According to the Associated Press in May, several people in a group of 40 chaperones and students visiting Penn State’s main campus said they came home with bed bug bites. This is far from an isolated incident. When college students arrive home for the holidays, many will bring bed bugs with them. Keep your home from becoming infested by applying the same preventive tactics to the student’s belongings that are used by frequent travelers to avoid bed bugs:
1. Bag and Seal Luggage Before Placing It in Your Vehicle
Seal luggage in the heavy duty plastic bags. If bed bugs sneaked into in your belongings this step will keep them isolated until you can deal with the contents effectively at home AND will prevent any bugs from infesting the vehicle.
2. Unpack Luggage Carefully & Methodically
Do not take your belongings inside your home. Unpack in an area that is well lit and away from furniture and sleeping areas (outdoors or in a garage). Unpack one container at a time, separating items and inspecting for bed bugs (but first discard the plastic bags in an outdoor trash receptacle).
Clothing that can be hot laundered should be sealed in plastic garbage bags, or dissolvable laundry bags. When bagging the clothing it is a good idea to separate the clothing into single laundry loads.
Clothing that requires dry cleaning should be placed in a plastic garbage bag, sealed and placed aside.
All bagged items should remain sealed in the bags until they can either be hot laundered, dry cleaned or dealt with using one of the heat methods discussed below.
3. Launder Your Clothes
Clothing that has been separated into dissolvable bags can be placed directly into a washing machine and laundered according to manufacturer directions. Use the hottest possible wash cycle (water temperature of at least 140°), and then placed in the dryer on the hottest cycle possible for at least 30 minutes. Bagged clothing that cannot be hot laundered should be taken to the dry cleaners. Advise the cleaners that the items may have been exposed to bed bugs.
4. Treat Everything Else
- Use a dryer rack (if available) inside your clothes dryer for items that cannot be tumbled, such as leather shoes, handbags, knick-knacks, and books. (Do not attempt with electronics or plastics!)
- If you can’t heat it, inspect it! Look for bed bugs, bed bugs eggs, bed bug cast skins.