Did your parents ever tell you, “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite?” While this is a cute rhyme may not have been alarming at the time, but as an adult, it may strike fear into your heart. This fear is for good reason. Up to 90% of hotels have had bed bug treatment at some point, with many having this treatment in the past year.
Aside from hotels, bed bugs can live anywhere! This includes hospitals, public transportation, restaurants, and movie theaters.
We’re going to discuss how to prevent bed bugs from entering and infesting your home. Keep reading for more information!
1. Knowledge Is Power
Bed bugs are difficult to spot when you don’t know what to look for. There is plenty of misinformation, which can make finding and spotting them even more tasking. Here are the signs you should look for:
- Adult bugs are close to the size of an apple seed and reddish-brown in color. If they’ve recently eaten, they may look like little balloons. When waiting for their next meal, they can be flat.
- Reddish-brown stains on sheets, clothes, or other materials. The color will look a lot like blood because that is what bed bugs eat. This comes from the bug being crushed.
- Yellow flakes are actually moltings from juvenile bed bugs that have become adults–not dandruff from a previous guest.
- Bed bug eggs look like uncooked grains of white rice. They’re somewhat sticky and are typically found in small clumps.
- Excrement from bed bugs will be about the size of a pencil tip. The spots will bleed or run like one from a marker.
- Bed bugs are nocturnal, but if there is a true infestation, you will see them regardless of lighting.
If you happen to see any of these signs in a hotel or restaurant, take pictures of what you see and report it to a manager. A hotel will offer to move you to another room on the property or pay for a different property; take the second option.
2. Places to Look
While bed bugs can (and do) live anywhere, hotels are one of the more common places to find them. With that said, you should check your room before unloading your belongings.
You will want to check the sheets for the signs above. However, hotels should wash the sheets between guests, which means those indications might not be visible. This means you will have to do a bit more investigating.
Look at the seams of any furniture in the room as these aren’t disturbed as often as the sheets. Use a flashlight to look in drawers, sockets, and behind the headboard. Additionally, you can check the carpet and curtains.
When attending movies, arrive before the film starts. This will give you time to check your seats and the ones next to yours for these pests.
Even the cleanest homes and most diligent hotel guests can have a bed bug infestation. If this problem does occur, you will spend plenty of money on extermination as well as time washing and drying everything you own.
You can’t wash a mattress, and one treatment usually isn’t enough to eliminate the problem. This is where a mattress protector will help. These products make it easier to spot bed bugs before they become a full infestation and can stop them from ruining your mattress.
4. Use the Luggage Racks!
Although your hotel room passed your inspection, stay on the safe side and use the luggage rack. This helps keep your bags off of the bed and floor, which can reduce the chance for hitchhikers.
If you happen to not have a luggage rack in your room or have multiple bags, wash and dry everything upon your return. Drying your items on high heat for a 90-minute cycle will kill any bug or egg.
You can also leave your luggage in your vehicle for the day if the weather is warm. Cars tend to heat up to temperatures far hotter than the air outside, making this an effective option.
5. Skip Pre-Owned Furniture
That seemingly innocent couch sitting on the side of the road may be the perfect addition to your home. It may also be infested with bed bugs.
Remember that furniture is expensive and most people don’t simply toss out old pieces without reason. This person could be getting rid of it due to a new purchase, but you have no way of knowing this.
The same thing goes for donation centers. If you absolutely must purchase used furniture, be cautious and check for signs of bed bugs. You may also want to have the piece treated as a preventative measure.
Don’t assume that items without cushions are safe, either. Bed bugs will hide out in wood, screws, and other items that aren’t fitting of their name.
Overall, it is better to do research to find the best deals on new items rather than bringing old ones into your home.
6. Clear Your Clutter
Being that these bugs are nocturnal and love places to conceal themselves, clutter in your home can make attractive hiding spots. Multiple hiding spots make an infestation harder to spot and harder to eliminate.
This tip is also ideal for cockroaches and other pests.
7. Vacuum Often
Having carpet in your home means yet another place for bed bugs to hide. Even if your carpets aren’t ‘dirty’ by any standard, use the vacuum to remove any possible bugs, nymphs, and eggs.
When you are done with the vacuuming, empty the contents into a seal-able trash bag and place the bag in an outside garbage can. If your vacuum requires a bag, be sure to replace the entire bag. Don’t just empty it.
8. Check Your Pets and Their Bedding
Fleas aren’t the only bugs that can make your animals itch. Bed bugs will consume any type of blood from any source, and this includes your animals.
When you are bathing your pet, check for bed bugs around their collar and in their fur. If you happen to notice Fido scratching more often than usual, go through their fur carefully and then check their bedding for any signs of bugs.
Should you use a boarding service while you travel, treat items brought back into the home as you would your luggage. Wash and dry anything that could have hitchhikers and inspect toys carefully.
9. Seal Entrances
When we say ‘seal entrances,’ we don’t mean the doorways you walk through. In apartments, be sure to seal any openings that could allow your neighbor’s problem into your home.
This means caulking baseboards, windows, and any visible cracks no matter how small. Also, use socket plugs to keep them from entering via walls.
Although this tip is especially true for multi-family housing, you should also do this in a single-family home.
10. Shop ‘Til You Drop
A day at your favorite store isn’t complete without trying on a few outfits. When you are using the fitting rooms, be sure to hang your clothes and the ones you may purchase on the hooks provided.
This is much like using a luggage rack in a hotel as it allows less chance for a hitchhiking bed bug to find a ride. When you return home, be sure to wash and dry any new items immediately, even if you don’t plan on wearing them right away.
11. Ask for New Policies
Susan in Accounting may have a bed bug problem, which means your office may be subject to them soon. Speak with a manager about bed bug policies in your office and find out if people must report home infestations.
If there is no policy like this in place, ask for one to help protect your office and ultimately your home. Additionally, consider contacting an exterminator for a presentation. This presentation can be about how to prevent bed bugs as well as how to identify them.
Ask your child’s school if there are bed bug reporting and elimination policies in place. Many schools lack in this area, but it is good information to have and helps you make better decisions regarding school clothes, backpacks, and inspections.
12. Hire a Professional
A professional exterminator will help you eliminate a bed bug problem after it happens. However, they can also inspect your home before an issue arises to determine any areas that are concerning.
Because some homes are at a higher risk than others, your professional may recommend preventative treatment. This will be a judgment call on your part but is helpful if you travel often, there are school-age children in the home, or you have pets.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs: Vigilance
The answer to the query of how to prevent bed bugs is vigilance. Yes, the cleaning and inspections can seem like a ton of work, but getting rid of an infestation is far more time-consuming and expensive.
If you haven’t replaced your mattress and box springs in several years, it may be time to do so. As their name states, bed bugs LOVE hiding in beds and box springs, which just so happens to be where you spend almost one-third of your life.
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