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How to Avoid Bed Bugs

Avoiding a bed bug infestation in your home requires knowing where bed bugs come from, most commonly they hide in the bedroom. Usually on or in the mattress and its seams, clothes, furniture, box springs, other bedding etc. There are tons of precautions you can take to avoid having them enter your home. This site provides tips on how to avoid bedbugs and what to look for when traveling.


Bed bugs are not a reflection on cleanliness. They have to be carried from place to place. They will also move up to 100 feet in any direction from where they are dropped off or where they leap off an object. This is how bed bugs spread from hotel room to hotel room or from apartment to apartment.

National Geographic on Bed Bugs

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Avoiding Bed Bugs: Where They Are Found

Bed bugs could be picked up by anyone at locations such as:

  • Hotels, motels, inns, airplanes, cruise ships, and taxis
  • Halfway homes
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Churches and Temples
  • Discarded Furniture and mattresses/belongings, used televisions, linens, clothes, boxes etc.
  • Furniture given as a gift
  • Borrowed luggage
  • Property that was stored in a self storage locker or facility
  • New furniture or mattresses that were transported in the same truck that carries away used furniture or mattresses, or was transported in a rented truck
  • Rental trucks and cars
  • Rented Furniture
  • House Guests or visitors that are coming from a long-term care facility or bed bug infested room.

Tips on How to prevent Bed Bugs:

Here are some general tips that will help to keep your home bug free:

  • Do not take any used furniture or mattresses from the street.  Know who is selling you the furniture and inspect for bed bugs.
  • If you buy used clothing, pack it in a sealed plastic bag, and then wash immediately in hot water followed by 30 minutes in the dryer.
  • Check any hotel or cruise stateroom for bed bugs.  Follow the tips below.
  • Avoid contact with furniture that you believe has bed bugs hiding.
  • Keep your home clutter free. Even though this has nothing to do with getting bed bugs in the first place, it gives bed bugs a place to hide.
  • If in an apartment building, consider spreading diatomaceous dust or bed bug dust along any baseboards.  If you have new apartment construction, ask the contractor to spread this type of dust in the wall.  It will cling to any bedbugs and cause their skin to molt prematurely, killing the bug.  This is becoming a best practice in major cities.

preventing a bed bug infestation when traveling

Over tips for traveling without bringing home bedbugs include the following:

Inspect the Room: Before you bring luggage into a cruise ship or hotel room, inspect for bed bugs.  A sure sign is the presence of brown fecal spots or molted skins on the mattress or sheets.  Checking is as simple as lifting the linen off a corner of the bed.  Check along the seems.  A favorite hiding place for bedbugs is under the mattress label, seams and any tears in the mattress fabric.

Other places to check include around the bed frame and hiding behind pictures.

bed bug infested mattressCheck your mattress and its seams for bed bug fecal spots and eggs.

Bed bugs are adept at hiding in cracks and crevices.  Be sure to check all wood, paper and fabric surfaces.    After checking the bed, nearby objects such as end tables should be checked.

Keep Luggage off The Floor and Bed: One of the best bed bug travel tips is to keep your luggage of the bed (most bed bugs hide in or near the bed) and off the floor.  Hang what you can in the bathroom, particularly places such as the shower rail.

Pack in Plastic: 
Seal everything in plastic as you pack to go home including souvenirs. Inspect everything. Consider protecting clothes.

Unpack Outside Your Home: One tip for how to avoid bed bugs is to Unpack items outside or in the garage if you have one. Bring clothes in a plastic bag or ideally a bed bug proof zippered container directly to the washing machine. Only bring clothing that can withstand being placed directly into a washing machine on the hottest water setting when returning home. These clothes should also withstand 30 minutes in the dryer at the hottest setting (bed bugs are killed at 114F).  To be extra sure you can bring the clothes directly to a dry cleaner or laundry mat. If you live in a warm weather climate or it is a hot day, leave the luggage in the trunk so that it super heats to the 114 degree threshold for killing bed bugs.

Spray Your Luggage Before Storing: Use an insecticide based spray such as Sterifab or a natural bed bug spray such as Bug Patrol before storing luggage. Lightly spray along all seams.

Buy Hard, Not Soft Luggage: Luggage that has hard surfaces has fewer hiding places for bed bugs.  Bed bugs prefer rough surfaces over smooth.

How To Avoid Bed Bugs in Apartment Buildings

As noted above, there are many ways that bed bugs can enter an apartment building. Since they are carried in, there are obvious things that can be done to help prevent a bed bug infestation.

Bed bugs can move in any direction within 100 feet. This includes apartments that are above or below the room with the infestation. They move through cracks in the walls, such as along openings for heating pipes or baseboards.

The number one thing you can do when thinking about how to avoid bed bugs is to ban the entry of used mattresses, box springs or bed frames. This is probably the number one culprit. The other thing to do is to ban used furniture, or develop a process for inspecting furniture before it is brought into the building. There is even talk in New York City of new building creating thermal rooms where furniture can be super heated to 114F before items can be brought into a building.

Should You Buy Mattress Covers for Bed Bugs?

After treatment, zippered mattress covers for bed bugs, for both the box spring and mattress, can be helpful.  They trap any unhatched eggs and bed bugs that were missed during treatment.  Without being able to feed, the bed bugs will eventually die.  This step is always a good idea as part of the treatment program.

Buying covers before treatment, or if you are afraid of bed bugs will not keep bed bugs off the bed.  They will still climb up the legs of the bed and look for a human host to feed on.  That said, the covers will limit the number of hiding places that the bed bugs have, potentially, moving the bed bug hiding places to other areas of the room.  Treatment could be made easier by not having to treat the mattress and box spring.

One tip for how to avoid bed bugs and to protect your bed is to move it 6 inches from the wall to avoid having bed bugs jump from the wall onto the bed.  Make sure that linens are not touching the floor.  A good way to keep bedbugs off the bed legs and to see if you have a bed bug problem, is to buy a set of 4 climbup interceptors.  These small bowls are placed under each leg and trap the bed bugs as they try and climb up onto the bed.  You can tell the extend of a bed bug problem if any by looking inside the bowls.  It's also a way to tell after bed bug treatment if there is still a problem.

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