FAQ: How do I prepare for pest control treatment? Should I put everything in bags?

by nobugsonme on March 27, 2007 · 42 comments

in Bed Bug Control Techniques, bed bug prep, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, clothing, FAQs, pest control services

Don’t prepare too much for a pre-treatment inspection visit! Your PCO should be able to inspect your premises as they are, which makes it easier to spot bugs and signs of bugs. You don’t want to vacuum and change the sheets before the PCO comes to inspect, or s/he may miss obvious signs of bed bugs. You also do not want to move things or throw things out, since you can actually spread the bugs this way. Get the PCO in ASAP, obviously, and remember — don’t start sleeping elsewhere. Read the Dos and Don’ts to learn why not.

Once a treatment is agreed upon, your Pest Control Operator (PCO) should give you instructions on paper (or online) for preparation in advance of treatment. These are essential and should be followed to the letter.  Note: some good PCOs have extensive prep lists.  Some lists are minimal.  Other PCOs have none– they may expect to do the work when they get there.   If you’re not sure which is true in your case, be sure to ask well in advance of treatment.

The most common — though not universal — request PCOs make is to prepare your clothing / linens/ bedclothes in advance of treatment. The standard prep is to take these out in sealed bags, wash them all on hot and dry on hot for a long time (until they’re totally dry), and then seal them in new clean bags like huge Ziploc XL bags or even 2 gallon ziplocs (or garbage bags you’ve sealed in an airtight manner, which is not easy).

Washing on hot (alone) will work if the washer is hot enough. Drying on hot (alone) will work if the dryer is hot enough. It items are clean and already dry, you can dry them on hot for a much shorter period of time (we recommend 20 minutes for most normal clothing items). Really thick items like down jackets or comforters are problematic — we don’t really know how long they need to be dried in order to kill bed bugs inside. This FAQ gives more specific advice about other options for laundering.

Often dry cleaning is recommended, but while conventional dry cleaning is known to kill bed bugs, many dry cleaners may not know how to handle infested items to avoid cross-contamination. (Note: we also do not know if newer “green” dry cleaning methods kill bed bugs.) You should tell the dry cleaner your items have been exposed to bed bugs so precautions can be taken, but many firms will refuse to treat the items under those circumstances. Because you can’t really be certain your dry cleaner knows how to handle bed bug-infested items, and you can’t be sure everyone who has bed bugs is disclosing this to the dry cleaner, it is a risky business. Some dry cleaners, in NYC at least, are advertising themselves as specializing in dealing with bed bug-infested items, which is a sign they may know what they’re doing (but be sure and ask questions!)

The good news is that we hear that many items which cannot be machine washed can withstand some time in a hot dryer if they start out already dry, and so while we can’t guarantee a particular item won’t be harmed, this may be your safest option for getting the items bed bug-free. Again, consult this FAQ about laundry.

One great option for killing bed bugs and eggs in clothing, and in other harder-to-treat items such as books, papers, shoes, etc. is an invention called the Packtite. You basically load your stuff loosely in it and bake it at or above 120F, monitoring the core of the items with the provided temperature probe. Once treated, items can be carefully bagged and stored. You can read more in the Packtite FAQ.

Buy Packtite Closet at Bed Bug Supply

The de-bugged items must be kept sealed until use, and not returned to dressers or other non-airtight storage until the bed bugs are gone for sure (at least 1-2 months after you last felt a bite or saw signs of bed bugs). Some of us find it helpful to use a smaller range of clothing during this time, so we aren’t constantly juggling lots of big resealable bags.

Bed bug monitors such as BBAlert Passive, ClimbUps or the Bed Bug Beacon active monitor, can also help you determine if bed bugs are gone for good. (Read about inexpensive bed bug monitors in this FAQ.)

While there is some controversy surrounding their use, protecting the mattress and (especially) the box springs with a cover that seals it against bed bugs is still almost universally recommended by PCOs, in North America, at least. (See the Encasements FAQ for more explanation of the argument against encasements.) Ask your PCO when you should encase. They may want to inspect and treat the mattress/box first–so ask before you cover. Buy the best quality cover you can– read the encasements FAQ to learn more about encasements and purchase recommended ones like Protect-a-bed Allerzip. Cover the mattress and box springs if you have them and the PCO says you should keep them (which they probably will in most cases.) The PCO may sell mattress covers which may or may not be as good as those you can get yourself.

Other instructions may include moving certain items of furniture, removing all unnecessary clutter (you probably won’t have much time, but weed out what you can), and vacuuming. You want to get the PCO’s input on this, because you don’t want to vacuum up dusts, for example, without direction.

They may also tell you to inspect and seal up all your other stuff. Since it won’t be washed, you may be sealing in bugs and eggs. It’s hard to treat a cluttered home. Getting stuff out of the way can make traditional spray/dust treatments easier (in some cases, make them possible).

The downside is that those bed bugs who managed to hitchhike their way inside the containers may hide inside them, until released.

PCOs have differing protocols, when it comes to “stuff besides clothes“:

Some PCOs say, “seal all your stuff in preparation, open it after treatment begins” (when, depends on the PCO: could be right away or after a few treatments), some say “seal it in preparation, and keep it sealed for 18 months,” and some say, “don’t seal it”.

