You do all you can to keep strangers from finding a way into your home. Locks on your doors, automatic lighting on your porch, and other security tactics help you feel safe. But have you considered nonhuman intruders? While no one intentionally welcomes bed bugs, people might not realize how their actions brings these pests into their homes.
Two of the most common ways you may open your doors to bed bugs include during a trip or move. Below, learn what to look for, where to look, and how to handle these situations.
What to Look For
To prevent bed bugs from coming inside your home, you need to detect them. These pests usually reside in or near beds in some hotels and other areas.
Look for bugs with small, oval shaped bodies. They vary in size depending on their age and if they’ve had a recent blood feed. Their color ranges from nearly white to tan to burnt orange, but they generally have a red-brown hue. You can also look for brown or reddish spots on fabric and black pepper-like fecal matter may also be present. One or more of these signs indicate the presence of bed bugs.
How to Avoid Bed Bugs When You Travel
Bed bugs often find new homes when travelers bring them back from a trip. Before you book a hotel or hostel, look for any reviews or comments about bed bugs. A cheap night’s stay backfires if you have to pay for a bed bug fumigation.
Even if you don’t find any reviews that mention bed bugs, don’t place luggage or other items on the bed until you have inspected your hotel room. Instead, use a bathtub or a luggage rack that’s away from the wall.
Check the mattress and furniture. Look at the mattress and box spring along the edges, corners, seams, and ribbing. Pull back the sheets and check under the box spring as well. Then move on to the headboard and furniture. Look in cracks and crevices-anywhere a tiny insect would hide.
If you suspect bed bugs, change rooms immediately. Or, if you wake up with bites, call management.
You want to take some precautionary steps to ensure the bugs don’t go home with you if you do find them. Remove any clothing while standing on a hard surface, and place the clothes in plastic bags with seals.
If you fear bed bugs have made their way to your luggage, move items in the suitcase to plastic bags as well. When you get home, unpack your bag somewhere out of the house like the garage or driveway. Vacuum any luggage you can’t throw in the wash, and empty the vacuum outside right away.
Afterward, launder clothing at a high heat or take it to a dry cleaner. If you prefer to hand wash an item, wash it at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Take special care to scrub at seams and folds where bed bugs can hide.
How to Avoid Bed Bugs When You Move
Bed bugs can hitch a ride when you move, especially if you come from an apartment or home with a bed bug problem. Wash all clothing, sheets, blankets, and other fabrics, and place them in sealable bags outside of the infested residence. If you have infested clothes, a hot dry cycle kills the insects as well.
Wash any pets on moving day as well. While bed bugs prefer human blood, they may hitchhike on pets as well, especially if the bugs made their way into pet bedding due to overcrowding. Once you’ve cleaned your pets, keep them out of the house to avoid recontamination.
Change clothing and shower when you get to the new house. It’s best to change outside of the house if possible, but you can also change over a hard floor. Place dirty clothing in a labeled, sealed plastic bag to wash later.
Before you get too settled, empty boxes outside and throw away the containers. Inspect items as necessary. While you move in, avoid clutter. A mess offers a place for bed bugs to hide and makes it more difficult for you to realize you have a problem.
If you choose to buy used or vintage furniture, inspect it before handing over the money as well. Again, check along seams, folds, and crevices. Even a one-of-a-kind piece you love or a killer deal isn’t worth a bed bug infestation.
You can take a few extra steps if you still worry your move will bring bed bugs inside. Invest in a mattress and box spring encasements. Or look for a bed bug interceptor, which keeps the insects from moving up your mattress. And if you don’t like the look of these devices, use a bed skirt that doesn’t touch the floor.
If you do inadvertently bring bed bugs home, work with a professional early on. The sooner you treat the issue, the less work-and money-it takes to solve the problem.
Check out our Bed Bug Flyer here on the steps to take to get rid of your unwanted guests!