How to get rid of bed bugs

How to prevent a bed bugs infestation from traveling and when home

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Travelling can be dangerous if there are bed bugs involved.

Preventing Bed Bugs While Travelling

To ensure you have a safe and bed bug free trip, follow the steps below. Packing and unpacking is such a pivotal part of travelling to prevent bed bugs form crawling into your luggage and bags, especially if you will be flying. The Government of Canada’s website is a great resource for learning about bed bugs and gives informative tips on preventing bed bugs.

Airplanes

Using a lighter colored plastic luggage bag is a great option as bed bugs do not prefer spaces that are lighter where they feel they would be easier to spot. Darker colored luggage is more attractive to the bugs. Packing white sealable plastic bags are great to use when stowing your belongings.

Luggage

You can buy a special bed bug spray for your luggage bag. All you have to do is spray it before you place all of your belongings inside. Ensure you are placing your items into plastic bags first. The sprays are usually small enough to carry around with you and are made specifically for travelling.

Hotels

As soon as you enter your hotel room, do not immediately place your belongings on the bed. Instead, leave your luggage and personal items inside the bathroom. Some prefer to leave their bag in the bathtub as this is the safest place for your things in the entire room. If you do not wish to keep your bag there, place it on the luggage rack before opening it up to unpack. When unpacking your garments, do not place them on the bed or the surrounding furniture or leave them laying out strewn all over the room as this is easier for bed bugs to crawl around in. Also, leave your shoes in an open area instead of leaving them under the bed.

Complete a thorough inspection of your hotel room by searching for the common signs for bed bugs (Bed bug skin, droppings, blood stained mattress, sheets, pillows, furniture, dead bed bugs, baby bed bugs). The survey by the National Pest Management Association also noted that only 25% of people actually inspect their hotel rooms for bed bugs. Lift the mattress to check if there are bed bugs under it and check al of the creases in the mattress and every corner. If you have a flashlight handy, use it to see inside the closet, paying close attention to the corners and small spaces.

Always notify the concierge if you see any signs of bed bugs and request another room to stay in. Do not stay in the room next to the infested one in the case the infestation has spread to the next room.  

When you are travelling, it is highly recommended that you place all of your items into clear, sealable plastic bags. This will not kill bed bugs, but it will prevent them from getting into your personal belongings when you arrive at the hotel.

In general, the thought of bed bugs in plastic seems like it would work in your favour of killing them. Bed bugs will not die from suffocation, but, if they are stuck inside of a plastic bag for a long period of time then they can starve to death. This method will not clear your infestation but it will take care of some of those bugs that you found.

Fact: Bed bugs can die without oxygen quickly but unless you can find a way to do that for all of the bed bugs in your home, it’s unlikely to work as a main treatment method.

A study in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that:

all life stages of bugs were found to be susceptible to ULO (ultra-low oxygen) and vacuum treatments…

Anytime where a bug had less oxygen and the temperature was raised, they would die much faster. As the article states:

After 8 hours at 0.1% oxygen, at 86 Fahrenheit, 99.1% of the bed bugs died.

Those are the best success rates for any treatment.

After Returning Home from Travelling

After getting home from your trip, do not unpack everything in your bedroom, instead, unpack in the garage or a room other than your bedroom, in the case that a bed bug may have found its way into your luggage.

Be sure to inspect all of your belongings, not just your clothing. After unpacking, throw all of your garments into the wash with hot water. Dry the items on the highest heat for about 30 minutes.
Lastly, vacuum your luggage. Throw away the vacuum bag in a sealed bag and throw it away as soon as you are done. Clean every part of the vacuum to ensure no bugs were left behind and wash the dust collector with detergent.

Commonly Asked About Products to Prevent Bed Bugs

Baby Powder 

According to Terminix.com, using baby powder to fight against bed bugs is not an effective method as it does not contain the same sharp properties as diatomaceous earth does. Some people have reported using two methods with baby power: 1) sprinkle the baby powder directly on the bugs so that it was dehydrate their exoskeleton and die and 2) Pouring baby powder into a bowl where the bed bugs can easily find their way in but since it will be too slippery, could not get out. Scientifically speaking, this is not a method that is proven to work as the product was solely made for babies and toddlers. All the baby powder will accomplish is irritate the bugs and clear their scent.

Medicine

Is it possible that there could be a medicine to kill bed bugs? A study from Eastern Virginia Medical says there is, as stated by Pest World. It is a pill containing the ingredient called Ivermectin, and it is used in heartworm medication for dogs. There is a human version for travelers. The study shows 60 % of bed bugs will die after a human has taken this pill. This pill is not yet on the market. The National Pest Management Association says that this pill will not effectively get rid of an infestation. The infestation will have to be handled in a separate and more physical manor with stronger products that can come in direct contact with the bug. 

