How To Prevent Bed Bugs From Spreading

How do Bed Bugs Spread and How to Prevent it

People often wonder where bed bugs live, how they spread and the ways to prevent this. So, in this guide, we will mainly study how bed bugs spread from place to place and the important steps one can take to prevent this from happening.

Where are they commonly found?

Bed bugs are found throughout the world. The most common type of bed bug, the Cimex Lectularius, lives in cooler regions, and one can find it in many parts of North America, Europe as well as some parts of Asia. Similarly, the tropical bed bug (the Cimex Hemipterus) is found in tropical or warmer regions like Africa, Asia, South America and certain parts of North America.

How do bed bugs spread?

The answer to this question is very simple: bed bugs simply hitchhike their way into our homes through our luggage, on buses, trains and even airplanes. In most of the infestations, homeowners have either traveled to or stayed in infested motels or rental properties. Bed bugs also spread through discarded infested furniture, mattresses, shoes, books and other items that are innocently picked up by people.

The worst part is that bed bugs are difficult to spot. They hide in cracks and crevices in furniture, wall sockets and electrical outlets etc. The larvae and eggs of bed bugs measure less than 1/25” making it difficult to get rid of them easily.

How to prevent bed bugs from spreading?

People dealing with a bed bug infestation must feel a moral obligation in preventing bed bugs from spreading. It is often embarrassing to admit to an infestation in the first place, since most people feel that it is a sign of unhygienic conditions. While this is true to some extent; it is important to note that no matter how clean and spotless a home or a hotel is, bed bugs can still reside in it. And once they come into our homes, it is difficult to get rid of them.

However, there are ways of preventing the spreading of bed bugs.

  • When travelling, carry few trash/ plastic bags to store items in. Seal your shoes, clothing and other necessities in these bags to protect them from bed bugs.
  • Never place your luggage near furniture, walls and beds in motels and hotels as these are the areas that are frequented by the bugs. The best place to store your luggage and shoes in motels is the bathroom or your car, as bed bugs normally prefer inhabiting areas closer to the sleeping hosts.
  • If you see signs of bed bug activity on your hotel beds (such as rust colored fecal stains, discarded exoskeletons and other bed bug debris) do notify the hotel management staff. They might already be aware of the problem and even using an integrated pest management system. Most hotels will also offer to give you another room or it is best to change the hotel if possible.
  • If you have bed bugs in your home, inform potential guests beforehand so as to prevent bed bugs from spreading to their homes.

What to do if you see bed bug signs where you are staying?

  • The best thing to do is notify the owner or manager. Do not spray any pesticide as other people/guests (or house pets) could be allergic to these. Moreover, spraying ineffective pesticides can also be detrimental to the efforts of bed bug control programs that are already in place.
  • Seal all your items in trash bags or plastic bags and if possible, place your luggage in these bags. Store the luggage away from the infested room, preferably in the car or in the bathroom.
  • Inspect yourself and your clothes that you are wearing currently to see if bed bugs have crawled on them. Do not apply any insecticide on your person; rather brush or dust the clothing.
  • Once you are home, brush your clothes again. Open and unpack your luggage outdoors to contain the infestation.
  • Launder all clothing in hot water and on the highest heat setting to kill bed bugs, eggs and larvae. Keep all clothing sealed until it is ready to be washed. Do not leave infested items near beds, on the floor or near clean clothes.
  • Place the luggage (backpacks and duffel bags) in dryers for 30 minutes.
  • Never leave infested items that you wish to discard near trash cans as unsuspecting people might pick them up leading to the spread of bed bugs.

Call professional bed bug exterminators rather than dealing with large infestation on your own. This is the most important step for preventing the spread of bed bugs.


Bed Bugs

Top Ten Tips to Prevent or Control Bed Bugs

Related Information

1. Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects.

You can compare your insect to the pictures on our Identifying bed bugs Web page or show it to your local extension agent.Exit (Extension agents are trained in pest control issues and know your local area.)

