How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Apartment Living

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported over the weekend of a large apartment building that is experiencing large scale problems with bed bugs.

To one resident who moved in after the summer mayhem, though, plenty of issues remain and humanitarian-type issues like the creepy critters are first and foremost.

“The bedbugs are still present [and] residents are told they have to get rid of their furniture and many have been forced to do this and are left with nothing, sleeping on the floor with no beds or furniture,” wrote one man who asked to remain anonymous because he fears eviction.

Living in an apartment or condo unit provides its own complications to avoid an infestation of bed bugs. Often times a bed bug problem can arise not because of anything you have done, but through actions by another tenant or introduction by a worker at the living facility.

Block Of Flats - Apartment BuildingSo how can you best prevent yourself from getting bed bugs in apartment or group living space?

The solution for a bed bug problem can be quite complicated and difficult at times because it is not you who control all the aspects of the living space (unless you are the property manager). But there are best practices to help keep bed bugs from infesting your apartment. Should you get an infestation these best practices will help to keep the problem small and isolated so the cost and inconvenience of getting rid of them is minimal.

Some Tips To Keep Bed Bugs Out of Your Apartment

  1. Use Your Property Manager: Whether your property manager is on site or from an office it is in their interests to make sure there is not an introduction of bed bugs to the residency. Bed bugs cause bad press and cost quite a bit of money to get rid of. Go to your property manager and inquire if they have any protocol or material for keeping bed bugs out of their apartments. If not, then suggest that some education materials and protocol for keeping bed bugs out might be a good idea for their bottom line long term. The goal here is to educate the rest of the tenants on how to keep bed bugs out for the betterment of everyone. Protocol can be devised to give a little ‘teeth’ to these practices. If you have a building tenants association then utilize that group to do a similar education and protocol development.
  2. Devise & Circulate Best Practices: If you are working with your property manager or tenants association then awesome! If you hit a snag, then keep on going. Create a poster or brochure with some best practices that can help keep out bed bugs. Things to include:
    1. Do not bring in any furniture into the apartment building that was picked from the side of the road. This includes (but not exclusive to) mattresses, couches, chairs, pet beds, lamps, curtains etc.
    2. Do not do anything crazy, like burn a mattress or furniture, if you have some item infested. That just poses more hazards.
    3. If you work in an industry or field that puts you around possible bed bugs more regularly then heat your work clothes first in the community laundry area. The heat will kill off any bed bugs. Water temperature is helpful, but often not hot enough to kill them. Then the bugs get to be clean & hang out in the washer instead of being dead. *This is actually a good idea for everyone.
    4. When traveling be aware of bed bug precautions that can be taken to protect you and your family from bringing home bed bugs.
    5. If you suspect a possible bed bug infestation contact your pest exterminator for an inspection.
  3. Develop Protocol for Dealing with Bed Bug Infestation: With bed bugs these days it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ you are going to get them, but more of ‘when’ you might get them. When you get bed bugs you will want to handle the problem as soon as possible. This can help to isolate the problem and keep the cost and inconvenience lower. Have some protocol that you can share with people on how to deal with a possible infestation.
    1. Clean clothes by drying on highest heat in order to kill the bugs. Wash then store in plastic sealed containers.
    2. Have a thorough bed bug inspection of suspected unit and surrounding units to determine the extent of the problem.
    3. Remove items and dispose of properly, directed by pest professionals.
    4. Have a professional heat, steam, and/or chemical treatment done on infested areas (might be more than one living unit). *A thorough heat treatment is your best option for killing off a bed bug infestation. Chemical and steam treatments are best as an add on to heat or for smaller isolated problems. Bed bug treatments have to be incredibly thorough for them to be long term effective. 
    5. Put bed bug climb up traps or other treatment options prescribed by your pest control company to help monitor and/or identify continued problems. Mattress encasements could be used as an added measure of security.
  4. Distribute the protocol that has been developed (your pest control company might already have these for you to share) through posters in frequented areas of the facility, new tenant packets, emails, and/or social media groups. Keeping people aware of what is needed will take you all a long way in protecting yourself from bed bugs.

