The headlines have been splashed across newspapers for months now: Bedbugs are no longer sticking just to big city hotels for their bloodsucking buffets. The little buggers have moved on, and now they’re invading suburban homes, movie theaters, and even clothing boutiques.

So what can be done to keep us from shaking in our sheets?

  • Travelers can bring the bugs home from hotels, where they crawl into luggage or other personal belongings. So when you’re in a hotel, keep your suitcase on a baggage rack. That way, it’s up off the carpeting and away from any bedding.
  • Leave your pillow at home. Bedbugs will hitch a ride on any bedding you bring into an infested hotel room. And all it takes is one bedbug to start an infestation in your home.
  • If you buy used clothing or furniture, you may risk bringing an infestation home. So inspect used purchases thoroughly. Adult bedbugs are about ¼-inch long and wingless with flat, reddish bodies. Be on the lookout for eggs, too, which are small and black like poppy seeds.
  • Wash your sheets weekly in hot water, and dry them on high heat.
  • Vacuum floors regularly, then use the brush attachment to vacuum your mattress.
  • Purchase a plastic cover for your mattress. Bedbugs can’t break through the plastic, and have nowhere to hide when the sheets are removed from the bed.
  • If, in spite of your prevention measures, you discover an infestation, your best bet is to call a licensed, professional exterminator. Bedbugs are very difficult to get rid of, and products sold over the counter generally won’t do the trick.