Moving? Leave bed bugs behind!

You can’t run away from bed bugs. They will move with you unless you take these vital steps.

If you find that you have bed bugs in your home or apartment, it can be tempting to move out in the hopes of easily escaping the infestation. Unfortunately, unless you take the right safety measures, the bed bugs may move right along with you. If you find that you must move to a new place before your bed bug infestation has been eliminated, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) fact sheet, How to Move and Leave Bed Bugs Behind includes several things you can do to avoid bringing the pests with you to your new home.

  • Before packing, wash and dry all fabric items on the hottest recommended setting and then seal them in clear plastic bags labeled “clean.”
  • When packing, place all of your items in clear plastic bags and seal the bags tightly. Sort the items by type. For example: Clothing, towels, blankets and sheets. Separate items that are known to be infested from clean items.
  • Items that can’t be sanitized in a washer and dryer, such as electronics, appliances, books, etc., may be treated with special heating units designed for eliminating bed bugs. Another option is to place the items in plastic bins with tight-fitting lids and treat with dichlorvos pest strips according to label instructions. A third option is to ask a pest management professional how these items should be treated.
  • Purchase mattress encasements for each mattress and box spring. Mattress encasements will trap any bed bugs that may be on the mattress and/or box spring and keep them from getting out. They will also keep other bed bugs from getting to the mattress.
  • If you decide to throw away any bed bug infested items, such as sofas or mattresses, wrap them in plastic and clearly paint or write “bed bugs” on them. This should prevent neighbors from bringing the items into their homes. You may want to go even further and destroy the items by slashing them in order to discourage others from picking them up and taking them home.
  • On moving day each person should shower and change into clean clothing and shoes. Any clothing that was worn prior to showering should be put in plastic bags and sealed until they can be laundered. If you have pets they should be given a bath to ensure they are bed bug free before taking them to your new home.
  • All furniture that is being moved to the new home should be cleaned and treated by a pest management professional before it is moved.

After moving, you must be sure that your belongings are bed bug free or your new home will become infested as well. Wash any items not labeled “clean” before you put them away or use them. If you acquire any new or used furniture, inspect it carefully before bringing it home to make sure it is bed bug free.

If you are renting, contact your building manager immediately if you notice any signs of bed bugs in your new home. The earlier a bed bug infestation is found and treated, the easier it will be to eliminate the bed bugs.

Michigan State University 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.

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