Nobody wants to bring home bedbugs after being on the road, and now scientists have some practical advice on how to avoid that fate. A new study in Scientific Reports shows that the little critters are drawn to the scent of dirty laundry, and the lead author translates that into traveling tips. For starters, put your luggage up on metal racks in a hotel room because bedbugs won't be able to climb up the smooth surface, says entomologist William Hentley of the UK's University of Sheffield, per Gizmodo. You might also store your dirty clothes in a separate airtight bag. If the hotel has no metal racks, consider storing your entire suitcase in a plastic bag, which may seem like a pain, but nothing compared to the chore of ridding your home of bedbugs.
"Soiled clothing left in an open suitcase, or left on the floor, of an infested room is more likely to attract bed bugs," the authors write. "When packed into a suitcase, they will accompany their host back home." They figured this out by unleashing bedbugs in a room and leaving them be for 96 hours. Roughly twice as many bugs ended up in a cotton bag filled with dirty laundry as opposed to a bag of clean clothes. A Rutgers entomologist who wasn't involved with the study tells Science it's legit and offers some advice of his own. "The biggest thing is not keeping your luggage on the bed," he says. Travelers also should wash and then dry clothes at the highest temperature upon returning home, he adds, because "heat is the Achilles heel of the bedbug." (Another study suggests the bugs prefer certain colors.)