Bed Bug Series: Preventing Infestations

By Josh Kattenberg

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It makes sense for property managers to educate their tenants about avoiding bed bug infestations. While bed bugs can travel from unit to unit in multi-unit housing, aside from that, the biggest assistants at helping bed bugs hitchhike into a tenant’s home are travel and used possessions. If a tenant is educated on best practices for preventing bed bug infestations, the tenant can be the biggest factor in avoiding a bed bug infestation.

When traveling, it is good to keep a few rules of thumb in mind. The hotel room should be checked for bed bugs immediately upon entering a hotel room. While checking the room, luggage should be stowed in the bathroom, as bed bugs are usually not living there due to the hard surfaces. When checking the room, the area behind the headboard should be checked, especially if it’s mounted to the wall. This is a favorite home of bed bugs. Other spots to check are seams in the mattress, under cushions on chairs, behind pictures, etc. Basically, any crevice in the room is a likely place for the critters to be found. And, again, knowing that bed bugs themselves aren’t stationary, hotel guests should be on the lookout for casings (shed skin), dark spots (bed bug poop), and eggs.

Even if a hotel guest doesn’t see evidence of bed bugs, it’s best to be on the safe side. Clothes and luggage should be kept off the floor. When the traveler arrives home, the travel case should be unpacked in the garage or outside to prevent any hitchhiking bed bugs from escaping into the house. All clothing should be washed and dried, as the heat will kill the bed bugs. It’s best to use a duffel bag when traveling so it can be laundered, also.

Besides hitchhiking into a home via a traveler’s bags, another favored method of the bed bug is hitching a ride on used furniture. Tenants should never dumpster dive … it’s possible that a dumpster diver is salvaging furniture that is being thrown away precisely because it is bedbug-infested. Even purchasing furniture at garage sales and consignment shops is risky and is best avoided. Tenants should beware of dorm furniture their college age child wants to store at home for the summer. If they help a friend move, they should check their vehicle for bed bugs afterwards.

If your tenants use laundromats, they should be especially cautious. People with bed bug problems will often use a laundromat to clean their clothing and bedding. While the laundromat itself won’t likely be infested, its garbage cans may have bags that people had used to transport their bedbug-infested laundry with. Laundromat users should stay away from the garbage cans and should take their clothes home to fold.