"This guide to bed bug prevention provides tips for how to prevent bed bugs at home, in an apartment, at school, when shopping and when traveling.
We also provide tips for how to prevent bed bugs from biting and ways to keep them from spreading into your home or apartment."
Video: Bed Bug Prevention Using a Home or Apartment Heater
Video featuring how a home heat chamber called a ThermalStrike can be used to kill 100% of all bed bugs from luggage, hard to treat items and things brought into the home.
General bed bug prevention Tips
- Learn how to inspect items brought into the home for bed bugs.
- Never bring used or second hand furniture, mattresses, box springs or upholstered furniture found on the street back into your home.
- Enclose a mattress or box spring in a bed bug mattress cover. This will trap any bed bugs inside the mattress.
- If you purchase second hand clothing, transport in a sealed plastic bin and wash immediately in hot water followed by 20 to 30 minutes in the dryer.
Bed bugs are spread when they hitch a ride on a traveler or a used item, and then are carried into the home. They can also spread in an apartment building from unit to unit through cracks in the walls and openings for pipes. Some general bed bug prevention tips are to:
- Always check rented furniture or furniture that has been stored in a storage facility for bed bugs
- When you travel, leave your suitcases closed, do not unpack and leave suitcase on a raised item such as a desk or luggage rack. Consider bed bug proof luggage. Inspect hotel rooms for bed bugs. Inspect and vacuum suitcases when you get home. Inspect luggage with a flashlight when returning home.
- Only pack clothes that you can machine wash or bring directly to a dry cleaner.
- If you were at a friends house that had bed bugs, remove clothes and place into a plastic bag as soon as possible before entering home (do it in a garage or just when you enter). Wash on hot water.
- Seal all cracks in walls with caulk to prevent bed bugs from traveling through walls from adjacent rooms or apartments.
- If in an apartment use door stops to eliminate gaps under doors.
- Eliminate potential hiding spots such as clutter. Use power outlet covers to eliminate bed bugs that hide in the outlet holes.
- Frequently vacuum since the vacuum will pick up bed bugs. Empty the vacuum bag in a sealed bag and remove from home.
- Buy a ThermalStrike portable heat chamber. With this item you can place anything inside, heat and then the item or luggage will be bed bug free.
- Use vacuum sealed bags to store clothes.
- Monitor you home with ClimpUp Interceptors. These are inexpensive trays that go under each bed leg. Bed bugs climb into the interceptor but cannot get out.
Office bed bug prevention tips
- Vacuum the entire office every day to pick up any bed bugs.
- Inspect office furniture for signs of bed bugs such a red marks or black/brown feces.
- Reduce office clutter to eliminate places where bed bugs can hide.
- Inspect all packages or deliveries. Particularly inspect furniture which may come from a truck which earlier carried used items from an infested home or office.
- Educate employees on the importance of reporting any problems. It is not uncommon for bed bugs to be brought into the office by employees.
- Arrange for periodic inspections by an exterminator. You can find a qualified exterminator here.
Stores are not immune from bed bug infestations. They could spread bed bugs via trucks that are shared with other companies, or items that were brought home to an infested home and then returned.
- Inspect any clothes you are trying on for signs of bed bugs. People that return merchandise may live in an infested home spreading bed bugs to the store or other items. Look for actual insects, blood stains or fecal marks.
- Check clothing seams for hiding insects. Look for the insects or small white bed bug eggs that are glued to the fabric surface.
- Check dressing rooms for bed bugs. Look at cracks and crevices, particularly around dressing room mirrors.
- Do not put clothing down on ground or dressing room bench.
- Seal any packages after purchase as best you can. Keep bags off floor and away from walls.
- Upon returning home, shake out clothes are place into a heated bed bug proof suitcase or ThermalStrike heater to kill any insects.
bedbug travel tips
Infestations in hotels and motels is one of the leading causes for the spread of bed bugs. Travelers spread bed bugs that are hiding in public transportation (buses, planes), and that then hitch a ride on the unsuspecting traveler. According to the National Pest Management Association, 75% of exterminators have treated a hotel based infestation.(1)
Video: How to Inspect A Room for BedBugsOur number 1 tip for bed bug prevention is to inspect every room. The easiest way to spot bed bugs is to look for red marks or brown/black fecal marks.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs in a Hotel
- Leave your luggage outside the hotel or motel room until it is inspected.
- Ask about any bed bug treatments when checking in.
- Pull back the mattress covering and blankets on one corner. Inspect the exposed mattress for any signs of bed bugs such as blood, live insects, or brown/black fecal stains. If you see any stains, request that a manager inspect the room. Do not stay in any room adjacent to a room that has been recently treated.
