How To Prevent Bed Bugs At Home

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

One of the worst nuisances in any home is bed bugs. If these tiny bugs manage to get into your house, it can cause days or weeks of clean-up and management to fix the problem. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best ways to prevent bed bugs from getting into your home in the first place.

Bed Bug Basics

The good news about bed bugs is that, while very frustrating, they are not known to be harmful. These tiny insects that feed on human blood don’t spread disease. In addition, the symptoms they cause when coming into contact with the skin are not serious and can clear up quickly.

There are three ways to detect bed bugs in your home:

  • Spot a bed bug: Newly hatched bed bugs are about the size of a poppy seed and have light tan, semi-transparent coloring. Adult bed bugs are larger (about the size of an apple seed), have an oval, flat body and are a rusty red color.
  • See bed bug markings: You can also spot bed bugs from the blood stains they leave when crushed or the dark spots they leave as droppings.
  • Get bed bug bites: People who are bitten by bed bugs may display certain symptoms, including skin rashes or itchy welts and bumps. It’s important to note, however, that not all people react to bed bug bites.

Bed bugs tend to hide in small cracks and crevices, such as mattress seams, furniture cracks and wall baseboards.

(For more information on identifying a bed bug bite, see A Guide To Bug Bite Identification And Treatment.)

Preventing Bed Bugs At Home

It’s important to protect your home from bed bug infestations. There are several easy ways to do this, including:

  • Get clean furniture: If you are buying used furniture or renting furniture, always check it over for bed bugs before bringing it into your home. It’s also wise to never use furniture or mattresses that you find on the street.
  • Seal cracks: Use caulk to seal any crevices or cracks in your home where bed bugs might be able to get in.
  • Remove loose wallpaper: Take down any wallpaper in your home that is peeling off or loose on the wall.
  • Bag exposed items: If clothing or bedding has been exposed to bed bugs, place these items in a tightly sealed plastic bag until you can clean them properly.

Tips For Travel

One of the main ways that bed bugs come to invest a home is by attaching themselves to a person’s clothing or luggage while a resident of the home is travelling. This can also be an issue for those who have visitors come to stay with them in their home. Once the bed bugs have come into the home on the traveler’s luggage or clothes, they can quickly spread to other areas of the house.

There are several techniques you can use to reduce your risk of bringing bed bugs back to your home after you travel. Those techniques include:

  • Inspect beds and furniture: When travelling, always inspect the beds and furniture in the place that you’ll be staying before sleeping or opening your luggage there. Be especially careful when checking along mattress seams and the box spring. While doing this, keep your suitcases off the floor and bed if possible. It’s especially important to check for bed bugs in hotels, motels, hostels and other places where many people are coming and going.
  • Alert staff: If you do find any signs of bed bugs, arrange for another place to stay. If possible, move to an entirely different hotel. Before leaving, make sure you inform the staff of the bed bug problem in your room.
  • Check before you leave: Inspect your clothing and luggage thoroughly before you get back to your home. Any sign of bed bugs indicates that you should not bring anything that you had with you on the trip into your home until it has been properly cleaned.
  • Wash clothes separately: Just to be safe, it may be a good idea to wash the clothes you traveled with right away when getting home. You should also consider keeping these clothes separate from any other clothing or bedding.

(To learn more about bed bugs while traveling, check out How To Avoid Bed Bugs In Hotels While Traveling.)

Cleaning Effectively

If you do detect bed bugs on your clothing or bedding, be sure to clean them properly using the following steps:

  • Place any exposed clothing, luggage or bedding (including mattresses and box springs) in sealed plastic bags immediately.
  • Wash and dry the clothing using the hottest settings that they can withstand. If the clothes require dry cleaning, bring them in the sealed bags and let the cleaner know that the clothes may contain bed bugs.
  • Also wash bed sheets in the hottest settings, and make sure to change them out frequently. Bed bugs are one of the many reasons why you should be washing bed sheets regularly.
  • Luggage can be hand-washed using hot, soapy water. Use a scrub brush to ensure that all the seams and folds are cleaned effectively.
  • Mattresses can be vacuumed, paying close attention to the seams and tufts. Dispose of the vacuum in a sealed plastic bag afterwards. If you want to keep the mattress, it needs to be kept in a sealed plastic bag for at least one year.
  • Always contact a pest control company to ensure that all the bed bugs are eliminated from your home.

Bottom Line

Bed bugs can be easy to prevent, but it only takes one mistake to get them in your home and have a serious infestation problem. Don’t try to handle the problem all on your own if you do get bed bugs. Enroll the help of a pest control company to take care of the issue and then work on saving the clothes, luggage and bedding if possible.


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