Bed bugs travel in and on people’s belongings, so we all have to be extra conscious of the folks we let into our homes. Contractors, nannies, housekeepers, house guests, and especially overnight guests – what are you supposed to do? It depends. It all comes down to trying to lower your risk without alienating people.
When people come to your home at your invitation, should you put them through the same paces you go through on your return from someplace that gives you reason to worry? I would say no, unless you are prepared to lose the friendship, or your guests are as vigilant as you now are. I would personally not ask guests if they have been exposed to bed bugs, though I know there are some people out there you would. Few people would know or really admit to knowing. Most people view themselves as clean and would be insulted to be asked.
Say you’re having a few people over for dinner. If your place is small, you do not want to have them throw their coats on the bed. If you feel that’s your only option, at least put a tarp on your bed, then vacuum and or treat the area afterward. A better alternative is putting hangers on the shower rod in the bathroom. If you have a bigger space, you can buy or bring a clothing rack and have guests hang their belongings there.
You have more latitude with people who regularly come to your home to do paid work for you. You can ask (or insist) that they keep a change of clothes at your home. When they come in, they can put their street clothes, shoes, and purses into a sealable plastic bag and change into their work clothes. You may choose to be blunt about it. Inform them that there is an epidemic out there and you prefer them not helping these little beasts infiltrate the sanctity of your home. On the other hand, if you prefer to take a more subtle approach, you can sympathize with them and weasel your way out by alarming them to the situation. Perhaps say, “Listen, I’m worried that we may have been exposed to bed bugs – I’m not saying you brought them in here, but you never know – and the last thing I want to be responsible for is sending them home with you – unless you were the person who brought your infestation here – but either way, for your sake…”
Remember, contractors and home health care workers are in other people’s homes and offices all day, every day. If the problem is in their own home, chances are greater that they’ll bring it into yours. There’s a good chances these little critters are hitching a ride from one place to another.
Phil Brooks is a canine trainer, handler and inspector for Pest Control Jersey City . He has wrtitten numerous articles on the topic of bed bug dog inspections and treatments.