As New York City’s bedbug infestation spreads across the globe, I – like many Lake Highlanders – have begun carefully checking under the sheets in every hotel room I visit. But if you use a maid or cleaning service to help in your home, they may be bringing the little critters in with them, according to a story on NBC 5 this weekend.

Cleaning services are cross-contaminating homes, warned reporter Grant Stinchfield and the exterminator he interviewed. Everything from fleas to bedbugs, from live pests to hatching eggs are being sucked into maids’ vacuum cleaners and jumping onto dustrags taken from house to house. They suggested insisting on use of your own vacuums, brooms, mops and rags, even if the service provides them. In fact, you shouldn’t let them bring such equipment into your home.

Meanwhile, Consumeraffairs.com has some tips for avoiding bedbugs when you travel:

  • Don’t put your luggage on the bed, carpet or upholstered furniture. Use a desk, coffee table or nightstand not too close to the bed or wall.
  • Check the mattress, especially in the corners. Bedbugs are reddish brown and big enough to see.
  • When you return home, throw your clothing into a hot dryer for 15 minutes. That will kill any pest that’s made your favorite sweater its new home.