A lot has been written about taking precautions when staying at hotels to prevent picking up bedbugs. What about airline travel? Can you pick them up from airline seats or stowed luggage?
With bedbugs, there are few instances where one can rule out any possibility of an infestation, said Jeff White, research entomologist at the Bed Bug Central Web site. But the chances of picking up bedbugs on an airplane, such as in an overhead bin or from a seat, are slim, he said.
Some of the best bedbug precautions are taken when you return home:
• Keep luggage out of the house while you unpack.
• Check bags carefully for bedbugs, in seams, creases and folds.
• Because high heat kills bedbugs and their eggs, wash and dry your clothing at the hottest setting the fabric can withstand. (For dry cleaning, keep items in plastic and tell the cleaner that items might have been exposed to bedbugs.)
• Most suitcases can be hand-washed. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends using soapy water and the hottest water possible — 100 to 120 degrees. Test the item to make sure it will not be affected by hot water. Use a scrub brush or old toothbrush along the seams and folds.
• Some experts say you can freeze bedbugs to eradicate them; others disagree. The extension office says the core of the articles being frozen must reach 23 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for at least five days. Most home freezers are set between 20 and 30 degrees. If you’re uncertain of the freezer temperature, keep items frozen at least two weeks.