The word is out about bed bugs. They are back with a vengeance and people are worried. Once bed bugs have established themselves in a home, getting rid of them is very difficult. Unless you are fortunate enough to catch the infestation at its very beginning, you will probably need a professional exterminator to get rid of your bed bugs. The real key to protecting yourself against bed bugs is to learn how to prevent them from ever entering your home.
There are many ways that bed bugs can enter your home
Some of them are so innocuous that people would never imagine the risk. Let’s look at some of the steps you can take to prevent bed bugs from entering your home. While no one can possibly think of absolutely everything to prevent bed bugs and we certainly do not expect people to radically alter their existences out of fear, there are many common sense ways to help keep your home bed bug free.
- Paper products are a great hiding place for bed bugs. Avoid bringing cardboard boxes and paper bags into your home. If you receive a delivery at your home that is in a box or a bag, unpack it in a carpet free area away from the living area of your home. A hallway in an apartment building or the garage of a house is the perfect place to open packages and unpack bags. Dispose of empty bags and boxes outside of your home immediately.
- Try to avoid accumulating paper bags, cardboard boxes or old newspapers and magazines. They provide a great hiding place for bed bugs and they will eat their way through paper like tiny buzz saws.
- If you must store boxes for certain products such as TV’s or computers, inspect them then vacuum them thoroughly. Store them in an carpet free area away from your bed room and enclose them in bed bug resistant plastic bags.
- Consider enclosing your box spring and mattress in bed bug proof bags. These bags are available in specialty stores and on the internet. Do not use common plastic bags as bed bugs can chew through them as well.
- When returning home from public places such as movie theaters, sports arenas or restaurants, remove outer clothing before entering the bedroom. Hang overcoats in a closet apart from your bedroom and inspect your clothing if you suspect you may have been exposed to bed bugs. If you find any traces of bed bugs on your clothing, place the items in a heavy plastic bag until you can wash them in hot water and dry them twice on high heat. Any non washable clothing must be bagged then dry cleaned as soon as possible.
- Avoid coat checks like the plague. Instead of checking your coat keep it with you. Bring along a compact, light weight, vinyl garment bag in case you go somewhere that insists you check your coat. Coat check rooms are a great place to pick up bed bugs when they crawl into your coat from an infested coat.
- For items too large to wash, one great way to kill bed bugs is to place the item in a plastic bag then put it inside a car on a hot day and let it bake in the heat for several hours. If the cars heats up to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the bed bugs will all die in about 5 hours. Another effective method is to expose the item to direct sunlight for 5 or 6 hours.
- Never bring home used clothing before washing them at a laundromat or having them dry cleaned. Any second-hand clothing should be placed in a plastic bag and taken directly to the laundromat or dry cleaners. Bags used to transport unwashed second hands clothing should not be reused and should be disposed of outside of the home. If you patronize second-hand clothing stores, talk to the owners and find out what precautions they are taking against bed bugs.
- Never buy used bedding. The same goes for old sofas and armchairs. This is just asking for trouble.
- When you entertain, never put your guest’s coats or outer clothing on your beds or furniture. If you are having a large party, consider renting or buying portable clothes rack to accommodate guest’s coats and outerwear.
- If you help a friend or relative move their possessions, take care to completely vacuum your vehicle when you are done. Be sure to wash or dry clean your clothing promptly. Storing a friend’s or relative’s possessions is a good way to end up with bed bugs.
- When you travel, try to ascertain if your hotel or motel has had any bed bug problems. There are several websites that give bed bug alerts and reports for hotels and motels. It wouldn’t hurt to call the hotel and ask them what they do to prevent bed bugs and if they have had any recent problems. Remind them that they are legally obligated to inform you in a truthful manner.
- When traveling on airplanes or any public transportation wear casual clothes. When you arrive at your destination, remove your clothing and bag it until it can be washed or dry cleaned. Be sure to disrobe away from your bedroom in a carpet-free area.
- When you stay in a hotel room, never put your luggage or clothing on the bed. Place suitcases on a luggage rack. Keep your folded clothing in your suitcase instead of putting it in the drawers. Put hanging clothes in a heavy, zippered, vinyl garment bag and keep them in it when your hang them up. Inspect your hotel room for bed bugs and demand a new room or go to another hotel if you find any signs of bed bugs.
- Buy several bed bug traps and place them in your luggage and around your hotel room when you travel. Make sure the traps are safe for use with your clothing.
- When you return home from a trip, unpack in a bathroom, garage or mudroom. Inspect your clothing and luggage carefully then bag all washable items until they can be washed in hot water and dried twice on high heat. Bag all dry cleaning separately and send it out as soon as possible to be dry cleaned. Vacuum luggage then place it in bed bug proof storage bags and expose it to direct sunlight for 5 or 6 hours. Again, never unpack on your bed or in your bedroom.
These are some useful tips to help keep your home bed bug free
The key to success is to become aware of bed bugs and their habits then apply this information in a sensible fashion to your daily life. When bringing items into your home, consider carefully where they came from and examine them if you think there is even a remote possibility an item may contain bed bugs. Treat your bedroom and sofa as areas in need of special protection and make sure to keep clothing and luggage off your bed. With knowledge and common sense, you can go a long way towards preventing a bed bug infestation.