How to Prevent & Avoid Bed Bugs: 14 Prevention Tips

Bed bugs are pests that feed on the blood of humans or any warm-blooded animals. They are one of the biggest and the most serious pest problems. They are not easy to get rid of. Once you get a bed bug infestation, it may take several weeks to eradicate them. You may also require professional help because this is not something you can do alone.

a close up of an adult bed bug

Why Is It So Hard To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny pests that live on blood. They are nocturnal creatures that come out of their hideouts at night. They are small enough to hide in cracks and crevices. They are resistant pests that do not die easily. They multiply and spread quickly. They can go without feeding for up to a year. According to scientists’ documentation, an adult bed bug lives for about 550 days out of which, it can easily spend a year without any meals.

A female bed bug lays about 500 eggs during a lifetime. Even if you get rid of bed bugs and nymphs, eggs remain. In just a few months’ time, the offsprings can start producing eggs as well. Bed bugs produce 3 to 4 generations in one year. The temperature within our homes is the ideal temperature at which bed bugs can thrive most.

Bed bugs resist some of the strongest pesticides. In fact, some chemicals may make bed bugs even harder to kill rather than killing them at all. Unlike other pests, bed bugs just cannot be killed with ordinary chemical spraying. They require more extensive treatments.

Bed bugs hide in areas where you don’t pay attention to. You may think you have looked at all places when in reality, bed bugs are hiding in other areas. From there, they spread again, causing a re-infestation of the area you thought you had cleared.

Identification of Bed Bugs

A bed bug on a sleeping person’s skin

Before you jump into panic mode, you should first make sure that it is a bed bug infestation rather than fleas or mites. Bed bugs are tiny and nocturnal creatures, thus detecting them can be challenging. There are certain features associated with bed bug infestation which can help you identify bed bugs.

  • Bed bugs leave behind dark brown or black stains of dried blood on the bed sheets.
  • They have flat, oval-shaped bodies. Bed bugs are six-legged creatures with two antennae. They cannot fly. Moreover, their bodies are covered with golden hair that makes them appear striped.
  • Usually, bed bugs are 5-6mm in length. They can swell up to 10mm after feeding. After having fed, they become fatter and darker in color.
  • Bed bug nymphs or baby bed bugs are 1-4mm in length which is approximately the size of a pin-head. They are golden or white in color before they have fed on blood. They can easily hide in mattresses due to the light color that helps them to camouflage.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

Bed bug infestation is a common problem for many households. Bed bugs need a temperate and a safe environment to survive and thrive. Numerous places in a house provide ideal breeding conditions. Some measures can be taken to protect your home from a bed bug invasion. However, sometimes, bed bugs manage to make their way into your even after the best possible preparations.

Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices. They are elusive. You may assume from the name that they are only present in bed but in reality, they may make a habitat in places you don’t even think about. Any place as narrow as allowing a business card to pass through is an ideal place for bed bugs.

If you are wondering how to prevent bed bugs from spreading, below are some tips that can help. They may also save a lot of money that you may otherwise be spending on costly pest control treatments.

Keep Power Outlets Covered

Bed bugs know how to save themselves from extermination. They can hide in the holes of power outlets and stay there till it’s safe to move from the holes to somewhere else. They can also use this route to move from one room to the other. Moving through the electrical outlets is one of the most effective ways by which bed bugs can spread to other areas of your home. It is a wise decision to keep your power outlets covered to ensure that the bed bugs are short of one way they often use to protect themselves and for spreading.

Keep Clothes in Vacuum Sealed Bags

Traveling is the most common way through which bed bugs can reach your home. Hotels and guests houses are often infested with bed bugs and other pests. They can make their way into your clothes and that is how they reach your home. Packing your clothes and other belongings in vacuum sealed bags while you travel is something you should always do. This keeps bed bugs away from your belongings and hence, away from your home.

Identify Early Signs

Bed bug bites are small and they usually appear in rows. They are itchy and can even swell. If you have basic knowledge of bed bug bites, you will be able to identify them at the right time. Itchy marks are early signs of bed bug infestation and addressing the issue before the infestation gets serious can help you prevent further spread of bed bugs.

Vacuum Your Floor

As mentioned earlier, bed bugs are not only found in beds. They can hide within your carpet as well. Vacuuming the carpet can help ensure that all bed bugs are eliminated. You should not only vacuum your floors, but also the mattresses and box bring. Make sure that you vacuum your floor at the edges where the floor meets the wall. This can help you eliminate the infestation before it gets totally out of your control. 

