How Not To Bring Bed Bugs Into Your Home

During this era of bed bug infestations, you need to be careful what you bring into your home. This is why I no longer buy used furniture or go to garage sales or the library.

I did a lot of research for this. Plus I had a pest control guy here last week for earwig bugs, and I talked to him about it. He is contracted through the apartment complex.

He is the head of his own company, not someone who works for a big pest control company. He goes to lots of conferences to learn these things, he told me.

Where in hotels do you think bedbugs tend to be hiding?

Here’s a question he put to me: Where in a hotel room is the highest incidence of bed bugs?

I immediately said the bed spread. Nope, it is the folding luggage rack, he told me. The fabric straps that go over the wood is a prime place for bed bugs. He said you turn it over and it’s there that you’d find them. Yuck! I doubt I’ll ever stay in a hotel again.

So here are the things you’d better think twice about at your favorite thrift shops, consignment shops, antique malls or garage sales. Even retail stores, offices and new furniture stores have problems with bed bugs.

Think twice before buying:

  • Lampshades or lamps
  • Furniture
  • Bedding
  • Pillows of any kind
  • Used Books (they hide in the spines)
  • Wood furniture (they hide in the crevices)
  • Luggage
  • Framed Artwork

There was a time when I’d buy a used fabric couch, but no more. That was many years ago when there wasn’t such a problem with these horrid and hard to get rid of bugs.

they hide in offices:

The pest control man who was here said a few years ago here in town there was a horrible infestation of bed bugs in an office. They had a pest control company send three technicians in to figure out where they were. A reporter happened to be there to get the scoop.

He said the three technicians couldn’t figure it out, but the reporter turned over a chair and there they were.

Offices are prime places for bed bugs. Because bed bugs are nocturnal, and people are bringing brief cases and all manner of things in and out all the time. The bed bugs jump on and go home with them, or when they come back to the office.

they jump from mattress to mattress in store trucks:

You have to be careful when moving with a moving van or buying a new mattress. Many stores typically will haul off your old mattress. That’s how they get in the van and maybe jump on your new mattress.

The library has problems with them too:

Maybe you’ve been to your local library and brought home books to read. Borrowing books is now seen by some as a risky proposition.

That’s because bedbugs have discovered a fun way to hitchhike from bed to bed. Bedbugs and their eggs can hide in the spines of hardcover books.

Then they crawl out at night to feed, find a brand new home in your headboard, and you end up with an infestation in your home.

All libraries are scrambling to deal with this problem. But book borrowers have become very wary about libraries now. Unfortunate, but true.

what to look for when buying furniture:

If you’re looking to buy furniture, break down any pieces that can be disassembled. Take out drawers. Clean each piece individually. Please inspect and clean these things before you bring them into your home.

Signs of bed bugs include black spotting and molted skins (discarded bed bug exoskeletons)

Oh, those beloved garage sales:

Remember how fun it used to be to go to garage sales. The bargains are great, but you might bring home more than you bargained for.

Bedbugs can be hiding inside most anything you buy there.

The bad news is that bed bugs have become resistant to many of the eradication methods exterminators have relied on. So we have more infestations than ever.

Steam cleaning won’t help with upholstered furniture:

Steam cleaning won’t get rid of bed bugs in upholstered furniture, so nix that idea. The extreme heat necessary to kill them and their eggs does not penetrate into the padding of upholstered pieces. So you won’t be killing them that way.

Look under tables, shelves, headboards and any other furnishings.

Bedbugs will hide inside furniture joints, seams, creases, crevices, cracks and voids. They will hide in screw holes, nail holes and small louvered vents. They can even be hiding behind peeling paint as well as wallpaper.

Beware framed artwork:

Be careful about buying framed artwork because they can gather behind the paper backing.

If you’re still not swayed from that used piece that you just love, then follow the following steps on how to inspect second hand furniture.

