Halloween is over, the weather is turning, and the clocks are all falling back. As the days begin to grow shorter and the temperature starts to dip it’s a clear sign that the holiday season is once more upon us. It’s time for family celebrations, office parties, and time well spent in the company of good friends.

It is, in short, the most festive time of the year. It’s also one of the more active seasons for bed bugs.

Think about it for a moment. We travel more than any other time of the year. We stay in strange hotels, or bunk up in the spare rooms of old friends or rarely visited relatives. We got to office parties at unfamiliar restaurants and nightclubs, where we happily check our winter coats at the door. Every place we go during the holiday season increases our risk of a bed bug encounter, and the chance that we will bring a stray bed bug or two back to our own homes and offices.

Fortunately there are steps we can take to minimize the risk of bringing bed bugs home from our holiday travels. All it takes is a little forethought, and some attention to detail.

Tips for Avoiding Bed Bugs at Holiday Parties

Holiday parties provide an ideal meeting ground for bed bugs. Partygoers are coming and going, depositing coats and bags (typically in one communal heap), and never giving a thought to what they might be picking up along the way. All it takes is a stray bed bug or two, migrating from one overcoat to another, to lead to the start of a full-scale infestation in a guest’s own home or office.

If you are throwing any holiday parties this year, or have friends who are planning to, here are a few simple tips to help reduce the risk of bed bug encounters for you and your guests.

  • Avoid putting guests’ coats and bags on your bed. If there are any stray bed bugs on the clothing they can easily migrate to the bed and dig in for the long haul.
  • If space is limited and you have to use a bed to store your guests’ coats and bags place a sheet over the bed first. As soon as the party is over and your guests have left wash and dry the sheet at the hottest possible settings. You will also want to immediately vacuum the bed and the surrounding areas.
  • If possible, clean out a front closet to store your guests’ belongings. This is generally the best option. Once the party is over, and everyone has collected their coats and bags, you can vacuum the closet thoroughly to reduce the risk of bed bugs. After you finish vacuuming, make sure to seal and dispose the vacuum bag.

Bed Bug Prevention Tips for Overnight Guests

Visitors are always welcome over the holidays. Sometimes they bring gifts (yay!), and sometimes they bring unwelcome traveling companions (boo!). It’s important to remember that your guests can pick up bed bugs anywhere on their travels. A stray bed bug or two can easily hitch a ride at the airport lounge, in a hotel room, or in the back seat of a taxi.

If you are concerned about overnight guests bringing bed bugs into your home, the following tips will help to minimize the risk:

  • Put a bed bug mattress encasement on all guest beds
  • Place a sheet over any couches that are being used as makeshift beds (these should be laundered thoroughly each day)
  • Place suitcases in resealable plastic tubs or plastic bags which can be closed with zip ties
  • Wipe visitors shoes with a damp cloth and hot water

If any of your guests bring gifts, and you are concerned about the possibility of bed bugs hiding in the gifts you can take the following steps:

  • Any clothing should be laundered immediately at the hottest possible settings
  • Anything made of plastic or wood should be inspected and wiped down with a damp cloth and hot water
  • Place outer wrapping and discarded boxes in a sealable plastic bag and dispose of promptly

Bed Bugs Tips for Travelers

Many of us will be traveling over the holiday season, and that greatly increases the chances for a bud bug encounter. It’s not unusual for unsuspecting travelers to pick up a stray bed bug or two, ultimately bringing the pests home with them when their traveling is done.

The following tips will help to reduce your risk of bringing bed bugs home with your during your holiday travels:

  • Put bed bug mattress encasements on any bed you will be using during your stay.
  • Keep suitcases, clothing, and personal items away from the bed. If possible unpack in an adjacent bathroom and store clothes and belongings in sealable plastic bags.
  • When returning home immediately wash all clothing in the hottest possible settings. Carefully inspect and vacuum all suitcases travel bags.

Finally, Don’t Panic

The holiday season should be a time of good cheer and raucous celebrations, and there’s no reason to let the threat of a bed bug encounter ruin your festive cheer. If you simply take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family, you can enjoy everything the festive season has to offer while still actively reducing your risk for any unwelcome bed but visitations.