As you can see dealing with bed bugs in a shared living facility can be a real task. This is why it is best to get ownership and neighbors on board with this. Everyone can agree they do not want bed bugs so hopefully the ‘sell’ to keep them out would not be hard. If you have no luck getting your current apartment building to help then consider finding a place that is open to the idea. If a move is not an option then use some of our bed bug home prevention tips and couple that with your own pest control inspection/s to protect your family in case a neighbor brings them around.

Bedbug Travel Tips

Don’t bring home bedbugs from your travels this summer. Protect yourself and family with these four bedbug travel tips.

How can you protect yourself & your family from bedbugs while traveling?

1. Know Your Bedbugs: Bedbugs are known as ‘hitchhikers’ which is a common descriptor for them as they can jump on you, your clothes, suitcases, pets, etc. and hitch a ride back to your house. A mature bedbug is reddish-brown color, oval and flat in shape, and about the side of a fruit seed. Bedbugs like to hide away in the daytime in crevices and cracks in a room. For a hotel room this might this include headboards, bed frames, curtains, molding cracks, bedside furniture, mattresses and box springs.

2. Inspect Your Room: Before you travel visit to see if your hotel has already had reported incidents of bedbugs. A reported incident is not always a reason to not go to the hotel, but it does give good reason to call the hotel and ask about incident/s and if they have ongoing prevention by a pest control company.

When you get to your room, pull the sheets back and peal back the folds of a mattress and box spring as best you can. If you see these little flat reddish dots in the cracks, bedbug poop, and/or spots of blood you can request a new room. Hotels, more and more, are becoming sensitive to these requests as they and public are becoming more informed. Take the headboard off and inspect behind there. Bedbugs won’t be hanging out on the sheets of your bed because those are changed out and wash frequently. The headboard is rarely touched by hotel staff, so if there are bedbugs in the room they are likely to be around/behind the headboard.

In most cases thoroughly inspecting your room and taking appropriate action will give you peace of mind that your room is bedbug free.

NOTE: If you are staying in a place for an extended period of time, you can often hire a bedbug sniffing dog to inspect a room more thoroughly. Certainly it adds to the cost of your trip, but the cost is small compared to treatment of an infestation.

Four Bedbug Travel Tips

3. Get You Luggage Up High: A good rule of thumb is to get your luggage and clothes off the ground. This will not fully prevent any bedbugs from hitching a ride with your luggage, but it will make it much harder for bedbugs, if they are present in the room. The luggage rack, dresser, or table are good spots to keep bedbugs away. Putting your luggage in the bathroom tub will be an extra level of prevention. Various tub types are hard, to near impossible, for bedbugs to crawl up. You can also cover your suitcases and clothing with plastic bags to help. Bedbugs need blood to feed on so your clothes are not their first choice of places to go. If they found their way onto your luggage and clothes they will hitch that ride home with you.

4. Prevention When Getting Home: Not sure if you came across bedbugs while traveling but you’d like to do something more to make sure they do not make it into your home? Easy. Take your clothes from your trip, clean and dirty, shoes included, and put them into the dryer on high heat for roughly 30 minutes. Heat is the most thorough killer of bedbugs. Do not wash your clothes first as the washer water temperature is not high enough to kill bedbugs. Heat your luggage as best as possible. Seal up luggage cases air tight in a plastic bag until your next use. If you have/had a bedbug incident you will know by the next time you need that luggage and can get new luggage pieces or have that luggage professionally treated. Steaming can be used if you have a professional level steamer. You need to use steam in precise areas and for extended periods of time, but it can work. Make sure your steamer can create temperatures of a minimum 120 degrees.

NOTE: Some pest control companies have portable heating chambers that you can pay to use. These are luggage sized boxes that you can stick your travel items into and it will raise the temperature of your clothes and items sufficient enough to kill off any bedbugs. Not all pest control companies have this, so you might have to call around.

What happens if I have bedbugs at home now?

If you have gone through your best prevention methods and still you find that you have bedbugs then contact a reputable pest control company that treats bedbugs. If you can catch a problem at its smallest then the cost is manageable. Any bedbug treatment can still be expensive, however, infestations that have festered because people ignore them will incur sizable costs to clear up.

