As bed bugs spread, more college campuses are battling the bloodthirsty pests. College dorms can be incubators for bed bugs. They hitchhike into the dorm as new residents move in each semester or on visiting friends. College dorms tend to be cluttered, giving these tiny insects lots of places to hide. And with all those students to feed on, the bed bugs will never lack a meal in the dorm.
When your child comes home for holidays or summer break, he may bring along some unwelcome guests if you're not careful. Whether or not you know your child's dorm is infested with bed bugs, it's smart to take some precautions each time he comes home. Follow these tips to keep bed bugs from coming home with your college student.
Before Your Child Comes Home from College – How to Contain Any Bed Bugs
First, ask your child to bag or seal any belongings he is bringing home from the dorm. Your first line of defense is containment.
- Ask him to put any clothing, bedding, or other items that can be laundered in plastic garbage bags. He should tie the bags tightly.
- If he has access to a portable vacuum, ask your child to empty his backpack completely and vacuum it, inside and out.
- If possible, have him pack his books and electronics, as well as other personal items, in large, sealable baggies.
When Your Child Arrives Home from College – Keep the Bed Bugs Out of Your Home
Don't let your child bring his belongings in the house and unpack. Take time to inspect and clean everything first. If you have a garage or outdoor shed, that's a great place to unpack and inspect his things before they are allowed in the house.
- Any and all items that can be laundered, whether they need it or not, should go right into the washing machine. Wash everything on the highest temperature allowable for the fabric. Then be sure to dry everything on the highest heat possible for at least 30 minutes.
- Books and other items that can't be easily laundered or cleaned can be placed in a freezer to kill any hidden bed bugs. Leave them sealed in plastic bags when you put them in the freezer. You don’t want bed bugs wandering around in your fridge! This is only practical if the items can stay in the freezer for at least 5 days, however. Any bed bugs eggs can remain viable for several days.
- Bed bugs can hide inside laptops and other electronics. Inspect these carefully before bringing them inside the house. On most laptops, you can remove the keyboard to check underneath.
- Check the lining and seams of any backpacks or bags. Bed bugs like to hide in the folds, seams, and pockets, and can get under the lining if there's a tear. If you have a steam cleaner, you can treat backpacks and other similar items with steam.
- Any hard items can be wiped down, and should be inspected for bed bugs as you clean them.
Have a bed bug horror story to share? Tell us about your battle with bed bugs.