Yesterday I talked about how we got bed bugs and what we did to get rid of them. Today I’m going to share tips on how you can protect yourself from bed bugs in your day-to-day life, when you travel, and what you can do to get rid of them if you find yourself with an infestation.
– Before you book a hotel reservation, look up the hotel on bedbugregistry.com and see if there have been past reports of bed bugs. Also google your hotel name + bed bugs to see if anything comes up on sites like Tripadvisor. It doesn’t matter if it’s a motel or a 5 star hotel — cleanliness has nothing to do with bed bugs and they can be found anywhere.
– When you check into your room, do not leave your clothes/purse/luggage on the bed, floor, or dressers at any time. Place your luggage on the luggage rack away from the wall or in the bathroom. The bathroom is highly unlikely to have any bed bugs. If you want to be extra cautious, you can keep your suitcase in a tied garbage bag the entire duration of your stay.
– Remove the sheets and inspect the mattress (particularly the seams, corners, and tag) for evidence of bed bugs (flat, reddish in color, about the size of an apple seed), shells, eggs & nymphs (translucent in color), and fecal stains. The past couple of hotels I’ve stayed at have actually had bed bug mattress covers that cover the entire mattress. In this case you do not want to remove the cover as it protects the mattress from bed bugs.
– Bed bugs do not hide only on mattresses. They love small, tight spaces and can also be in headboards, furniture near the bed, upholstered furniture, curtains, etc. so inspect all areas near the bed.
– If you find evidence of bed bugs in your hotel room, ask for another room that is not directly adjacent or above or below as bed bugs can travel. If I found bed bugs, I’d personally find another hotel.
– If you are a frequent traveler and have the space for one, you may want to invest in a Packtite. You place your entire suitcase inside a Packtite, it heats the contents for 4 hours at a temp of 120 degrees, ensuring that all bed bugs and their eggs are dead. We use this any time we get home from traveling or whenever a guest stays with us. My mom even strips the clothes off her back and puts them inside.
– If you really want to be cautious, pack a clean outfit for everyone in your family and keep it in a sealed ziploc bag as your coming home outfits so that you know they are bed bug free.
– Once you get home, unpack your suitcase outside, in your garage, or in the bathtub (as it’s easier to see any bugs against the white background), and inspect your belongings. Wash all your clothes, worn and unworn, and dry them on high heat for at least 30 minutes as the heat will kill any bugs and their eggs.
– Invest in a bed bug mattress protector like this one for your mattress and box spring.
– If you suspect you have bed bugs but can’t find physical evidence, you can buy these climb-up interceptors and place them on the legs of your bed. They will capture bed bugs and let you know whether they are crawling up or down your bed. If you want to diy this, you can also place your bed legs in plastic containers filled with baby oil. Note that it may take over a week to catch any bugs.
– You can also purchase a Passive Alert Bed Bug Detector which creates an ideal nest for bed bugs. It is a monitoring tool designed to let you know whether you have bed bugs.
– For the truly paranoid, you can purchase a Night Watch Bed Bug Trap and Monitor. The Night Watch uses CO2 and heat to attract bed bugs so you can determine whether a room is bed bug free. These are pricey however and CO2 may be hard to find. You may also be able to rent one from your pest control provider.
– There is no need to buy bed bug killing sprays — 91% isopropyl alcohol kills bed bugs.
1) Determine if you really have bed bugs by looking for physical evidence other than bug bites. If you find any physical evidence, save it. Many bugs bite, and many bugs look like bed bugs. Some extermination companies or university entomology departments even offer free bug identification services. A dermatologist or doctor will not be able to tell whether you have bed bugs by looking at your bites.
2) If you have bed bugs, don’t panic, don’t throw anything out, and don’t start sleeping in another room – the bugs will go wherever there are warm bodies and you risk spreading the infestation.
3) Do your research and talk to multiple pest control companies. Bed bugs are something that you want the professionals to handle. I have talked to numerous bed bug specialists — from exterminators, to bed bug sniffing dog handlers, to Vikane gas proprietors, to thermal remediation specialists, and I have been told very different things by different people. There are also a lot of unreputable people in business — the exterminator our landlord eventually sent over told the two units above us that they had bed bugs (they did not), and told us that we did not have bed bugs but they would tell our landlord that we did and spray our apartment for free. (For the record our landlord originally refused to send an exterminator and sent over his handyman with a bucket of pesticides. We ended up paying for all the treatment ourselves.)
3) Look into the different types of treatment. Vikane gas is the only 100% guaranteed method of bed bug removal, but it’s not always possible to use and it is costly. You can also get rid of bed bugs using pesticides, cryonite, steam, and thermal remediation. Pesticides is the preferred method of treatment as it can go into walls, cracks and crevices whereas steam and cryonite only kill on contact. I have heard mostly good things about thermal remediation, but have read a couple of accounts where it didn’t work or damaged property.
4) Check out the forums on bedbugger.com. They have everything you might need and want to know about bed bugs. It was an absolutely invaluable resource when we were going through our bed bug nightmare.
Our lives are pretty much back to normal and we don’t live in fear of bed bugs anymore. The main preventative measures we take are 1) having bed bug mattress protectors on all our mattresses, 2) washing and drying all used clothes we buy, and 2) using the packtite whenever we travel or buy small used goods like books. I definitely freaked out when we had bed bugs because Charlie was a small baby at the time, but you don’t have to and you can get rid of them.
This is a lot of information for you to take in so if you take away only one thing from this post, let it be the following:
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask! Unfortunately I know way more about bed bugs than any one person should! Good luck and stay bug free!
Flying With Children part 17 of 181. Packing Checklist for Flying with Children by Mrs. Bee
2. Packing Checklist for Flying With Children - Part Two by Mrs. Bee
3. 45 Tips for Flying With Kids by Mrs. Bee
4. Best Infant and Toddler Travel Toys by Mrs. Bee
5. Travel Gear for Toddlers by Travel
6. Traveling with Children by Guides
7. Traveling With Babies: Part One by Mrs. Cake
8. Best Travel Cribs by Guides
9. How to Get an [Expedited] Passport for Your Child by Mrs. Bee
10. Packing for three kids by Mrs. Bicycle
11. Travels with Bunny by Mrs. Bicycle
12. Happy Trails Airplane Packs by Mrs. Bicycle
13. Airline Travel with an 8 month old by Mrs. Hopscotch
14. Best Tips for Traveling With Children by Travel
15. On the Road with Baby in Tow by Mrs. Yoyo
16. Vegas (with a) Baby! by Mrs. Yoyo
17. How to Protect Yourself From Bed Bugs by Mrs. Bee
18. 12 Must Haves for Flying With Children by Mrs. Bee