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Bed Bugs: Where Do They Come From?

Until recently, few people had even heard of bed bugs. It’s clear that they’ve made a comeback, but when should you take precautions to avoid bringing them home with you?

Used Furniture

That sofa in the second hand furniture store might look great in your living room, but there’s no guarantee it is free of bed bugs. Considering snagging that piece of furniture on the curb? Don’t be so sure it’s free of bed bugs, either.

If you do buy a piece of used furniture, store it outside in the sun for a few days, steam clean it if possible, and vacuum it thoroughly. If there are pillows, slip covers, or other parts that can be washed, wash them in hot water and dry on high heat for at least 20 minutes.

Hotels

Because bedbugs tend to hitchhike on clothing, bags and luggage, places of high occupancy are prone to bed bugs infestations. Hotels exist for people who are coming and going—and possibly carrying a few unwanted guests with them. Protect yourself from bed bugs at hotels using these tips:

  • Leave your bags outside the room while you take a look around.
  • Look at the sheets for clusters rust-colored or black spots.
  • Check the seams of the mattress for spots, as well, or for shed bed bug casings.
  • Consider using a flashlight to look behind the headboard and joints of the bed frame for signs of bed bugs, especially if they are wood.
  • Hang your clothes in the closet. Leave folded clothes in your suitcase and store it on the rack above your hanging clothes. When you take it down, use a luggage rack—don’t put it on the floor, bed, or any other piece of furniture.
  • After any travel that includes a hotel, motel, or public transportation, unpack your suitcases directly into the washer. Wash them in hot water and dry  on high heat.

Offices and Schools

Bed bugs are increasingly showing up in office buildings and in schools. This is important to keep in mind, because bed bugs can hitch a ride on your clothing and come home with you. If you learn  of an infestation at your office or child’s school, get in the habit of giving a good once-over before coming into your home. Immediately change your clothes in a bathroom or garage (where the floor can be mopped there after). Tie your clothes tightly in a plastic bag and wash them as soon as possible in hot water. And, of course, dry on high heat for at least 20 minutes.

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