Most North American PCOs will tell you to wash, dry and seal up linens, clothes, bedclothes. They should have been washed on HOT and dried on HOT and sealed in bags at the site of washing, so they should not be infested.

If a PCO tells you to seal up all your stuff, this might mean sealed bags inside rubbermaid-type plastic boxes, for easy stacking (don’t use cardboard, since bed bugs can hide inside the boxes’ walls). Bags can be sealed and left in the middle of a room, but you must ensure they’re sealed. The XL ziplocs can come open.

Ask the PCO what the plan is. Make sure you find out from the beginning when you will be “releasing” the stuff (not the clothing and linens, remember, which get cleaned on HOT and sealed the same way until its all over). If they want it exposed soon after treatment, it’s to let the bugs come out and encounter poison and die.

If they never want you to seal it up, it’s the same logic: bugs exposed to poison die.

But those PCOs who want you to seal stuff for 18 months are working on a different premise: bed bugs have been known to live up to 18 months without a blood meal, and you want to be sure those bugs are dead. We’re not sure how long they can live without fresh air, but suffice to say, it’s a long while. If you live somewhere where the Packtite is available, then it is probably easier and cheaper to obtain one than to live without your stuff for 18 months, or to have to replace items.

Find out what your PCO expects, when you agree to service, and ask questions. If what they’re suggesting seems particularly difficult, ask another qualified PCO. Killing bed bugs is not easy, but there are some variations between good methods.

Updated 1/2019.

1 S. March 28, 2007 at 10:47 am

When our PCO treated our entire apartment, he asked us to “get our stuff out of the way.” What he needed was simply access to our baseboards and furniture – the things he was going to apply chemical to. He needed our non-clothing “stuff” gone just so he could treat. If our apartment was large enough, we would have simply piled all that stuff in the middles of the rooms, leaving it as “exposed” as possible.

But we couldn’t fit it. And he wanted our furniture EMPTY. So we bagged it all up, in airtight ziplocs, and brought it to a storage unit. We kept it there for about 3 days, just because it wasn’t convenient to bring it back that night. (Ideally we would have brought it back the very same night he sprayed).

When we did go back to the storage locker, we did a big sort. We evaluated everything we had. There were 2 categories, a) stuff we needed, and b) stuff we could live without for 18 months. The stuff we needed, we took home, opened up, and put on our 2 big metro shelving units. The stuff we could live without is still in the storage unit. It is super sealed – the Rubbermaid containers have clear tape all around their lids. They will stay there until August of ’08.

If you can fit all your stuff in your current apartment, I’d advise keeping it all there. If you can’t fit it all, then you may want to sort like we did. It feels good to live lightly, and not have a ton of books, papers, purses, artwork and random tchotchkes lying around.

But whatever you keep in your apartment, I’d put on metal shelves if possible, just because bedbugs aren’t good at climbing slippery surfaces (metal, glass). You want any bugs in the stuff to come DOWN, but you don’t want new bugs from the rest of the house to climb UP. We put carpet tape around the legs of the shelving units, and the room they are in has residual on the baseboards as well as dust under the carpet.

Hope this clears up some confusion – we struggled a lot with this very topic and feel good about our final decisions.

2 nobugsonme March 28, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Part of the “keep it home” theory is that you don’t have to live without things for 18 months or to pay for storage for 18 months (which many can’t afford).
I just want people to know there isn’t just one way to do this and that they have options.
I think it can be confusing…

3 willow-the-wisp August 5, 2007 at 9:30 pm

2 bits worth of advice:

A–Do not panic (if you can help it.) In my case I did–as, I was told I could not get the treatments I needed, in a timely fashion, and, in a way that would even be possible.

So … when they did finally come to inspect–they would not treat. They said I no longer had an “active” infestation. This in CA means live bugs seen on the bed or in the room during the daytime–I guess.
However–if the PC0 sees the place as is—and knows his/her stuff–they can get a much better idea of where to treat and how much and how often. If you move, stuff or change your sleeping place–not good. Dragging stuff around? This could mean spreading bed bugs.

B–Do not go with the first one, but get a good one in ASAP. More than a week is stretching it. If you know, they are bed bugs! Act swiftly on arranging that Bed bug Qualified PCO appointment.

P.S. I spell-checked this 3 times–if it comes out wrong, or with typo’s it is not my fault. Sometimes my spell-check does not work.

4 nobugsonme August 6, 2007 at 1:00 am

I seem to remember you self-treated before the inspection, right?
This is another good reason for folks NOT to self-treat, or even try to clean bed bugs away, but to get a PCO in to inspect right away. (Even a thorough cleaning can remove the signs, sadly, so it is just best to get someone in there ASAP to inspect.)

