Nowadays, it seems like bed bugs are everywhere in the news. Since getting rid of these little critters can involve king-sized hassles (one friend of mine threw out his mattress and froze all his books), it’s best to prevent them in the first place. Follow these easy steps to address the bed bug issue before taking the real estate plunge:
Before You Move In:
1. Check The Internet To Make Sure The Location Is Bug-Free
Some local real estate chat websites, such as curbed.com, run stories about bed bug infestations of specific locations. There are also websites such as bed bugregistry.com that map complaints in major cities. Just be aware that “accused” doesn’t always mean “confirmed”; in a letter to the editor of Gawker.com, a gossip and news site, the editor of the Bed Bug Registry estimated that maybe 10% of the posts on the site were bogus.
2. Visually Inspect
When you’re in the bedroom of an apartment, check the crevices – like near baseboards – for the bugs themselves, which look like apple seeds in size and color, or little brown spots that are a sign of them. The city of Cincinnati has a particularly good video that shows you what to watch out for.
After You Move In:
1. Wash Your Sheets in Hot Water
I do this regularly anyway to battle dust mites. Wash your sheets on the hot setting once a week, and then dry on moderate heat.
2. Watch Your Purse
I always thought it was weird how my grandma would scream when I would throw a gym bag or a purse on the bed—but she knew that that bag had been in all sorts of places—in my office, in a restaurant, on the subway. So, when I come inside the house, there’s a place right by the door where my purse can sit, a little purse jail, before it goes into the closet to be switched for a different one. Modern anti-bed bug guides are firm on this point: Never put your bag on the bed, ever. Also, if you are really paranoid and you think you’ve been somewhere infested (like a suspect movie theater) take a blow dryer and aim hot air at your purse for a couple of minutes before putting it back in the closet. The heat will kill the critters.