- Once you inspect the room, bring in the luggage.
- Place luggage on racks (off the floor) and at least 2" from any walls. Keep luggage zipped. Consider using a bed bug proof luggage.
- Upon returning home, place clothes directly into the washing machine. Wash in hot water followed by 20 to 30 minutes in the dryer. Do not carry clothes through the home to avoid dropping any insects along the way.
See our complete list of bed bug travel tips.
College & School BedBug Prevention tips
Like hotels, colleges are places with many travelers. 46% of exterminators have worked in a college dorm.(1)
- Inspect all dorm rooms before moving in. Look around mattress seams.
- Ask the College Life office if there have been any bed bug problems.
- Inspect all items before bringing them into your home. Keep in a garage, and unpack there. Vacuum the luggage and bag all clothes for carrying to the washing machine.
- Avoid purchasing 2nd had mattresses and furniture that have not been thoroughly inspected.
- Consider treating all items in a ThermalStrike before bringing into the home.
Summer camp prevention
Like college dormitories, sleep away camps can have a similar problem with bed bugs. Our camp prevention tips include:
- Inquire about any bed bug problems when arriving at camp.
- Inspect any mattresses for signs of bed bugs. Use a credit card pulled along any seams to see if an insects are dislodged.
- Zip any suitcases and enclose in a Ziploc big bag or other sealed bag.
- Upon returning home keep all items in a garage or outside the home until they are inspected. Place all clothes in a sealed plastic bag and then wash in hot water followed by 20 to 30 minutes in the dryer.
furniture and How To prevent bed bugs from spreading
Bed bugs like hiding spots that are either wood or paper. They also prefer porous surfaces.
- Replace wooden bed frames with metal to discourage bed bug hiding places.
- Remove headboards that are attached to a wall. Bed bugs like to hide in the surrounding spaces between headboard and wall.
- Clean pillows and bedding in a dryer on the high heat setting.
- Use only light colored sheets so that you can easily spot any red, brown or black markings.
- Fill in any cracks in baby cribs with caulk.
- Cover mattresses with bed bug proof covers.
- Do not buy wicker furniture since this provides gaps for bed bugs to hide.
bed bug identification
One of the challenges of bed bugs is knowing if you have na infestation. The following pictures will help you determine if you have a bed bug problem.
Bed Bug Signs
How To avoid bed bugs when sleeping
If you believe you have a bed bug infestation, take these steps to reduce the number of insects.
- Vacuum the room, particularly around the headboard and bed.
- Clean the headboard with cleaners found in the home. Look for white bed bug eggs stuck to fabric or wood surfaces.
- Use mattress and box spring covers to trap any bed bugs hiding in mattress seams, or inside the box spring.
- Keep blankets off the floor and move the bed about 2 inches from walls and any nearby furniture.
- If you can, purchase Climbup Interceptors and place one under each bed leg.
- Wear tight fitting clothing that covers the skin. Wear socks with the ends over the pajama bottoms.
bed bug prevention sprays and products
There are two types of bed bug sprays that will help to prevent bed bugs from spreading. One type of spray will kill bed bugs and eggs on contact. A second type of spray leaves an invisible field that will kill bed bugs as they cross through it. When treating an infestation usually both types are used. They can be economically purchased in a bed bug kit.
To create a field of protection we suggest a product such as Phantom spray. It has been tested against insecticide resistant insects. If you also want a mattress safe knock down spray, use Sterifab, which has also been tested.
Bed Bug Prevention Products
In terms of bed bug prevention products we suggest:
- Bed bug mattress covers: encasement to keep bed bugs from penetrating a mattress or box spring. Pillow covers are also available.
- Climbup Interceptors: to keep bed bugs from climbing up onto the bed.
- Caulk Gun: To fill in any cracks where bed bugs may had or pass between apartments. Also consider a strip at the bottom of each door. Both of these tips are helpful for how to prevent bed bugs in an apartment.
- Diatomaceous Dust: application of a thin dust layer that clings to bed bugs as they move through the dust field. When applying use a duster and mouth covering. This is one of our best tips for how to prevent bed bugs naturally.
- Vacuum: vacuum live insects to reduce the size of the insect population.
See our treatment guide for a step by step plan for killing bedbugs.
How Do I Find out if an apartment I want to rent has had bed bugs or roaches?
Most states require that landlords certify that an apartment is free from bed bugs and other pests. That said, it doesn't hurt to inspect cracks and floorboard crevices for signs of bed bugs. This would include red or black stains, molted skins, or other signs other than the area being completely clean.
(2) Protecting Your Home From Bed Bugs (EPA)
(4) Bed Bug Inspection and Prevention (NPMA)
(6) Bed Bug Lawsuits