5 willow-the-wisp August 6, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Correct. You may TRY to clear most of the signs away–the visible surface signs to be more correct. However, by doing so it may cost you the chance of receiving timely PCO treatments, paid for, by law, in the majority of USA, by your Property owner. (Laws vary from state to state, but in most cases, the Landlord is, at least in part, financially responsible.)
More importantly–people need to realize the reasoning as to why we suggest continued treatments every 10-14 days until at least two full weeks go by without any signs or symptoms: It is the many eggs that adult Bed bugs lay that are a big part of the problem. Not only are they extremely hard to kill—but they are extremely difficult to find. You can almost never get to all the eggs, as the female often lays them inside walls. Therefore, if you kill off the surface signs, it is like only getting 60 to 80% of them at best.
The eggs will hatch … start feeding on you again. Before you know it–you’ve got an insidious type of “unseen” infestation going on” The bugs are now more likely to have spread out around the place too!
Not good!
By day, these babies are hiding inside the walls and in other hard to get areas.

Getting a good PCO is rather like buying your Wedding dress: You do not want just any old dress–you want the one that will work best for you in your “dream wedding.”
Shop around yes—but do it swiftly. Waiting more than a week for your first treatment is not a good idea.

6 maria X September 30, 2007 at 9:00 am

a question, not a comment: how do I find a trustworthy PCO in NYC ?
i live in a coop and the board is trying to minimize the problem and use their old exterminator who knows cockroaches, but no BB-s.
just started getting biten, they came from my neighbour, they took forever in treating her apartment. i’m beyond upset and scared.

7 nobugsonme September 30, 2007 at 10:14 am

Sadly, you may need to educate your coop board as others have done. Come to the forums where you should get some good advice on that:

8 October 19, 2007 at 10:26 pm


I am planning to call the PCO who will be treating this rooming house for BBs next Wed. and ask them some questions: What questions can you suggest that I ask? So far they have not provided us tenants with any written instructions for prepping, and I don’t know if they will be using a fogger or not, nor what type of pesticide. The landlady tells me that they plan to return in 30 days to re-treat the place. Sound weird?

Also, can you tell me how to check to see if they are licensed. (just ask them, or, anonomously, contact state license agency?).I am in Cincinnati, OH.

I did check what I could last night with the BBB and found this PCO listed as a member with a satisfactory rating, for whatever that’s worth.

You know, as I guess I have told you, the landlady is trying to sell the house and I just wonder if she is trying to get off as easily as she can with this BB problem and move out, instead of trying to do a thorough job of eliminating them. Who knows?

Mr Bill.

9 October 19, 2007 at 11:15 pm


I forgot to mention that the landlady has said that they will discard the mattresses and box springs of the beds here when the PCO comes again next week to treat for BBs, even though they have each been wrapped in vinyl bags since the first treatment in July and no bugs could have entered them , I would think. That does not seem necessary, does it? They are new. I guess that was part of the PCO’s instructions to her. But since the vinyl covers were put on, there has not been a large infestation as there was before, even though I did see a couple of bugs in my bed a few weeks ago, after which I laundered the bed cloths and the mattress cover and pasted vaseline around the legs of the bed, there have been none since that I could see in my bed. I have seen them on my desk and one crawled across some papers, though.

Mr Bill

10 Eva October 20, 2007 at 8:31 pm

I stay in SF downtown and I found my first bedbug bite about a month ago. Since then, I get 1-2 bites every 3-4 days but my other 2 roommates never had any signs. Maybe because I stay at home to do my work. As I sit motionless in front of my computer for hours, the BB would come bite my feet and hand even during the day. Eventually the bites grew incredibly itchy and swollen (allergic reactions?)so I did some research online and started to vacuum my floor every week and stick carpet tape around my bed legs. Still, I get one new bite every 4 days or so. Then I resorted to spraying essential oil in attempt to repel them. My other 2 roommates were not concerned because they’d never heard of BB and didn’t get any bites.

All changed 6 days ago, when one of them had around 10 bites on her when she woke up from an evening nap. On the same night, I had 2 new bites on my right index finger which swelled and prevented me to draw.

The next day, I made a desperate call to our landlord and learned that our neighbor upstairs had also just reported a BB problem. Our landlord said that he would give us some foggers to try out but I insisted that according to my reading, it doesn’t work and so an exterminator had to be hired.

The PCO came the same day to inspect, tossed my bed box, found a big adult and nymph (along with some poo)and a smaller bug in my 1st roommate’s room. My 2nd roommate whom I’m sharing a walk-in closet with, was not infected. But just to be safe, he arranged a time to treat all 3 rooms.

Our instructions were to seal all clothings and bedding, wash and dry on hot, and empty all shelves into sealable containers and bags. We bought Sterlite special-priced Halloween orange containers at 3.99/ea. We taped the 2 tiny holes at the handle and all around the cover to make sure they’re airtight.

On the treatment day,which was yesterday, the guys came in and did a thorough inspection first, then checked our closets and ripped our bed boxes. The guy said that it seemed that we’d caught the BB infestation right away but was surprised when I told him that I had BB bites for a month already.

They requested us to leave and only return around 4 hours later because they don’t want us to be exposed to any of the “materials” which they would be laying down. According to them, they would treat all our mattresses and sofa with vacuum and heat to kill any bb or eggs.

When we returned, I called to inquire if we can put all our laundered clothings back into the cloest and vacuum the floor. They said it was okay. I also asked if the next treatment will also involve the same procedure and they replied that they would only come to inspect the bed again.

