This often-overlooked bedroom spot could be teeming with bed bugs

Your holiday could easily turn into a nightmare if you overlook this unassuming hidden spot...

Floral mural wall art, green velvet headboard, green round side table
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're on a mission to clue yourself up on how to spot and get rid of bed bugs, experts warn of this often-forgotten place that people forget to check when trying to eradicate this unwanted pest – and it's shocking, to say the least.

As summer rolls around, so does the unavoidable itch to travel. However, whether you'll be habituating hotels, hostels, or Airbnbs during your travels, there are a couple of routine checks you ought to take time doing before spending the night just anywhere.

Floral mural wall art, green velvet headboard, green round side table

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The place you're forgetting to check for bed bugs

If you're anything like me with the amount of screen time you have on your phone just scrolling through TikTok, then I'm sure you've seen those viral bed bug horror stories people have encountered while travelling.

There's one story that's racked up over five million views that'll leave you making sure you double-check (so much as even triple-check) everywhere on the bed you'll be sleeping in, wherever you are. Ceramic artist, Sarah Luepker, took to TikTok to share her horrifying experience with dealing with bed bugs while on holiday.


♬ Moonlight - Villano

In the video, Sarah explains that upon checking into her Airbnb, the first thing she did was check for bed bugs, lift up the fitted sheet and check the corners of the mattress, to which she found nothing, so it was business as usual.

It was only after they had checked out of the Airbnb after staying there for two nights that Sarah noticed red itchy bites appearing on her skin in rows and clusters. They went back to the Airbnb to check again for bed bugs, and they were horrified when they discovered the truth.

Wall panelling in bedroom, teal scalloped upholstered headboard, bedside table and chest of drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Her friends' beds all had wooden headboards, while Sarah's bed was the only one with an upholstered headboard – and the pests' secret hiding place? Tucked in the indented fabric buttons on the headboard.

Sarah explains that 'they were wedged in and under those buttons and were really hard to see if you weren't looking for them.' Let's just say, new fear unlocked.

How to check for bed bugs in headboard

'Bed bugs can fit in incredibly tight spaces and cluster together in harbourages. They’re also nocturnal and avoid light, so they prefer places where they won’t be disturbed during the day. That’s why soft furnishings like upholstered headboards provide the perfect hiding spot for them – a small, dark area where they can stay concealed until night time when they can emerge to feed on people,' explains Jonathan Kirby, pest expert at Safeguard Europe.

'Unlike duvets and mattresses, headboards are rarely disturbed – allowing bed bug populations to flourish in and around them if you don’t keep an eye on this often-forgotten area. Tufted button-style headboards provide even more small, dark spaces for bed bugs to hide.'

White painted bedroom with upholstered wall panelling headboard, wooden round side table

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Jonathan Kirby continues, 'Check the fabric indents – bed bugs hide and lay their tiny white eggs in fabric seams. A quick sweep with a square of kitchen roll may reveal eggs, small black dots, shed skins or live bed bugs. Inspection of the tight space between the headboard and the adjoining wall is also a must. Use a flashlight to fully inspect this neglected area to ensure no bed bugs are present.'

Martin Seeley, CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay explains that 'reddish, tiny dark stains or the appearance of rust on bed sheets can be a sign of a crushed bed bug,' so look out for those as well.

Neutral painted bedroom, bed with grey headboard, cushion, side table

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

'However, beds have so many hidden cracks and crevices that the best practice is to dismantle the whole bed to reach and treat everywhere bed bugs hide. Remember – even one bed bug can continue the infestation,' warns Jonathan Kirby.

Of course, this isn't us saying you should never buy upholstered, fabric headboards – if anything, we think the headboard ideas they can provide to accompany new up-and-coming bedroom trends are unmatched, but with anything, it's always better to be clued up.

Even better yet, this isn't just a tip to take with you on holiday but can be applied to your own bedrooms as well. After all, we'd rather be safe than sorry.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.