How to Protect Your Home from Bed Bugs
Updated: May 25, 2022
So, let’s get right down to it. You want to get rid of bed bugs and keep them from invading your home. Not surprising. No one in their right mind would want these insects in their home ̶ ever!
Like most of us, you probably think that if you keep your home clean and tidy, that will keep bed bugs out. After all, bed bugs are only attracted to dirty or unsanitary homes? Right? Wrong! Bed bugs are not enticed by dirt, decay or unhygienic spaces. They will live wherever they can. But what really gets their attention is us ̶ and any other warm-blooded animal that can provide the blood on which they subsist. As a matter of record, even the cleanest of habitats attract more bugs than the dirty locales.
According to one source, “Each year, the United States spends $250 million to combat the bugs, with little progress to show for it.” But that’s not to say you shouldn’t try to keep these bugs out.
One important thing: Make sure that you are, in fact, dealing with bed bugs, before you expend time and money hunting down what may be an entirely different insect! According to the CDC, bed bugs:
“Are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and
animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless,
range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny)."
Here’s more on how to tell bed bugs from scabies.
Bed Bugs - How They Get in
Now, it’s always a good idea to inspect the outside of your home (or office or store) for places that bugs, and other pests ̶ squirrels, mice, rats, etc ̶ can make their way in. You need to check windows, doors, garages, guttering, as well as attics and cracks in masonry and gaps in siding or roofing tiles.
However, when it comes to bed bugs, they rarely sneak in through such convenient entry points. They are, as I’ve termed them in many past blogs, ‘the ultimate hitchhikers’. They enter your home on your pet’s fur, on packages, in wrapped goods, on backpacks, even your own clothes. In fact, we humans are usually the main mode of transportation for these interlopers.
Bed bugs can also be ‘acquired’ if you’ve been travelling. Bus, cab, plane, train; they’re all the same to bed bugs ̶ convenient ways of getting around! And, we’ve all heard the tales about the cars used by ride-share services ̶ such as Uber, Lyft, Gett, Curb and Ztrip ̶ being virtual bacteria factories. Here’s another aspect of these services: The riders who use them are particularly susceptible to being unwitting ‘hosts’ to all sorts of pests, including bed bugs, which enter our homes via our luggage, our briefcases, purses, even on our shoes! Traveler beware.
More on how to protect your rideshare car from bed bugs.
Your Home Is Your Castle. Fortify It!
Well, you don’t exactly have to build high walls and dig a moat to protect your home, but you can carry out some simple tasks that will greatly reduce the likelihood of bed bugs coming to stay, such as:
Getting rid of all clutter. This includes piles of paper, clothes, rolled-up rugs and/or carpets (which your aunt, or grandmother, gave you and you don’t have the heart to tell her you don’t want), and all the other stuff you dump in the basement because, well, out of sight, out of mind.
Vacuum all your rooms. Don’t skip the laundry room, the entrance way (if you’re lucky enough to have one, as well as carpets, chairs, drapes and window blinds) ̶ as often as you can. Three or four times a week should suffice. More, if you’re up to it. Anything to keep bed bugs away.
Invest in mattress covers. Since bed bugs love mattresses (and any other item of furniture that humans customarily use) start by buying mattress encasements for all your beds. It may be expensive at the outset, but these covers will protect your box springs ̶ and save you a lot of money later on.
Check your clothing and sheets. Your clothes and bedding (sheets, pillowcases, coverlets, blankets, and so forth) for any signs of bed bugs. Even if you don’t immediately find any evidence of bed bugs, it might still be a good idea to wash and dry all of the foregoing items at the hottest possible setting, which will kill any bed bugs and/or their eggs.
Being Bed Bug-Free Requires Constant Vigilance
Unfortunately, you can never be sure that you’ve entirely eradicated bed bugs from your home, no matter how efficiently you conducted your clean up. Even Professional Pest Management specialists (PMPs) will tell you that if you had bed bugs once, there is no guarantee that they won’t return. Chances are they will, at some point.
Keep in mind that bed bugs depend on humans as a food source, so they tend not to stray too far from their ‘blood bank’ ̶ which is us, unfortunately!
And where do we spend the greatest amount of time when we’re at home? In bed. Asleep. That is why you’re more likely to find bed bugs in your bedroom than anywhere else in the house. In fact, bed bugs generally reside no more than eight to ten feet from where you lay your head at night. Not a nice thought, but true, nevertheless.
But, as I said earlier, bed bugs will hide anywhere, if they can. Herewith, then, three rules to keep top of mind:
Always be prepared for the unexpected. Bed bugs can turn up in the most unlikely places.
Assume nothing. For instance, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They probably are.
Be constantly vigilant. Speaks for itself!
With these tips in mind, keep a list of the places you should check regularly for bed bugs. Your list might include:
Mattresses (of course), box springs, sheets, blankets, and coverlets.
Piles of dirty laundry (a favorite refuge) and discarded clothing.
Pet beds (also a flea haven) and under rugs and carpets.
Behind drapes, in Venetian blinds and curtains, and shutters.
Sterifab The Deterrent Bed Bugs HATE
Since you’re here, reading this blog, you probably know that we’re devoted to helping you rid your home (and office, and store, etc) of bed bugs. We’re actually quite passionate about it. As proof, check out all the blogs we’ve dedicated to the subject of bed bugs and their eradication. Here are just a few of them.
Check them out: