Bed bugs are a common problem in the United States and no one is immune from an infestation. If you travel a lot and stay in hotels (yes, even luxury and clean ones!), there is always a chance that you will return home accompanied by a few uninvited guests. And a few will soon turn into a lot!

First of all, don’t panic. Yes, bed bugs do feed on human blood and the bites can be itchy but they do not transmit disease. If you do discover you have bed bugs you should contact a reliable pest control company or consider doing a DIY heat treatment.

Avoid chemical treatments where possible; those insecticides are often damaging to the environment and carry the risk of making the bed bugs resistant. The more resistant they become, the more they will spread. Chemicals are also not often effective on eggs, and 0% effective on the bugs, larvae and eggs the chemicals don’t reach (which can be a lot). So, what should you do if you have bed bugs before, during, and after a heat treatment?


What should I do before a heat treatment?

Once you have hired a pest control company it is likely they will give you guidance about what to do before they arrive, or before you collect your DIY heat treatment package. This will include:

  • Collecting together things that may be damaged by heat treatment so that they can be inspected and removed before the procedure begins. This should include plants, fresh fruit and vegetables, foodstuffs that would melt (chocolate, for instance), pet fish, wooden instruments, flammables, firearms and ammunition, alcohol, pressurized containers, and so on. Don’t just store them elsewhere – the operatives need to make sure none of them harbor bed bugs.
  • You can leave clothes in closets and drawers, and bed linens on beds but remove any plastic covers.
  • Fans are often used in heat treatment so make certain nothing is left that could be blown about.
  • Loose papers, items routinely stored under beds, toys, shoes, etc., need to be placed in open weave baskets and left in the rooms to be treated.
  • All electrical goods must be turned off and unplugged. The screens of computers and TVs need to be covered with cloth.
  • Fish tanks larger than 10 gallons have to be removed. If smaller, they can remain but need to be moved into an approved area – normally a basement or bathroom.
  • Vacuum the property and dispose of the bag outside your home at once.


What should I do during a heat treatment?

Prepare one set of clothing for each member of the household, dry at high heat for at least 30 minutes, and then place in a Ziploc bag and store outside your home. Don’t take anything else with you that cannot be treated in the same way on return. There is always the danger of reintroducing bed bugs if you don’t take care.

Spend the time away from your home in what is known to be a bed bug-free environment, and ideally, change into fresh clothes the moment you get there, securely storing the clothes you wore out of the house in plastic bags.


What should I do after a heat treatment?

Your home may still be warm when you return, depending on how long ago the treatment was completed, and you can accelerate cooling by opening some windows. Don’t try and use air conditioning until the temperature drops below 80℉ and the same rule applies to your washer and dryer.

When you can, wash the clothes you wore out of the home and vacuum to collect any dead insects that were present during the heat treatment.


The result of your preparations and the heat treatment will be a bed bug-free home where you can once again relax and sleep soundly. To find bed bug professionals or a DIY heat treatment kit near you, click here.