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How To Prevent Bed Bugs In Your Home

Erica Gellerman4-Minute Read
February 22, 2021

Mention bedbugs to any homeowner and watch them cringe. Bedbugs can be a big problem that takes a lot of money, energy and time to get rid of. Rather than deal with an infestation after it occurs, it’s better to learn how to prevent bedbugs from entering your home and creating a big headache.

Know What Attracts Bedbugs

To keep bedbugs from being a major problem in your home, you want to make it a place where they don’t want to be.

Bedbugs are attracted to warm areas, carbon dioxide, blood and some common household odors. Contrary to popular belief, filth and dirt do not attract bedbugs, but a messy home environment can make it more difficult to spot infestations when they arise.

Learn How To Spot An Infestation

Spotting a bedbug infestation early can be very helpful in controlling it before it gets out of hand. It’s much easier and cheaper to deal with bedbugs before they spread too far (or before you spread them to another household).

Bedbug Infestations

When you’re dealing with a bedbug problem, you’ll usually see some of the following signs:

  • Rust-colored stains on your bedding or mattress that are caused from the bugs being crushed while you sleep
  • White eggs or eggshells, typically the size of a pinhead
  • A strong, sweet odor often compared to berries
  • Bites or itchy skin
  • Small dark spots, which are the bedbugs’ excrement

Adult Bedbugs

If you have bugs in your house but you’re not sure if they’re bedbugs, check their appearance. Some tell-tale signs:

  • Approximately the size of an apple seed (5 – 7mm)
  • Reddish-brown or bright red in appearance and balloon-shaped if they have recently fed
  • Oval-shaped, brown and with a flattened body if they have not recently fed
  • Bug characteristics, such as an antenna with four parts, wings not used for flying, and short golden-colored hair

Bedbug Larvae

Bedbug larvae look significantly different from bedbugs and can be more difficult to spot. They are:

  • Seed-shaped
  • Half of a millimeter in length
  • Yellow or white in appearance

Inspect Secondhand Items

Bedbugs are resilient creatures that can travel in furniture, clothing, fabric and electrical sockets. So, when you’re buying something secondhand, you want to be sure to inspect it very well to be sure you don’t bring a bedbug infestation into your house with the new goods.

Some common secondhand items you’ll want to give a thorough check include:

  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Drapery
  • Wall tapestry
  • Electronics

Buying secondhand items is a great idea — it saves money and reduces waste. But because you have the chance of bringing bedbugs into your home, you’ll want to take some additional precautions.

Thoroughly check all items, including the seams and any cracks in the furniture. Dry clothes in the dryer on high heat. Vacuum all items to make sure any little bugs haven’t made their way into your home. And know the signs and what to look for when checking for bedbugs. You may not see the bugs themselves, but rather signs like blood and excrement.

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Protect Your Mattress

Bedbugs love to hide in your mattress, so this is a perfect place to proactively protect. Consider investing in a protective encasement for both your mattress and your box spring. Buy a bedbug interceptor for bed legs.

Avoid Exposure From Hotels

While you’re away on vacation and staying in a hotel or other vacation homes, you’re putting yourself at risk of bringing bedbugs home with you. But a savvy traveler will know what to look for, to make sure they don’t bring any of these unwanted critters back with them.

When you check into the hotel, check the bed for infestations immediately. You’ll want to keep your suitcase away from the bed, just in case there’s anything you can’t see. And upon returning home, wash all clothes that you traveled with.

Check Your Pets

Bedbugs don’t live on pets, but they can bite pets and make a home in their beds. Inspect your pets regularly for any sign of bedbug bites and take a close look at their bedding to make sure no insects have made their home there.

Keep Your Home Clean

While bedbugs aren’t a sign of a dirty home (they can be present in the cleanest of homes), having a dirty home makes it more difficult to recognize the signs of an infestation. Remove clutter in your home to reduce the number of hiding spaces for bedbugs. Vacuum frequently to make sure you’re cleaning up any bugs that have made your way into your home. Adding these two things into your regular cleaning schedule will help make any bedbug issues easy to spot.

Get The Right Pesticides

There are a number of different products designed to help prevent and eliminate bedbugs in your home. The EPA has over 300 products registered that are designed to treat bedbugs which fall into seven different chemical classes that kill or deter bugs in different ways.

Neem oil, the only biochemical product approved for controlling bedbugs, can be used to discourage bugs from inhabiting your home. Desiccants, like boric acid, dehydrate and kill bedbugs, but should be limited to certain areas of your home (like cracks and crevices) to reduce the risk of human inhalation.

A full list of available options can be found on the EPA website.

Watch Out For Shared Spaces

Bedbugs don’t just stop at your door. If you live in a shared space, such as a duplex, or you rent a room out to travelers, you’ll want to take preventative measures to avoid an infestation from neighbors.

Install door sweeps on the bottom of your doors to make it more difficult for bugs to move between rooms. Seal any cracks and crevices, especially around door frames. And be sure to thoroughly inspect any rooms after a renter has left to make sure they didn’t bring any bedbugs into your home.

Final Thoughts On Avoiding Bedbugs

Bedbugs can be challenging to avoid, but with the right precautions you can give yourself the best chance of getting rid of them. For more suggestions on how to keep your home clean and safe, read through the Rocket Homes® homeowner archives.

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    Erica Gellerman

    Erica Gellerman is a CPA, MBA, personal finance writer, and founder of The Worth Project. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Money, Business Insider, The Everygirl, The Everymom and more.