By now, everyone knows that bed bugs can be found in hotels and motel, but bed bugs can be found in lots of other places, too. Surprisingly, bed bugs can even be found in clothing stores. A 2015 survey of pest control professionals found that a shocking 20% of respondents had treated a bed bug infestation in a clothing store. Here are three ways to avoid bringing bed bugs home from your next trip to the mall.
Inspect the dressing room
Before you try on any clothes, check out the dressing room. The dressing room is an area of concern because it provides many places for bed bugs to hide. During your inspection, you need to look for both adult bed bugs as well as signs that bed bugs have been present, like shed exoskeletons, red or brown smudges, or bed bug eggs.
This inspection needs to be thorough. Look behind the dressing room mirror, along the seams of cushioned chairs or benches, and even inside screw holes. If you find signs of bed bugs, alert the store manager and leave without trying on any clothes.
Inspect potential purchases
Once you've determined that the dressing room is safe, your work isn't done: you also need to inspect any clothes you want to try on. You'll be looking for the same signs that you were looking for in the dressing room. Pay attention to areas like inside pockets, along seams, and underneath collars where bed bugs could be hiding.
You may already be inspecting clothes that you buy from thrift stores, but brand new clothes can be harboring bed bugs. There have been highly-publicized cases of bed bug outbreaks in clothing stores, even upscale ones, so you need to always inspect potential purchases.
Wash your new clothes when you get home
Only 16% of people always wash new clothes before they wear them, while 42% usually do. This is a big mistake because if your new clothes are infested with bed bugs and you store them unwashed in your closet, the bed bugs can crawl out and infest the rest of your house. To prevent an infestation, you need to always wash your new clothes as soon as you get home from the store.
To kill all bed bugs that may be present, make sure to use hot water. Studies have shown that the hot cycle (about 140°F) kills all bed bugs and their eggs. As an added precaution, dry the clothes on the hot cycle afterwards.
As long as you take precautions, you can shop for new clothes without introducing bed bugs to your home.