The upcoming holiday season is a unique time of year where people may still decide to travel during the COVID pandemic. Our homes may see more visitors than usual which means there’s a greater likelihood of people transferring bed bugs to others and taking them back home.
It’s a safe bet to say that no one dreams of ending the holidays with a bed bug infestation, but that is exactly what some of you will end up with before all the traveling is over. Now you may be wondering, how bed bugs get into homes during the holidays anyway?
Bed bugs are some of the best hitchhikers around and can show up just about anywhere. It could be as easy as the morning commute on the bus, at the hotel we stayed at, or in a piece of furniture we sat on in a waiting room. As we unknowingly come into contact with bed bugs, they climb onto clothes and into luggage just waiting to be taken to their new destination. One of the frustrating things about bed bugs is that they are so small they oftentimes hide away in creases, folds, and stitching without being seen.
The good news is that you can take precautions to prevent yourself from bringing bed bugs home during this holiday season.
Check Your Room Right Away
When you get to the hotel, motel, Air BnB or a family members home; check the room immediately for bed bugs so you make sure they don’t hitch a free ride with you back to your home.
How to check your lodging for bed bugs:
Bed – Check under and behind the mattress and frame. Bed bugs like it dark and hidden.
Nightstands – Open the drawers and check not only the drawers but under the nightstands as well and behind it too.
Closets, armoires, and baseboards – It’s good to keep a pocket flashlight on hand or at least use the app on your cell phone. Check the closets, armoires, and baseboards thoroughly.
Sofa beds, chairs, and other furniture – Check the cushions, especially the seams.
Suitcase Stands – Inspect the web supports and the joints of the stand.
What You Should Be Looking For:
Bed bug larvae
Dark or black stains
Skin casings that has been shed
Don’t Use Luggage Stands
One of the most underrated hot spots for bed bug activity is the luggage stand. Bedbugs frequently hitch a free ride on your luggage and inside luggage pockets and other crevices. When you return home from your trip and unpack the bedbugs unpack too, and start making themselves at home in your house. This is why luggage stands are often the main point of contact for bedbugs.
If you want to avoid this common method of “hitchhiking” by bedbugs it’s a good idea to not only leave your luggage inside the bathroom while inspecting the room but also for the duration of your stay. It may sound crazy but it’s actually a way to drastically mitigate your risk of any bedbugs getting in your luggage.
What You Can Do Post-Vacation
Okay, so you just got back from vacation, you took all the necessary steps to prevent bedbugs during your stay; now what do you do?
Simply taking necessary prevention steps to avoid bedbugs is a great first start when traveling— but it’s not enough, you also need to take some steps once you get home to ensure your house remains bedbug free.
What To Do With Luggage
When you get home from your vacation, it’s good to get in the habit of storing your luggage outside in a storage shed or in your garage. The best way to store luggage is in big trash bags and then tie them in a knot so that if there are any bedbugs they will suffocate and die. Since you already know that bedbugs love to take a free ride in your luggage especially without you knowing it, keeping your luggage this way will keep it from spreading into the interior of your home.
Now, when you plan to travel again and need to get your luggage out of the garage, make sure you check it before packing; it might even be a good idea to spray it with some bed bug killer spray and let it air out for a couple of hours before using it.
What To Do With Clothes
If bedbugs have gotten into your luggage without you knowing it, they most certainly are burrowed amongst your clothes as well. When you return home from a trip simply wash all of your clothes on the hottest temperature setting your washing machine is capable of. Make sure you wash these clothes right away once you take them out of the luggage, don’t store them in a hamper and then do it later.
Once the clothes are washed, you should dry them for at least 30 minutes in a dryer— do not air dry. The reason for this is that bedbugs do not survive in high temperatures. Washing them in hot water will not only kill adult bedbugs but also bedbug eggs that could hatch later on if not exposed to high temperatures.
Lets’ say you’ve done everything right, but you have brought bed bugs back home. Contact ECO DC (202) 709-7490 for an inspection or to learn more about bed bug removal and to get started right away!