The Bed Bug Treatment Site provides steps on how to inspect second hand furniture for bed bugs:

  1. You’ll need white latex gloves, a flashlight and a white sheet with you when inspecting the furniture.
  2. Place your furniture on the white sheet to help see bed bugs if they fall on the sheet.
  3. Using a credit card or gloved hand, run the edge of your card or finger over any creases or cracks on the furniture’s surface. Keep watching for signs of bed bugs on your gloves or the white sheet with the magnifying glass. Signs will either be the actual bed bugs, feces (which will be dark red stains) or old skin.
  4. Use your flashlight to thoroughly inspect any hidden or dark areas of the furniture. Bed bugs are usually hiding, so look in the creases where they aren’t visible.

I’m sorry to rain on your buy-a-bargain parade. Believe me, it’s disappointing to me too as I love a good used buy. But now I rarely try on clothing in a retail store, go into a used book store, or even head to the antique mall.

These darned things can infiltrate most anything. So be careful what you buy!



  1. I love reading hard bound books but that love affair ended when the library in the next town over was found to have an infestation of bed bugs! What next, I ask!

  2. I agree with Naomi and Kathy. I have never known anyone who had bed bugs. I would be more concerned with fleas which are almost impossible to get rid of.

  3. Thanks for the info! As I’ve gotten older, I don’t like to stay in hotels. This is a good reason not to any more. I don’t think we should live in fear, but you gave us some good information we should keep in mind if we want to avoid bedbugs.

  4. I’m not denying this could happen but this freak out over everything is getting old. People have been buying antiques forever. I have a friend that won’t but them for fear of evil spirits being in them. I know people that work in produce. The stories they have about disgusting bugs coming from other countries. I’m more afraid of the ingredients in processed food. I guess libraries have to close. I know bed bugs are very real you have to be careful. The worse place to sleep is in a hospital. You can’t live in constant fear. When people pull rugs and cloth furniture off the curb I have to wonder what they’re thinking.

  5. Hmmn, I don’t know… My initial reaction is that all this fear of bedbugs is a bit of an over-reaction. Call me crazy, but if I avoided everything mentioned it seems like I wouldn’t leave my home ever! Maybe I’m just naive thinking I’m exceptional and won’t contract bedbugs. I don’t hate bugs, I figure we have to co-exist with them on the planet, but maybe that shouldn’t apply to bedbugs. To me, it’s like never going anywhere or bringing anything into my house for fear of contracting the flu or some other dread disease. Are bedbugs carriers of some dread disease? Of course nobody wants to be itching from being bitten by bedbugs.. or spiders, or ants or…

    Forgive me for being a doubting Thomas and do what you feel you have to do so you aren’t living in a state of fear. Everyone is different with various levels of fear about different things. I probably won’t stop going to the thrift store nor the library and if I get bedbugs I promise I will let all of you know and confess that you all were right. I promise!

    1. Everyone has an opinion and a comfort zone. Bed bugs have really gotten bad over the past five or so years. And the problem is that the pesticides the exterminators are legally allowed to use no longer always kill them because the bed bugs have acclimated to it. I’m not taking chances, because I know how terribly hard it is to get rid of them. You basically have to either get rid of everything or go through stringent and long and drawn out attempts to rid your home of them.

  6. There is risk in buying things anywhere, really. You could buy a piece of brand new furniture but maybe someone sat on it to try it out who was carrying bugs. And who knows what is in warehouses that hold things that are sold online? Every type of shopping source has some risk when it comes to contamination by something or other.

    Here is a link to an article that gives tips on reducing risks of getting bedbugs at thrift stores:

    1. Yes, I wrote what to look for above in my post. In your link, it said they can live for up to a year without a blood meal! Yuk!

  7. Brenda, check out The Simple Dollar website. They have good articles and information on spending and saving wisely. Have a great evening!

    Carol and Molly

  8. I shop resale shops for clothes all the time, although I do keep them bagged till I wash them. I’m hoping the wash and heat of the dryer kills anything lurking..

