Moving home is stressful enough, but if you’re moving because you think it’s a way to get rid of bed bugs, it’s actually not. Bed bugs are experts at staying hidden, so if you’re taking your belongings to your new home, you’re just taking the bed bugs with you.
The following measures will help you avoid bringing these pests with you into your new home.
Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional
Before moving day, carefully inspect and pack your belongings
This is probably the most important step. Being observant and thoroughly inspecting everything before you pack will help prevent transporting any unwanted guests to your new home.
You will need the following items:
- A good supply of clear, sealable plastic bags and containers, such as Tote boxes. If there are any bed bugs on the packed items, you’ll be able to see them, and they won’t be able to escape into your new home as they are unable to climb smooth surfaces such as plastic.
- Do not use cardboard boxes because these pests love to hide in them.
- Mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements for each bed.
- Bed bug interceptor traps for each bed leg to monitor any bed bug activity.
Start by vacuuming carpets and furniture
First things first, you’ll want to vacuum everything to remove any bugs and their eggs. That includes the floors and carpets, under and on couches, mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and dresser drawers. You don’t want to miss anything. Once you’re done, take out the vacuum bag and put it in a plastic bag, seal it, and put it in the outside trash.
Use heat from the washer and dryer to kill any bed bugs
Wash all your clothes, towels, curtains, and bed linens at the hottest temperature possible. Then loosely fill the dryer and dry on the highest heat setting for no less than 30 minutes. This is important as a temperature of 125ºF (51ºC) will kill any eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs.
If items are already clean, just put them in the dryer for 30 minutes to make sure any of these pests are eliminated.
Items that might get ruined in the washer, such as stuffies and other toys, can be put in the dryer on the highest heat setting, as above.
Check the lint catcher in the dryer, as you’ll often find dead bed bugs on it that have been killed by the heat.
Treating electronics for bed bugs
A portable heat chamber works by heating up to around 147ºF (64ºC) and killing all stages of bed bugs in a few hours. It’s ideal for smaller items that can’t be washed or put in the dryer, such as shoes, suitcases, some electronics, books, and files.
Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding heat and moisture tolerance before you place any electronics in the heating chamber.
If a heat chamber isn’t an option, then look into buying a tumble dryer rack and place your unwashable items on it. They won’t be spun around and will be kept in place while being heat treated.
After that, place everything into sealable, clear plastic bags or containers ready for moving day and away from any infested areas.
Place everything in clear, sealable plastic bags
When everything is washed and dried, immediately put it into the clear bags and label them ‘Clean’. Ensure they are completely sealed and kept away from infested items and areas, such as the bed.
If the infestation isn’t too heavy, take your mattress and box spring with you. But first, thoroughly inspect all creases, seams, and cracks, making sure there are no bed bugs or eggs. Using the flashlight on your phone is a good idea so you don’t miss any spots.
This also needs to be done for any upholstered furniture, such as the couch and chairs.
If you see any of these pests or eggs, remove them with a stiff brush.
You can read how to fully inspect your mattress and box spring by clicking on the link. This also tells you how to inspect the bed frame if you have one.
Decide what to do with the bed and other furniture
When the inspection is done, encase the mattresses, box springs, and pillows in the bed bug-proof encasements. These will stop any bed bugs left from escaping and feeding on you and prevent any new bed bugs from infesting them.
Be careful when moving the mattress and box spring, and try not to drag them along the floor as the encasements could tear.
If you don’t want to keep the mattresses (or other furniture items like the couch), they should be wrapped in plastic and labeled “Infested.” Read how to dispose of a mattress with bed bugs.
Empty bedside cabinet drawers and inspect the contents. Again, put everything into bags and seal them. If you’re taking the furniture with you, inspect it by looking along drawer runs, in screw heads, etc. My guide on removing bed bugs explains exactly how to inspect and treat furniture for bed bugs.
If you’re not comfortable inspecting your bed and the other things you’re taking with you, call out a pest control professional who has experience in dealing with bed bug infestations. They will know exactly where and what to look for and give you peace of mind.
On the day of the move: make sure you don’t take bed bugs with you
It’s vital you don’t take any bed bugs to your new home. So on the day of the move, have everyone moving change into clean clothes. Put the worn clothes into a new clear plastic bag, seal it, and label it ‘dirty laundry’. It’s unlikely that a bed bug has attached itself to what you’re wearing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Bed bugs are attracted to odors left on worn clothes, so you definitely want to bag them up and keep the bag sealed until you can wash them.
Also, to be extra cautious, give your dog or cat a bath and brush through their fur. Bed bugs don’t typically feed on animals unless the infestation is severe. Remember to inspect any dog or cat beds also.
Keep an eye out for bed bugs in your new home
Once you’ve moved into your new place, be vigilant for any signs of this pest.
When you arrive, unpack slowly and carefully, inspecting everything as you go. It might be time-consuming, but it’s worth it, just in case a bed bug managed to hitch a ride to your new home.
How to prevent bed bugs in your new home
There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of another bed bug problem, which include: regularly vacuuming, don’t let clutter build up, especially under the beds, inspect any second-hand furniture thoroughly before bringing it into your home.
Keep all mattresses, box springs, and pillows encased, and monitor the interceptor traps regularly.
Always be vigilant about inspecting and knowing what the early signs of bed bugs are, so you can stop an infestation from growing.
Following these simple tips will help ensure that you don’t bring any unwanted guests with you when you move.