Preventing Bed Bugs

Treating a bed bug infection can be costly in terms of time and money not to mention frustrating and unpleasant. The best way avoid all that hassle and is to institute your own program of bed bug prevention. Follow our 4 steps to remaining bed bug free:

  1. Regular Washing
  2. Bed bugs can attack clean as well as dirty rooms, but regularly washing your bedding will help kill any bed bugs that may have strayed onto your bed. Bed bugs are killed at temperatures above 120˚F so make sure you wash your linen on the “hot” setting. After washing, put them into the dryer and then dry on the hottest setting. For dry-clean only clothes, you can either take them to the dry-cleaners or dry them in the dryer on hot (without wetting the clothes). Please warn your dry-cleaners if you have bed bugs. There are also suggestions that not all dry-cleaners may be free from bed bugs since not everyone is conscientious enough to warn their dry-cleaners when they get a bed bug infestation. Sometimes, they may not even notice that they have a bed bug infestation.

  3. Early Detection
  4. Catching bed bugs early on can turn a potentially gigantic infestation into a mere annoyance for a few days. Use light colored sheets on your bed and look regularly to see if you can detect any small dark brown or reddish dots or streaks on them. Look for these dots or streaks on the side closest to your mattress as well. If you don’t have a bed bug protection mattress cover (see step 3 below), then you should also check your mattress for these signs.

    There are several other methods of detecting bed bugs early. Go to the Bed Bug Signs page to read about them in depth. You can put vaseline or double-sided tap on the legs of your furniture to trap bed bugs or get bed bug monitors, which catch bed bugs by simulating human breathing. If you do manage to find a bed bug or signs of bed bugs, don’t panic. If you’ve been implementing these steps, then you won’t have had a large infestation. Go to the Bed Bug Extermination page to read about how to get rid of those few bed bugs.

  5. Covers for Furniture
  6. Protect your furniture and prevent bed bugs at the same time. There are bed bug proof covers (or encasements) for your mattress and your box springs available to buy. These basically seal up your mattress of box spring so that bed bugs can’t get into them. Some of the mattress covers are made from plastic, which can make your bed rather uncomfortable and hot unless you put a thick layer of blankets between your sheet and the mattress. Be careful when buying mattress covers as not all of them will prevent bed bugs. Read a review of the AllerZip Encasement here.

    If you’re considering buying furniture right now, avoid buying used furniture if you can afford to. (For more about used furniture buying click here.) It’s difficult to determine whether the used furniture you’re buying has bed bugs or not even if the seller tells you that it doesn’t. Bed bugs can live in wood as well as fabric. Consider buying furniture made out of metal, plastic or leather as bed bugs cannot live in these materials. However, bed bugs can still live in any crevices that may be in your furniture.

  7. Avoidance
  8. Obviously, we can’t let bed bugs run our life, although some people who live in constant fear of bed bug attacks do end up living a restricted life so as to avoid potential contact with bed bugs. Just be sensible. Avoid places bed bug infested locations. Keep up to date with places that have been infested with bed bugs and try to avoid them. If you do go to somewhere where bed bugs have been reported, try to wear clothes that are easily washable so that you can wash your clothes as soon as you get home and then take a shower.


    Creative Commons License photo credit: sun dazed
    Many people bring bed bugs home after travelling. Hotels are notorious for harboring bed bugs. Many hotels are incompetent or simply ineffective at exterminating bed bugs infestations. Read reviews of hotels before booking them. If several recent reviewers complain about bed bug problems at the hotel, then try looking for a different hotel rather than taking that risk.

    Bed bugs or bed bug eggs can also attach to your suitcase if it’s made from fabric. Buy hard cover suitcases to reduce the chances of bed bugs smuggling into your belongings. Read more about how to protect yourself when you travel.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

cheyenne November 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

can bedbugs get into storage buildings where you have stored furniture and christmas decorations
and can military active duty bring home bedbugs, from afgan. ireland etc

Reply

Admin December 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Definitely. Storage Buildings are a big concern, because they rarely get treated for bed bugs. I don’t have much experience with active military personnel bringing them home, but there’s no reason they couldn’t.

