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Five Tips to Keep the Bed Bugs Away

By paulabernstein |

I’ve dealt with lice, but I’ve heard that nits are nothing compared with bed bugs. Once they make their way into your home, they’re quite determined to stick around.

Bed bugs are now a nationwide epidemic. According to the Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009, bedbug populations have increased by 500 percent in recent years — they can be found everywhere from homes, cruise ships, dormitories, hotels, retail stores and daycare centers. Freaked out yet? There’s more.

In New York, downtown branches of stores such as Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister have been temporarily shuttered to decontaminate after infestations. Kings County Hospital briefly closed a triage ward after a patient brought in bed bugs, according to NBC New York.

The scary thing about bed bugs is how fast they reproduce. Female bedbugs can lay up to 5 eggs in a day and 500 during a lifetime. Plus, the little buggers are hard to kill and professional bed bug services are pricey. Friends of mine had a bed bug-sniffingn dog (who knew there was such a thing?) check their apartment when they feared a possible infestation. Lucky for them, it was a false alarm.

Is there anything you could do to avoid bed bugs? I’ve done some research and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Five Ways to Keep the Bed Bugs Away

1. Don’t buy or inherit used furniture.

2. After buying new or used clothes, throw them into a high heat dryer.

3. Limit clutter so bed bugs have fewer places to hide.

4. Inspect luggage and clothing after a hotel stay. You might want to wash clothes when you arrive home (and put in a high heat dryer) just to be safe.

5.Consider encasing your mattress and box spring in a special bug-proof cover.

Of course, there’s no way to guarantee that you won’t get bed bugs, but if you follow these tips, you’ll hopefully be saving your family from these persistent blood suckers.

Do you have any tips for avoiding or getting rid of bed bugs? Please share!

Photo: flickr/ooh food

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About paulabernstein



Paula Bernstein is a freelance writer and social media manager with a background in entertainment journalism. She is also the co-author of Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited.

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19 thoughts on “Five Tips to Keep the Bed Bugs Away

  1. Jana says:

    I deal with this for work; we’ve been noticing significant increases of housing infestations with some starting after travel to other locations, even when staying in high-end hotels. Two travel tips: don’t put your luggage on the bed or on the floor – keep it on the luggage racks that are provided. This keeps the bugs from crawling into your clothes/luggage. Next, if you are so inclined, lift up the mattress and look for small brown stains – these are bloodstains from the bedbugs. Ask for a different room. And, if you have them in your home, you can encase your mattress in a bug-proof cover which will trap them. Leave it on – bed bugs can live for months without a blood meal. Public health fun.

  2. PlumbLucky says:

    I noticed yesterday that there was an entire page in the circular for Bed Bath & Beyond’s “back to college” (or whatever they’re calling it) dedicated to the concept of not wanting bedbugs for roommates! I was a touch perplexed because I don’t think I was at school that long ago…and it was a complete non-issue then. Or at least if it was an issue, nobody spoke of it! It does sound like it has become an issue…and all I have to say is “gross, give me spiders and earwigs any day of the week!”.

  3. Heather says:

    we had bedbugs when I was a kid. Eventually my parents had to get rid of my brothers entire bedroom set, furniture and all to get rid of them. The ripped apart his entire room, sprayed it down and re did the whole thing. It did finally get rid of them for good, but boy did it take a while. We think they were in my brothers room because he was a bedwetter, so when I had kids I got a little paranoid about bed bugs. All our mattress are encased in allergy bed covers and I wash all our sheets in hot water all the time. Sometimes I wonder if I go overboard, but I don’t want to have to deal with them ever!!

  4. JBoogie says:

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit reading Jana’s comment. Helpful, but disgusting.

  5. Cate says:

    Bedbugs are an absolute nightmare. Am living it now. We live in a single family home in a good neighborhood. No one is exempt.

  6. Kikiriki says:

    I check the mattresses every time I go into a hotel room. Every Single Time.

