In the 1940s, scientists thought bed bugs were eradicated from developed countries. They were wrong! Over fifty years later, bed bugs are on the rise across North America, Europe and Australia. In some places the problem has even reached epidemic proportions (looking at you, NYC). Bed bugs aren’t known to spread diseases, but they do leave red, itchy bites on people, making them a major pain and frustration!
On top of that, they’re also very difficult and expensive to get rid of (an exterminator can charge upwards of $1,200!), so it’s worth taking these four preventative measures so that you never have to deal with bed bugs:
1. Inspect hotel mattresses. Bed bugs are usually picked up in hotels, so it’s a good habit to perform a quick inspection before you hit the hay. When you do this, you’re actually looking for the bugs themselves, which are small and brown, or for the rust-colored smudges that they leave behind. Check out the box springs and visible parts of the headboard, particularly along the bottom, sides and in between any cracks or crevices. These bugs hate light, so they’ll go to great lengths to hide from it. If you see any signs of bed bugs, switch rooms immediately! Note: You can perform this same inspection on your own bed if you suspect a problem at home.
2. Don’t unpack in your bedroom. Bed bugs like to travel home with your luggage. Think of them as gross, unwanted souvenirs. If you travel to a city that’s known for bed bugs (or you saw some on the hotel mattress), unpack your suitcase far, far away from your bedroom! We recommend unpacking in the laundry room and washing your clothes immediately, just in case.
3. Disinfect your suitcase. Once your suitcase has been emptied, don’t stuff it in your closet! Instead, disinfect it by putting it in a large garbage bag. Tie the bag tightly and place your suitcase out of the way (the garage is perfect for this). After two weeks, any bed bug-stowaways will have been suffocated. Tip: If you use travel pillows, be sure to clean them before they go back in your closet.
4. Only buy new bedding. We’re all about being green and saving money, but mattresses and bedding are hands-down worth buying new. To get the best price on a new mattress, read our Mattress Buying Guide. If you see a beautiful bed set on the side of the road, remember that it’s probably there for a reason. Resist the urge to bring it home!
If you suspect a bed bug problem in your home, it’s best to call a qualified professional to assess and handl the situation. While you may have heard horror stories of people having to throw out all of their furniture due to bed bugs, those are pretty extreme circumstances. A professional will usually be able to solve the problem without making you redecorate your entire house!