Tips On How To Prevent Bed Bugs

Bed bug banner image on Tips to Prevent Bed Bugs article shows a bed bug crawling on skin

Prevention is always better than cure. There are many ways you can accidentally pick up bed bugs.  In this article, we will discuss some of the most common ways and tips on how to prevent bed bugs and prevent them from reaching your home.

Used Furniture, Decorations, and other Second-hand Item

Second-hand items may carry bed bugs. The first step to prevent bed bugs from invading your home is to check its possible hiding spots such as a used item. Beware of Goodwill, Craigslist, and any second-hand store, including consignment stores and office liquidation stores.  Further, don’t assume that because you aren’t buying a bed or a couch that you don’t need to worry – we’ve seen bed bugs in and on picture frames, textbooks, chairs, and even inside pant pockets!

Now – while this is all true, it’s probably unwise to let all of this cripple you to non-action.  But be aware that when you buy second-hand items, you may be buying the reason the people got rid of it in the first place – bed bugs.  So give whatever you are buying a good examination – and if you are buying clothes, you might want to put them through a hot dryer cycle as soon as you bring the clothes in the house.

Also – unless you are feeling really lucky, we HIGHLY recommend leaving furniture you find on the street for trash where it is.  If somebody *has* given up on the fight and decided to get rid of their furniture, this is the most likely place you will find it – on a curb somewhere.  The amount you will save by picking up a dingy old mattress or couch will get nowhere close to offsetting the expense, pain, and frustration that dealing with bed bugs will cause.

Prevent Bed Bugs for Guests or Travelers

Be on the look out for bites on your guests.  If someone enters your home and has bites along their neck, hands, ankles, or elsewhere visible, we would recommend you politely lead them outside and if the visit is a lengthy one try to determine the origin of the bites before letting them back in your house. This is also true for your own loved ones if they have just returned from any sort of travel where they were likely to sleep in unfamiliar quarters or spend time in cluttered and dirty places.

When I had bed bugs, I once left my apartment, took my keys out of my apartment, and locked the door.  Then I noticed: on my thumb, there was a bed bug!  I had done a lot to try and prevent transporting bed bugs, but I had obviously failed!  I decided to wise up and I didn’t have any problems after that – but the containment process was a pain and most people won’t follow through with it.

Since it can be so difficult to keep bed bugs in check, don’t assume that because you *know* the person, or because you are related to them or they are a long time friend, that they will have properly contained the problem if they have it.  Bed bugs are not a moral issue and the best of people may not be prepared to deal with them.

Prevent Bed Bugs in Public Transit/Airplanes/Taxis/Public Accommodations

We’ve once seen a bed bug on the El in Chicago (Chicago’s subway system), left behind probably by the gentleman occupying the seat previously.  Encountering bed bugs on public transit is not too likely but it does happen – same with any other place of public accommodation.  Since you can’t be certain whether you are picking up a pregnant bed bug or just a solitary traveler, you may want to check seats before sitting down.  I personally stand as much as possible on subways and buses.  I sit enough all day anyways, I figure I can use the change of pace while also cutting my chances of picking up bed bugs.

Packages/Letters/Shipments/etc

It’s hard to know how likely this option is.  The idea is terrifying – that your house may get contaminated simply by buying something off the internet!  Fortunately, we are not personally familiar with any occurrence – however, you should know that cardboard is a favorite hiding place for bed bugs.  We have definitely seen bed bugs hiding in cardboard once a house is infected.  Thus, it may be a good idea to recycle your cardboard boxes fairly quickly once the shipment arrives.  Better safe than sorry?  And if you *were* to wind up with bed bugs after the fact, you are simply providing them more places to harbor.

These are some ot the tips on how to prevent bed bugs. Do you have a tip that you want to share? Please don’t hesitate to share them in a comment below.

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