2. Don’t panic!

3. Think through your treatment options — Don’’t immediately reach for the spray can.

Be comprehensive in your approach. Try other things first. Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques may reduce the number of bed bugs and limit your contact with pesticides. If pesticides are needed, always follow label directions or hire a professional. There is help available to learn about treatment options. (4 pp, 480 K, About PDF)

4. Reduce the number of hiding places — Clean up the clutter.

A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating them harder. If bed bugs are in your mattress, using special bed bug covers (encasements) on your mattress and box springs makes it harder for bed bugs to get to you while you sleep. Leave the encasements on for a year. Be sure to buy a product that has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough to last for the full year without tearing.

5. Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed sheets, blankets, bedspreads and any clothing that touches the floor.

This reduces the number of bed bugs. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers Remember to clean them when you do the laundry.

6. Do-it-yourself freezing may not be a reliable method for bed bug control.

While freezing can kill bed bugs, temperatures must remain very low for a long time. Home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bed bugs; always use a thermometer to accurately check the temperature. Putting things outside in freezing temperatures could kill bed bugs, but there are many factors that can affect the success of this method.

7. Kill bed bugs with heat, but be very careful.

Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won’t do the job. Special equipment and very high temperatures are necessary for successful heat treatment. Black plastic bags in the sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, if the contents become hot enough. Bed bugs die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F). To kill bed bugs with heat, the room or container must be even hotter to ensure sustained heat reaches the bugs no matter where they are hiding

8. Don’’t pass your bed bugs on to others.

Bed bugs are good hitchhikers. If you throw out a mattress or furniture that has bed bugs in it, you should slash or in some way destroy it so that no one else takes it and gets bed bugs.

9. Reduce the number of bed bugs to reduce bites.

Thorough vacuuming can get rid of some of your bed bugs. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can’t escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in an outside garbage bin.

10. Turn to the professionals, if needed.

Hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase your chance of success in getting rid of bed bugs. If you hire an expert, be sure it’s a company with a good reputation and request that it use an IPM approach. Contact your state pesticide agency for guidance about hiring professional pest control companies. Also, EPA’s Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety provides information about IPM approaches, how to choose a pest control company, safe handling of pesticides, and emergency information.

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How to Prevent Spreading Bed Bugs to Others

Bed bugs are a nuisance, particularly throughout areas of Canada. Toronto has been hit especially hard with bed bugs. In fact, many pest control experts have suggested that if people can afford it, they should throw out infested belongings and start over. If you are currently battling with bed bugs, you should take care not to spread them to others. There are ways you can prevent the spread of bed bugs with the right tips and advice.


First and foremost, you should take care of any clothes you plan to bring with you when travelling or planning an overnight at somebody else’s house. You should also treat the clothes you plan to wear to work or out to the store to prevent spreading bed bugs. Place your clothes in the dryer and turn it to the hottest setting. Let your clothes toss on a high heat setting for at least thirty minutes. Make sure you include everything, including your undergarments, coat, jacket, gloves, hat, and coat. After the dryer turns off, remove your clothes and shake them out one by one to remove dead bed bugs. Immediately put your clothes in a tightly sealed plastic or vacuum sealed bag so bed bugs do not re-infest them. Do not remove the clothes from the bag until you plan on leaving. Changing your clothes for the day should be the last thing you do so you can avoid bed bugs reattaching to your clothes. Make sure you do not stop to sit once you have your clothes on. Instead, immediately leave your house to go to work.


If you are leaving town for any amount of time, you will need to bring baggage with you. If you step out for work, you are likely going to have a purse, satchel, or briefcase with you. Bed bugs commonly travel to new locations via baggage carried by others. Remove everything from your luggage, purse, satchel, or briefcase. Search the seams for signs of bed bugs. If possible, place the baggage in the dryer like you did with your clothes. If you cannot wash the baggage, it is best to grab a vacuum and vacuum seams and edges thoroughly to remove bed bugs. As with the clothes, you should place your baggage in a vacuum sealed bag so bed bugs do not crawl into them. Grab your baggage and leave the home as soon as you have fresh, clean clothes on. Do not sit your baggage down anywhere once you remove it from the vacuum sealed bag.

