How Do Bed Bugs Spread? Between Houses, Rooms & More 

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Bed bugs are the stuff of nightmares! They are remarkably hardy and difficult to eradicate.

How do they spread? How can you reduce your chances of picking up bed bugs? What is the best way to get rid of these biting pests and keep them away forever? Keep reading to find out!

Signs of Bed Bugs

If you think you may have bed bugs, look for these signs along carpet edges, seams of mattresses, and furniture, and in loose clothing.  Bed bugs feed on blood. They like to stay within 8 feet of a meal. Pay particular attention to areas that are close to beds and couches.


Bed bug bites are small, inflamed, and itchy. The bites are often in a line around the waist, ankles, or wrists. They typically feed at night, so bites are usually found in the morning. You will not feel a bed bug when it bites, as they have numbing agents in their saliva.

Treat bites with a soothing agent like aloe vera, or cortisone cream. Although it is difficult, try not to scratch the bites! Try cool compresses or a cool bath for relief.


Bed bug feces look like small, dark brown dots. They may also leave behind blood stains from where they bit their host.


Some people say that bed bugs emit a musky odor. This is usually evident in areas where there is a high concentration of bed bugs.


Bed bugs are small and dark brown. They look like an apple seed with legs. They are usually flat, with the exception of when they are full from feeding.

Bed bugs are excellent at hiding, so it may be difficult to spot them and track them, especially during the day. Bed bugs molt five times before they are full-grown adult bugs. Their skins look like white, translucent versions of the bugs.


Bed bug eggs are difficult to see without a magnifying glass. They are small, white, and sticky, and can usually be found along seams of furniture and mattresses.

Bringing Bed Bugs Home

Where do these pests come from? How do they get to your home? Bed bugs are small and hardy. They can withstand cold and heat. It is possible to pick up bed bugs from just about anywhere.

Public Spaces

Bed bugs can move from person to person, or from a person to an object, then to another person in any public space. This is especially true in crowded spaces, like a concert, movie theater, or subway train. Read this article to learn how to avoid bed bugs in movie theaters.

These pesky bugs don’t usually spend time directly on people like lice, but are more likely to travel on clothing items or luggage.


Bed bugs can be a common problem in hotels. Considering the high amount of turnover, and the large number of homes represented by hotel guests, this shouldn’t be surprising. If a guest brings bed bugs with them to the hotel, some bugs may be left behind for the next guest.

Infested Homes

If you visit a home that is infested with bed bugs, there is a chance you could pick up some hitchhiker bugs on your clothing and bring them into your home!

Used Furniture, Clothing, and Other Items

Read this article about bed bugs and books from the library, or thrift store. Thrifted clothing and furniture should always be examined and cleaned thoroughly before you bring them into your home.

Bed Bug Spread within the House

Since bed bugs don’t have wings and don’t fly, they have to crawl to get from one place to another. They can spread throughout a house, but it may take a while. If they can hitch a ride on your clothing, they can spread a lot faster.

Female bed bugs can lay up to 250 eggs during their lifespan! This rapid reproduction can cause a sudden influx of bed bugs looking for their next meal.

How to Stop the Bed Bug Spread

Regularly check your home for bed bugs. It is much easier to handle a bed bug infestation when there are just a few bugs than later when they have multiplied!

Use a Mattress Encasement

These mattress encasements seal off mattresses with a bedbug-proof zipper. The bed bugs won’t be able to hide in your mattress once it is sealed off.

Keep your Home Clean

Keep your home, especially bedrooms, free of the clutter that could hide bed bugs. Don’t leave piles of clothing and blankets near your bed.

Regular vacuuming can pick up any bed bugs that may have made it into your home. A vacuum with a bag and a HEPA filter is best for vacuuming bed bugs. I recommend this Kenmore model.

If you purchase second-hand furniture, examine it carefully before bringing it into your home. Consider steam-cleaning the furniture, or spraying them with a bed bug spray.

If you use a shared laundry facility, use hot water to wash your clothes. Place clothes directly into a plastic bag after washing and drying. Fold your items once you reach your home, instead of in the laundry room.

Travel Carefully

Don’t let a fear of bed bugs keep you home! When you arrive at your destination, examine the sleeping area carefully for signs of bed bugs. Keep your luggage on the luggage rack in the hotel room, rather than on the floor.

When you leave to go home, carefully inspect luggage and clothing as you pack up. If you are still concerned, wash all clothing in hot water when you arrive home.

How to Kill Bed Bugs

If you have bed bugs, never fear! There are ways to get rid of them! Try these remedies to rid your home of unwanted buggy guests.

Clean Up

Keep your home, especially sleeping areas, free of clutter. Bed bugs love a good hiding place! Keep all clothing and blankets off of the floor.

Launder Everything

Gather all clothing, blankets, rugs, and slipcovers from the infested area into a plastic garbage bag. Take it directly into your laundry room and wash everything in hot water. Dry it on the highest setting on your dryer. Repeat this process as needed.


Vacuum all the carpets, rugs, furniture, and mattresses. A vacuum with a HEPA filter and bag is best for cleaning up bed bugs.

Steam Clean

Bed bugs will die if exposed to temperatures of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or 49 degrees Celsius, for over 20 minutes. Bed bug eggs need to be exposed to heat for much longer before they succumb. The eggs will die if exposed to temperatures of 160 degrees for around 90 minutes.

A steamer is a perfect way to deliver heat to bed bug-infested areas. Look for a steamer that delivers heat at a high temperature, has a variety of nozzles, and a large water capacity.  I recommend the Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner or the McCulloch MC1275.

Read and follow all device instructions and warnings. Steamers can cause burns if used incorrectly. Steam all carpet, furniture, rugs, and other areas bed bugs may hide. For a complete guide on steam and bed bugs, read this article.


If you choose to use an insecticide to deal with bed bugs, look for a formula that kills pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs for the best results. Follow all treatment instructions, and reapply as necessary. Try this spray or a bed bug fogger.

Freeze Them

Bed bugs are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures. They need to be exposed to temperatures of 3 degrees Fahrenheit, or -16 Celsius, for at least 80 hours before they die.

In order to freeze bed bugs, take infested items, place them in a sealed bag, then leave the items in the freezer for at least 80 hours. A chest freezer may reach colder temperatures than an in-refrigerator model.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural, non-toxic fine powder made up of diatoms, or fossilized sea animals. It feels soft to the touch, but it contains microscopic jagged points that pierce bed bugs, causing them to become dehydrated and die.

Use a powder duster, like this, to spread the diatomaceous earth around bed bug-infested areas. Leave it for up to a few days, then use a heavy-duty vacuum, or a shop vacuum to clean it up. Repeat as needed.

Diatomaceous earth will not kill bed bug eggs, so you will need to choose an alternative treatment to get rid of the eggs. Check out this article for more information about treating bed bugs with diatomaceous earth.

Call a Professional

If you have tried everything, or are dealing with a particularly large bed bug infestation, it may be time to find a trusted exterminator to help you deal with your bed bug problem!

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the bed bugs bite! Be aware of your surroundings, and any potential for bed bug hitchhikers when you’re away from home. Examine your surroundings when you travel. If you do get bed bugs, try some of the methods listed above to get them out of your home for good!

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