How to prevent bed bugs when moving

How to Move Without Bringing Bedbugs? (Explained)

Avatar of author Ismael Girard
Ismael Girard
min read

Ever moved into a new place only to find, either it's infested with bed bugs or you brought them with you in route? It's a nightmare scenario nobody wants to face.

To prevent bed bugs in your new home, start by thoroughly inspecting and cleaning your current home, including washing all fabrics at high temperatures and vacuuming all areas. One effective strategy for bed bug proofing your home is using special bed bug-proof covers on your mattresses and box springs. During the move, check and clean the moving van, and maintain vigilance when unpacking at the new home to avoid reintroducing bed bugs.

In this text, we'll dive deeper into the information above, so you get a complete overview of what you need to do to avoid bedbugs after moving.

Understanding The Risks of Bedbugs When Moving

Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers. They can climb into boxes, luggage, clothes, and even attach to the fabric items, often going unnoticed due to their small size.

When moving homes, the risk of a bed bug infestation increases exponentially because of the abundance of hiding places. From moving boxes to furniture seams, they can settle virtually anywhere.

A single bug or a few undetected eggs inside your belongings can lead to a full-blown infestation in your new space. Furniture, mattresses, and box springs are particularly vulnerable, as they offer numerous hiding spots. Such a scenario can turn a joyous occasion like moving into a stressful infestation problem.

Hence, employing effective bed bug prevention techniques when packing, transporting, and settling into a new home is crucial. Next, we'll guide you with some practical steps to control the risk of an unwelcome infestation when moving.

Part 1 - Inspecting Your Current Home for Bedbugs Before Moving

Bedbug Inspection

Bedbug problems aren't only picked up from a hotel room or picked out from thin air; they can start from within our own homes. Inspecting your house for signs of bedbugs forms the first line of defense.

Equip yourself with a flashlight, a magnifying glass, and a determination to scout bedbugs out. Make sure to check all furniture and surrounding items.

The signs you're looking for are black spots - bedbugs' excrement - and bloodstains, usually found on sheets or pillowcases. Remember to inspect your luggage and clothes too.

Decluttering and Cleaning

Once the inspection phase confirms the presence of bedbugs or raises enough suspicion, it's time to start cleaning. Here's what to do:

  • Decluttering is the first step of this process. Extra stuff lying around makes ideal hiding spots for them, remove all unnecessary items, especially around the bedroom and storage boxes.
  • Next, bedbug-infested items that cannot be treated should be sealed in plastic bags and discarded. Sealing prevents the bugs from escaping and infesting new areas of your home.
  • Now comes the washing. Bedbugs cannot handle high temperature; wash all fabric items – sheets, clothing, soft toys – in hot water, at least 60°C for at least 30 minutes. Once washed, dry these items in a high-heat setting for 30 minutes. Even non-washable items can be treated this way.
  • Items that can't go in the washer or the dryer, like shoes or luggage, can be subjected to steam cleaning. Steam temperature above 52°C can kill most bedbugs and their eggs.
  • Finally, make sure you vacuum all floor surfaces, furniture, and places that might harbor bedbugs, like corners, seams, and cracks. It will not get rid of all bedbugs but certainly helps in reducing their number. After doing all surfaces, immediately empty the bag outside the home and clean your vacuum thoroughly.

Part 2 - Protecting Your Furniture Against Bedbugs When Packing

A photo of luggage inside plastic bags to prevent bedbugs

This section aims to provide easy-to-follow guidelines on safeguarding your furniture from bedbugs during the challenging job of packing. Our precise directives are emphasized under these subheadings:

Using Bed Bug-Proof Encasements

First, invest in bed bug-proof encasements; these are specifically designed covers used primarily for mattresses and box springs. These covers serve an important dual-purpose: they obstruct bed bugs from infesting your bed and also trap any existing bugs inside, so starving them.

💡 Note that it's important to leave them on for at least 365 days, the usual bedbug lifespan.

Packing Strategies to Isolate Bed Bugs

Secondly, adopt practical packing strategies to limit the spread of bed bugs:

  • Vacuum-seal all fabric items (e.g. clothing, bed sheets) before placing them in plastic bags. Heat treat them, if possible, to kill any hidden bugs.
  • Make use of high-temp dryers for clothes, a proven method to eliminate bed bugs.
  • Consider applying dissolvable laundry bags for your clothes. They can go directly from your suitcase to the washing machine, minimizing the risk of transfer to other garments or areas in your home.
  • All luggage should be individually sealed to thwart cross-contamination.

Disposal of Infested Items

If any furniture or items too severely infested for any pest control measures to effectively work, it becomes essential to prompt disposal.

Always be mindful to wrap infested items in plastic before moving them out of the affected room, to prevent the spread of bed bugs to other areas of your house.