As an experiment, I dipped the adult bedbug found on my bed, sealed in packaging tape, into a small tub of hot tap water for 30 secs.
It hasn’t moved its legs since…

11 nobugsonme October 20, 2007 at 11:42 pm

Sorry you have bed bugs.

Please do NOT unpack yet. Most cases need more than one treatment (in fact, 3-5 is much more common). Cases I have heard of that needed only one were NOT cases in which there were so many bugs, so many affected people, multiple affected apartments. So I would guess one will not do it for you.

Keep your clean things in the bags. Unpacking them will mean washing, drying and rebagging before the next treatment. The PCO will need to retreat you and all the affected neighbors every 10-14 days until you see no bugs and have no allergic reactions. See our FAQs.

12 Eva October 23, 2007 at 4:22 pm

nobugs: Thanks for your advice! Our PCO just called to schedule 3 more treatments spaced 2 weeks apart. I asked about the bagging thing and he told me to keep them in the large bags. Obviously the secretary and technician whom she referred to doesn’t know much about BB treatments. My LL later called to check things up. He told me to speak to Herald directly, who was the guy in charge of our BB problem, instead of talking to the secretary although she was a very nice lady.

What crept me out was that our neighbor upstairs reported bites even after our recent treatment. We suspect that they didn’t follow the instructions to launder and bag everything. So I immediately laundered my remaining bags of clothes and sealed everything I have in the closet (although it is in another room). I even separated the ones which I took out on the night of treatment.

I work at home so I’m the prime bait for BB in my apt. So far I didn’t get any new bites for a week since they captured the adult bug and nymph on my bed box during the very first checkup. However it’s too early to say they’re gone from our apt, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

PS: We suspect buildings around our area in SF downtown are getting infested, so we’re keeping our clothes bagged for a long time….

13 nobugsonme October 23, 2007 at 5:35 pm

This is a good reminder to customers that they should talk to the management if any of the tech’s or receptionist’s info seems odd. It is also a shout out to PCOs: we hear this kind of crap surprisingly often. You need to make sure your staff–even the office staff–know about bed bug treatment protocols. Or at least agree to send all questions to someone who does.

14 Simply soulful July 2, 2008 at 12:38 am

It’s Tuesday. I have getting bit since last Wednesday/Thursday. The Exterminator came today (Tuesday afternoon)to inspect and see what was going on and found a bed bug. The sofa bed that it was on (that i had been sleeping on) was wrapped in plastic and removed. The exterminator is coming tomorrow to treat this apartment and others i guess. Building management put flyers under all residents doors informing them of tommorrow’s “preventative I was given a sheet that told me among other things to wash all of my clothes on hot and dry them for at least an hour. The paper also says to VACUUM the apartment.

Is this safe practice? I just purchased a vacuum this evening and have not been able to wash all clothing. That’s going to take more than a day, especially since you have to run the dryer for the complete cycle. I have started to bag clothes up, tie them and tape the top shut. I have every bag labeled with it’s contents and the bags are clear, so when I get ready to wash I can just place the bag load in the machine. instant presorted laundry.

After vacuuming, I am suppossed to put EVERYTHING in the apartment in the center of the floor. I guess there was a reason I played so much tetris as a child.

What about my shoes that I will be wearing since i’m out the house during the extermination. Can bed bugs get into your shoes? Kind of a creepy thought.

15 Simply soulful July 2, 2008 at 12:41 am

I meant to type “preventative pest control”.

16 nobugsonme July 2, 2008 at 1:17 am

Simply Soulful,

Is vacuuming safe? Yes, but you must either seal the vaccum bag in a ziploc or other airtight bag and dispose of it right away, or clean the canister thoroughly. Boiling water poured in a canister would work, though it might harm the canister.

If you are wearing shoes it is of course possible that there might be a bed bug in them. This is more likely if the shoes are kept under the bed or near an area where bed bugs were known to harbor.

If there were one in your shoe, I doubt it would hang out there all day.

However, I assume the PCO will put a residual pesticide down (and possibly a mechanical killer dust as well). If you came home with a bed bug, keep in mind, it will probably be exposed to poison and die.

Read the FAQS in the travel section which detail how to avoid spreading bed bugs to others:


And make sure your home is retreated every two weeks until all bed bugs, bed bug bites, and signs of bed bugs are gone. If you do not react to bites, I’d get retreated anyway, since one visit almost never does it. If you have further questions or need support, click “forums” at top right to come to our forums.

Good luck!

17 BugsLoveME August 12, 2008 at 9:49 am

My boyfriend and I live in an apartment in a four unit building. We first heard that the man downstairs (directly below us) had bedbugs a couple weeks ago and they were coming to check our apartment on a Wednesday. We heard nothing until the following Monday where they said we were not infected but gave us a preparation list for preventative treatment for that Friday. The list included washing and bagging of all linens and clothes and moving furniture away from the walls. I was concerned because I have a LOT of clothes and there was no way I was going to be able accomplish all that in 4 days when I have a full time job. I called my complex manager and she said since I was in an apartment that was not infected, all I had to do was move my furniture and remove my bed linens. They were just going to put down a powder around the perimeter of my apartment so my clothes would not be affected and I could leave them in my drawers and in the closet.

