Very few people who travel come home without some trepidation of bringing bed bugs home with them. It is a worry for all of us and the Internet does not help. The Internet has some outrageous advice that everyone carry a flashlight and mirror so you can examine everyplace you stay on your trip. Truth be told, if you sit anywhere someone else sat in the last year, you run the small risk of bringing a bed bug home because bed bugs can survive 400 days without a blood meal.
So, what is one to do?
There is a way to have much more protection when you travel. You don’t have to carry a flashlight, nor a mirror. When you are on your trip, just concentrate on your purpose—whether it be business, pleasure, or what have you.
This Is What Bed Bugs all Gone Recommends
Only when you come home and after every potential point of contamination is behind you, take action. Do not concern yourself about bed bugs until then (unless you see them in your hotel room or get bites!)
1st: Pick up some big trash bags (30 to 45 gallon.)
2nd: Unpack your luggage outside your residence on a table in the yard, a garage, even at a laundromat or parking lot, so that no bed bugs are brought into your living area.
3rd: Divide the contents into three groups:
- Clean clothes that go into a big plastic bag destined for the dryer.
- Soiled clothes into a bag to be put into a washer and then dryer.
- A final group that does not do well in either a washer or dryer. Leave these items in the luggage to be put in a “heat tent” which is discussed later.
- The dryer group goes to a dryer for 30 minutes per load on MEDIUM heat or permanent press, (follow label specification.) All you need is 130 to140-degree heat. Pack the load(s) very loosely so the air will circulate through them. Since the clothes are dry, they will rise to the target lethal temperature in several minutes. The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control reports “mortality of bugs and eggs occurred in one minute when temperatures reached 122 degrees F.” Our recommendation of 30 minutes might be longer than necessary, but the Internet’s suggestion of using only high heat and for 45 minutes to an hour is gross overkill. It is also detrimental to many fabrics. Place these clothes in a new, clean plastic bag for transportation. Do not re-use contaminated bags.
- Similarly, the washer group can be washed then dried on medium heat.
- The third group including the luggage goes into a bed bug heat tent.
Bed Bug Heat Tent
Bed bug heat tents are handy items for anyone who travels or feels that they often encounter the potential for bed bug infestation. These tents can be found on the internet for $150 – $350 and up. They reach 140 degrees, a lethal temperature to bed bugs.
Place items in the heat tent very loosely so there is good air flow for 30 to 60 minutes. Luggage should be empty. Unzip all compartments and open wide. Things that can go in a heat tent include shoes, belts, computers, books, jewelry, and a host of other items that may be taken on a trip. Space these items apart for good air flow. This service can also be provided for friends who visit.
Following these guidelines, all your belongings taken on a trip will be decontaminated. You will travel without bringing bed bugs home!