Although they aren't actually dangerous unless you're allergic to their bites, bedbugs are pretty revolting. And, as we all probably know, infestations have been on the rise. Following are some ways to help ensure that these very unwanted guests don't end up in your home.
Here are a few ways you could unintentionally bring bedbugs home — and how to avoid them.
Check out The Bed Bug Registry to see if there have been reports of bedbugs where you're staying or thinking of staying.
When you first arrive at your hotel room, avoid putting your luggage on the floor, if possible. Keep it on the luggage rack, put it on a stand, or store it in the bathroom temporarily.
Check the mattress for signs of bedbegs, who love to live where their food source sleeps. Pull back the fitted sheet and check the mattress seams for brown spots. You probably won't see any actual bedbugs, but these spots, which are actually blood spots or shed skin or feces, are a tell-tale sign of their presence. If you see this, get out of there and report to management.
Note: Don't think that only budget hotels have bedbug problems; they don't discriminate, and even very nice places have struggled with bedbug infestations in recent years.
At Second-Hand Stores
Another way bedbugs can find their way into your house is through the introduction of second-hand furniture. To avoid this scenario, check your items before you buy them. This is particularly important for upholstered items. Like you would at a hotel, check the seams where the little critters are apt to hide and leave evidence of their habitation. If you see any spots, skip the purchase.
Even without seeing any evidence, it's a good idea (bedbugs or not) to thoroughly clean your second-hand furniture items. If you missed any signs of bedbugs, these steps can help you avoid bringing them in. (It's ideal if you can perform these steps outside somewhere, like maybe in your driveway or at a gas station that has a vacuum.)
1) Thoroughly vacuum upholstery. Every nook and cranny, every square inch of surface.
2) Thoroughly wipe down wood or other hard surfaces.
Don't worry, it's rare, but bedbugs from a public place such as a school, office, movie theater, subway, etc. can find their way onto your clothing or other personal belongings. You can check for signs of bed bugs before you sit down and try to avoid placing your purse or other items on the floor, if you're worried about the possibility that bed bugs may be present.
When you arrive home, if you're concerned you may have been exposed (whether it's at a hotel or elsewhere), change your clothes and put them into a very hot dryer immediately. Wipe down or vacuum personal items like bags and shoes.
For more information, see How to Keep Bed Bugs Out of Your House and the CDC-EHS Joint Statement on Bed Bug Control in the United States.
(Image credits: Shutterstock/Shutterstock)