Almost a week later after they treated the apartment downstairs and the other apartments, I got a straight line of bites down my back and butt. I checked my sheets and there were tiny spots of blood. I knew for sure we had bed bugs. I called the manager again and she denied we got bedbugs from our downstairs neighbor. In fact, she told me a lot of people get paranoid when they hear someone has bedbugs and start to feel itchy and think they see things. I was NOT imagining these bites! But she apparently sent exterminators to our apartment while I was at work to check out my bed and they left a letter saying there were no signs. Did they not see the tiny spots of blood??

I continued to get bites but my boyfriend never did. Exterminators came again and they finally found two bugs. They acted like we didn’t get them from the man downstairs as well. They asked if we had been traveling or been around animals. I said no and they seemed to be dumbfounded. They treated our mattress though which filled our room with horrible fumes. My boyfriend and I ended up sleeping on the floor in the living room. Although the exterminators just told me they were going to come back to check my mattress again, we got another letter saying to prepare for treatment…this time a full treatment which I feel like they should have done in the first place. They at least gave us the weekend to prepare this time. I packed all my clothes in about 15 extra large garbage bags (I told you I have a lot of clothes) along with more bags of shoes, purses, etc (which I am letting “bake” in my car because I do not want to ruin my expensive stuff in the dryer–is this ok? They are tied tight in black bags, my car has black interior, and it’s been sunny and hot here). I washed a couple bags but again, there was no way I was going to have time to wash all those loads of clothes, as well as my boyfriend’s clothes, sheets, etc…I tied them up tight in the apartment and I’m hoping to do one bag everyday after work at my parent’s house and then leave them there. I do not want to bring them back into my apartment. I just bring back a week’s worth of clean clothes and tie them up in a bag. Is it ok if I don’t put them back into bags after the hot wash and hot dry and just hang them at my parent’s house? My boyfriend and I are actually just looking to buy a house now but I want to make sure everything is clean before we move. We are just so fed up with our so-called “luxury apartments” when only after 2.5 months, we’ve had so many problems even besides the bedbugs! We are just furious with the way the manager was denying we got them.

But another concern is that our list of preparations said nothing about our “stuff.” We have bookshelves, desks, tables with “stuff” on them but they never said to clear it away, seal them up, or anything. And what do we do about rugs? If I could, I’d just buy all new stuff to put in our new house!

18 kamazon September 11, 2008 at 8:21 pm

What should I do about shoes?

I have a lot of shoes (I do fetish work), and summer is waning here in New England. The POC told me to bake them in the car, but I don’t know how many hot days we have left.

The other thing is, if I have to re-treat my clothes before wearing them again (quarantining them in sealed bags when they’re clean), then what about shoes? Should I just keep them out of the bedroom?

Also, I read here somewhere that shoes might be the type of items that bugs will crawl out of and meet their deaths once the spraying happens. Thoughts?

19 nobugsonme October 4, 2008 at 1:07 pm


20 Chyann December 2, 2008 at 8:56 pm

I had heard about an infestation in this area but I never thought it would involve us. I don’t think it would have become a problem except my neighbor was bedridden in his last few weeks and brought them home from the hospital with him. Then they (the Landlord) stupidly exterminated their apartment but not the surrounding apartments.

I hate these bugs and the more I read about how hard they are to get rid of, the more I hate them. I live in an apartment in NKY and the landlord didn’t give us any grief about extermination because several apartments have an infestation and they originally made it a bigger problem by exterminating isolated apartments.

He won’t be here to exterminate for 2 weeks and I think that’s to far away but we may need that 2 weeks to get prepared. My husband and I have finally admitted we have to let go of a lot of good stuff because they have too many hiding places in the hundred or so books we have collected.

21 Chyann December 3, 2008 at 2:05 pm

BTW, these are his preparation tips:

Remove bed linens, wash and dry them on the hottest setting and place them in xl ziplock bags; do not open till after treatment. Stand mattress and box springs (separately) against the wall.

Empty all closets, dressers, end tables, basically all wood things. Remove drawers and stand them in middle of room. Move furniture at least 3 feet from walls. Eliminate all clutter. Wash and dry everything on hottest setting, seal in plastic bags and place in middle of livng rooom/dining room area.

Vacuum closets, baseboards, floors, inside and underside of dressers, night stands, upholstered furniture, mattress and box springs, focusing on tufts and seam areas. Wash, dry, and seal all window treatments possible in plastic bags. Place vacuum bag in sealable bag and discard immediately.

Remove pictures and wall hangings and inspect for activity.

ELIMINATE ALL CLUTTER!!! The more clutter, the more places for them to hide, and the longer it may take to eradicate the problem.

People and pets must leave for at least 4 hours after treatment is started.

He will return every 2 weeks for three treatments and we must continue to vacuum at least once a week (same areas as above) and continue the washing and drying on the highest setting. No stacking in clothes baskets or hampers; continue to keep non-used clothing in sealed plastic bags.

He wants to discard infested, upholstered furniture but I hope to save the couple of pieces we have. The loveseat in the living room and the recliner my husband has. Since we are on disability, buying new furniture is not in the budget and getting used/donated furniture is just asking for this problem again.

