How to Prevent Bedbug Infestation
Photo: Philip Bump, Flickr.com
Bedbugs, which were thought to be eradicated in recent decades, have been making a comeback. Once they are ensconced in a home or other living space, they are very difficult to get rid of. How can we protect ourselves from infestation?
How Do They Get to Us?
The most important thing to know is that bedbugs are experts at hitching a ride. They travel from place to place on luggage, inside laptop computers (they like warmth), on or inside backpacks, and on clothing. They can hitch rides in hotel rooms, in taxis or on public transportation. They give exterminators in Charlotte and Cincinnati an equally hard time. Unlike lice, they do not travel on the body. Which brings us to the next point....
It Doesn’t Matter How Clean We Are
Bedbugs can make themselves at home in the priciest penthouse or the most run-down slum. It makes no difference how clean we keep ourselves or our homes – the best cleaner on earth can’t prevent or solve a bedbug problem. All bedbugs need is a good hiding place – a crack or crevice in the furniture, a wall or the floor – and a food source, though they can live for approximately a year without feeding. All anyone has to do is pick up a bedbug on clothing or luggage and bring it from Point A to Point B.
Stop Infestation Before It Starts
Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom from bedbugs. Here are some tips to help you keep your possessions and your home bedbug-free.
- Whenever you travel, check for bedbugs before unpacking. If you see any evidence of bedbugs, change rooms or hotels.
- Pull the sheets away from the mattress and inspect the mattress seams for tiny blood spots or discarded exoskeletons of bedbugs, which molt several times before reaching adulthood.
- Inspect the headboard, legs and nearby furniture.
- Pay particular attention to items that go from room to room, such as cribs and folding beds.
- Keep your luggage off the bed. If the room has a suitcase holder, use it, or put your luggage in the bathtub until the inspection is done.
- If you suspect that bedbugs may have gotten onto your clothing, undress carefully over a hard surface (not over carpeting). Put your clothing into a plastic bag and keep it separate. Wash the clothing on the hottest setting that the fabric can stand, or take your clothes to the dry cleaner.
- Vacuum your luggage and anything else that cannot be washed. Use hot, soapy water to wash whatever you can, and scrub items with a brush in order to get rid of any bugs or eggs that may be hidden in any seams or folds.
Before and during your trip, check out the Bedbug Registry (http://bedbugregistry.com/) for an updated list of bedbug sightings in cities throughout the US and Canada.
If you find that the bedbugs have outwitted you despite all your efforts, don’t despair. Although it’s a challenge to get rid of them, all is not lost. Call a licensed exterminator to help you.
Rahel Jaskow is a home improvement writer, covering topics from pest control to frugal DIY.