If you must vacuum seams and edges, make sure you remove the vacuum bag of the container immediately. Live bed bugs can crawl out of the vacuum and re-infest your home. Dump the contents of the container or place the vacuum bag in an outdoor trash bin with a tightly sealed lid. If you must put your bag down for any reason, consider hanging it up in an area where it will not touch the floor or other items you have hanging up. If the baggage touches anything that has not been treated already, it could allow bed bugs back into your baggage.


Most importantly, get in touch with an exterminator. A bed bug extermination professional can provide you with proper treatment for bed bugs, which will prevent spreading bed bugs. You simply cannot battle bed bugs on your own, no matter what you do. Professional extermination methods are the only way to treat the problem.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

Updated: April 11, 2019

This article was co-authored by Jurdy Dugdale, RN. Jurdy Dugdale is a Registered Nurse in Florida. She received her Nursing License from the Florida Board of Nursing in 1989.

There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Bed bugs are a growing concern since they’ve become more common in recent years and are extremely difficult to exterminate. While hotels are high on the list of bed bug concerns, any public place can be a haven for bed bugs. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home. By avoiding contaminated materials, avoiding bed bugs while traveling, and protecting your home, you can prevent bed bugs.

Related wikiHows

About this article

To prevent bed bugs, use protective plastic covers on your mattress and box springs so bed bugs will not be able to infect your bed even if you accidentally bring them home. When you’re staying in a hotel, check the sheets, mattress, and headboard for small brownish bugs, and contact management if you find any. Wash your travel clothes separately from your regular laundry and dry them on the highest possible heat setting. To learn how using essential oils can help repel bed bugs, read on!

Bed Bug Prevention

Looking to avoid bed bugs? Bed bug prevention is a lot easier than eliminating an existing infestation. According to the 2015 Bugs Without Borders survey, bed bugs remain the most difficult pest to treat – more difficult than cockroaches, termites and ants!

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

Depending on the scope of an infestation and the type of treatment used by a pest professional, it can take several treatments to completely eliminate bed bugs. Fortunately, there are many things that one can do to prevent bed bugs from spreading in the home. Vigilance is the key to bed bug prevention. When out in public – whether at a hotel, store, movie theater or work place – it is important to be conscientious of all surroundings.

As the public’s awareness of the bed bug resurgence grows, focus on bed bug prevention has also grown. Many Americans are modifying their behaviors to minimize their risk of an infestation. According to the 2011 Bed Bugs in America survey, 27 percent of respondents have inspected or washed clothing upon returning from a trip; 25 percent have checked a hotel room for bed bugs; 17 percent have inspected or vacuumed a suitcase upon returning from a trip and 12 percent have altered or canceled travel plans because of concern about bed bugs.

Regular bed bug inspections are the best method of prevention to avoid bed bug infestations. Read our tips for preventing bed bugs to learn more about how to protect your household from an infestation:

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites

If you believe there is an infestation in your home, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce or prevent bed bug bites. First, you should regularly wash your sheets and pillow cases using high heat . Any bed bugs that are in your bedding will be killed in the wash. However, be careful when transporting the bedding to the washing machine, as you don’t want to end up spreading the bed bugs throughout the house. However, the best way to prevent bites is by contacting an exterminator to help eliminate the threat of bed bugs.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Spreading

If you already have an infestation, the key is preventing bed bugs from spreading in your home and to others. This can be done a few different ways. First, carefully check your purse, backpack, briefcase, etc. before leaving the house. You’ll also want to vacuum and clean these bags thoroughly to make sure bed bugs have not found their way inside. As for your clothes, place them in the dryer and shake them thoroughly before wearing them and leaving the house for the day.

While it is important that you be proactive in order to prevent bed bugs from spreading, we highly recommend finding an exterminator to help eliminate and prevent bed bugs.

History of Bed Bugs

Learn about the history of bed bugs and the factors that lead to their resurgence.

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