Prevent bed bugs from following you home

It’s possible to pick up bed bugs almost any place – they’ve infested offices, stores, hotels, gyms and countless other places we never would have imagined just 10 years ago. They can hide in your luggage, personal belongings, or even on you, and hitchhike a ride back to your home, condo, townhouse or apartment. Once indoors, they can be extremely difficult to eradicate without the help of an experienced pest control professional.

A bed bug infestation has nothing to do with cleanliness – you can pick them up in even the finest hotels, and they can hitchhike into the cleanest homes at any time. But you can help reduce your chances of a costly bed bug infestation by catching them early.

Traveling

When traveling, think of the acronym SLEEP to remember the following action steps to help avoid taking bed bugs home with you.

  • Survey surfaces for signs of an infestation, such as tiny rust-colored spots on bed sheets, mattress tags and seams, and bed skirts.
  • Lift and look for all bed bug hiding spots, including underneath the mattress, bed frame, headboard, and furniture. Typically, they come out at night to feed, but during the day, they are most likely found within a 5-foot radius of the bed.
  • Elevate your luggage on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall, since bed bugs can often hide behind head boards, artwork, picture frames and electrical outlet panels.
  • Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and when you return home. Always keep luggage off the bed and store it in a closet or other area, far away from your bedroom.
  • Place all your clothing from your luggage immediately in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting upon returning home from travel.

In the house

When at home, follow these handy tips to help keep bed bugs at bay.

  • Remove all clutter from your home, which makes finding bed bugs easier.
  • Wash and dry your bed linens often using the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.
  • Closely inspect any second-hand furniture for bed bugs before you bring it into your residence.
  • Inspect your residence regularly – after a move-in, a trip, a service worker comes in, or guests stay overnight.
  • Limit use of secondhand items, always inspecting them carefully, and washing and cleaning donated items before using.
  • Vacuum carpets and floors thoroughly, as well as baseboards, and dispose of vacuum bags promptly (if you have bed bugs, they will live inside bags). Wash floors regularly.

Preventing bed bug bites

  • Because bed bugs don’t tend to burrow under clothing, you may be able to avoid bites by wearing pajamas that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Use mosquito netting. Some studies indicate that bed nets impregnated with the pesticide permethrin may help protect sleepers against bedbug bites. However, this practice may be helping bed bugs develop resistance to this pesticide.
  • Insect repellents designed to protect against mosquitoes or ticks aren’t very effective against bed bugs.