U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Prevent Bed Bugs: Quick tips

It can be hard to get rid of bed bugs once they are in your home. Follow these simple steps to help prevent them.

Learn the basics about bed bugs.

  • Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown bugs that bite people to eat blood. They can grow up to the size of an apple seed.
  • Bed bugs travel from place to place in luggage, clothes, boxes, and used furniture. They can also move between apartments through small cracks.
  • Bed bugs only come out at night – but leaving the light on won’t stop them from biting.
  • Bites from bed bugs can cause large, itchy bumps on some people, but other people don’t have any reaction at all.
  • Bed bugs can live for a long time without feeding.

Use a flashlight to check for bed bugs.

  • Check for bed bugs hiding in the mattress, box spring, and bed frame.
  • Be sure to look under the mattress and along the seams (edges) of the mattress.
  • Look for small, reddish spots on the mattress. These spots could be a sign of bed bugs.
  • Search other furniture near the bed, like night stands.

Check for bed bugs when you travel.

  • Put your luggage on a luggage rack (away from the wall) or in a dry bathtub. Don’t put it on the bed.
  • Follow the steps above to check for bugs where you are staying.
  • If you see signs of bed bugs, call the hotel desk or tell your host right away.

Take extra care with your luggage when you get home from a trip.

  • Keep your travel clothes separate from other laundry. Wash them in warm water right away.
  • Vacuum your luggage to get rid of any bed bugs that may have hitched a ride. Take the vacuum outside and empty the contents into a plastic bag that you can seal tightly. Throw this bag away in an outside garbage bin.

Act right away if you see a bed bug in your home.

  • Tell your landlord or call a pest control company as soon as you find bed bugs in your home.
  • Use clear tape to attach the bug to a white piece of paper. Show it to a pest control expert to make sure it’s a bed bug.
  • Don’t try to get rid of the bugs yourself. You could make the problem worse by spreading the bugs to other rooms in your home.
Prevent Bed Bugs: Quick tips

Content last updated on:
September 30, 2014