As 2018 comes to an end, most of us are starting to put together our New Year’s resolutions. Most of us come up with resolutions like losing weight, saving money, or even cleaning out that room we use for storage. What most of us don’t think about is how to keep pests like bed bugs out of our homes.

We usually think in terms of pest control rather than pest prevention; we only take action once the pests are inside rather than taking steps to prevent them in the first place. The winter months are prime season for bed bugs as the holidays lead to a huge surge in travelers and students returning back to school after winter break. Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers and will catch a ride on luggage, clothing, and even in our cars when we travel. Bed bugs are the most difficult pests to get rid of. Vigilant prevention is key to keeping these pests out of your home. Here are some easy steps you can take to help you succeed in your bed bug prevention resolution.

  • When you return home from vacation, carefully check your luggage for signs of bed bugs and vacuum them after you unpack them.
  • When you travel, keep your suitcase in a large plastic trash bag while in your room and elevate it on a luggage rack if possible.
  • Take a small flashlight with you when you travel to help with visual inspections.
  • Thoroughly inspect the entire room where you are staying before unpacking. Make sure to check behind the headboard, along the seams and in the corners of the mattress, the sheets, sofas and chairs to check for tell-tale blood spots and stains.
  • If you spot signs of bed bugs in another establishment, notify management or the homeowner immediately. If you change rooms because of suspected bed bugs, don’t move to a room that is directly adjacent to, above or below the infested room.
  • When you return home from travel, wash all of your clothes in hot water, even if you didn’t wear them. Dry them on high heat before storing them in your drawers or closets.
  • Use a protective cover that completely encases both the mattress and box spring to eliminate hiding spots.
  • Don’t bring secondhand furniture (especially mattresses and box springs) into your home without thoroughly inspecting them first.
  • Store your seasonal clothing and fabric in vacuum sealed bags before storing them.
  • Cover your power outlets with outlet covers as bed bugs like to hide there before moving to other locations.
  • Reduce the clutter in your home to eliminate hiding places for bed bugs.
  • Vacuum your home frequently to remove any hitchhiking bed bugs.
  • Regularly inspect where your pets sleep for signs of bed bugs.
  • If you are moving, avoid using moving blankets that are provided by the moving company and purchase your own instead.
  • If you use shared laundry facilities like a laundromat or a laundry room in a dorm or apartment building, transport your laundry in a plastic bag. Take your laundry out of the dryer and put it immediately back into the plastic bag to take home. Fold it after you return home.
  • If you live in a multi-family home like a dorm or apartment building, help keep bed bugs out of your unit by installing door sweeps and sealing any cracks and crevices around baseboards and light sockets.

If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough inspection and professional treatment options.