💡 Apartment complex residents are advised to notify their property management prior to discarding large items, to reduce the risk of infestation spreading to other units.

Part 3 - Recommended Anti-Bedbug Treatments Before and During the Move

After learning about the preventive actions that need to be taken before moving, let's investigate into the renowned anti-bedbug treatments used before and during the move. These treatments are beneficial, ensuring that our relocation is untroubled by bedbugs.

Heat Extermination

Heat treatment, viewed as an effective method for eliminating bedbugs at various lifecycle stages, is an integral aspect of our arsenal in battling them. They deliver high temperature that, like mentioned above, bedbugs can't withstand.

We encourage using a portable bed bug heater to treat personal belongings susceptible to infestation. All you fabric items can be put in those portable heaters, ensuring that bedbugs hiding die off.

💡 Bed bugs will die at 49°C, and the treatment must maintain this temperature for at least 20 minutes.

Chemical and Natural Pesticides

Chemical extermination often come in the form of sprays or powders that can be applied to infested areas. If you choose to use effective bedbug sprays, always use products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and follow the instructions for application and safety.

But, some individuals prefer to use natural alternatives due to safety concerns linked with chemical pesticides. Among these alternatives, Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is quite popular. It's a naturally occurring substance that can be spread around bed frames, inside cracks and crevices, or any place you suspect the presence of bed bugs. It works by drying out the insects, effectively eliminating the infestation over time.

Apart from DE, essential oils such as tea tree oil and neem oil are potential natural pesticides against bed bugs. But, keep in mind that while these natural methods may help, they're often not as effective as professional treatments, specifically if a large or chronic infestation.

Part 4 - Avoiding Bringing Bedbugs When Moving

Checking the Moving Van and New Home

Inspecting the moving van is paramount to stopping bedbugs right at their tracks. Look closely at any cracks and crevices; bugs tend to hide in these places.

  • Use a flashlight for a better view.
  • Vacuum the inside of the truck meticulously, focusing primarily on corners and hard-to-reach spaces.

Next, an inspection of your new living space is just as, if not more, crucial. Tackle this task before moving in. You can repeat the steps from Part 1.

Unpacking with Caution

Unpacking might seem like an end to the moving process, but it's also a critical point where bedbugs could once again stake their claim.

First, refrain from bringing moving boxes inside. Instead, leave them outside and only bring in items as needed. This practice drastically minimizes the chance of bugs making their way into your new home.

Next, pay special attention to fabrics - clothes, sheets, and curtains. Launder all fabric items in hot water and then dry them on high temp for at least 30-40 minutes in the dryer, for added safety.

Part 5 - Post-Move Actions and Future Bedbug Prevention

Having executed meticulous measures during the move, it's essential to continue this diligence post-move as well. This stage encompasses proactive monitoring for bed bugs and understanding when professional services become necessary.

Monitoring for Bed Bugs After Moving In

Once you've settled in, ongoing vigilance prevents potential infestations. Watch for signs of bed bugs like bite marks, blood spots on your bedding, and shed bed bug skin.

Regular evaluation of mattresses and bed frames demands special attention. Employment of a flashlight aids inspection, illuminating dark nooks and corners.

Use your vacuum to consume any bugs or eggs you find, ensuring no pest remains behind. Launder suspected infested items in hot water and follow with a high-heat cycle in your dryer. The dual attack of hot water and the temperature effectively kills these insects, rendering your fabric items bug-free. Repeat this process, semi-regularly, bolstering prevention by not affording bugs time or space to proliferate.

Ensure to inspect luggage and any other item that travelled with you in the move. Bed bugs are hitchhikers, and they might hide in the most unsuspecting places in your luggage, waiting for the opportunity to infest your new home.


After moving, don't let your guard down. Continue to stay vigilant and proactive, as bed bugs can make their presence known even weeks after the relocation process.

Even though our best efforts, bed bugs can sometimes stubbornly persist. In such cases, consider calling in the big guns—professional pest control services. They possess advanced tools and in-depth knowledge to deal with all stages of a bed bug's life cycle, from egg to adult, ensuring thorough eradication.

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Frequently asked questions

How can I identify bedbugs in their current residence before moving?

Look for small black spots (bedbug excrement) and tiny bloodstains on sheets or pillowcases. Employ a flashlight and magnifying glass for thorough inspection, especially around beds and luggage.

What steps should be taken to declutter and clean a home infested with bedbugs?

Begin by removing unnecessary items that offer hideaways for bedbugs. Wash all fabric items in hot water at 60°C and clean floors and furniture vigorously to reduce the number of pests.

What packing strategies can help isolate bed bugs and prevent their spread?

Use vacuum-sealed bags for all fabric items and consider using high-heat dryers. Seal luggage in durable plastic bags to avoid cross-contamination.