18 May bed bugs and suit cases

Travellers are at great risk of bed bug infestation and some exterminator companies suggest that the suit case should be, upon returning home,  opened in the bathtub and inspected for bugs. The theory is that the bugs will be more obvious on the white surface and less likely to escape the smooth surface. The suit case then should be vacuumed to remove the bugs. While these actions are better than nothing it is still very poor advice for the following reasons:

 

  1. Suitcases typically have a number of cloth folds and crevices that are more or less impossible to inspect or vacuum. And given the bugs prefer to hide in the deepest crack or crevice the vacuum is unlikely to remove those bugs
  2. The first instars are translucent and so small that you can only see them if you are very close and they are moving. If the bug is stationary you would not notice that bug.
  3. The eggs are cemented into nooks and crannies with a very strong glue. I have tried removing these eggs from a couch and was forced to use a wire brush as other tools failed to dislodge them. A vacuum will not remove eggs from a crevice.

 

As such I consider vacuuming a suit case to be pointless. A suit case with bed bugs is garbage. A better solution is to throw the suit case away entirely and replace it with a duffle bag from Mountain Equipment Coop. On your last day at the hotel put on clean clothes that were sealed in a bag for that occasion, run your clothes through the hotel dryer, and put the duffle bag in the dryer as well. This way you can leave a high risk  environment with a much smaller risk of infestation.