Sneaky, little bed bugs can get just about anywhere – including your shoes! If you think you may have picked up some stow-away bed bugs in your kicks, keep reading to learn about bed bugs, and how to give them the boot for good!
How Do Bed Bugs Get into Shoes?
Bed bugs are small. They are only about the size of an apple seed. They are attracted to food sources. Their only food source is blood. They are on the lookout for body heat and new hosts.
Any time you are around other people, you run the risk of picking up bed bugs. Crowded public places, like subways, concerts, stores, or office spaces are all prime areas to pick up bed bugs. If another person has a bed bug infestation, there is a chance that there may be bugs in their clothes. Any contact with that person may transfer bugs to you.
Visiting a home or hotel infested with bed bugs is another way to possibly pick up bed bugs with your shoes. The little pests can transfer from the carpet or furniture to your shoes.
Bed bugs are more likely to cling to fabric shoes. They have tiny hooks on their feet that allow them to hold onto fabric. Leather is more difficult for them to grip, but they could still attach to laces or seams on leather shoes.
How Can I Tell if I Have Bed Bugs?
If you suspect you picked up bed bugs in your shoes, do not bring the shoes into your home! Bag them in a sealable bag immediately, and examine them through the bag.
Bed bug bites are small, reddish, and slightly raised. They cause itching and minor pain. They are often in a line. If you have bed bugs in your shoes, the bites would be around your ankles.
Some people describe the smell of bed bugs as musky. This may only be noticeable for a larger infestation. Still, go ahead and give your shoes a sniff to see if you notice any unusual odor.
Bed bugs leave small, brown dots of feces behind. There may also be small drops of blood where they have bit their host.
Bed bug eggs are usually too small to be seen without magnification. Look closely for small, white, sticky dots.
Bed bugs themselves are small, brown, and flat when they’re empty. They look more round after a meal. They reproduce quickly, so a few bed bugs can soon become many bed bugs.
How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bugs in My Shoes?
Once you’ve determined that you have bed bugs in your shoes, use one of these methods to get rid of them!
Bed bugs are remarkably hardy. Temperatures need to be at least 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit (around 50-60 degrees Celsius) to kill bed bugs. They need to be exposed to these temperatures for at least 15-20 minutes.
It takes even more heat to kill off bed bugs eggs. Bed bug eggs need to be exposed to temperatures of around 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes.
A steamer is the best way to deliver heat to bed bugs. Look for a steamer with a variety of nozzles, and a high heat setting. I recommend the Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner or the McCulloch MC1275.
Make sure you understand and follow all instructions when using a steam cleaner. Use a small nozzle and move it slowly over the entire area of your shoes. You may need to repeat the process. For more information about bed bugs and steam, check out this article.
It may be tempting, but do not place your shoes in the microwave! You could cause a fire, or explosion if your shoes have any metal in them. Do not place shoes in the oven, either. They could catch on fire.
Bed bugs will die if exposed to a temperature of 3 degrees Fahrenheit for 80 hours. Place your shoes in sealable plastic bags, and place them in your freezer for at least 80 hours.
Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder that is made from diatoms, or fossilized sea life. It feels soft to the touch, but it has microscopic, jagged edges that will pierce the shells of bed bugs. Without their protective exoskeletons, the bed bugs will dehydrate and die.
Diatomaceous earth will not kill bed bugs eggs, so it is best to use it along with another method of bed bug control to kill the eggs.
Use a powder duster to distribute the diatomaceous earth all over and inside your shoes. Shake the shoes out outdoors, then reapply the diatomaceous earth for the best results. Read our article on diatomaceous earth and bed bugs.
Dry cleaning is another way to get bed bugs out of shoes. Talk to your dry cleaner beforehand, to make sure they treat clothing for bed bugs and can take precautions to keep the bed bugs off of other clothing. Bring the infested items to the dry cleaner in a sealed bag.
For more information about dry cleaning and bed bugs, check out this article.
How Should I Treat My Home?
If the bugs are in your shoes, there is a good chance these sneaky stowaways also made it into your home, as well.
Again, steam is your best defense against bed bugs! Use the steam cleaner on furniture, rugs, carpets, and mattresses.
After you have steam cleaned your home, apply diatomaceous earth to carpeting, baseboards, rugs, and furniture. If you have a large-scale bed bug infestation, you may want to remove outlet covers, and apply diatomaceous earth behind the covers, as well.
Leave the diatomaceous earth out overnight, then vacuum in the morning to clean up the powder, and any bed bugs carcasses that gathered overnight.
Call a Professional
If you are overwhelmed by bed bugs in your home, it may be time to call a professional exterminator to assess your problem. A professional exterminator may recommend a full-house fog or bug bomb to eradicate all the bed bugs.
Don’t let bed bugs in your shoes get you down! Kick them to the curb by treating your shoes and your home.