An Exterminator Warns That This Is a Common Place You Can Pick Up Bed Bugs

published Nov 18, 2023
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View of bedroom with double bed
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With the most recent uptick in bed bug infestations, people are again on high alert about how to prevent having to deal with these shudder-inducing pests. They’re remarkably hardy creatures, which makes them all the more terrifying to think about having in your home. Because they can be super hard to get rid of once they take hold in a space, knowing how to keep from bringing them into your home is the first line of defense. 

A few years ago, I talked with an exterminator at a friend’s house and we got on the subject of bed bugs. He told me something I’d never heard before: He said he hardly ever goes to movies because one of the most common places to pick up bedbugs is movie theaters! He told me that when he or any of his family members go to movie theaters, they strip down to their underwear before even going into the house and toss their clothes straight into the dryer. 

Throwing bedding or clothing in the washing machine will drown any active bed bugs. But to ensure that you aren’t bringing the critters into your home (even if you don’t see any signs of bed bugs) you’ll need the high heat of a dryer. Toss any possibly affected clothing into the dryer, set it on the highest setting, and let it run for at least 15 minutes. It can’t hurt and it might save you from a much bigger headache later! 

If you do see a few bed bugs in your home, it’s important to act quickly to prevent a larger-scale infestation. Mattress encasements can keep bed bugs from infesting your mattress and boxsprings, alcohol sprays and diatomaceous earth can kill them, essential oils and insect repellants can repel them, and furniture traps can help catch them before they take up residence in your furniture. 

Additional measures you can take at home to prevent bed bugs include clearing clutter, vacuuming regularly (including your mattress), and checking luggage and secondhand furniture before bringing it into the house. 

I don’t want to live in fear, and I certainly don’t want to let bedbugs keep me from enjoying a rare-for-me night out at the movies. However, if bed bugs are spreading, it’s more likely than ever that infestations could start not just from hotel stays, where we may be used to checking for signs of bed bugs, but also in places we might not think of, like movie theaters.

I’m grateful to add one exterminator’s take on the matter, and this is an easy step I can take if I want to be extra careful not to bring bed bugs home.