Bed bugs have no respect for boundaries. They can, and certainly will, show up darn near anywhere. They turn up in luxury hotels and small town city halls. They find their way into fancy mansions, family homes, and multi-story apartment buildings. They quite literally can be found infesting planes, trains and automobiles.
Bed bugs always follow their food source, and their preferred food source is us – human beings. Wherever we go they go. And, more often than not, we’re complicit in helping them get there. Bed bugs find their way into our homes and offices with our help. We may not be aware of it at the time, but far too often we are the engines that brings bed bugs into our environment.
Protecting Yourself and Your Home from Bed Bugs
Getting rid of these pests once they’ve occupied your home isn’t easy. It can be a costly and time-consuming exercise. Consequently, it pays to be proactive. Prevention is key if you want to avoid playing host to these unwanted guests. You have to head these pests off at the pass, so that they never get the chance to take root in your home.
Are You Bringing Bed Bugs into Your Home?
Fortunately, there are some simple things we can all do to reduce our risk of bed bug infestations. One of the most effective is to be alert to what we’re bringing into our homes. It’s not unusual for bed bugs to hitch a ride into our homes on our belongings. Being more aware of what we bring into our homes can help to limit potential bed bug infestations.
So let’s take a quick look at five commonplace items that we bring into our homes every day. These are often used by bed bugs as a means to steal into our homes, so that they can then start building colonies.
1 – Luggage
Every time you travel you increase your chances of encountering bed bugs. Hotels are not always as safe and clean as they appear and it’s not unusual to pick up a stray bed bug or two from your stay. Bed bugs frequently hitch rides on people’s suitcases and overnight bags, infesting homes when their unsuspecting hosts return to their homes.
To avoid this it is recommended that you open suitcases as far away as possible from upholstered furniture when checking into a hotel. The bathroom is a good place to deposit your luggage while you properly inspect your room. Check for any signs of bed bugs around the beds, chairs and other furnishings. Only if the room appears free of bed bugs should you then unpack your suitcases.
When you return home follow the same protocols. Open your luggage in a laundry room or garage and inspect your belongings for bed bugs. For additional security wash your clothes immediately and dry at high heat to kill any potential bed bugs or bed bug eggs that may have been picked up during your travels.
2 – Clothing
When shopping for clothes it is important to carefully inspect your purchases before you bring them into your home. You don’t want to casually put new clothes into your closet only to find out later that you’ve introduced bed bugs to your home.
Inspect newly purchased clothes before putting them away. To help keep bed bugs from following you home from your shopping spree run any new clothes through your dryer on high heat for at least 15 minutes and then follow through with a normal wash cycle. This will kill any stray bed bugs or bed bug eggs that may have found their way into your clothes purchase.
3 – Furniture
Most of us are aware of the dangers of buying second hand furniture. It’s not unusual for bed bugs to be hiding in used furniture, and to use the odd chair or sofa as an easy way to travel into new territories. But bed bugs also hide in new furniture. Otherwise clean and productive factories and warehouses may be home to colonies of bed bugs. So even when you purchase new furnishings for your home you may be transporting bed bugs from one environment to another.
Whether you are buying new or used always inspect your purchases before bringing them into your home. If necessary talk to a professional pest control service and have them inspect and treat any purchases before you bring them into your family’s home.
4 – Stuffed Toys
Plush toys are an attractive hiding place for bed bugs. They can nestle in the fake fur, ultimately spreading through the room and infesting the home. Stuffed animals and other plush toys should be washed in high heat and run through the dryer when they first come into the home. It’s also a good idea to periodically wash and dry them to ensure they remain clean and safe for your family.
5 – Purses
Purses and handbags are much like suitcases. They travel with us everywhere we go and they offer ample opportunities for hitchhiking bed bugs. When purses are placed on the ground or on furniture those bed bugs have the chance to hop from the handbag to the couch or carpet where they can then take up residence.
If you want to reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home it is important to inspect your handbags and purses when returning home. This is especially true when returning from potential bed bug hot spots like hotels, public transport hubs, or the offices of local and city governments.
An Ounce of Prevention…
…is worth a pound of cure. The best way to avoid bed bug infestations in the home is to be proactive. If you are careful about what you bring into the home you can significantly reduce the chances of a full-scale bed bug infestation. The steps you take now can prevent major pest problems down the line.