College Dorm Room Bed Bug Tips

Bed bug infestations have had resurgence in the recent years, mostly because of elevated traveling and hotel stays. Since they’re great hitchhikers, they can easily grab a ride on your luggage and then infest your home. It comes as no surprise, then, that college dorm rooms can become a hotbed of bed bug activity. Bed bugs can move quickly from room to room on backpacks, clothes, luggage, and any other items students take with them. This transportation method also applies to apartment buildings, which are also subject to building-wide infestations. Arming yourself with information and how-to steps, you can take control of bed bugs, even while you are away at college.

College Dorm Rooms: Actions and Precautions

The most important part in prevention and treatment of dorm room bed bug infestations is being informed. Make sure both you and your student are well informed. A scared student dousing their room with a toxic, ineffective chemical is far more hazardous than a bed bug infestation. Try to learn as much as possible, so check out all of our bed bug articles for comprehensive guides on identification and extermination.

messy dorm room bed bugs

If Bed Bugs Are Found In Dorm Rooms: 

  • Let the RA or similar authority know immediately of the infestation. If nothing is done within a week, contact student health services, the health department, or other similarly important offices so your dorm can be treated appropriately. 
  • Meanwhile, wash all clothing and bedding in hottest cycle and dry on hottest cycle. Bag clothing and bedding in sealed bags. 
  • Vacuum all drapes and rugs well (and daily). 
  • Keep all clothing and bedding off the floor, and encase your mattress in a bed bug mattress encasement.
  • You will most likely notice red bumps or welts from bed bug bites. These are not dangerous but everyone reacts differently to them, but don’t let anyone without medical training to diagnose the bites as bed bug bites if you haven’t seen any bed bugs. 
  • It is important that you are an advocate if nothing is being done, as this is not any way to live! Getting rid of a dorm infestation is extremely difficult because every resident must be very diligent in cleaning thoroughly every day, but the likelihood of each resident following through is very low. The faster you and your school act to get rid of bed bugs, the easier it will be. 

bed bugs on backpack

Precautions for College Dorm Bed Bug Infestations:

  • If you have a confirmed infestation in your dorm building but not your floor or room, wash all bedding and clothing frequently, washing and drying both on the hottest settings. 
  • Keep all clothing, bedding and bags up off the floor, and if possible elevate your bed off the floor. 
  • If possible, keep clothing not in use sealed in plastic bags or in plastic tubs with tight fitting lids. 
  • Vacuum all rugs and drapes and any cloth items every day (or as often as possible). Be extremely diligent and encourage your roommate to be the same. 

Prevention for Dorm Bed bug Infestations: Taking some precautions before bed bugs are even reported can give you some piece of mind. You will probably not have to deal with bed bugs (they’re not at epidemic proportions!) but it’s good to be armed with this information.

  • Keep your room as least cluttered as possible, especially any cloth items, which is where bed bugs love to hide. 
  • Keep all clothes and bedding off the floor and elevate your bed. All of this will help to prevent bed bugs from establishing populations. 
  • Doing laundry often (especially bedding), and vacuuming frequently will not only give you the cleanest room on your floor, but will diminish the likelihood of an infestation.

Bed bugs In Apartments

Bed bug infestations in apartments can be especially difficult because it can be hard to determine the point of origin. Since bed bugs can travel from apartment to apartment, whole buildings can become infested.

  • If you have found bed bugs in your apartment, follow the steps above for dorms (vacuuming, washing/drying, etc). 
  • Research your building to see how many, if any, other apartments are infested. If it is above a certain percentage, your city may carry out the extermination to avoid a public health crisis.
  • Contact your landlord and ask that they treat your apartment within 30 days. If they refuse, check out all the codes and laws in your area dealing with tenant landlord law. Your landlord may be legally responsible.
  • If you are not responsible for treatment but your landlord continues to refuse, contact your public health office, code enforcement, city office, or health department for help in your case.
  • If you are responsible for treatment, please take a look at our treatment guides and professional products and keep in mind that over the counter products will not work on bed bugs. The only issue with treating your apartment is that if everyone in your building (or at least one other apartment) has bed bugs as well, and even if you eradicate bed bugs from your place, they might come back again fairly quickly.

See also: How to get rid of bed bugsBed bug inspection guide

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