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pests in hotels

How to get rid of unwanted pests in hotels

Harry Wood

The last thing a hotel wants is negative publicity. These days, there is a myriad of ways this can happen. Stories can appear in the local news from failed food hygiene audits, poor reviews on Tripadvisor or comments from disgruntled hotel guests on social media; and there’s little else which incites as much protest as finding pests in a hotel.

The lack of pest control measures can have a huge impact on the hotel industry through:

  • loss of reputation;
  • higher costs of treatment to eradicate pests;
  • loss of business;
  • replacement of damaged stock whether food or other items such as bedding;
  • prosecution for breaching food safety regulations and even closure of food operation.

The best remedy to avoid these situations, or at least minimise the risk, is to have a robust policy in place to prevent pest infestations from happening in the first place. This can be done by:

  • maintaining your premises to prevent pests from entering through weak spots;
  • training staff to be aware of and look out for signs of pests at all times;
  • implementing suitable hygiene and food handling practices that prevent pests from gaining access to food sources;

Early detection of pest problems and dealing with them as soon as possible means saving costs in the long run. So what measures can hoteliers take to keep these unwanted guests away? Here are some recommendations to protect your business from the culprits most likely to cause problems.

Bed bugs

It is virtually impossible to prevent bedbugs from getting into hotels as they are mainly brought in by guests on luggage. They can, however, also be brought in by staff and contractors, laundry, electrical devices (attracted by the warmth) and used furniture.

How to check for bed bugs in a hotel

  • Bed bug bites: Tend to occur in a line on exposed bare skin, especially legs, arms, face, neck, hands. The bites tend to come in threes, we sometimes refer to it as (their) breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Bed bug droppings: Small patches of dark/black stains on a mattress and surrounding areas.
  • Small red or rusty spots: Dried blood on bedding caused by a sleeping hotel guest inadvertently squashing a bed bug while sleeping;
  • Live bed bugs: Adults are easily visible at 4-5mm long; eggs are 1mm and whitish; juveniles are around 1.5mm and straw coloured on hatching;
  • Shed skins of bed bugs: Juvenile bed bugs shed skins at each of the five stages of growth, so finding shed skins means there is a growing population; they will be found mainly where the bed bugs congregate or feed;
  • Sickly, sweet smell in a room: Detectable in heavy infestations; dogs can be trained to recognise the smell and sniff out bed bug locations.

How to remove bed bugs from hotels

One of the most effective solutions to manage bed bugs in hotels is through the innovative use of heat treatments. Bed bugs can be killed by high or very low temperatures. They are killed when their body reaches 55°C and freezing temperatures below -13°C will also kill them, but only after several days.

Whole-room heating will eliminate the bed bugs from all the bedding, furniture, carpets, cracks, and crevices, etc, but needs to be done with a professional service to ensure every part of the room reaches the critical temperature.


Flies are basically airborne disease carriers. There are many species that can carry numerous diseases into areas handling and serving food, including fruit flies, drain flies, house flies, blow flies and flesh flies. Attracted to rotting food, faeces, drains and dead animals, flies pick up a wide range of disease-causing microbes and later deposit them on surfaces and food in kitchens and restaurants. Common diseases that can be carried by flies include Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Cryptosporidium putting both staff and customers at risk.

How to prevent flies in hotels

The most important way of preventing flies from contaminating food is cleanliness:

  • Food preparation and serving areas: Keep them clean and free of food deposits, grease and spills, including equipment, surfaces, floors, walls, cupboards and shelves. Cracks and crevices can accumulate tiny amounts of food, but enough to attract and feed a fly or two.
  • Supplies: Make sure food supplies are packaged and stored properly, and fresh foods are of good quality with no rotten parts that could attract flies.
  • Garbage: Clear waste away from food preparation and storage areas promptly and ensure that waste is stored in suitable containers with tight-fitting lids which are cleaned regularly so rotting food deposits do not build up.
  • Drains: Keep drains free of organic matter and clean regularly to prevent biofilms that are breeding grounds for drain flies.

Additionally, the use of barriers such as fly screens installed in food preparation areas as well as ensuring doors and windows are shut when not in use, can go a long way in preventing flies on your premises.