  7. Snarky Mama says:

    LOL. @Heather: it’s hot here, and my reading comprehension is apparently suffering, because all i read was “eventually my parents had to get rid of my brothers” which seemed pretty harsh thing to do over some bugs.

  8. Heather says:

    Snarky Mama that is pretty funny. There were times I wished they would get rid of my brothers. They were very messy in the bathroom, heck they were messy all the time. So glad I never had to share a room with them.

  9. PlumbLucky says:

    Hee hee hee – you know, I know there was a reason why every time I was getting a new sibling, I insisted to my Mom that it was a girl, darnit. I wanted NOTHING to do with messy boys as a small child :-) .
    Oh, barfus on the hotel stuff. Yeah, we’re going to an out of town wedding this weekend. So you can guess what I’m going to be doing…

  10. [...] Just think about it:  No packing. No jet lag. No worrying about flight delays or lost luggage. No fretting about bed bugs at hotels. [...]

  11. Harry Case says:

    Soon we may have to say don’t ride in a taxicab, bus, train or aircraft. Don’t go the the movie theater, library, hospital or office. Seriously, we need some serious research into an effective, long-term method or strategy to beat back this upsurge in bed bugs or our lives are going to be consumed with avoiding and killing them.

  12. Alan Elias says:

    Unfortunately, all 50 states have now reported bed bugs, with hot spots being NY, NJ, CA, KY and more. Bed bugs do not just live on the mattress! They hide in cracks & crevices, inside walls, under carpeting, in couches and chairs, and even inside electronics. Putting a cover on your mattress does NOT work to stop bed bugs from biting you. Pesticides only have limited effect, must be applied 2-3 times and result in your having to throw out mattresses. The ONLY technology proven to work to kill bed bugs and their eggs in a single treatment is heat. NOT just throwing your things in the dryer. Heating the entire structure. Check out for more info.

  13. memo says:

    Comments…a natural, simple and very effective way to keep them away is regular exposure of your home furniture and bedding to day sunlight; the ultra violet rays is capable to destroy all bugs is amazing

  14. Rita says:

    I wonder if a hairdryer would be enough heat to treat suspect areas such as behind the headboard and around the mattress? I will also try Alan’s Sunlight suggestion. Thanks, all.

  15. Kathy Jones says:

    Comments I use dryer sheets. I put them in the auto under the seats, in suitcase when traveling and under the mattress pad etc. It keeps out ants so it should keep out bedbugs. I use to have a real problem with Ants om the car. No problem now and no harsh chemicals.

    Good Luck

  16. Mike says:

    if you do have a nasty bedbug infestation, ThermEx heat remediation is an effective and affordable solution.

  17. Leigh says:

    My spouse has been traveling half his life snd it is a must that he stays in hotels and motels that is close by for business

    all of the sudden these bed bugs along with every other disease in the world has became more devasting, the more foreign travel the worse things become
    If a loved one travels for a living in your home. Get ready! we have just discovered the nasty little creatures due to the marks they left on my spouse. Before it was all said and done they each began to contact one another to find out they had the same kind of bites on their bodies. once you find out what it is, you do begin to go alittle crazy due to the thought they now maybe in your home. This really makes me mad. Now that they have or are becomming an epedmic the hotels and motels should be required to have special mattress and be required to spray and keep documentation. But instead they tried to hide it, even though every one who stayed there have bug bites that look like mosquito bites all over their shoulders and arms, what are your rights once you have discovered where they came from? I get nervous ever time my loved one returns home from weekly travel it gives me the heebe geebees just to think about overnight travel

  18. Danielle says:

    We have had bed bugs and what helped us was dryer sheets. I know it sounds crazy but it does work. That and their is a spray that you can get at Lowes its almost 8 dollars but works wonders also! Hope this helps someone!

  19. R says:

    Bed Bug bites DO NOT look like mosquito bites.

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