Do not be ashamed. Bedbugs can find their way into the nicest of places and it in many cases is no fault of your own that they are now in your home. There is no reason to feel that having bedbugs is a reflection on you as a person, your family or your house. Being ashamed about them and not getting handled quickly and properly will only make the situation worse and more expensive.

If you are not sure if bedbugs have invaded your home, but you suspect it, then call for an inspection. We can do a sight inspection and if indicators warrant more thorough inspections or treatments we will inform you of all your options.

Tips to Prevent Bed Bugs in Your Home

Tips to Prevent Bed Bugs In Your Home | Johnson Pest Exterminators Knoxville, Maryville, SeviervilleBed bugs are out there and becoming evermore the problem. How you can you protect yourself from getting bed bugs in your home? There is never a guarantee for keeping bed bugs from your home, but following these tips to prevent bed bugs in your home will help for sure.

  • Know a little bit about what are bed bugs and how bed bugs operate will help you. We’ve covered bed bugs in a number of places on our website.
  • Never, never, never, ever pick up furniture from the side of the road or an unknown source and bring it into your home, church, or business. This might seem like a no-brainer, but people do this all the time. College students seem to have this practice down to a science and will often times bring bed bugs into their dorms and then bring them home. If you do not know the origins of some furniture then let it be. Even if it is a huge leather recliner sofa that’d be perfect to start off your ‘man cave’ just let it stay there. You can buy that leather recliner sofa new for what you might spend in getting rid of bed bugs.
  • Check before you travel. If you travel a lot then you can check whether or not the hotel you are going to has had bed bug related issues. All levels of hotels have had bed bug issues, so staying at the Ritz Carlton versus the Hampton Inn (we really like the Hampton, no slight there) will not alone protect you. Use Bed Bug Registry ahead of your travel to see if there is anything you should be concerned about. Many hotels these days will have a pest control company (such as ours) who is regularly inspecting and treating possible bed bug situations. Though this bed bug treatment practice might be alarming, it is a good thing to know that your hotel is actively looking and treating for bed bugs. The other option is a hotel that is turning that ‘blind eye’ to the possible problem.
  • Inspect your hotel room. Sheets are changed regularly in a hotel, so you will most likely not find bed bugs there. You can look onto the head board, box spring, and the mattress for some of those blood and fecal smears, not to mention actual bed bugs. Peal back the mattress folds and look under the buttons to see if there is anything hiding in there. Take off the headboard to inspect behind there. Usually this is attached to the wall (have yet to stay at hotel where this wasn’t the case) and is not unreasonably heavy. These least disturbed areas will give you a quick idea if there was/is an issue with the room. Inspecting a dorm or summer camp place is a legitimate practice as well.
  • When traveling you can keep your luggage and clothes off the ground on the bag caddie. You can even go one step further and put all your luggage in the tub of the bathroom. Bed bugs need something to climb to get to your luggage or clothes in order to ‘hitchhike’ back to your house. They do not do very well climbing slick surfaces which would keep them from finding their way into your luggage.
  • Heat everything first. One of the most thorough and proven techniques for killing bed bugs is to kill them with heat. If you are home from a trip (college, camp, travel, etc.), then pull all your clothes and items (that can withstand this) and put them in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes. This will kill possible bed bugs. Do not wash the clothes first, the water temperature is never hot enough to kill bed bugs. Leaving clothes around for a day or so and then trying this will probably be ineffective as they will have moved off the clothes to find food (your family). So heat everything right when you get home.
  • Clean and steam regularly. If you are keeping your house clean by vacuuming and steaming then you will do your psyche good for having a clean home, but you are also setting up some real protection for your home. Steam cleaning will raise the temperature in areas that bed bugs hide. If hot enough the steam cleaning can kill off the bugs, at the very least it will set them into an active frenzy that will let you know their presence. From there you should call on a professional pest service that knows how to treat and get rid of bed bugs. We would like to think you’d call us.
  • Don’t try and do a heat treatment on your house/apartment, do alcohol application treatments, or burn your furniture in the yard to treat on your own. Yes, people have tried this with disastrous results. Give us a call and we will be able to perform a thorough inspection of the dwelling, isolate areas of possible activity, safely and professionally treat and remove bed bugs without you becoming a next Associated Press headline.