Commercial fly control for the hotel sector

Through the use of science and innovation, Rentokil has developed a range of superior commercial fly control solutions to support commercial properties such as hotels hygienically control flies.

The Lumnia range of electric fly killers uses innovative LED technology to attract flies at a greater distance whilst using less energy. These commercial fly traps provide a more effective, energy-efficient fly control solution.

non-toxic insect control for food processing


Cockroaches scurrying around restaurants and kitchens are a sure sign that food hygiene practices are not up to scratch. They can feed on a wide range of foods and even organic matter such as cardboard. Because of their size, they only need small amounts of food such as crumbs and spills to feed on.

Cockroach control for hotels

Cockroaches, like flies, only need small quantities of food to live on, such as from spills and accumulated residues in dirty kitchens and drains. They have biting mouthparts so can also eat through some types of packaging such as paper and cardboard.

The same good sanitation practices as described for flies will work for cockroaches. In addition, remove food from paper and cardboard containers, if possible, and store it in hard plastic or metal.

A number of pesticide treatments are available to kill cockroaches, including sprays, dusts, and bait, but you will need to comply with food safety regulations to use them near food handling areas.


Rodents such as rats and mice are the pests that are likely to create the most alarm among guests if encountered in your hotel. They can increase in numbers rapidly once they establish, so it is important to control the infestation quickly and effectively.

Commercial rodent control

The basic means of rodent control is preventing rats and mice from access to food, water and shelter on your property. Remove or block places where rats and mice could shelter in and around buildings. A building structure can offer many places of access, such as doorways, windows, screens, pipes, vents, cracks, drains and holes. These need to be maintained or altered to remove any gaps large enough for rats and mice to run or squeeze through.

Digital pest control for hotels

Rentokil have developed a digital pest control solution to protect businesses that are legally required to demonstrate high standards and those that have high-value assets to protect from pests such as rats and mice. Rentokil’s digital pest control solution can provide hotels with unrivaled insight, data and reporting to help proactively manage and prevent pest infestations with new levels of efficiency and control.

Download our free report here to learn now data and insight is creating a new era for food safety


Keeping the pests away

The key to keeping pests away from your business is training staff and implementing monitoring procedures as part of normal practice. The investment will pay for itself in reducing the costs of controlling infestations, protecting your reputation and maintaining your flow of customers.

However, it is also important to know when to call in the professionals, especially when faced with a pest outbreak or when your business needs to comply with regulations and legislation. 

hotel industry pest control technology

Harry Wood
Harry Wood

I am a Content Communications Editor at Rentokil Initial, writing content for all our marketing activities on topics as diverse as pest control, pest-borne diseases, food safety, climate change, wellbeing, hygiene and airborne diseases. I've been an editor and writer for over 30 years in academic and business roles. I started life in the Forestry Commission, moved into tropical forestry and environment in Thailand before migrating to the world of healthcare IT and medical technology back in the UK. My role at Rentokil Initial has given me the chance to return to some of my roots when writing about wood-boring insect pests ... or is that boring Wood writing about insect pests?


  1. I didn’t know bedbugs were susceptible to heat. If you want to be thorough a pest service may be necessary, though. Bedbugs can leave some nasty looking bites.

  2. wow very nice article i got lot of information on this article and it was very use full and i am very happy with this article and it was very nice and keep post

  3. I never knew that cockroaches pick up so many diseases. I recently saw a gross cockroach in my apartment and want to get it exterminated! I appreciate the information on getting rid of different kinds of pests.

  4. Pets can damage your hotel reputation or you can be fined by the sanitary and epidemiological control. I want to caution against any experiments with pests removal. It’s your business, you should definetly call the proffesional pest conrol firm which knows how to get rid of pests in one shot.

  5. Thanks for sharing this information regarding pest control. I really found this very interesting. And you blog also helps to control pest and all above tips are also very helpful to control pest.

  6. My uncle bought a restaurant from a friend of his, but the place is not in the best condition. You said that roaches accumulate numerous diseases. It would be helpful to have a pest control company to do their thing before we even start cleaning the place.

  7. Fascinating. Definitely bookmarking this page. Really valuable info, thanks for posting.

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