How to Protect Luggage From Bed Bugs While Traveling

Traveling is exciting, but not when the bed bugs get in the way. Take note that bed bugs aren’t just a home infestation. It’s also present in hotel rooms and other accommodations. No matter how clean the place is, bed bugs can still be lurking around. And to prevent the pest from hitchhiking on your way home, you should know how to protect luggage from bed bugs.

For a start, here are luggage sprays that you can consider:

Sawyer Products
Premium Permethrin
Check Price
$averPak JT Eaton
Bed Bug Clothing and
Gear Spray
Check Price

Bed bugs are sneaky pests that hide in the tiny crevices of your luggage. Once you reach home, they will get off and start an infestation on your property. This sounds creepy, but you can always practice some steps to ensure that the freeloaders won’t get into your belongings.

Bed bugs are hitchhikers

Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. They will squeeze through the seams of your luggage and stay there until they can find a favorable place to stay at – your home.

Take note that even the top hotels in New York, Paris, and London could be infested with bed bugs. What makes the situation worse is that bed bugs are stealthy bloodsuckers. You can’t catch them unless you can stay awake and wait for them to creep into your skin.

This pest is so adept in hiding in small cracks and crevices. Also, they will only go out at nighttime to feed. If they can’t find a host for long, they will transfer to another unit, thus, spreading the infestation to more units of the hotel or apartment building.

Take note that bed bugs can be transferred cross country. It’s the reason why the bugs are able to infest all over the globe.

Where you can get bed bugs while traveling

Bed bugs can be everywhere. It can be harboring on your seat at the bus or your $500-per-night hotel room. In addition, you should forget about the connotation that bed bugs are only present in filthy places. A room can look squeaky clean but still harbor these bloodsuckers.

The following are some of the notorious bed bug sources:

-Sleeper trains
-Hotel bed
-Furniture in your hotel room
-Infested hotel building

Since different people inhabit these places for short periods, it’s easy for bed bugs to be transferred. People from all walks of life, country, and social status can bring in the pest and infest the room. So when you become the next guest, the bugs are just waiting to hitch on your luggage and suck your precious blood.

how to protect luggage from bed bugs

How to check for bedbugs on your hotel room

If you’re traveling and staying in a hotel room, you should look for the following signs of bed bug infestation.

➡️Look for eggs and shed skin

Bed bugs molt and they will usually leave their shed skin near their area of harborage. Upon arriving in the hotel room, look for this semi-transparent dander.

Also, check for bed bug eggs that could be left on the sheets or mattress. You can rub your palms on top of the mattress. If you feel any crumb-like texture, it could be bed bug eggs. Usually, bed bug eggs have a yellowish-white color.

➡️Check for mattress stains

Another guaranteed sign of a bed bug infestation in a hotel room is the presence of black stains on the seams of the mattress. Also, bed bugs get squashed when the host suddenly turns on the other side. This will also lead to reddish and brownish stains on the mattress.

The black stains on the seams are bug droppings. You may also find bed bugs in this spot.

➡️Give the mattress a good shake

Shaking the mattress and pressing some parts may reveal bed bugs that are staying on the surface level. Aside from the bed, you should also check the furniture beside the mattress. If the room has carpeting, give the floor a quick look for any crawling insects.

➡️Look for bites after one night

If you sustain itchy bites upon waking up the next morning, it’s a guaranteed sign that the hotel room is infested with bed bugs.

With this, we recommend that you keep your luggage protected and unpacked on the first night to check if there are bugs.

If you suspect that you have bug bites, you can use this guide to determine if it’s indeed a bed bug bite. We also recommended here some remedies to ease the itching.

How bed bugs stick to your luggage

Bed bugs have a flat body which allows them to squeeze into tiny crevices and seams. Since your luggage is idle for most of the day, the bugs may also transfer in it while you’re enjoying your vacation.

The bugs can also stick to your clothes and other fabric belongings if you don’t use any preventive product beforehand.

Even the clothes you didn’t wear can get infested with bugs. This is the reason why you should treat it before putting it back on your closet once you get home.

How to protect luggage from bed bugs

If you’re traveling soon or moving into a temporary home, you have to guard your luggage against bed bugs. This way, you won’t bring home unwanted guests that will wreak havoc in just a matter of weeks.

Before and after you packed your things, make sure that you keep these things in mind:  

➡️Use a bed bug spray

Before and after you pack your things, spray your luggage with a permethrin-based product to repel the bugs. This treatment will last for up to six days before the need to re-apply.

This way, you can remove the bed bugs that have harbored in your luggage from your home and prevent it from spreading into the hotel. Moreover, it will also repel the hotel bugs from hitchhiking on your way home.

You can keep a small spray bottle handy, so you can also spray it on the bed and sheets on your hotel room. In addition, if you’re boarding a plane, it’s best to stick to a 3-ounce bottle to meet the airline rules.

Below, we’ve reviewed two of the most effective bed bug sprays that you can consider purchasing.

➡️Consider using a special liner

If chemical sprays aren’t your thing, you can use a bed bug liner for your luggage. This works like a mattress liner, which prevents the bugs from getting into your clothes.

