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5 Things You're Buying That Bring Bed Bugs Into Your House, Experts Say

Bringing these items into your home without an adequate inspection could start an infestation.

From retail stores to five-star hotels, you'll find bed bugs anywhere you find their favorite food source: people. According to a 2018 report from the National Pest Management Association, 97 percent of pest experts had been called to a location to exterminated bed bugs within 12 months of being surveyed. In fact, the same report found that 84 percent of pest professionals surveyed said they had gone to exterminate another type of vermin, only to discover a bed bug infestation, and 66 percent of the pest professionals who participated in the survey said that the number of bed bug calls they received was increasing.

While getting rid of these unpleasant pests once they've occupied your home isn't easy, ensuring they don't become unwanted guests in your space is simpler than you'd expect. Read on to find out which items pest professionals say could be inviting bed bugs into your home. And if you're worried about inviting pests into your house, If You Smell This in Your Bedroom, You Might Have Bed Bugs.


a person tries to close a full suitcase overflowing with clothes

You may be returning from those long trips away from home with more than just jet lag to contend with. Nancy Troyano, PhD, BCE, a board-certified entomologist with Western Exterminator, says that bedbugs frequently hitch a ride on luggage, infesting private homes when their owners return.

To avoid this, Troyano recommends opening suitcases far away from upholstered furniture upon entering a hotel. "Check for bed bugs before putting your suitcase [and] inspect your suitcase, luggage, or other items after you travel for any bed bugs," she says. Troyano also recommends running the contents of your suitcase through a dryer cycle on high heat for 15 minutes "to kill any bed bugs that may have hitched a ride home with you." And for more pest prevention tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.


Woman looking in closet

Don't hang that new outfit in your closet until you've thoroughly inspected it for bed bugs first.

"Definitely take a look at clothing before you purchase it—but you may not be able to see the bed bugs or bed bug eggs," says Troyano. To help keep bed bugs from coming home from clothing stores with you, Troyano says, "Run everything through the dryer on high heat for 15 minutes to kill any bed bugs prior to running the regular washing cycle."


person in blue vest installing headboard
Shutterstock/Wirestock Creators

That gorgeous upholstered headboard could be hiding some nasty surprises—especially if you're buying used.

"Furniture—particularly soft and upholstered types—from unknown sources can harbor bed bugs or bed bug eggs that you might not see immediately," says Troyano. Her recommendation? "If you find a cool vintage item that you must bring home, talk to a pest management professional about performing an inspection to give you peace of mind."


leather purse on rack

If you want to ensure you're not inviting bed bugs into your space, make sure you're thoroughly inspecting any purses you bring home.

According to the National Pest Management Association, (NPMA) when purses are placed on furniture or the ground, bed bugs can hitch a ride, nestling unnoticed in seams and pockets until they take up residence in your home. And if you want to know if you need an exterminator, If You See This in Your Yard, Prepare for a Bug Invasion, USDA Says.

Stuffed animals

elephant stuffed animal on couch

Those vintage stuffed animals may look cute, but they could be a bed bug's free pass into your home.

The NPMA says that bed bugs can nestle into stuffed animal fur, potentially causing an infestation in any home they're subsequently brought into. If you want to keep this from happening, the association recommends washing and drying stuffed animals on hot when they first come into your home. And for more insight into dealing with household pests, If You See This Bug in Your Home, Don't Step on It, Experts Warn.


Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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