    1. Here’s what I found for you:

      Technically, bed bugs can live through a cycle in the washing machine. The truth is that while washing your clothes or linens will kill most of the bed bugs, the heat of drying your items is what will ultimately exterminate any and all remaining bugs.

  9. After reading all of this I don’t think I will be bringing anything new into my home here on out other than groceries! Make do with what I already have to avoid getting bed bugs. But just think what a money saver that will be! 🙂

  10. Thanks for the extra information. I’m so paranoid about them because we travel so much! I hate those horrid things! Love and hugs!

    1. I would be too if I was you. The exterminator told me he has to travel to all these conventions, and so before he does anything else he does a thorough inspection of the room. You don’t want to take your luggage in until you do that.

  11. Eeeeewwwwwww! After reading this I feel all crawly! I hate bugs!!!!!!!

    I’ll never forget when I bought a book and there was a book worm in it! Yuck! I should of brought it back, but I just wanted it out of my house!

    My daughter got a couch for free 3 yrs ago, that quickly got thrown out coz her kids got bit! I had to help her carry it outside…I took alot of showers when I got home! So grossed out!

    She also slept over a friend’s house on her couch and woke up itchy with red marks! Her friend knew what they were and knew they were in her couch coz her kids got bit b4…father has them now!

    My daughter came crying to me, instead of going home to take care of it! I grabbed a trash bag for her clothes, that went in the trash. She jumped in the shower! Put some cream on after, then put on some of my clothes…vac her car with borax. Then off she went to get her kids at a sleepover. I cleaned my bathroom and vac the whole house! She stopped hanging around with Her!

    I recently heard on the radio, that if you buy any clothing, make sure you wash it good b4 wearing it coz you could get lice! Even trying it on to see if it fits your taking a chance!
    Ok…now I’m all itchy just talking about it! ?

    1. I know about the clothing. They say wash any clothing even if it’s brand new. They said that the bed bugs (or lice) jump off people trying on clothing in the store and then the next person comes in and gets them. I hate bugs too! I’m being super careful. I won’t even sit down some places because I know offices are having real problems now.

  12. This has stopped me from garage sales,rummage sales and thrift stores.
    I have heard its also very expensive, like in the thousands to eradicate them,not to mention the hassle.

    1. Much as I’ve always loved garage sales and the like, I’m just not taking the chance. The exterminator that was here said that would be the safest path.

  13. My exterminator told me she wouldn’t go to movies without sitting on a piece of plastic at the theater.

    1. I can understand. I haven’t been to a movie in probably 20 years. But it was the noise that drove me away. Now it would be the fear of bed bugs.

  14. Definitely not a fun subject but important. I work for an organization that serves group homes and it has been a problem in several of them. The extermination process is so much work; all linens and clothing had to be removed from the house in black garbage bags and washed in hot water and dried in a dryer; other non-washable items like leather coats and all shoes had to be sprayed with alcohol. This was all in addition to the exterminator’s work. Thankfully I did not bring any bugs home with me! I had to remove and wash my own clothes and spray my shoes the minute I came home.
    Thanks for calling attention to this!

    1. I should add that there are some horrid Youtube videos of what to look for if you need to.

    2. I know, it’s horrid. That’s why I’m a bit OCD about it because getting rid of them is very problematic. They have grown accustomed to the “by law” allowable strengths of pesticides and the pest control guy told me it is very hard to be rid of them because he is only allowed to use a certain strength.

  15. Oh, good grief…This is horrible news about old books.ACK! I’ve been buying used books for years… In fact, Many years…So far tho, no problems…I have four bookshelves in my studio, each with 6 shelves, and they are stacked/packed with books with no extra room. I certainly hope that bug eyes are not checking me out here at the computer. Again, I say ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I know once I had books in two tall bookshelves and roaches were behind them when I finally went to move them. They had infiltrated the spines of books and were eating the glue. I’d say maybe move them around some?

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