22 buggela December 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm

Hi, we have been battling bed bugs for a few months. We live in a large single family home. (3 floors plus basement) We were treated on Oct 10 and they did not treat on the 2 other follow up visits because we didn’t have any signs and then the biting began again. I hired the K 9 dog and it located a spot in my room. More spraying….more bites, finally got PCO to agree to 3 treatments in a row. I am packing up all my books, papers etc. Have washed and bagged most everything. However, The PCO
does not plan to spray the kitchen or bathrooms, but I think it should be done. Are folks having their kitchen and bathrooms done? Does this mean to wash and bag all kitchen linens and pack and put away all cookbooks? My husband is freaking he must have over 100 cookbooks….

23 nobugsonme December 3, 2008 at 11:54 pm

Hi buggela,

The prep required depends on the PCO’s protocol.

And whether your entire home needs treatment or not depends on the situation.

If you have had 3 treatments and still have bed bugs it could be because there was too long a space between treatment, or because all infested areas of the home are not being treated (one reason you might want to have it all done), or because the PCO is not treating properly. It can also mean you’re being reinfested somehow (for example, bed bugs are in the car, at work, at school, and keep coming home).

Single family detached homes are theoretically easier to treat than other situations. You might at least consider using a different provider, or another method (thermal heat, vikane gas, etc.) if available in your area. Those methods can be more expensive but are also a one-shot deal if done properly, and if nothing goes wrong.

Please come to the forums if you want to discuss this further (I think you may already have done so!)

24 nobugsonme May 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Added alert:

Attention: the following FAQ was written before the invention of a tool which many readers will find useful. The Packtite allows people to remove bed bugs from items such as unwashable clothing, books, papers, shoes, etc. Items can then be carefully bagged and stored and do not need to be stored for 18 months to ensure bed bugs have died. You can read more in the Packtite FAQ.

25 Anne June 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I live in an old Brownstone in Brooklyn, NY — my landlord just called to say the apt. two floors above me has bedbugs. We share a common laundry room in the basement & they’ve been walking past my door non-stop doing their laundry. I’m petrified of getting them in my apt — what can I do to prevent them?? Is there preventative spraying that can be done?

26 nobugsonme June 18, 2009 at 2:57 am

You may want to have someone do a careful inspection of your home, since you may already have bed bugs and not know or see them (or not react to bed bug bites).

Most pest pros probably do not do slow, tedious careful, searches, but some do. Our forums will help if you need recommendations.

You probably don’t want a preventive spraying, but some pest pros will apply small amounts of a dust (mechanical killer) and then caulk carefully to avoid bed bugs spreading from one unit to another (and help kill any stragglers). Note: this can happen via the walls — they don’t need to be brought to the door by people walking by in the hallway. Again, you’ll find more on this in the forums (search for “caulking”).

27 Sara August 18, 2009 at 1:29 am

Hello all. I have been getting bites for a while now, at least a month. I called my landlord about two weeks ago, they told me to call the building manager. He’s never heard of bedbugs and shows up with a can of Raid asking for where I saw the bedbugs.

I called my landlord back and they arranged for an exterminator to come by. I assumed that they were only doing an inspection, since the extermination company told me all I needed to do was put the mattresses on their ends against the wall. Well, I was wrong. One guy comes in, lugging clanking, unmarked metal cans up the stairs. He takes a look at my painstakingly collected eggs, husks, and bedbugs caught and taped inside plastic bags and begins spraying three different substances in unmarked cans all over my room. He spent maybe a total of 10-12 minutes in my apartment. He said that this one treatment would get rid of them completely. They had no plans to check the apartments around me. Also, there are holes in the wall from crappy electric heat installation, which is how I think I got them.

I didn’t remove anything beforehand since I thought it was an inspection, didn’t wash anything, and the pesticides smelled horrific. 🙁 When I came back a few hours later (head began to throb immediately), I looked at the floor and saw about 15 bugs all running around, all different sizes. I got rid of as many as I could. I bought an encasement the next day, but (surprise, surprise) am still being bitten.

My landlord wants to use the same exterminator, but they are clearly incompetent. They treat bedbugs like they’re roaches. I’m miserable, can’t sleep, etc. My bedroom is very small and has no wood other than the bedframe. I have a plastic nightstand that is one of those units with sliding drawers. I have bagged everything that was in the room into double-bagged garbage bags twisted and sealed with duct tape.

Any advice on how to prepare for another crappy treatment like this to make it most effective? Or how to compel my landlord to get better exterminators? 🙁 Further incompetence examples from this one exterminator’s visit: he called me an hour after he was supposed to be there sounding like he just woke up and murmered that he was leaving his house then and would be at mine in an hour. One hour later, he calls and asks for directions because he didn’t bother to look them up. Also…just clearly did not know what he was doing. SIGH, HELP!

28 Sara August 18, 2009 at 1:30 am

also… I live in Chicago.

29 nobugsonme August 18, 2009 at 10:45 am

Hi Sara,

First, I suggest reposting your entire comment (or any follow-ups) on our Bedbugger Forums, where more people will see them and respond: http://bedbugger.com/forum

I would also commend to you Chicago vs. Bed Bugs, where Jessica offers a wealth of local information for Chicagoans, including local resources on laws and your rights, and a forum for Chicagoans.

