Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite


In the Middle Ages, travelers used to sleep with pigs in their beds to keep the bedbugs from biting. Nowadays, there are more reasonable precautions you can take.

Here are a few tips to keep the bedbugs from nibbling on you while you slumber.

Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum
Probably the single most effective invention in pest control is the vacuum cleaner. It’s your friend; use it, and use it often. Vacuum cleaners catch bugs and their eggs, as well as dust mites, carpet beetles, and any other unwanted pest lurking on your carpet or floor. Throw the vacuum bag out immediately after you use it, wrapping it in a plastic bag.

Travel Safe
Forget about fleabags — hotels these days are more like bedbug inns. When you arrive at a hotel, check the seams of the mattress and the headboard for signs of bedbugs. If you suspect bedbugs, ask to be moved to a different room, preferably far away from the suspect one. Never put your suitcase or bags on the floor. Use a suitcase stand, if one is provided, and make sure you inspect it for bedbugs first. Travel with your clothes and toiletries in sealable plastic bags. Ziploc sells Big Bags, a line of supersized bags that are great for storing clothes and other large items. When you come home, don’t leave the suitcase unpacked in the guest room for a week. Instead, immediately empty it, washing and drying clothes on high heat before you put them back in the dresser. If you suspect bedbugs, don’t bring your suitcase into your house until you’ve had a chance to inspect it thoroughly. Check your toiletry bag carefully as you unpack it.

Clear the Clutter
Apartment-dwellers, brace yourselves. Don’t store stuff under your bed. You’re just giving refuge to the little bloodsuckers. Reduce clutter where you can. Bedbugs love dark crevices — books, papers, wood molding, and cardboard boxes. Keep the floors clear of bins, piles of shoes, and other places where a homeless bug could find shelter.

Cover Up
Invest in a high-quality, bedbug-proof mattress and box spring cover. Protect-a-Bed sells mattress encasements for about $130 for a queen-size mattress. Keep your mattress off the floor and away from the wall. Make sure no blankets or bed skirts hang onto the floor. If you’re particularly anxious, you can also rest the feet of your bedposts in jars of water to keep the bugs from crawling up.

The Dryer Is Your New BFF
To keep your home safe, wash sheets and towels regularly on high heat. Thirty minutes in a dryer on high heat will kill the bugs and their eggs. Use extra detergent when you wash. The bugs don’t fare well in sudsy water.

Be Vigilant
Check your sheets regularly for telltale signs of the pesky critters. Bites are only one sign. Watch for black flecks on your sheets (fecal stains) or thin, reddish streaks (blood stains from when they bite). Keep sticky tape beneath your bed to catch wandering bugs. If you suspect bedbugs, check the seams and crevices of your mattress for black stains from the bugs. Lift the box spring and look beneath it for any tears where bugs might have entered. The sooner you catch the problem, the faster you can treat it. If you notice any of the telltale signs, call an exterminator to inspect.

About Author:

Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post,, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

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