How to Move From a Bed Bug Infested Apartment or Home

By: Paul J. Bello, President

PJB Pest Management Consulting

www.pjbpestconsultant.com

The following article was written at the request of a bed bug victim.

Each day numerous bed bug victims seek information from online sources in search of answers to their bed bug related questions. One of the most commonly asked questions is how do we move from a bed bug infested location without bringing bed bugs with us? While this may seem like a simple question, with bed bugs there are no simple answers.

Whether moving from a multifamily or single family home, the greatest concern for those moving from a bed bug infested location to another home is how to do so without bringing these nasty pests along with them. Anyone who has experienced bed bugs first-hand knows how problematic these bloodthirsty insects can be. Bedbug victims moving to seek viable and practical methodologies that will allow them to move to their new home without their unwelcomed parasitic guests.

In communicating with and advising bed bug victims across the country a prime observation and concern is that mistakes are made due to inexperience, lack of proper knowledge, inappropriate advice and misinformation. As such, it is wise to learn and understand the principles and fundamentals regarding bed bugs that apply when attempting to move from an infested location without risk of bringing bed bugs along.

When dealing with bed bugs it is best to be conservative. Perhaps a good mindset is to treat all things bed bugs in a manner such as depicted in the movies “The Andromeda Strain” or “Contagion” where once contacted an unseen pathogen may cause a painful and ugly death in a matter of just hours. If we all treated bed bugs as if they might kill us, chances are we’d be much more careful and effective when dealing with them.

The following fundamentals apply and should be considered when moving:

  • The primary goal is that no bed bug contaminated item is brought along during the move.
  • Bed bugs or bed bug eggs may be hidden and present in nearly any item.
  • All items to be moved must be inspected, treated and rendered bed bug free.
  • Sealing suspect items in plastic bags and containers may be done such that elimination work to be conducted on such items may be done when time allows.
  • Treated items should be sealed in bed bug proof plastic bags, wrap or containers prior to the move.
  • Once a plastic bag or wrap has been used to contain suspect items, do not reuse such bags for normal use.
  • Cardboard boxes and other packing materials in which bed bugs can hide should be avoided.
    • Such materials may be suitably treated and sealed within bed bug proof plastic bags or plastic wrap.
  • Items may be rendered bed bug free using suitable treatment methods. Such treatment methods include but are not be limited to:
    • Steam
    • Vacuum
    • Heat
    • Alcohol wipes
    • Insecticides
  • In no case should any suspect untreated item be included in the move?
  • It is possible for moving trucks, trailers, and vehicles to harbor bed bugs as a result of transporting infested items. As such, it is wise to inspect and treat the moving vehicles prior to the move.
  • It is possible for bed bugs to hitch a ride on people as well and suitable preventative steps should be taken to address this as well.
  • Ultimately, we need to assure the home being moved to is bedbug-free. Investigate and conduct a thorough inspection of the move to a location prior to relocating.

There are numerously viable, practical and efficacious ways to eliminate bed bugs and render items bedbug-free for the moving process. Below are some suggested methodologies for your review and consideration:

  • Clothing and other garments may be rendered bed bug free by running them in a hot dryer. The target temperature of at least 122 F must be attained for at least one minute uniformly throughout the garments being heat treated within the dryer to assure bed bug eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs are killed.
  • Heat treated garments may be sealed in plastic bags or other suitable bed bug proof containers.
  • Electronic items may be treated in a number of ways including:
    • Mild heat treatment. (Note that while excessive heat may harm sensitive electronics, the lethal temperature threshold is about 113 F which may not cause harm.  However, it takes many hours to kill bed bugs at this temperature. Additionally, is wise to consult the manufacturer of the electronic item in question.)
    • Pest strips may be used to treat items such as furniture, computers, televisions and other items by sealing the item to be treated within a suitably sized plastic bag or storage container to create a confined treatment space.
      • When using a bag or container be sure that there is a sufficient volume of empty space within the bag such that the treatment vapors may sufficiently travel within the treatment chamber.
      • Note that some storage bins may have ventilation holes incorporated into their rims or handling areas. Such holes will need to sufficiently seal using suitable tape for bed bug treatment purposes.
      • ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL INSTRUCTIONS!
    • Provided suitable access to reach hidden areas, a vacuum may be used to remove bed bugs however, eggs present in inaccessible areas may not be successfully removed by suction alone.
    • A suitably powered hair dryer may be used for directed heat treatment.
    • The warm air from a hair dryer may flush bed bugs when directed at hiding places within the electronic item.

Moving Vehicles:

A moving truck or trailer may harbor bed bugs due to prior use. And, while this seems unlikely, it is wise to adopt a conservative approach to protect yourself from bringing bed bugs along with you as a result of the move. Any moving truck or trailer may be inspected and treated as needed. However, there may be many cracks and crevices present which may successfully harbor undetected bed bugs.

While it is possible to successfully inspect and treat a moving vehicle for bed bugs as needed, local regulations should be checked prior to doing so.

  • ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL INSTRUCTIONS.
  • There are a variety of insecticide products which may be used to treat a moving truck or trailer when needed. Be sure that the product selected is labeled for bed bug control and is efficacious.
  • Do not place any item within the treated space until after all spray application residues have completely dried.
  • Vacuums and steamers may also be used to treat a truck or trailer.
  • Note that we must be thorough when inspecting and treating for bed bugs.

What About People?

As previously mentioned, it is possible that bed bugs may hitch a ride on a person’s shoes, clothing or equipment. The risk of picking up hitch-hiking bed bugs is greatest when working at bed bug infested locations. As such, suitable methodologies should be considered to mitigate such risks.

  • Wear white or light-colored clothing such that it will be easier to detect hitchhiking bed bugs.
  • Co-workers should assist in the detection process by visually inspecting each other’s back and areas a person cannot see for themselves.
  • Have a set of fresh bed bug-free clothing stored in a bed bug proof container on hand.
  • When moving work has been completed, completely change into fresh bed bug-free clothing and seal all the suspect work clothes into a plastic bag or bed bug proof storage container for subsequent treatment.
  • Suspect work clothes may be treated using heat or running in a dryer for a sufficient amount of time.

Paul J. Bello has been a licensed pest professional since 1976. He is the author of The Bed Bug Combat Manual, co-author of The Cockroach Combat Manual II and contributing author to the recently published Advances in the Biology and Management of Modern Bed Bugs.  He currently serves as a pest management consultant and assists various clients in pest-related situations. His website is www.pjbpestconsultant.com and may be reached for assistance via paul@pjbpestconsultant.com.