How To Get Bed Bugs Out Of Your Life — For GOOD

A bed bug infestation in your apartment is what urban nightmares are made of. You're forced to bag up all your belongings and shell out hundreds of dollars for an exterminator, but that's not even the end of your ordeal: You'll also be living in a constant state of paranoia that one day, these nasty blood sucking critters will creep their way into your life again.

Fortunately, you'll only need to develop a few easy habits to permanently kick these pests to the curb. From your closet to public areas, Mark Winter, a pest control professional at Thumbtack and owner of Bed Bug Solutions, gives us the lowdown on all the preventive measures you can take to steer clear of these unwanted creatures.

Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
If your living space allows, your shoes, coats, and bags should be kept in an area away from your furniture, and especially out of your bedroom. "These clothing items can be vehicles for bed bugs to travel along with you," says Winter. "A coat closet, lidded plastic tote, or a coat rack closest to your entry door are ideal for keeping some distance."

Keep in mind that this rule also applies to backpacks. As a precaution, you can run bags or backpacks through the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat every two weeks as bed bug prevention.
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
The hatching cycle for bed bugs is between seven to 10 days. If you were to accidentally bring a bed bug to your bed linens, you can put a stop to the life cycle by laundering these items. Winter recommends giving your bed linens a wash every one to two weeks. Comforters, quilts and pillow shams don't necessarily have to be washed every time, but should be run through the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes.
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
It's nearly impossible to avoid sitting in public, but chairs and public areas are hot spots for bed bugs. "If you spend any amount of time at a doctor's office, hospital, nursing home, movie theater or school, make it a practice to change your clothes immediately when you get home," says Winter. "Do not sit down on furniture until you've changed your outfit."
Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
To stop traveling entirely out of fear of bed bugs is a bit hyperbolic, but hotels and airplanes have been known to be hosts to nasty insects looking to hitch a ride in your suitcase.

"Always pack a clean trash bag with you," says Winter. "When you are ready to come home, put all the clothing you brought on the trip — dirty or clean — inside the trash bag and then place it into your suitcase." The trash bag of clothing should go straight to the washer as soon as you get home.

Just to be extra safe, Winter also recommends storing your suitcase in an area away from your furniture — preferably away from your bedroom all together.