Reply

Kim March 14, 2012 at 1:28 am

Hi, I live in a three story building, and there was a case of bedbugs on the third floor. We were all told that the tenants in the suite immediately sprayed with alcohol after finding them, and an exterminator came in to spray the suite and the halls of the building. How likely are they to spread to the other suites? And how quickly can they spread?

Reply

Admin March 19, 2012 at 11:55 am

Hi Kim,

It’s definitely scary when someone else in your building has an infestation. It’s hard to say exactly how likely they are to spread. The larger the infestation, the more likely they will move from one apartment to another. If they took care of the infestation quickly, as they seem to suggest, then it’s fairly unlikely that they’ll spread, but I would be vigilant. One cheap way to watch out for an infestation is to put double-sided tape around your bed legs and around your mattress. This is by no means a fool-proof way of catching bed bugs, especially if you get only a few, but for a larger infestation, it would likely catch a couple.

As I said, I would just remain vigilant and act quickly if you do think that they’ve spread to your apartment.

Reply

Abbé May 31, 2012 at 10:45 pm

One of my students has bedbugs. They came to school with bites on her face and hands. I am worried. Should I be?

Reply

Admin July 13, 2012 at 1:05 am

At the very least, you should be careful. I would thoroughly wash anything you take home from your school, perhaps including your clothes. If you don’t come into close contact with them, then there isn’t really a huge risk, but it is possible for them to get transported to your school and then to your home.

Reply

arlyn June 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

hi..it’s been 2 weeks that i have discovered bites on my arms. first week i thought it was from a mosquito today (6/19) i found more bites which also look like a mosquito bite. I have looked around for the flying creature but to no avail. I’m afraid they are bed bug bites but have found no trace of the bed bug. I have read alot of stuff on line on the subject but unless i see traces on my mattress and/or box spring, how can i be absolutely sure? I’m so freaking out about this right now. As soon as I get home from work, I am going to tackle my bed and look for traces.

Please advise ASAP!!!!

Reply

Admin July 13, 2012 at 1:07 am

Yes – it can be just as worrisome if you’re unsure about having bed bugs as it is knowing that you have them. I’ve seen many people in the same situation. If it’s causing you enough stress, then you might just try treating like we suggest (with the dry steamer and the diatomaceous earth), so that you get some peace of mind. But you are correct, unless you see bed bugs or traces of bed bugs, it’s nearly impossible to know if the bites are a result of bed bugs or a different insect.

Reply

arlyn June 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm

another question i forgot to ask. How long does it take to actually detect the signs on mattress? Does the bed bug need to be living there months, days, weeks? Can they live in foam? I have a memory foam cover on my mattress.

Reply

Admin July 13, 2012 at 1:08 am

They can live almost anywhere, and that definitely includes memory foam. It’s not a matter of how long it takes to see signs, it’s more a matter of how big the infestation is. If you only have a few bed bugs, you’re very unlikely to see any signs. On the other hand, if there are hundreds or thousands, then you almost certainly will see signs.

Reply

eric August 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

my wife and i suspect we were bitten by bed bugs traveling outside the country. the bites seem to be in line patterns. we are worried that we may have brought them home. it has been two nights and we haven’t found any new bites but we inspected at 4 this morning and i found some little flaky crumbles under where i was sleeping and when i touched them they smeared dark red on the white sheet. maybe feces? anyways i would like to be able to catch one if we have them so we can know for sure and take care of things, if i get a mattress cover now will that make it harder to catch one if we have them? would it be better to wait a few more nights to try and catch one before ruling them out and getting a cover anyways?

Reply

Admin September 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I don’t necessarily think a mattress cover makes them harder to catch, unless you have just one or 2 and they get trapped in the mattress cover. (They’re hard to catch no matter what, unless you have a very big infestation.)

I’m not a huge fan of mattress covers personally, just because I don’t think they protect you all that much (bed bugs can live anywhere around your bed, too), but if it makes you feel better, then I’d go ahead and get one, even before you catch a bug.

Reply

Leave a Comment