceous powder regularly, and
get a bug-proof casing for my duvet.
If anyone else wants to share what worked or didn’t work for them, and how you protect against bedbugs (I wonder how hotels deal – they must have to worry about this constantly!) I’m keen to hear your stories! (Like, how do you leave diatomaceous earth around the apartment in a way that doesn’t make it look like you forgot to dust??)
Not sure if he mentions it, but if you are going to sprinkle diatomatious earth around, you should wear a mask. Breathing the stuff isn’t good for you. While it isn’t toxic, the way it kills bugs, by cutting them up by its microscopic sharpness can do the same thing in your lungs.
Maybe sorta. But I think with asbestosis, the asbestos fibers work their way into the lung tissue and remain there. Diatomaceous earth doesn’t contain fibers, I think it would just be more of an irritant but not do lasting damage. Requires further research.
I just got something that is supposed to be better than diatomaceous earth. Look up Cimexa - it’s crystalline silica gel (the desiccant in the little packs to keep things dry) and is supposed to dehydrate those little bas**rds a lot faster than diatomaceous earth.
Cimexa said to take the beds apart and “dip” a paintbrush in Cimexa and brush it along the bedframe before you put the box springs back in, as well as anywhere else on the bed you can brush without being too noticeable. I plan to brush it along the zipper of my bedbug-proof cover. Also to brush it under baseboards, in corners, under appliances, anywhere bugs typically run.
I’ve got several pounds of diatomaceous earth left after sprinkling on all the upholstery, mattresses and rugs, and sweeping into the floor boards, to treat for dog fleas several years ago. It worked a treat with no pesticides needed. Consider it my bedbug insurance policy, although I understand they are tougher and may need multiple applications.
(I also had to treat the lawn with beneficial nematodes so the fleas couldn’t reproduce outside, which would not be needed for bedbugs.)
Not great to breathe the powder, but not a problem to consume or get on your skin. Some people eat food-grade diatomateous earth, like a spoonful in water, to clean out toxins or parasites.
They also sell it in pet stores as a natural flea powder.
24 hours and I as I recall I did 2 applications relating to flea lifecycle. The nematodes came dried up in a bag and I had to mix them with water and use a fertilizer reservoir attachment to my garden hose to disperse them. Also had to do it after sunset so they could reanimate and burrow down without the sunlight killing them. So I looked like a lunatic watering/fertilizing my lawn in the rain and the dark.
That’s not exactly the way diatomaceous earth kills bugs. Here’s what it does: “Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process.”
Cimexa, being silica gel crystals, is more absorbent than diatomaceous earth, so it kills bugs faster.
Cimexa’s safety label shows it is very safe. The label specifically includes pet bedding as a use site, and it appears the main hazards are eye irritation when applying and inhaling LARGE quantities. So there’s nothing there to suggest it’s a hazard to crawling babies when applied as directed.
Yes I’ve read that too: they don’t like to travel along smooth metal surfaces. And according to the Mark Rober video, if you stay in a hotel or ABB that doesn’t provide luggage racks, you should park your suitcase in the bathtub to reduce the risk of picking up bedbugs.