Based on most experiences with bed bugs, people who have these problems have one thing in common: they have either traveled someplace for business or pleasure or have had guests staying with them. That is how the majority of homes affected with bed bugs get them in the first place. So what can you do to protect your luggage from bed bugs? Also, how can you tell if you have brought bed bugs home from your trip? What can you do to avoid bed bug bites now that you have found a bed bug in your luggage? Let us take a closer look at these questions and see if we can answer them all.
Bed bugs in my luggage: FAQs
I travel a lot for work. What can I do to avoid picking up bed bugs in my luggage?
This is a question many people ask. It is also a tough one, but you can do what pest control companies recommend. When you check into a hotel, just drag your luggage as much as needed to close the door. Then, inspect the entire room using a UV flashlight. Always make sure to carry small bed bug detecting UV flashlights wherever you go. Thoroughly inspect the room for signs of bed bugs. These include reddish brown stains on the edges of mattresses, as well as discarded shells or exoskeletons of bugs around the headboard etc. Also take a look behind the art work, on curtains, in electrical outlets etc. When you are satisfied, open your luggage and start unpacking. Also place your luggage in the bathroom as it has a lesser chance of being infested as compared to the bedroom or sleeping area.
Do bed bug bags for luggage help?
Yes, you can buy bed bug bags specially designed for protecting luggage from bugs or you could use any trash bag that is large enough to cover your suitcase or backpack or if you prefer, use plastic bags with drawstrings. You can use these bed bugs suitcase plastic bags in two ways: place all of your luggage and other items in these bags to protect them from bugs. Secondly, if you suspect having bed bugs, you could cover up all infested items and keep them sealed in these plastic bags until you are home. Immediately heat treat your luggage to kill trapped bugs. Also wash and launder all clothing in hot water, detergent or bleach to kill bed bugs, their eggs and larvae. Don’t forget to dry all items in the dryer on the hottest setting to eliminate all living bugs. Many hotels have laundry facilities that you could use. Also, hotels have hair dryers that you can use on your luggage (suitcases or backpacks). These can do a fairly decent job of eliminating bed bugs.
What about luggage encasements? Are they effective?
Luggage liners or encasements help cover the clothing inside to prevent bed bugs from getting into your clothes. Many of these products are quite effective and they also protect against dust and allergens. If you are a frequent traveler, you could invest in these products. But despite using these, it is still recommended that you inspect your luggage for bugs, once you are home. Also wash all items to get rid of larvae and eggs that may not be visible to the naked eye.
Since I travel a lot, should I use bed bug inspection devices to detect bed bugs in my room?
It is recommended to invest in a bed bug detection UV flashlight. This is a very useful device for someone who travels extensively. Apart from bed bugs, this light also detects urine stains – very handy if you have pets. Use the UV light in the hotel room to ensure it is bug free. There are other bed bug detection devices that make the bugs glow bluish in color, but unfortunately, many cheap products have flooded the market. These even make things like lint glow, so it becomes harder detecting bugs. Also, for many devices, a large number of bed bugs have to be present for the device to be able to do its job.
How can you tell if you have brought bed bugs home?
Generally, folks who travel do not know they have brought bed bugs home until after several weeks or months. Until then, the bed bug populations have increased dramatically and they likely have spread to other areas of your home. So it is best to assume that you could have bed bugs, especially if you have lived in motels and hotels, or even traveled to infested cities in planes or buses. Once you are home, keep your luggage outside, preferably in a garage or balcony. Heat treat it using a dryer or a heat chamber (described below). Remove all suspected items and wash them. You can place non-washable items in the freezer or have them steamed to kill bed bug eggs, larvae and adults.
How can I get rid of bed bugs in my backpack?
The first thing to do when you find bed bugs in your backpack is to contain the infestation. Remove all items from the backpack. Assume they are all infested and either bag the items or wash them. Toss all clothes and fabrics in the washer and wash them on the highest setting in hot water and detergent. Bag all remaining items. You can have these heat treated with a steamer or hair dryer. Next, toss the empty backpack in the washer and dryer and let the hot water, detergent and heat kill all stages of bed bugs. It is important to inspect your rooms for bed bugs. Chances are that bed bugs have hitchhiked their way into your house using your backpack. So inspect your bedding, closets, mattresses, headboards, rugs, carpets etc. Vacuum clean the entire house. Remember: if you have found bed bugs in the luggage, it is highly likely that you will find bed bugs elsewhere in the house. So treat the house properly and protect your loved ones from bed bug bites.
How can I heat treat luggage for bed bugs?
Heat chambers and portable heating units can be used to treat luggage items that may be infested with bed bugs. Many do-it-yourself heat chambers can be purchased at hardware stores or from online retailers and they come in different shapes, sizes and prices. These heat chambers are handy for travelers to treat their suitcases and backpacks after coming home. You can also put these chambers to other uses, like treating donated books which may be infested with bugs etc.
Are bed bug luggage sprays convenient?
Yes. Many bed bug sprays can be used on luggage to repel bugs. If you are a frequent traveler, you could carry travel size packs of these sprays and treat your suitcases and backpacks before traveling. This will also protect them from bed bugs on planes and in buses. Some sprays come in foam varieties and many sprays are also eco-friendly and chemical free. Bug sprays with herbs like cedar and cinnamon also repel bugs. Spray these products inside and outside your backpack and suitcases to prevent bugs from climbing in.
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