Getting an infestation of bed bugs into your home is stressful and expensive to treat (not to mention itchy!). Here are 7 ways to avoid inviting these stealthy critters into your home in the first place…

 1. Wash new sheets or new clothes in very hot water before placing in closets or drawers. Or put them through a hot dryer cycle.  The heat will kill any bed bugs that were in the retail store or factory packaging.

 2. Wash clothes in very hot water after being in public places (theaters, hotels) or in other people’s homes. If you work in other people’s homes for a living, leave clothing or uniforms in a sealed bag.

3. Avoid buying used furniture. If you do, inspect it carefully with a flashlight before bringing it into your house.

4. Shake out suitcases over the bathtub when you get home from hotels, or leave empty suitcases in a hot car for a day or two to kill bugs and eggs.

5. Wrap your mattress in a mattress protector that resists and kills bed bugs.

6. Avoid a cluttered home; it gives bed bugs more places to hide and makes them hard to find.

7. Watch regularly for bed bugs  (and their signs) in your home. Early detection saves money.

Finally, if you do get an infestation, avoid visiting other people’s homes until your house is clear of them.