Keep Bedbugs From Coming Home With You Using This Packing Tip

You're not the only one who loves roaming from place to place. Bed bugs can be skilled hitchhikers, carefully hiding inside your clothing and luggage in order to come home from your holiday with you. While true infestations are rare, like the recent outbreak in Paris, there is always a chance that you could encounter these pesky critters on vacation. And once they've carved out a space, it can be tough to eliminate them. Thankfully, there's an easy way to ditch these blood-sucking souvenirs. All it takes is adding a common household staple to your packing list. That way, you can enjoy your getaway and keep your peace of mind when you get home.

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The easiest power move is to seal off your belongings in plastic. After all, bed bugs love to take refuge in seams of fabric, underneath pillows, behind headboards, and inside dark wooden drawers — all places that are easy for them to access. Plastic, fortunately, acts as a barrier to keep them from spreading from place to place. If sealable bags are not already on your packing list, now would be a good time to add these must-have travel accessories.

Cover your items in plastic bags

Regardless of your packing technique, Ziploc freezer bags actually work best for keeping bugs at bay. You'll want to pack all your clothes in sealable plastic bags and swap your fabric bag for a hard-shell suitcase. As an additional deterrent, some travelers swear by Bounce dryer sheets or moth balls inside luggage.

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Once you get to your hotel room, inspect the surfaces with a flashlight, looking for the hallmark brown flecks of dried blood left behind. The bugs themselves are roughly the size of an apple seed. If you see one, there may be others, so it's best to switch hotel rooms. Ask for another dwelling away from the infested area, as there's little to stop the bugs from traveling to other hotspots.

After you bring your stuff inside, keep your suitcase off the floor and place it on a hard surface, or stuff it in the bathroom, where there are fewer places for pests to hide. Some travelers recommend placing your suitcase in the tub, as it's difficult for bed bugs to scale those slippery walls. If you're only staying in town for a short time, keep your clothes locked away in your luggage. If you must take your items out, hang them up instead of putting them in drawers. In case you feel uneasy about your room, feel free to wrap your entire suitcase in a large trash bag and seal it off.

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How to clean your clothes when you get home

On your next trip, bring extra plastic bags to separate used clothes from the ones still packed neatly in your suitcase. Of course, don't forget to knot the bag. If you happen to pick up any critters on your travels, at least they will be contained until you can deal with the problem. If you get home during the day, inspect your luggage outside. If your suitcase was encased in a plastic bag, ditch it before you bring your stuff inside the house.

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Bed bugs can't survive high heat, so it's best to pour the contents of your suitcase straight into the laundry machine. That said, wash your clothes in hot water and dry them on high heat for at least 20 minutes. If you don't have access to a heat source, shake out your clothes in the bathroom or check your garments against light-colored surfaces so you can spot any stragglers. If you spot one, bag everything up and send it straight to the laundromat. For items that can't be washed, use a steam cleaner. It also doesn't hurt to vacuum your luggage before you stack it away for next time, either. With a few extra precautions, you'll sleep tight — and not let the bedbugs bite.

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