The True Story on Bedbugs

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

In our book we mentioned bedbugs, and received an urgent letter from S. in Chicago with a correction and an explanation of exactly how bedbugs work. S. in Chicago is a bedbug victim and knows far more than we do. We made the correction to the most recent edition and asked if she’d put together a few words from the “war zone” as it were. Here is her reply:

I’m thrilled that you wrote back so quickly and glad to be sharing good information about bedbugs – it feels like I’m helping the cause on a greater scale. When bad information spreads, the bugs spread faster. And they are honestly the worst thing that’s ever happened to me (not to dramatize) so I just want to help other people with this however I can….

I recently suffered from bedbugs in my apartment in Chicago. It took us four months to rid our house of them, and thousands of dollars. Let me assure you that our house is quite clean, and that cleanliness has absolutely nothing to do with one’s chances of picking up bedbugs.

I would be quite surprised if you, living in New York City, had never known anyone who had bedbugs – they are reaching epidemic proportions in certain neighborhoods. But just to fill you in, bedbugs have nothing to do with a clean house, and everything to do with travel. They are often found in hotels, here and internationally. I personally travel for work, and while we still don’t know where our bedbugs came from, we assume it was from one of the many hotels that I stayed at.

However, once they have entered your home, all they require is YOU – a human body to feed on. They actually survive better in cleaner places, as they tend to avoid dust. Bedbugs are found today in 5-star hotels, just as often as they are found in cheap motels.

I am reading your book partly because my home has become a foreign war zone. I have lost control, so to speak, of my own space – and feel violated in the most personal place of all, my bed. Bedbugs are so hard to eradicate because they can hide just about anywhere – they are certainly not limited to your bed.

Dealing with bedbugs means washing every single article of clothing in your house, isolating your bed and treating with multiple rounds of toxic chemicals. It means moving furniture into the centers of the rooms, sealing and storing items for 18 months (since that is how long bedbugs can survive without a meal), and truly evaluating whether or not you NEED almost everything you own.

So in some ways, going through this awful ordeal is a bit like apartment therapy – I have truly learned the value of “traveling lightly.”

S. in Chicago

ps. If you ever want to know anything more about how to practically deal with bedbugs, go to the FAQs on I hope you never have to! 🙂