If you have recently acquired bed bugs while traveling, you may wonder if you can wait a few weeks to allow them to die before bringing your bags inside.
Bed bugs can live for more than four months in luggage because it takes a long time for them to die of starvation or dehydration. Bed bugs also will not suffocate in luggage since they need so little oxygen to survive.
How Long Does it Take Bed Bugs to Die From…
If you are trying to kill off the bed bugs in your luggage, you need to know what can kill them and how long it will take. So, let’s go over some possibilities.
Most animals cannot last long without water. So, you may think bed bugs will die quickly in luggage since they don’t have a water supply there. But bed bugs do not drink water, meaning they won’t die from dehydration.
Even though they don’t drink water, bed bugs need moisture to survive. Eventually, they will dry out and die in low-humidity environments. However, how long it will take them to dry out in these conditions can vary greatly and depends on factors like how little moisture is in the air and the amount of time since they’ve fed.
When planning to kill bed bugs, many people consider starvation. However, most animals cannot survive more than a few weeks without food.
Unfortunately, bed bugs are pretty durable. Most bed bugs can live for four or five months without eating. Some can even make it for over a year.
Therefore, starving bed bugs to death probably won’t work unless you’re willing to put your luggage into quarantine for a long time.
Lack of Oxygen
Oxygen is another one of those things we all need, and most animals will quickly die in low-oxygen environments.
The problem with attempting to suffocate bed bugs is that they’re tiny, meaning they don’t need much oxygen to keep themselves going.
Even in a vacuum-sealed bag, most bed bugs can last a week or more just by breathing in the small amount of air trapped around them.
So, if you want to try to suffocate the bed bugs in your luggage, you’ll need to place your suitcase in a vacuum-sealed bag and suck as much air out as possible. Then, leave the bag sealed for at least two weeks, or longer if viable, to ensure all the bed bugs are dead.
Bed bugs famously do not like the heat, meaning exposing your luggage to high temperatures can be an effective way of killing them.
However, you will need to get the temperature in the entire bag up to 118°F (48°C) for at least 20 minutes to kill bed bugs and 90 minutes to kill their eggs.
But, if you attempt this, you must ensure your luggage and everything inside it can safely handle these extreme temperatures.
Some everyday items that cannot stand high heat include:
- Anything made from vinyl or faux wood
- Fresh and meltable food (Any foods you wouldn’t leave in a hot car)
- Prescription medications
- Musical instruments
- Pressurized cans
Remove these objects and treat them separately if you use heat to kill bed bugs.
A safer alternative to heat is cold. Bed bugs cannot live for more than four days in temperatures under 0°F (-18°C). So, if you want to kill off the bed bugs in your luggage, you can expose your bag to these low temperatures.
But again, ensure that your luggage and anything inside it can withstand this cold.
Should I Throw Away My Luggage if it Has Bed Bugs?
There is no reason to throw away your luggage if it has bed bugs inside it. There are many ways to ensure the bed bugs do not make it into your home.
If you follow the steps below and ensure all the bed bugs are gone before bringing your luggage inside, you will not get an infestation.
However, if you do choose to throw away your luggage, you should write “BED BUGS” on it in big capital letters. Otherwise, someone else may take the suitcase home and infest their house.
Also, if you want to bring the luggage directly to the dump, you should place it in a sealable bag to keep the insects from infesting your vehicle.
How Else Can I Get Bed Bugs Out of My Luggage?
First, suppose you suspect you have bed bugs in your luggage. In that case, you should place all the items inside into plastic bags, making sure to bag washable objects separately.
Then, you can take the washable materials to your laundry room or the laundry mat and wash and dry them on the machine’s highest heat setting. Doing so should kill any bed bugs.
For your non-washable items, you can use a vacuum to get rid of the insects. And to ensure you capture all the bed bugs when vacuuming, you should search through your belongings with a magnifying glass and flashlight.
Afterward, properly dispose of all the bed bugs you caught by placing the contents of your vacuum into a sealable bag and then throwing the bag in the trash. Otherwise, the insects may climb out of your vacuum.
Finally, vacuum your suitcase before bringing it inside to ensure there are no bed bugs. When doing so, don’t forget to vacuum all the crevices and pockets because bed bugs like to hide in these secluded places.
How long bed bugs can live in luggage depends on the conditions they experience in the bag.
Overall, if you just leave your suitcase somewhere without treating it, the insects can survive for five months or even longer.
Therefore, if you find bed bugs in your luggage, you should use one of the above methods to eliminate the insects inside.