Avoid secondhand beds and other furniture

Bedbugs can be hard to find in secondhand beds and other furniture. If the bedbugs have not eaten for some time, you may not see signs of them. Bedbugs can live for about a year without eating.
Traveling: Check for bedbugs when you check in

Many people get bedbugs when they bring the bugs home after a trip. Bedbugs can crawl into your suitcase or clothing while you’re staying at a hotel, motel, or hostel. People even pick up bedbugs on a cruise ship.

Checking your room as soon as you arrive helps to prevent bringing bedbugs home.

To prevent bringing bedbugs home, follow these quick and easy tips:

    Place your luggage on the luggage rack, not the floor or the bed. If bedbugs are in the room, the bugs can crawl into luggage placed on the bed or floor.
    Pull back the sheets and check the mattress for signs of bedbugs. Look for:

        • Specks of blood.
        • Exoskeletons (shed outer skeletons).
        • Tiny blackish spots.

    Check the box spring, headboard, couch, and any other upholstered furniture for signs of bedbugs.
    If you see any sign of bedbugs, immediately grab your belongings and ask for another room. The new room should not be next door or immediately above or below the infested room. Bedbugs might be in these rooms, too.

Traveling: Check your luggage when you return home

If you are concerned that you might have picked up bedbugs, you should inspect everything that you bring home (luggage, purse, and other belongings) for signs of bedbugs.

If possible, inspect everything before you bring it inside your home.

If you see signs of bedbugs or strongly suspect that you might have brought bedbugs home, you should immediately:

    Wash all the clothing that you brought home in a washing machine. Even clothes that were not worn must be washed. Use the hot setting on the washing machine.
    After washing, dry all the clothes in a dryer, using the hot setting.
    If you cannot wash some clothing in a washing machine, place it in the dryer and run the dryer on the hot setting.
    Use a hand steamer (or vacuum) to clean your luggage. According to the National Pest Management Association, a garment steamer will kill bedbugs and their eggs.

Related resources:

National Pest Management Association
This association provides information to help you avoid and get rid of bedbugs.
Learn more about bedbugs:

    Bedbugs: Signs and symptoms
    Bedbugs: Who gets and causes
    Bedbugs: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome

How to check for bedbugs
Although bedbugs don’t usually require serious medical attention, they can cause a great deal of anxiety and restless nights. To help find bedbugs before the…


National Pest Management Association, “Bed Bug Prevention.” Last accessed June 2012.

Steen CJ, Carbonaro PA, Schwartz RA. “Arthropods in dermatology.”  J Am Acad Dermatol 2004; 50:819-42.