After vacuuming, make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag properly. Remove the vacuum bag, place it in a sealed trash bag and throw it in an outdoor garbage can so that the bed bugs do not make their way back into your house.

Check Your Pets

Since bed bugs feed on the flood of not only humans but any warm-blooded animals, your pets are at equal risk. Bed bugs may find a warm and safe habitat in your pets. You should always inspect the area where your pet sits and sleeps and also the area around. You should wash the pet’s bed on the highest heat settings whenever possible.

Reduce Clutter

The more the clutter in your home, the higher the chance is of getting a bed bug infestation. If you already have a bed bug infestation, reducing the clutter will greatly help you in getting rid of bed bugs. By reducing the clutter, you will be able to clean the place more thoroughly. Any clutter against the walls makes an ideal place for bed bugs. So by cutting back on clutter, you are actually reducing the hiding options for bed bugs.

Keep Your Mattresses Covered

Keeping your mattresses and box springs covered is a preventive measure, not a curative measure. Mattress covers are zippered cases that protect your mattresses from getting infested. In case your mattress has already been contaminated, mattress covers keep the bed bugs restricted within the mattress. Bed bugs can go without feeding for approximately a year after which they die.

If you are wondering how to keep bed bugs from biting you, mattress covers can do that favor to you. Mattress encasements should be of a fabric that is long-lasting and durable. The zipper system should be reliable, so as to ensure the bed bugs do not travel through zipper teeth.

Isolate your Bed

Despite your house having numerous favorable places for bed bugs, your bed is still the most susceptible place for bed bugs. Isolating your bed from other areas of the house is something that will greatly help. If you use a mattress without a bed frame, you should get a bed that keeps your mattress off the floor. Once you have isolated the source of bed bugs, it is easier to treat. Once the bed bugs spread all over the place, it gets fairly difficult to get rid of them.  

If you start sleeping somewhere else due to fear of bed bugs, it may also cause the bed bugs to spread. Sleeping somewhere else in your home will make the bed bugs follow you. The best option is to cover your mattress in a mattress cover to keep bed bugs from biting you. This is the only way to restrict bed bugs to one room that has already been infested.

Using Pesticide Sprays

70% of the bed bugs are found in a mattress. After you have covered your mattresses with a mattress cover, it’s the headboard and the frame that remains. Vacuuming can remove bed bugs and nymphs but the eggs won’t be removed by vacuuming. What you will need here is an effective pesticide.  It is extremely important that the instructions on pesticide spray are closely followed as insecticides can be hazardous.

Bed Bug Monitors

Bed monitors are tools that are designed to be placed under the feet of your bed. They trap the bed bugs. Any bed bugs trapped in the outer walls indicate bed bugs that were trying to climb up into your bed. Bed bugs trapped in the inner walls indicate bed bugs that were leaving the bed. They are tools for the early detection of bed bugs. These devices should be cleaned regularly and inspected for any signs of bed bugs.

Inspect Your Furniture

You should check your furniture thoroughly and regularly for any signs of bed bugs. You should begin your search with any vintage furniture or the furniture that has cracks. Used furniture has the highest chance of being a carrier of bed bugs.

Always Inspect Used Items

Bed bugs can hide in almost anything that has cracks, vents or folds. No matter how clean an item looks, running a preliminary check is necessary. If you are buying used furniture, check all cracks and curves. If you are buying any used electronics, do not forget to check the vents. Even harmless items can become a source of bed bug transmission. You should be extra vigilant when purchasing used items.

Avoid Using Blankets Provided by Movers

Blankets that are provided by moving companies are not cleaned thoroughly. They are used by many people. There is a chance that these blankets may be infested from the belongings of someone who might have used the same blanket. Bed bugs from these blankets may get transferred into your clothes or belongings and eventually into your homes. It is better to use your own blankets when on the move.

Seal Off Your Home

Any cracks or crevices can become a hiding place for bed bugs. Sealing such openings with silicone, both from the inside of your house and outside is a good way to keep bed bugs from entering your home. You should also check any screens or windows in your home that might be damaged or broken. Bed bugs can enter your home from any openings that they can find. So, it’s better to be vigilant than being sorry.

Be Careful in Public Places

You may find bed bugs in places that you don’t ever suspect. Most common public places from where you can get bed bugs are change rooms at stores. You can protect yourself from getting bed bugs is by making sure to hang clothes on the hooks rather than on cushioned seats or sofas in changing areas.

