If you thought airplanes were the only place you had to worry about bedbugs while traveling, think again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bedbugs are “spreading rapidly” around the world, with infestations increasingly popping up in areas across Europe, Canada, and the U.S.-and experts believe that affordable international flights and suitcases filled with dirty laundry are to blame.
A recent study published in Scientific Reports revealed that soiled clothing is two times more likely to attract bedbugs than clean garments, leading researchers to theorize that bedbugs often make their way back home with travelers by hitching a ride on the dirty clothing in their suitcases.
“Bed bugs are attracted to the odor of sleeping humans and we suggest that soiled clothing may present a similarly attractive cue, allowing bed bugs to ‘hitch-hike’ around the world after aggregating in the laundry bags of travelers,” researchers wrote. “Soiled clothing left in an open suitcase, or left on the floor, of an infested room is likely to attract bed bugs. When packed into the suitcase, they will accompany their host back home.”
Even worse, the microscopic critters are becoming harder to kill. According to Insider, the parasites, which can survive without blood for months, are becoming more resistant to the pesticides traditionally used to kill them.
So what can you do to avoid bringing home an infestation of bedbugs after your next trip? Use the luggage rack in your hotel room to keep your suitcase off the floor-and never place your bag on the bed. The researchers behind the study also suggest storing your dirty laundry in an airtight plastic bag while on the road, and washing it immediately in hot water once you get home.