Avoiding Bed Bugs

Bed bugs don't discriminate. Anyone can get them.

Bed bugs come in as stowaways in luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and more when these are moved between dwellings. Moving out won’t solve the problem, since bed bugs will just come with you. In fact, while dealing with bed bugs it’s best not to sleep away from home. Used furniture, particularly bed frames and mattresses, are most likely to harbor bed bugs. Watch out for items found on the curb! Because they survive for many months without food, bed bugs could already be present in clean, vacant apartments.

In the early days of the bed bug resurgence, their appearance was attributed to travel. Bed bugs were commonly found in hotels and at that time, hotel workers, as well as their pest management firms, were unfamiliar with them which allowed their spread.

  • In multifamily housing, bed bugs move easily from one apartment to another, especially when one unit is heavily infested.
  • People move bed bugs on their belongings, such as luggage, bags, coats, and sometimes clothing.
  • Some fields of work have higher risk of exposure to bed bugs, such as home health care, child care, and anyone who enters or works in the homes of others

Bed Bug Avoidance Tips for travelers

Bed bugs are often found in places that experience a high volume of overnight guests, such as hotels and motels, hostels, and cruise ships.

Inspect Your Accommodations

Remember, they feed at night while you’re sleeping, then retreat to a sheltered crevice by morning. That shelter might be within your luggage or possessions. When visiting a hotel, check the room quickly for signs of bed bugs, such as blood stains on the pillows or linens.

Inspect the seams of the mattress carefully. Peek behind the headboard and wall decor. Bed bugs will hide in these places; if you don’t see them or any signs, there should be no problem.

Check possible hiding places such as

  • Seams, creases, tufts, and folds of the mattress and box spring
  • Cracks in the bed frame and head board
  • Underneath chairs, couches, beds, dustcovers
  • Between the cushions of upholstered furniture
  • Underneath area rugs and the edges of carpets
  • Between the folds of drapery or curtains
  • In the drawers of night stands, dressers, etc.
  • Behind the baseboards
  • Around door and window casings
  • Behind electrical switch plates
  • Under loose wallpaper, paintings, posters, etc.
  • In cracks in the plaster
  • In telephones, radios, clocks, lamps and similar objects

If you find bed bugs

If you visited an infested place, inspect your luggage and souvenirs before bringing them back into your home. If infested, clothing should be placed in hot dryers; cold treatments might be appropriate for other items.

How to Get Bed Bugs Out of Your Belongings. Frye, Matthew; Gangloff-Kaufmann, Jody. New York State Integrated Pest Management program.

To stop the spread of bed bugs people can take action to remove bed bugs from their personal belongings and reduce the number of bugs in their home. This document provides non-pesticide treatment recommendations for household items, which are often overlooked or not treated by professional bed bug control services.

 Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann
Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann

Extension Associate, Senior

NYS Integrated Pest Management

Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann