Even if you don't have a rash or find bed bugs, there are several important steps you can take to make sure you don't become one of the icky statistics.
- Lock 'em out: Buy a mattress encasement designed and tested for bed bugs. There's no way these suckers can get into (or out of) an approved encasement. So, even if bed bugs are introduced to your home, they won't be able to settle in and will be much easier to spot. Wash your linens weekly (in water at least 120 degrees.)
- Trap 'em: Bed bug interceptors are small plastic dishes that go under bed legs. The bugs can climb up them, but then they slide down into them and become trapped and easy to spot.
- Strip search: When you get home from a “high-risk” area like a flea market, movie theater or mall, take off your clothes and throw them into the dryer immediately, on high heat for 30 minutes. Temperatures of 113 degrees or higher will kill eggs and adults. And don’t forget your shoes; toss them in a pillowcase (to protect your clothes) and throw them in the dryer as well.
- Don't invite them home: As tempting as that comfy armchair at the yard sale may be, don't buy it. Used furniture such as beds, sofas, and chairs can harbor hidden bugs and bring them right into your home. Keep clutter around your bed to a minimum and never store anything under the bed.
- Baggage check: When you feel like you've come home from an area where you might have been exposed to bed bugs, dump out your purse (in the foyer or garage). Check the seams and pockets, and treat with an insecticide specifically designed for bags and luggage. Next, vacuum out the interior; remove the vacuum filter, put it in a plastic bag, and dispose of it immediately.
- Don’t pick up hitchhikers: If you’re traveling, inspect your hotel room and keep luggage on racks as far from the bed and sofas as possible. When you get home, wash anything that can be laundered in a hot wash, or dry on high heat. Seal others in plastic bags. Leave the luggage in the garage or foyer. Unzip every compartment, and vacuum it from the inside out, taking extra time in the nooks, and disposing of the vacuum filter immediately. You can also treat your luggage with an insecticide. Other options include portable units that heat your suitcase to destroy bugs and eggs.