Be Careful While Travelling

Travelers are most likely to bring bed bugs with them through hotel beds, carpets or furniture. Whenever you are traveling, make sure to be mindful of the following:

  • Check for signs of bed bug infestation. If a hotel room is infested with bed bugs, you will find rust colored stains on bed sheets, mattresses, mattress tags, and seams and even on bed skirts.
  • Bed bugs are usually found within a radius of 5 feet during the day. They come out of their hiding spots during the night. When you are staying at a hotel, you should check for bed bugs under the mattresses, headboards, and bed frames.
  • Be careful to open your luggage away from the walls because bed bugs most often hide behind artworks, headboards, electrical power panels, and picture frames.
  • When you are repacking, assess the luggage carefully. Upon your return, keep your luggage far away from your bedroom.
  • After you return home, put all your clothes that were in your luggage in a dryer at the highest setting for at least 15 minutes.

If you find signs of bed bugs in the room you will be staying in, ask to be shifted immediately in a room that is far away from the current one. Bed bugs can easily travel to adjacent rooms.

Be Careful With Shared Laundry Facilities

Shared laundry facilities serve as an ideal channel for transmission of bed bugs from one place to another. In order to avoid such transmission, carry your laundry in closed bags, rather than in an open clothes basket.

Place Your Furniture at the Right Places

You should not place your bed against the wall. By placing the bed directly with the wall, you are making way for bed bugs to travel to other non-infested areas of your home.

Get Professional Pest Treatment

If the bed bug infestation has gone out of control and you are failing to get hold of the situation yourself, get help from professional pest control teams immediately. Bed bug treatment is a complex and long process. Home remedies alone are not enough. With the help of professional treatment, you can get rid of bed bugs effectively, efficiently, and above all, permanently.

Prevention of bed bugs begins with a clear understanding of how to spot bed bugs and how to get rid of them. Diving in the problem without getting proper hold of it will only worsen it. If you suspect the presence of bed bugs in your home, investigate if it really is a bed bug infestation. If yes, investigate how bad it is. If it is bad, investigate if it too bad to be handled on your own. Therefore, the key to bed bug prevention is adequate knowledge and proper investigation.

Things You Should Not Do When You Have Bed Bugs

There many things that you just should not do when you have bed bugs. You certainly would not want the infestation to worsen.

  • First things first. You should not panic when you get bed bugs. It is difficult to get rid of them but it is not impossible.
  • Do not use any garden pesticides to kill bed bugs. They are not meant for indoor use and they can make you and your family members very sick.
  • Avoid using any products that are either homemade or custom formulated. Homemade products are more dangerous and harmful than commercially available pesticides.
  • Any products with a label in a language other than English are a ‘no-go’.
  • Do not apply any pesticide directly on your body in desperation to protect yourself from bed bug bites. You can fall sick.
  • You should never use gasoline, rubbing alcohol or kerosene for bed bug treatment. These chemicals are flammable and can cause fires.
  • Do not throw away the infested furniture. New furniture is expensive to get. Moreover, throwing away infested furniture can cause bed bugs to spread to your neighboring houses.
  • Avoid storing any stuff under your bed. This creates new spots for bed bugs to hide. It also makes getting rid of bed bugs even more difficult.
  • Avoid moving things from one room to the other. If things in one room are already infested, moving them can spread bed bugs to rooms that are clear of bed bugs.
  • If you are placing things out in the sun to get rid of bed bugs, do not cover them in black plastic. The item would not get enough heat.

Being careful and avoiding anything that may worsen the infestation or speed up the spread is equally important. Losing your calm and panicking won’t be any good to you or your house. It is always better to think and act calmly.

How Do Bed Bugs Travel

Many people ask if bed bugs can fly or jump. Bed bugs can neither fly nor can they jump. They travel through your personal belongings. They can travel through,

  • suitcases and luggage,
  • purses,
  • shared laundry facilities,
  • gym bags,
  • Any items that are kept close to sleep areas.

The most common route of travel for bed bugs is You! They can hitchhike with you to your home. They can get attached to your clothes or your body and find their way into your home.

a fabric infested with bed bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most rigid pests to kills. It may seem like an impossible task to get rid of them but it is not. You need to be patient, smart, and vigilant. This will take time. However, with the right measures, you can prevent the spread of bed bugs effectively.