When you work in pest control, bed bugs are a common nuisance. Whether you're called to a private home, a hotel, apartment complex, dormitories, an office building, or other lodging accommodations, you need proper protection and a plan to contain them. Following a bed bug policy and procedures will help stop infestations and prevent them from spreading to your own home.

Thankfully, we're going to explain everything you need to know about preparing for treatment against bed bugs, what to wear when cleaning bed bugs (PPE for bed bugs), as well as contact precautions for bed bugs.

Your Occupational Bed Bug Action Plan

PPE for Treating Bed Bug Infestations

Before heading to an infestation, bed bug technicians must be properly protected to prevent bites and spreading the insects to other locations. Below is a list of recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing for this process.

  • A disposable bed bug suit or coverall—consider one with attached boots to eliminate the need for separate shoe covers. The fewer items you bring into the environment, the better.
  • Wear long-sleeves and gloves to protect the hands and arms from bites.
  • Disposable shoe covers help prevent bugs from getting into your shoes.
  • It’s best to wear smooth shoes that do not have a trim. Smooth shoes make it harder for bugs to grip onto them and these bugs can hide underneath shoe trims.
  • Wear a properly fit-tested respirator if chemicals will be used.
  • Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to see any bugs that have gotten on your clothing.
  • If your business opts for non-disposable protective clothing, wear garments that can be washed and dried in a hot dryer to kill the bugs at any stage of development.
  • If you wear a jacket or coat into the treatment area, make sure to hang it up where it will not touch anything else such as a shower curtain rod.

Other accessories/ Equipment

  • Bring a portable stool. This prevents you from sitting on any couches, beds, sofas, or chairs that may have bed bugs on them. If you cannot bring a stool or hard chair (without fabric), avoid sitting on any furniture with fabric. Do not sit on cloth-covered furniture, beds, or bedding
  • Bring sealable plastic bags. This will help you carry any items in without the risk of bugs getting on them. This will also allow you to safely transport used shoe covers and other items without the risk of spreading bugs.
  • Use a metal or smooth plastic toolbox for your equipment
  • Consider buying water-soluble bags (bags that dissolve in water). These dissolvable “plastic” bags allow exterminators to isolate infested clothing until it’s placed in the washing machine where the bag will dissolve.

Safety Procedures: The Do’s and Don’ts for Bed Bug Exterminators

  • Ask the customer if the location has bed bugs before the appointment.
  • Don’t bring personal items inside the infested area. Always bring as few items as possible into the area to decrease the number of items that can become infested.
  • When the job is complete, remove your bed bug protection suit outside and seal it in a plastic bag before entering your car.
  • After the extermination, immediately remove your shoe covers and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use a new pair of shoe covers for each location and seal them in the same bag with other used shoe covers. Dispose of the sealed bag (leave it sealed shut) at the end of the day.
  • If shoe covers are reusable and can withstand high heat, put them in the dryer on the highest heat setting for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes. This will kill any bugs on or in the shoe covers.
  • Bring a change of clean clothes, shoes, and socks in a sealed plastic bag. Before going back home or to the office, change your clothes and keep all used clothing items in a sealed bag for laundering.
  • Nymph bed bugs (young/recently hatched) are extremely small and easy to overlook. Always inspect your clothing and body before entering your vehicle or workplace.
  • Only bring necessary items and tools to the area that will be treated. Leave personal items in the vehicle.
  • Consider keeping a spray bottle solution of 70% isopropyl alcohol in your vehicle. This will kill bed bugs that are on your equipment, your clothing, or your body. WARNING: This solution is highly flammable, so you should not smoke in the vehicle if the solution has been sprayed. A lit cigarette could cause your clothing or seats to ignite if they were sprayed with the solution.

Considerations for Bed Bug Extermination

The extermination process is hard work. Exterminators wear PPE that is often hot all while lifting mattresses, moving furniture, installing mattress and box spring encasements, and carrying heavy trash bags of infested items. The two ways to eliminate bed bugs are either with high heat or chemicals.

  • Consider a new extermination process: Switching to chemicals prevents workers from carrying and transporting heavy heating units, as well as fans and cords (a tripping hazard). Using chemicals eliminates the amount of equipment needed for the process that is often carried upstairs.
    Remember, the less items you bring to a site the better. Fewer items means there are less places for bed bugs to hide. Another benefit is that there are less items to clean.
  • There is no OSHA bed bug policy or regulation: OSHA cannot require employers to exterminate bed bugs and it does not have jurisdiction over employees’ residences. However, there is a general duty clause that employers must provide a safe work environment defined as one that is free of hazards that may cause physical harm.

Advice for Clients

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that bed bugs transmit disease.
  • Do not use over-the-counter pesticides to eliminate bed bugs. These pesticides cause bugs to relocate to other rooms and they do not work well.
  • Pesticides are hazardous to the health. Don’t spray them on bedding, clothing, furniture, or a mattress.
  • If the client lives in a community (apartment, condo, dorm, hotel), the landlord or building manager needs to be notified immediately.
  • Clean up as much clutter as possible to decrease the number of places the bugs can hide.
  • Vacuum regularly and do not share the vacuum with others. This can spread bed bugs to other locations.
  • At the end of vacuuming, vacuum ~1/4 cup of cornstarch or baby powder. This powder clogs bed bugs breathing holes, ultimately killing them.
  • Thrifted items or furniture left on the curb can contain bedbugs. Avoid bringing these items into the home.

For pest control PPE such as pest control coveralls or PPE for bed bugs, contact International Enviroguard today!