Tips for Preventing Bed Bugs in College Dorms

It’s that time of year. Time for all good college students to pack their bags and head off to university. For some students it will be a return to campus after a brief vacation spent at home or abroad. For others it will be the first time they’ve really been on their own. Free from parental supervision and truly fending for themselves.

Living in a college form brings lots of excitement. But it can also bring headaches that many students may not know how to deal with. One of those is bed bugs. Campus life and bed bugs go hand in hand, and it’s not unusual for dormitories to experience large scale bed bug infestations. So, before you or your kids head off back to school we need to talk about bed bugs, college dorms, and how to protect yourself from an invasion of blood-sucking pests.

Big Bed Bug on Campus

College life has a lot to offer, not the least of which is meeting new people from all over the country. Frankly, it’s one of the best things about living in a dorm. But rubbing shoulders with people from all of your state and all over the country does more than broaden your horizons – it can also expose you to wandering bed bugs.

College dormitories, much like crowded hotels and apartment buildings, are perfect breeding grounds for bed bug infestations. All it takes is a couple of students unwittingly bringing some bed bug infested bags or baggage onto the campus. Once those bed bugs escape from a student’s bags they can begin to breed and spread throughout the dorm.

Left unchecked it can lead to a full scale infestation that may even follow a few unlucky students home when they break for the holidays. So it pays, in more ways than one, for college students to protect themselves and their belongings from exposure to bed bugs.

Favorite Bed Bug Hiding Spots

The first step to protecting your dorm room, and by extension you and your friends, is to know how to spot the tell-tale signs of a bed bug invasion. That begins with knowing where these pests like to hide and how to ferret them out.

  • Beds – The first and most obvious place to hunt for bed bugs. Mattresses and box springs are prime hiding spots for these pests. They may also hide in or along the bed frame – particularly if it’s made of wood.
    It is important to inspect your bed and bedding regularly to protect yourself from a bed bug infestation. Look for signs of bed bugs such as blood stains, fecal stains, or the remains of shed exoskeletons.

  • Couches and Chairs – Upholstered furniture is a major hot spot for bed bugs. Students should make it a point to check chairs and couches, especially those in common areas or student lounges, for signs of bed bug activity. Bed bugs picked up in common areas can easily be tracked back to your own rooms.
    You should also be wary of picking up second hand furniture for your dorm room. Used chairs and couches can be a prime source of bed bugs. If you do decide to go for a piece of second hand furniture be sure to thoroughly inspect it before bringing it into your dormitory.

  • Dressers and Closets – Bed bugs will often hide in clothing. The folds and seams make for ideal hiding spots for bed bugs on the move. This can lead to the pests taking up residence in dresser drawers or in crowded and cluttered closets. Check your dresser drawers for shed exoskeletons, living bed bugs, and bed bug eggs.

  • Laundry – Dirty laundry makes an attractive hiding place for bed bugs. The scent humans leave on their dirty clothes attracts the pests and they will hide in the dirty clothes until they can reach a more suitable hiding spot or are killed by the wash cycle.
    Wash your laundry regularly. Check any dirty laundry for signs of bed bugs. More importantly, check you clean laundry for signs of bed bug activity before bringing it back into your dorm room and putting it away. Laundry rooms and laundromats can be major hot spots for bed bugs.

What to Do If You Find Bed Bugs in Your Dorm Room

Bed bugs can, and will, get into anything. That’s why taking swift action is so important. If you find signs of bed bug activity in your dorm there are a few things you need to do right off the bat.

First, before you do anything else, you need to notify your resident assistant. Your RA, along with university management, will need to take immediate action to mitigate the spread of the bed bugs and to bring in pest control services to eliminate the infestation. Once you notify the RA treatment will be out of your hands. But there are some things you should do to limit your exposure to bed bugs while you wait for the removal service to complete their job.

  • Wash Your Clothes and Bedding – If you find bed bugs in your dorm you won’t need to throw away all of your clothes. However, will need to wash everything throughly. All of your clothing and bed linen should be washed and dried at the highest possible temperatures. This will help to kill any bed bugs, along with unhatched eggs and larvae. Once clean keep your clothes and bedding in sealed plastic bags until it is safe to return them to your dorm room.

  • Clean Your Room – A dirty dorm room doesn’t necessarily lead to bed bugs. However, a cluttered room does give bed bugs plenty of places to hide. Pick up your clothes and put them away properly. Hang up shirts and trousers in the closet. Bed bugs can’t jump so keep your clothes off the floor as much as possible.
    Regularly clean and dust your dorm room. This will help eliminate any stray bed bug eggs that might survive treatment. Dispose of the dust and debris from your vacuum safely outside of your room.

  • Keep Bed and Bedding off of the Floor – Keep the area around your bed clean and free of clutter. Be sure to keep bedding off of the floor and regularly inspect your mattress and bed frame for signs of bed bug activity.

Preventing the Spread of Bed Bugs

College dorms can be a hotbed of bed bug activity. That can lead to a wider spread of these blood-sucking pests, especially when students head home for holiday breaks. But every student can do their part to reduce the spread of bed bugs across campus. All you have to do is keep your eyes open for signs of bed bug infestations, keep your room and belongs clean and tidy, and keep in touch with your student housing association and resident assistant. Stay alert and you’ll find dorm life fun and exciting and (hopefully) free from bed bugs.

Published by Scott Palatnik

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