Chicago Municipal Codes (Ch. 5-12 Landlords and Tenants) (download this PDF from Chicago vs. Bed Bugs) apply to buildings with 7 or more units. If you have a smaller building, call Chicago’s Metropolitan Tenants Organization to find out more about your rights.

Assuming you are in a building with more than 6 units, the landlord has to get rid of your pest problem. You have Chicago’s 311 number where you can file a complaint. It will help if you have visible bed bugs; collect as much evidence as you can, but try not to clean away all the evidence.

The fact that the PCO applied multiple substances from unmarked cans is not necessarily a problem — in my understanding, PCOs may be reconstituting materials or mixing them before spraying. However, you should be able to ask exactly what was applied, and be given a list. Ask the landlord if he got such a list.

It also is sometimes true that PCOs do not require prep, or do not require the laundering/bagging of clothing, for example. On the other hand, these PCOs generally take a long time to inspect and treat your home, as definitely does not sound like the case here. And no PCO can guarantee bed bugs will be gone in one visit using traditional spraying methods.

It is normal to see bed bug activity after the first treatment, but it is also common to need as many as three (or more) treatments. Your PCO should return every two weeks or so until they are gone and you have no bites or sightings.

Most PCOs probably recommend washing and drying and then sealing in bags all clothing.
This is something you might do.

However, I am more skeptical about the idea of bagging just anything (unwashed, untreated) during treatment. The reasons are detailed in the FAQ above these comments.

Basically, if you open the bags after the last treatment, bed bugs will likely come out of some of your stuff. Some PCOs recommend bagging things like this during treatment but removing them from bags before the last treatment. Others do not want you to bag them at all. Unless bed bugs are left in bags for 18 months, bagging in and of itself does not kill them.

The landlord (or you or the PCO) may want to seal any cracks that bed bugs may be coming through.

The bottom line is you may need to educate this landlord about how serious bed bugs are, how easily they spread, and how difficult they are to treat (requiring skilled, experienced PCOs). Perhaps the persistence of your problem after the first PCO came will help you convince him of this. Jessica’s resources will help enormously too.

Again, please post your original message and any follow-ups in our Forums, where I assure you they will get more readers and responses than here.

30 suli October 15, 2009 at 10:35 am

I am terrified!!! I`ve been getting the bites for about two months but though it was mosquito bites until I actually saw one! I told the landlord, he didnt pay much attention to it so I cleansed all my cloths , sprayed alcohol, and moved in to a new townhouse. I thought that was going to be good enough but sure enough after two weeks living in the new place, we started getting the bites again; so I called an inspector and started searching more about these bedbugs ….I am waiting for the inspector to call me back. I am getting goosebumps while reading how hard is it to kill them. thanks for all the info posted about this horrible bug; at least , now, I have an idea of what I am dealing with.

31 Kat March 21, 2010 at 9:43 am

OH MY GOD!! I am mortified. My paretns house which my daughter spends a lot of time at and even nights at is being treted today for bed bugs. the person treating never saw a bed bug but is going on my parents bite marks, which look more like a rash. My daughter has a small rash on her knee and he upper back both places covered at night time at my parents house. I have her home with me now, and made her strip yesterday and get directly in the shower, I also removed her bedding from her room and placed that in a bag outside. Short of wanting to burn the house down, I need someone to tell me if I am over reacting? I have no bites, have found no signs of the critters in my house. Should I have my apartment treated as a prevention?

I was lucky I did laundry yesterday so I have my clean stuff in the car but I have 2 walk in closets full of clothes… Help!! I just want to cry… I work for Child Protective Services, and I see infestations all the time, and have thrown out countless shoes and clothing to prevent BB from getting into my home… I feel like I am going nuts, and am itching nothing…

32 Cilecto March 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Ugh, Kat, sorry. With your parents’ place being treated, you are justified in being vigilant (even mortified). It’s probably healthy to take an attitude toward BB like how hospitals treat their patients; “universal precautions”. Please read the Resources page and learn how to inspect and what treatment is all about, should you require it. You can also invest in some diagnostic tools, such as “passive monitors” and the new “beacons” that just came out. And, be sure to join the forum, where you will find camaraderie, compassion and wisdom. One cause for concern (and perhaps, relief) is that your parents are being treated based on skin reaction alone (if that’s how I understand it). A lot of top professionals on the boards here have counseled that treatment should only proceed based on “confirmed” infestations, which means:
– Actual bugs or eggs sighted
– fecal traces
– cast skins
Few, if any pros, can definitively identify that skin reactions are definitely from bedbug bites, and they certainly cannot pinpoint where those bites took place (i.e., not in your home). There have been quite a few reports of people going through hell based on false or hasty diagnoses, perhaps by pros more concerned about sales quotas than by doing the right thing. Even canine detection is controversial, with some claiming “up to 96% accuracy” and others suggesting that there are a lot of scammers in the field. If I were you and decided to bring in pros, I’d avoid calling the same people who treated your parents. Hopefully, they ***are*** competent and honest, but if they’re not, then the scam will just be extended.

Plan ahead. If you are faced with an infestation and prep, consider what you can leave in place, what can be treated easily (clean clothes just need ~30 minutes in the dryer, no wash needed), what can be bagged securely for future treatment or long-term storage (most authorities believe that no stage of bug survives > 500 days without feeding) and what’s “in the way” and should be tossed.