This is effective, but if you happen to place infested clothing inside, the liner will lose its purpose. You can still get rid of the bugs by unpacking carefully and heating all the fabrics for 30 minutes on the dryer once you get home.

Special luggage liners don’t necessarily repel the bugs. It just serves as a barrier so the insects can’t squeeze through. Also, if your luggage has a fabric exterior lining, the bugs can still hitch on it and get off on your home.

Overall, liners will only work best if you have shell-styled luggage or if you’re shielding your clothes from the bugs. 

➡️Use the right luggage

If you’re yet to purchase luggage, we recommend that you opt for shell-style luggage or hard suitcase. Through this, the bed bugs will have limited seams to use as entry points. Also, bed bugs can’t stick on the plastic surface.

Aside from that, color matters a lot when shopping for a suitcase. Most of the luggage we saw in the market has a black, which makes it hard to spot crawling bed bugs. If possible, choose a lighter color so you can easily spot an insect that gets into the surface.

➡️Vacuum it first

Before going home or heading out to your vacation, vacuum the luggage first. This way, you can remove any bed bugs hiding on the surface. It will prevent infestation both in your home or your accommodation.

If possible, you can ask the hotel staff if you can borrow a hand-held vacuum. After vacuuming, spray the luggage with the same Permethrin-based product you’ve used earlier.

➡️Don’t unpack in bed

Regardless if you’ve just gotten in your hotel room or if you’re back home, never unpack in bed. The bugs that have hitched on your luggage can fall off straight in the mattress where it can hide. When nighttime comes, the bugs will come out and suck blood from you.

If you’ve just gotten in your hotel room, it’s best to spend a night first before unpacking. This way, you can check for bed bug bites.

On the other hand, if you already came back home, it’s best to unpack in your laundry area. This way, you can toss all your clothes (worn or not) straight to the washing machine. Furthermore, clean pieces can be tumble-dried for up to 30 minutes at the highest temperature possible.

Also, you should treat your luggage with a spray. After that, air it outdoors under direct sunlight as long as the material won’t get damaged.

➡️Watch out for hotel bed bugs

If you see that bed bugs are crawling in your hotel room or other accommodation, don’t hesitate to raise it to the management. You might have the chance to refund your payment and move to a new hotel. Also, you can ask to be transferred to a new room.

If you choose the latter, make sure that you ask for a room that’s at least two to three storeys away from the infested unit’s floor. This way, you can reduce the chances of encountering bed bugs in the new room.

Top 2 Bed Bug Sprays to Protect Your Luggage

OUR TOP PICK: Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Spray

Product Name: Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Spray

Product Description: Our top pick for the best bed bug luggage spray is the Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Spray. It has 0.5% Permethrin and safe to apply directly on clothes, luggage, and other fabrics. This product doesn’t stain or damage the cloth, no matter how delicate it is. This Permethrin-based product is as effective as 100% DEET. The difference is that this spray’s effect can last for up to 6 washings or 6 weeks whichever comes first. So even if you’re traveling for long, your luggage is safe from the threat of bed bugs.

Offer price: $$$

Availability: InStock

  • Repellency
  • Lasting effect
  • Formula Safety


The Sawyer Products Permethrin Spray is odorless once dried. Also, it has a non-aerosol container so you can concentrate the application on specific areas.

After spraying your luggage, aerate it for a few hours before using it. Do the same if you’re spritzing this on clothes before wearing it.

Aside from bed bugs, this spray also repels 55 other insect pests. And if sprayed on contact with the insect, this product can kill them in seconds.


-As effective as pure DEET

✔️Odorless once dried

✔️Repels and kills 55 insect pests

✔️Safe to spray on clothes hours before wearing


❌The sprayer pumps leaks a bit over time

$averPak JT Eaton Bed Bug Clothing and Gear Spray

how to protect luggage from bed bugs

If you’re looking for another option, why not try the $averPak JT Eaton Bed Bug Clothing and Gear Spray? It’s made from 0.5% Permethrin that you can apply in your luggage, sleeping bags, clothes, and other fabrics.

Like the Sawyer Products spray, this can last for 6 weeks or 6 washings. Also, it’s odorless once dried. Take note, though, that drying time may take up to two hours.

Aside from bed bugs, this can also repel and kill mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, fleas, and other pesky insects.

This comes in a 6-ounce spray bottle, which you can easily stash on your luggage. If you’re going for a vacation for months, you might as well get the 2-pack set, so you’re protected against the bugs all the time.

Also, this spray doesn’t stain even on upholstery or delicate fabric. Just beware if you have sensitive skin because it can cause rashes on direct contact.

✔️As powerful as pure DEET
✔️Lasts up to 6 weeks for every application
✔️Odorless and stick-free
✔️Repels other insects aside from bed bugs
❌Those with sensitive skin may experience rashes upon direct contact with the formula

Final words 

Knowing how to protect luggage from bed bugs is also an excellent way to protect your homes from hitchhikers. You have to be watchful and proactive to stop these bloodsuckers in their tracks.