Bed bugs – avoiding an infestation in your home

Summer is approaching and many of us are dreaming of a well-deserved summer holiday. At the same time, the cost-of-living crisis means some of us are rethinking our financial strategy and considering cost-saving measures such as second-hand furniture. This could create the perfect storm for bed bug infestations in our homes.

In September 2021, I wrote about the ‘Six signs you’ve got a bed bug problem’,  which include red bite marks on your skin, blood spots on your bedding and mottled, discarded shells. With many of us returning from holiday after staying in potentially infested hotels or buying infested, upholstered furniture to save money, there is now the chance we could unknowingly be introducing this tenacious pest into our homes.

And it doesn’t matter where you stay or how careful you are, bed bugs are everywhere. In 2016, it was reported 44% of hotels in New York had a bed bug problem in the previous 12 months, including high-end establishments such as the Waldorf Astoria and Marriott Marquis hotels. In total 68% of bed bug reports come from hotels.

At the same time, the fact bed bugs can survive in some environments for up to 12 months without eating means they could be living dormant in furniture, undetected and untreated.

How to avoid a bed bug infestation on holiday

  • Before – read reviews because people will comment if they have had a problem with biting, etc.
  • Arrival – inspect the mattress, headboard, duvet and sheets for signs of an infestation. It might also be worth storing your luggage in the bathroom to avoid picking up hitchhikers in your suitcase or rucksack
  • During – dirty laundry attracts bed bugs, so make sure it is placed in a sealed plastic bag
  • At home – it is advisable to place your luggage/clothing etc. in the bath while you sort it out. Clothing should be washed immediately and, if you suspect there might be an infestation, vacuum your luggage etc. – pay special attention to the seams – and immediately discard the contents of the waste bag/cylinder

How to avoid a bed bug infestation from furniture

  • Avoid buying second-hand upholstered furniture – bed bugs may be inside, making them nearly impossible to detect
  • Avoid buying second-hand wooden furniture with crevices – bed bugs are tiny and could be living undetected in the little gaps – e.g., lampshades, headboards. Furniture with cleanable surfaces and made from hard wood/plastic – bookshelves, tables, nightstands, etc. – can be purchased with less risk, so long as you inspect them thoroughly

General advice – good housekeeping

As with all pest control issues, prevention is better than sure, but with bed bugs this is especially true because they are very difficult to remove once they have arrived.

Apart from remaining vigilant, it is advisable to:

  • Wash bedding at least once a week – bed bugs are attracted to dirty laundry and so washing bed linen at 60oC, the temperature to kill bacteria, will help to keep them under control
  • Vacuum – regular vacuuming of floors, skirting boards, under sofas, etc. will help to remove any bed bugs that may be around
  • De-clutter – like all pests, bed bugs like to remain hidden. Clutter is ideal, it provides places for them to hide and a way to travel into the home when you bring in a new object. It also makes it difficult to remove an infestation once it arrives

No one wants a bed bug problem. While they are not actually harmful in terms of spreading disease, they are a nuisance and deeply unpleasant. They are also very hard to eradicate.

Following this advice will help you to reduce the possibility of bed bugs entering your home but should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having an infestation, your best option is to call in a professional pest control company. They will have the expertise and access to the right treatments to get rid of the problem as quickly and safely as possible.

Download our Bed Bug Pest Advice leaflet.

We have the expertise to deal with a wide range of pest problems quickly, safely, and discreetly. If you have a problem, call us on 020 8430 4133 or email here.