Bear in mind that while the “epidemic” appears to be spreading, so is awareness. New tools are coming out really fast now. Things like “pack tite” and “beacons” did not exist two years ago, things will be out in six months that we do not have today.

So, at this point, be vigilant and planful, learn how to protect yourself, not just because of the situation at your parents’, but because you’ll be ahead of the game.

Best of luck.

33 Cilecto March 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

…and don’t necessarily bag all your stuff right now. Bagging is a technique used in conjunction with many, but not necessarily all pros and there are different approaches to this, so I’d hold off until you’ve got more of a handle on this.

34 MBcowboy March 24, 2010 at 8:46 am


As Cilecto indicated, vigilance is key to avoiding bed bug introduction. Considering your parents now have bed bugs and your work brings you into contact with bed bugs daily, prudent attention to detail will help you to avoid introducing bed bugs into your home. As I have blogged in previous posts, we have been in the business for almost 65 years now and have yet to have any of our team of professionals take bed bugs home with them. We have not thrown out any footwear or uniform items whatsoever.

And, as bed bugs are an emotional nightmare for most, your initial reaction to the fear that bed bugs may be in your home is normal. I encourage everyone we work with to take a deep breath, relax as much as you are able under the circumstances, mitigate further infestation potential, educate yourself as much as possible about bed bugs and treatment realities and then to proceed with a reliable, reputable pest management professional company.

“Bagging” clothing or belongings is something we advise people to do to isolate those items from spreading bed bugs if not treated as yet or to ensure bed bug contamination does not infest the bagged items if they have been heat treated in a dryer, heat chamber, etc. Bagging and setting outside for nature to eliminate the bed bugs in a freeze or fry scenario is risky at best as the factors involved with heat eradication and freezing are best left to professionals in a controlled & monitored environment.

Individuals treating their clothing or belongings within a dryer on high heat for a minimum 20 minutes and then bagging and sealing against (re)infestation is prudent and effective. Just remember to not use the same bag for the pre & post treatment items and to place all pretreatment bags into a new bag sealing and disposing of immediately.

Bed bugs can live for quite some time without a blood meal so bagging infested belongings without treating for the sake of your own peace of mind can actually ensure you have a bed bug problem much longer than you think.

We only recommend bagging for 2 reasons; to isolate treated belongings from potential re-infestation or to isolate belongings awaiting treatment.

Good luck and please take time to educate yourself on bed bugs – there are many great informational articles and links on this site.

35 nobugsonme March 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for your input, MBCowboy.

You may be interested in visiting our Forums also: http://bedbugger.com/forum

36 MBcowboy March 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm


I just officially registered. It seems as though there are a few other caring pest management professionals providing helpful advice to affected people.

I look forward to being an active participant along with my colleagues to help educate and provide peace of mind to those afflicted with bed bugs.

Keep well & keep BBF (bed bug free)

37 nobugsonme March 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm


I expected you might feel right at home.

38 onescaredmomma May 27, 2010 at 9:26 pm

i have 3 children. ages 2,4, and 3 months old. i’m horrified of my infestation. today is thurs and monday was when my nightmare started. i saw several bites on my arms when i woke up monday morning. i went outside on the breezeway(i live in large apartment complex)and my neighbor was outside smoking. i showed her the marks and said i think i have mosquitos in my house or something. she just looked at me and said “hmmm i don’t know” well the next day i got more and even found a bug that fell off my leg as i got out of bed. i freaked out. i went back outside to smoke and my neighbors husband was outside. i showed him and asked him what he thought they were from (i’d never seen one before so at this time i didn’t know it was bb’s) he said “oh me and my wife just sprayed our apartment for those,they’re bb’s” it just so happens his bedroom is right up against my bedroom. in our lease it says to never spray for ANYTHING to ALWAYS contact rental managment if any infestations are suspected for fear of spreading. i was SOOOO upset because his wife knew exactly what it was and probably knew for awhile. they never contacted the rental people. i went down to the office pronto to tell them. tomorrow they’re coming to treat. they gave us a paper on what to do but i’m concerned about my kids returning after treatment. especially my newborn. should she not sleep in her crib now? should my older kids not sleep in their beds? one has asthma (not severe)…are they going to spray every room as precaution (every bedroom and living room, computer room etc…)? and how the heck am i the ONLY one to keep getting bitten when my husband sleeps in the same bed?????????????

39 nobugsonme May 29, 2010 at 12:04 am


I am so sorry to read that you’re going through this. Unfortunately, your story is not that uncommon in the sense that many people seem reluctant to come clean about this problem. I am just glad your neighbor’s husband was not so guarded — so you and your family can get prompt assistance.

Follow the prep instructions the pest firm provided. They should probably treat your entire apartment, and they should return every two weeks to follow up until there are no signs of bed bugs (including bug sightings, or bites).

Keep in mind many people do not react to bites at once, and some seem to never react. It does not mean they are not being bitten.

Please come to our Bedbugger Forums if you’d like to follow up or for more support. There are a LOT more people there and you will likely get more support and quicker responses.

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