According to the 2018 Bugs Without Borders survey, pest professionals are contacted about bed bugs more than almost any other type of critter, including cockroaches and fleas.
Whether you find a single bug in your suitcase or you discover a fully-fledged infestation on your mattress, bed bugs can be a real pain to completely eliminate.
Lucky for you, there are some simple steps you can take to greatly diminish your chances of finding bed bugs in your home.
Here are eight things you can do to beat bed bugs.
Knowing what a bed bug and a bed bug infestation look like are the easiest ways to stop a bed bug problem from becoming a full-blown crisis.
Bed bugs are oval, flat, brown and wingless insects about a ¼-inch long. They can be found in box springs, mattresses, bed frames, wall outlets, floor cracks and behind clocks and pictures. The critters occasionally leave behind casings and deposit fecal or blood spots, which look like dark red or brown smears, on bed sheets, pillowcases and mattresses, according to the University of Minnesota.
If you see any bugs or dark blood spots and you suspect you might be dealing with bed bugs, you should call a pest control service as soon as possible.
Although it might seem less than ideal to touch a mattress that all kinds of strangers have used, it's a better option than the alternative of getting bed bugs.
When you get to a hotel or rental home, start by pulling back the sheets and scanning near the corners of the mattress and around the headboard. You should look for bugs, dark brown and red blood spots and casings. Then, lift the mattress and check underneath. If you can pack a small flashlight, that will make it easier to spot any signs of the bugs.
If you find any of the signs or wake up to any bites, Consumer Reports recommends that you report it to hotel management immediately and ask for a new room in a separate part of the building at least a floor or two away.
If you've ever dealt with bed bugs, you know that you would do anything to ensure you won't go through that nightmare again. Purchasing mattress and box spring encasements and bed bug interceptors are easy ways to protect yourself against any future bed bug-related hassle.
Bed bug-proof encasements won't stop the critters from getting into your home, but they will make it easier to eliminate them if an infestation develops. After covering your mattress and box spring with encasements, any bed bugs that may be hiding on them will be trapped and eventually die of starvation, according to Texas A&M.
Bed bug interceptors, which are special platforms or cups that you place under each foot of the bed frame, will also help to prevent bed bugs from climbing up and onto your bed.
Even if you're decorating a new apartment or home on a budget, you'll want to think twice about any used furniture you plan on purchasing or grabbing off the streets.
In particular, used bed frames and mattresses have the greatest chance of harboring bed bugs and their eggs, according to the Seattle Office of Housing. If you plan to place used furniture in your home, it's crucial that you carefully inspect the items for signs of a bed bug infestation.
You can also treat your newly-picked used furniture with insecticide sprays that kill bed bugs and their eggs on contact.
Since bed bugs love hitching rides, it's important to safeguard your suitcase from the critters during vacations or business trips.
Consider wrapping your entire suitcase in a trash bag when you arrive at a hotel to eliminate any potential infestation during your trip. And, instead of leaving your suitcase on the ground or throwing it on the extra bed, place your baggage on a luggage rack, desk or in the bathroom, where there are fewer areas for the bugs to hide, Frommer recommends.
When you arrive home from vacation, vacuum your suitcases to make sure no bugs are entering your home.
When your on a trip, it's always best to pack a plastic bag for dirty and seal it when your done adding clothes to it. Bed bugs are significantly more attracted to dirty clothes than to clean clothes, a 2017 Nature study suggested.
When you arrive home from vacation, be sure to wash all your clothes (even those that may not have been worn) in hot water to kill any potential bed bugs. This will ensure that if they have made it into your suitcase, they won't infest your home by getting in your dresser or closet.
Not only will reducing the clutter around your house make you feel better about your life, it will also help reduce your chances of dealing with a bed bug infestation.
The US Environmental Protection Agency says that clutter can create a great hiding place for bed bugs. The bugs are especially known to hide in cardboard, so try to unpack boxes quickly after moving and replace any cardboard boxes used for storage with plastic containers, the EPA recommends.
Although bed bugs don't live on pets themselves, they can feed on pets just as much as they do on people. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, bed bugs can hitchhike into your home on your pet's fur, bedding or clothing.
As a pet owner, you should regularly inspect your pet's bed and wash it on high heat.