Bed bug precautions for home visitors

Stay pest-free when visiting places that have bed bugs.

Bed bugs can be a serious concern for workers whose jobs require them to make home visits. In the case of employees who regularly visit homes or places that might be infested with bed bugs, Michigan State University Extension points out that special steps need to be taken so that those individuals do not bring bed bugs back to the workplace or to their own homes.

When making home visits, employees should bring as few items into the home as possible – leave coats, purses and other personal items in the car. Employees should also avoid sitting or placing items on beds, couches or upholstered chairs. They might consider carrying items in a plastic bin with a tight-fitting cover. That will keep bed bugs from getting into materials that are brought into the home. Plastic bins are also relatively easy to inspect after the home visit.

After leaving a home or other location suspected of having bed bugs, employees should do a self-check. Inspect clothes, shoes and any items that were carried in. Employees might consider keeping a full change of clothes in a sealed bag or bin in their vehicles and changing into them after a visit if they know they have been exposed to bed bugs. Clothes that were worn during the visit should be put into the sealed bag after they are taken off. Upon returning home, clothes should be washed and put directly into a hot dryer for 30 minutes.

Some products claim that they repel bed bugs when applied prior to entering an infested setting. These chemicals are not recommended by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) because they have not been shown conclusively to be effective for bed bugs. A better alternative is to wear disposable shoe covers when visiting a home thought to have bed bugs. The covers provide a physical barrier that keeps bed bugs from hiding in shoes.

Taking precautions and carefully inspecting your clothes, shoes and other items after a home visit should ensure that you do not bring bed bugs back to your home or office. Keeping clutter to a minimum in workspaces is also recommended. Clutter-free workspaces have fewer hiding places for bed bugs and are easier to inspect.

MSU Extension has partnered with MDCH to address the bed bug issue. For information on how to prevent or treat bed bug infestations, visit the MDCH website at www.michigan.gov/bedbugs.