How To Prevent Bed Bugs In Luggage
Protecting Your Home from Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are great hitchhikers. They can move from an infested site to a new home by traveling on furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing.
Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, bed bugs can be quite resilient; they are capable of surviving several months to a year without feeding.
A few simple precautions can help prevent bed bug infestation in your home:
- Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation before bringing them home.
- Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs to eliminate many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasement regularly for holes or a cover that has been pre-treated with pesticide to control bed bugs.
- Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
- Vacuum frequently to remove any successful hitchhikers.
- Be vigilant when using shared laundry facilities. Transport items to be washed in plastic bags (if you have an active infestation, use a new bag for the journey home). Remove from dryer directly into bag and fold at home. (A dryer on high heat can kill bed bugs.)
- If you live in a multi-family home, try to isolate your unit by:
- Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors to discourage movement into hallways.
- Sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets, etc., to discourage movement through wall voids.
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Your suitcase could be full of bed bugs—here’s how to protect it
That hotel room isn’t as clean as you’d think.
Updated July 1, 2019
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No matter how much fun your annual beach vacation was or how incredible your trip to Paris, there’s no better feeling than walking through your front door after a long day of traveling. But according to recent studies, you could be bringing home more than just a tan and a pile of laundry—you could be bringing home bed bugs, too.
While trying to determine how bed bugs have been spreading so quickly, researchers found that the unwelcome insects are about twice as likely to be attracted to dirty clothes than clean ones. And for travelers who often toss their laundry in their luggage at the end of the day, that could be bad news.
To help keep you (and your suitcase) safe from bedbugs, here’s everything you need to know, from what increases your risk of getting bed bugs to the best way to sanitize your belongings when you get home from a trip.
How bed bugs get into your luggage
A luggage rack is a safer (albeit not perfect) option.
"Bed bugs are like mosquitos," Jon Chan, our senior lab technician, explains. "They are attracted to warmth, carbon dioxide, and blood. The major way they are going to probably get to your luggage is transferring from you to your clothes, and finally into your luggage."
And bed bugs can sense that same carbon dioxide on your dirty clothes even after you’ve taken them off. So if you toss them into your suitcase, guess where the critters will crawl into?
How you can keep your luggage safe
When you first check into your hotel, do a thorough scan of your room for signs of a possible infestation. "You should always check unfamiliar beds for small yellow eggs, dark spots of crushed bed bugs, and movement," Chan advises.
You should also take extra precautions to keep your laundry sealed up (like in the airtight plastic bag that many hotels provide in the room) rather than in an open suitcase or piled on the floor. Another expert tip is to keep your suitcase on a luggage rack as bed bugs can’t climb up slippery legs. However, be aware that they can hook onto the straps of the rack and get into your luggage that way.
What to do if you think you have bed bugs
If you suspect you may have brought pests home with you, the best thing to do is put everything into the laundry immediately. "After a trip, toss your clothes into a hot water cycle," Chan recommends. "Bed bugs will die if exposed to temperatures of 118°F or more for 20 minutes. Most homes have their water boiler set at 120°F."
Even if everything seems fine, it’s smart to sanitize your belongings when you get home. Experts note that bed bugs can live for up to several months on clothing or fabrics without you even realizing it. Yikes.
How to Get Rid of Bedbugs in Luggage
Bedbugs occasionally stowaway in luggage. (Photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images )
If you’ve stayed in a hotel, motel or other type of lodging that experienced a bedbug infestation during your stay, it’s possible your luggage is now infested. Unlike clothing and other washables, you can’t throw your luggage into the dryer to get rid of them. Before you call an exterminator or give up and buy new luggage, save some money and get rid of the bedbugs yourself.
Items you will need
- Garbage bags
- Stiff scrub brush
- Steam cleaner
Empty your luggage and place the contents in plastic bags; seal them until you can wash them. All clothing should be washed in hot water and dried at high temperatures, at least 120 degrees, to ensure that all the bedbugs die.
Take the luggage outside and scrub every nook and cranny with a stiff scrub brush. This will dislodge any egg clusters and dead bedbugs. Vacuum the luggage thoroughly.
Purchase a pesticide specially formulated for bedbugs — pyrethroid chemicals, such as pyrethrin, permethrin and phenothrin are the most common active ingredients found in pesticides for bedbugs. Spray the luggage thoroughly to kill off any remaining bedbugs. Alternatively, you can rent a steam cleaner and clean the luggage two or three times to kill the bedbugs if you are concerned about the pesticide smell lingering.
