5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Sheets Safe From Bed Bugs


Crawl space: When riding the Metro, avoid placing your bag on the floor. You never know what might try to hitch a ride. (Daquella manera via Flickr)

Ah, bed bugs. The bane of the inner-city apartment renter.

If you’ve never come across any of these critters yourself, no doubt you’ve heard the stories. After all, D.C. is no stranger to bed bugs. The capital sits 8th on Orkin’s list of the top bed bug cities for 2011 – one spot ahead of New York, which, let’s be honest, looks like the kind of place the maid tends to avoid.

What’s more, our unfortunately mild winter has some experts antsy over the prospect of a bed bug population explosion this summer.

With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to avoid an encounter with nature’s very own bed intruders.

  • Rule No. 1: Don’t buy used. That hip, gently-used clothing store you love is probably OK. After all, used clothing can (and should) be washed. Used luggage and furniture, on the other hand, should be avoided like the plague. Have you ever tried to wash a suitcase? And stay away from that looks-like-new couch that your neighbor just put out on the curb. If you’ve managed to pick up a bag or purse that you suspect may be infected, remember that freezing is an option provided your freezer is cold enough.
  • Pick up a mattress encasement – basically, it’s a bug-proof Ziploc bag for your mattress. These “bed bags” will set you back about $60 but provide a powerful first-line defense against bed bugs. After all, bed bugs can’t infest your mattress if they can’t get to it. Plus, if you’ve already got bed bugs, they’ll be trapped inside where they can’t bite you. While you’re at it, grab a couple of wraps for your pillow and box spring too.
  • Staying in a hotel? Keep your luggage away from the bed. When you leave, be sure to wrap up your sleepwear (or any clothing that has come in contact with the bed) in a plastic bag to protect your luggage and other clothes on the trip home. When you get home, head straight for the washing machine. You’ll want to wash and dry your clothes before you put them back in your dresser or closet.
  • If you’re a Metro rider … first, you have our sympathies. But more to the point, be sure not to leave your bag on the floor. In fact, try to keep everything – bag, purse, umbrella, unruly infants – off the floor and on your lap or person. Also, please turn down your music. That has nothing to do with bed bugs, but it may keep you from getting bitten by your fellow Metro riders.
  • Consider picking up what they call an “interception device” to protect your bed. These are small plastic saucers that slide under each leg of your bed or sofa, catching bed bugs as they move from floor to furniture. As bugs make a beeline for the leg of your bed, they fall into the dish and become trapped by virtue of the smooth interior surface that prevents them from climbing back out. These devices – like the ClimbUp Insect Interceptor, which enjoys a four-star rating on Amazon – are fairly cheap.

Find a bug-free apartment in the area with Apartment Showcase.

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  • Great tips for making sure you don’t get bed bugs

  • Great tips that everyone should follow. Bed bugs are definitely something to not mess around with. If you have them, make sure you call in the professionals.

  • I just changed my mattress the other day. I hope this one won’t get bed bugs too fast. I can’t afford another one so shortly. Great tips by the way, thanks.