What Friends Do When Friends' Homes Have Bed Bugs

bedbugs, eggs, and feces
Bedbugs can come into your in bags and boxes. PRNewsFoto/Orkin

When we ran a poll on this site asking: What you would do if you overheard your friends saying they had bed bugs in their homes?, the answers were somewhat surprising, although, also to be expected. Following are the responses, by percentage:

If you overheard friends talking about a bed bug problem they'd just discovered, would you:

Get in on the conversation so you can learn more.


Decline any invitation to their home.


Think, "Wow, their house must be really dirty!"


Stop inviting them to your home.


Call a pest control professional immediately to inspect your home.


Not worry about it – you keep your home clean.


Since more than half of those who answered responded that they would get in on the conversation because they would want to learn more about bedbugs, let's discuss bedbugs and what you need to know based on the possible responses.

What you need to know If you would have answered: 

You Don't Worry About Bed Bugs—You Keep Your Home Clean (0%)

It appears that readers agree that simply overhearing a conversation about another home that has bed bugs certainly isn't a cause to worry about you own. However … if those friends have recently spent time at your home, especially if they have carried in possessions such as purses, backpacks or suitcases, it could be beneficial to have your home inspected because bed bugs will hitchhike rides in people's possessions. It is also important to note, though, that a clean home does not necessarily equal a home free of bed bugs. (See the next response discussion.)

You Think That a Person with Bed Bugs Must Have a Dirty House (9%)

The cleanliness of a home is not relevant to bedbugs coming in. Bed bug infestations begin in homes when the bugs are carried in on a person's clothing or possessions from another place that was infested – such as a hotel, friend's home, workplace, or even movie theater or means of transportation (although these are less frequent). That said, piles of clothing or other unsanitary conditions can give the bugs more places to hide and breed once they come in, but, unlike other pests, such as flies, cockroaches, and rodents, bedbugs are not "attracted" by uncleanliness.

You Would Stop Inviting Someone Who Has Bed Bugs to Your Home (9%)

While not inviting friends to your home doesn't seem to be a very hospitable answer, it is a very natural response and will certainly help to keep your home bed-bug free, at least from that infestation. You need not ban your friends from your home forever or disassociate with them completely, but you are wise to not be visiting until the infestation is completely eliminated from their home and possessions. Additionally, if they understand bed bugs and the way they spread, your friends should understand your reluctance, and not want to put your home at risk as well.

If you have invited friends to your home and find out soon after that they have a bed bug infestation in theirs, you should take precautions and inspect for any sign of bed bugs. The biting bugs can be in a home long before they are found, so the friends could have brought them into your home on their possessions without even realizing there was a problem.

As a further precaution, when you have parties, put guest coats and bags in a closet instead of on a bed, or cover the bed with plastic sheeting that can be discarded (outdoors) or a sheet that is immediately laundered in hot water afterward. If you do want to meet up with friends who have a bed bug problem, a good alternative could be meeting them at a coffee house or restaurant rather than at either home. (See the explanation to Decline any invitation to their home in Part 2.)