Vacuum the luggage again to suck up the dead bedbugs, then discard the vacuum bag immediately. Wrap the vacuum bag in garbage bags and tie tight knots to make sure the bedbugs can’t escape.
Leave the luggage to dry in the sun. Inspect it thoroughly for bedbugs. If any are still lingering, steam clean the luggage again. Repeat the process until you are certain that no bedbugs remain.
- If you are experiencing extreme hot or cold weather, you have a natural solution to your problem. Place the luggage in garbage bags, then set it outside if it is below freezing. Alternatively, if your car’s trunk gets up to 120 degrees while sitting in the sun, you can place the sealed luggage inside it to kill the bedbugs. Leave the luggage in either condition overnight to ensure that all the bedbugs die. Vacuum the luggage the following day.
Leaf Group is a USA TODAY content partner providing general travel information. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
About the Author
Jarrett Melendez is a journalist, playwright and novelist who has been writing for more than seven years. His first published work was a play titled, "Oh, Grow Up!" which he wrote and performed with a group of his classmates in 2002.
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.
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!
How To Prevent Bed Bugs While Travelling
October 20, 2018
Everyone knows the saying, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” It has never been more true than it is now.
Bed bugs are extremely efficient hitch hikers. They can move easily across a room and climb onto luggage or anything left on a bed in just one night. Hotels are perfect homes for bed bugs because of the ready supply of fresh hosts to feed on, and the difficulty of sustaining bed bug control in such facilities over the long-term.
Here are some tips to help you sleep tight while traveling.
Upon arrival always inspect your hotel room. Travellers should look for live insects, blood stains, dead bugs and eggs throughout the room. Bed bugs are not a sanitation or cleanliness issue. This means bed bugs can be found in any hotel or motel – from a one-star all the way up to a five-star location. What signs should you look for? With any large infestation of bed bugs you will notice a sweet, musty, odour, similar to soda pop syrup. Bed bugs will leave small brown or red spots on the sheets.
Bed bugs usually hide in close proximity to their food source – you! Bed bugs are nocturnal insects and disappear into the crevices of mattresses (pay particular attention to the seams and crevasses), box springs, sheets, furniture, upholstery and hollow bedposts during the day. Other hiding spots include behind baseboards or pictures and even in any wallpaper that might be cracked or torn. You can lift and look around all these possible hiding spots in order to check for bed bugs in a hotel room.
Make sure to elevate your luggage and any other personal items. Always inspect the luggage rack carefully for any signs of bed bugs. If it appears free of bed bug signs use it to keep your suitcase off the floor and away from the bed. Moving the luggage rack away from the wall will help reduce the risk of bed bugs crawling up the wall and into your belongings.
When you are packing to check out always examine your luggage to make sure you have not picked up any unwelcome guests. Since bed bugs are such great hitch hikers be sure to check your luggage and clothing upon your return home. Many recommend unpacking and checking in your garage or utility room.
When you return home, leave your luggage in the garage, and immediately launder all cloth items. The first places bed bugs typically encounter are bags and suitcases so keeping your luggage outside may help keep them out of your home. Depending on where you live, keeping luggage outdoors may also leave bed bugs outside their comfortable range of temperatures. You can also eliminate bed bugs that may have gotten into clothing by laundering (washing and drying) all fabric items in hot water, although recent studies show that 20 minutes in a clothes dryer is all that is needed to ensure 100% control.
Efficiently treating and detecting for a bed bug infestation requires the use of a licensed, professional Pest Control Operator with specific experience dealing with these pests. No one has more experience than Orkin Canada so call today and schedule a bed bug inspection.
QUICK FACTS & TIPS
Some things you can do to reduce the risk of picking up bed bugs as you travel include:
- Do not put your clothing or luggage directly on the bed. If bed bugs are present in the bed, they can climb into bags, suitcases or any laundry left on the bed.
- Use metal luggage racks at all times. Bed bugs cannot easily climb metal surfaces, so they make an ideal overnight spot for your suitcase. Keep the rack away from the walls and any wooden furniture.
- Use small plastic bags to pack clothing, shoes and other personal items. This will help prevent any bed bugs that climb into your suitcase from getting into your house with your clothing. Bed bugs can also hide in books, cloth toiletry kits and other non-metal personal items.
- Hotels aren’t the only bed bug travel threats. Bed bugs thrive in dark, cool places with long-term access to humans. They can also be found on airplane and train seats, buses or in rental cars. It’s rare but it is possible to pick up bed bugs in places like these.
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