Lysol

A popular product purchased by many is Lysol. Lysol is made from a chemical composition including Benzalkonium Chloride and Hydrogen Peroxide. Since bed bugs are highly resistant to many of the products and pesticides on the market today, it can difficult to find something that will actually show results. Lysol contains an ingredient that bed bugs are not as resilient to and is actually quite harsh for them. The smell of Lysol itself is super potent and will reach their hiding spots. If you are planning to use the hot steam method to get rid of them, consider also taking the Lysol spray and spray it on them directly to kill them. Bottom line is that Lysol can kill bed bugs. As for the bed bug eggs, because of their hiding spots, the Lysol may not reach those corners and will likely not be as effective.

Lavender

Ever heard of using Lavender Oil to kill bed bugs? Some people say that it does work. It can work on several pests including bed bugs. Fortunately, Lavender Oil can also kill bed bugs eggs. Some of the most common Lavender Oils are:

  • Dutch Lavenderm
  • English Lavenderm
  • French Lavenderm
  • Spanish Lavenderm

A common method of using Lavender Oil is turning it into a repellent spray. The recommendation is that it be used in a diluted spray form to decrease it’s potency. Use one drop of the Lavender Oil in one ounce of water. Spray it on your mattress and ensure that you spray it as deep into the seams as possible. You can use this spray on clothing as well but make sure that it is completely dry before use. Tip: if you steam your clothes, add a drop of Lavender Oil for a nice, light scent that will also repel bed bugs. 

Peppermint 

Peppermint Oil is another popular option for repelling bed bugs. It has a very strong scent and some may be bothered by it. Bed bugs, too, are not fans of this oil. Just like the Lavender Oil, always dilute the solution before use. Another method is to use cotton balls with peppermint oil and surround your bed with them, especially around the legs of the bed. The peppermint oil will also keep the bed bugs from biting you if it was sprayed on your bed before sleeping. In the case that a bed bug becomes successful and feeds on you, you can use these oils to soothe the irritation from the bite as they contain anti-inflammatory properties. Overall, using oils would not be the best option for killing bed bugs but a good tool to use. Do not expect it to clear up your infestation.

Pillows

Bed bugs can also be found hiding in your pillows. As unappealing as this sounds, there are ways to get rid of them inside of your pillow. Some signs of bed bugs in your pillow are: Bed bugs will lay their eggs and nest them in your pillow as this is a perfect spot to keep them safe. Bed bug feces are a sign there is a problem. You will see small black dots on your bed. Bed bugs are notorious for their musty scent. This definitely indicates an infestation. If you so happen to find yourself intensely scratching at your skin, there is a good chance that one of these little critters have fed on you. Lastly, any blood stains are the biggest indicator of a bed bug problem.

To get rid of the bed bugs in your pillows:

  • Wash your pillows thoroughly in hot water, as well as the sheets and covers.
  • Dry them on the highest heat in your dryer as it will kill ay remaining bed bugs and their eggs.
  • By using a bed bug spray, spray your pillows and bed sheets, paying close attention to the corners and under your bed as they find solace in dark, cluttered areas
  • Bed bug killer dust exists and it is recommended to use directly on your pillows and mattress for best effectiveness. Apply it everywhere on the bedding and will fortunately protect your bedroom for almost a year.

Salt

Salt tastes great and is used to season many of our meals, but can it be used to kill our bed bug enemies? It’s not a new method, but salt has been previously used to kill other pests, some say. Salt will essentially absorb bed bugs fluids, resulting in dehydration and cause death. Ultimately, salt is not a great option to use against bed bugs. Unlike pesticides and sprays, table salt does not contain harsh chemicals or ingredients that bed bugs are not resistant to. As simple and as easy it sounds, it is not a definitive option for getting rid of bed bugs.

Silk

We know that bed bugs are big fans of surfaces that are rigid and easy to crawl and navigate on. Luckily, they are not fond of materials such as silk. More specifically, bamboo and mulberry silk are natural pest resisters. Silk is a great option for your bedding as it is also hypoallergenic and antibacterial. It is multi-functional and worth it. Bed bugs will avoid these smooth and slippery surfaces so choosing to use smoother materials such as silk.

Vaseline

Vaseline® Jelly is a pure petroleum jelly with a combined blend of mineral oils and waves. Vaseline Jelly has many uses but its most popular use is for protecting skin, Can Vaseline kill or possibly prevent bed bugs?

According to bedbugs.org, Vaseline can be used as a trap. If you apply the Vaseline to the bed legs, there will be no way that bed bugs will be able to crawl up. Another sticky technique would be to use double-sided duct tape so the bed bugs cannot escape.

Read more on how to get rid of bed bugs in our How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs guide.

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How to get rid of bed bugs