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Finding those pesky little bed bugs crawling around in your shoes is never a pleasant surprise.
I speak from experience here! Those tiny pests can sneak their way into footwear and potentially cause bigger issues if they spread into your home.
As someone who has dealt with a bed bug problem before, I want to provide some tips and guidance to help others who may be dealing with bed bugs in shoes.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to inspect your shoes thoroughly for signs of bugs, the best methods for getting rid of any bed bugs you find, and the preventative steps you can take to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you in the first place.
Bed bugs definitely can live in shoes, but you can stop them from turning into a full-blown infestation with some diligence.
Let’s dive into the details so you can keep bed bugs out of your footwear and your home!
Can Bed Bugs Live in Shoes?
This is a common question for people finding bed bugs in their footwear.
The short answer is yes, bed bugs can definitely survive and even thrive inside shoes under certain conditions.
Bed bugs are extremely small – usually between 1-7 mm long – so they can fit into tiny crevices and spaces.
The inside of a shoe provides plenty of cracks and seams for bed bugs to nestle into.
As long as they have access to food (aka you), bed bugs can live in shoes just like they colonize mattresses, furniture, and other items.
The material of the shoe also makes a difference. Leather, mesh, and fabric shoes provide more harborage opportunities compared to hard plastic and rubber.
Temperature is another factor for bed bug survival. Your warm foot inside a shoe creates an environment with the stable temperatures that bed bugs prefer.
This allows them to remain active rather than go dormant.
So, the enclosed, warm environment of a shoe with many hiding spots can definitely become a long-term home or means of transportation for bed bugs.
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Can Bed Bug Eggs Hitch a Ride on Your Shoes?
In addition to adult bed bugs, bed bug eggs can also find their way into footwear.
Their small size allows them to attach to the nooks and crannies of shoes just like the grown bed bugs.
Bed bug eggs are only about 1 mm long – smaller than a pinhead.
These tiny white eggs adhere well to surfaces like fabric, leather, and carpet.
If a shoe is resting in an infested area, bed bug eggs can stick to the sole or sides without notice.
Eggs can then be carried from place to place whenever the shoes are worn.
Dormant bed bug eggs can survive for up to 10 months until temperatures are right for hatching.
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How to Check Shoes For Bed Bugs
If you suspect bed bugs may be in your shoes, a thorough inspection is crucial. Knowing what signs to look for and where will help you identify if bed bugs are present.
Start by examining the exterior of the shoes first.
Bed bugs can often be found hiding in cracks and crevices on the sides, tops, and bottoms of footwear.
Look closely at the seams, folds, and any small gaps in the material. Shine a flashlight to illuminate all areas.
Next, remove the inner sole and inspect every square inch inside the shoe.
Bed bugs can tuck themselves away in tiny spaces of the toe, heel, and sidewalls. Examine the inner lining and any tags or branding inside as well.
Check along the edge of the sole and look in any deep grooves of the tread. Eggs often stick to soles where they can be easily transported.
Signs of Bed Bugs in Shoes
- Live bugs – note their oval shape and flat bodies.
- Molted bed bug skins – appear translucent and shed as bugs grow.
- Small red fecal spots – bed bug waste material.
- White eggs – glue-like eggs stuck to surfaces.
Take your time and thoroughly inspect. Catching an infestation early makes eliminating bed bugs much easier.
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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Shoes
Once you’ve discovered bed bugs have infested your shoes, you’ll want to take action to get rid of them as soon as possible.
There are several effective methods for killing bed bugs in shoes and stopping them from spreading further.
- One of the easiest and most effective ways to kill bed bugs is through sustained heat.
- Place shoes in a dryer and run on the highest setting for 30 minutes. Sustained temperatures above 120°F will kill bed bugs and eggs.
- Use a handheld steamer to penetrate cracks and crevices in shoes to eliminate bugs. Hold 10-15 seconds per area.
- Keep shoes in a black plastic bag in direct sunlight. The bag will heat up and reach lethal temperatures for bed bugs.
- Certain pesticides are labeled for bed bug elimination and can be lightly sprayed inside and outside of shoes.
- Consult with an exterminator about chemicals that can be safely used on your footwear materials.
- Be sure to precisely follow instructions when applying any pesticides.
- Sealing shoes in a plastic bag and placing them in the freezer overnight can also kill bed bugs through freezing temperatures.
- If you can’t freeze the shoes, leave them outdoors in a bag when temps are below 0°F for 6-12 hours.
- For washable shoes, run them through the washing machine using the hottest water setting then dry on high heat.
- Hand wash leather or other delicate shoes in very hot, soapy water while scrubbing seams and crevices.
With persistence and thoroughness, you can rid your shoes of bed bugs for good.
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How to Protect Your Shoes from Bed Bugs?
While dealing with bed bugs is never fun, there are steps you can take to avoid bringing them home in your shoes in the first place.
Here are some tips for keeping bed bugs from turning your footwear into their new home.
- Inspect shoes after traveling.
- Carefully check hotel rooms, put shoes in plastic bags at night, and examine footwear before wearing it again.
- Limit what you bring into your home after trips.
- Keep travel shoes outside or in a sealed bin, and wash/dry clothes on high heat before mixing with other laundry.
- Be cautious about buying used shoes.
- Inspect pre-owned footwear closely or clean thoroughly before bringing home. Apply pesticides outside first if concerned.
- Store shoes sealed in plastic bins or bags.
- This limits bed bugs from crawling inside.
- Treat shoes preventatively with pesticides.
- Light applications around seams and soles can provide residual protection when needed.
- Maintain diligence at home.
- Inspect shoes stored in closets, keep bedding encased, and watch for signs of bugs in living areas.
- Address infestations right away.
- Call an exterminator at the first signs of bed bugs to prevent growth and shoe spread.
With vigilance and preventative steps, you can protect your footwear investment and avoid making shoes the perfect bed bug abode.
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Dealing with bed bugs is never a pleasant predicament. While the thought of finding them crawling around in your shoes is unsettling, there are thankfully steps you can take.
Being able to identify the signs of bed bugs, regularly inspecting footwear, and addressing any infestations quickly can help keep your shoes and home pest-free.
Using heat, pesticides, freezing, and diligent laundering are all effective ways to kill bed bugs and their eggs if they do turn up in your shoes.
Preventative measures like cautious storage and travel practices also go a long way.
The key is staying vigilant about keeping bed bugs out of your footwear. Don’t let them permanently move into those comfy sneakers or favorite heels.
With some consistent diligence, you can have confidence knowing your shoes are bed bug-free.
Do bed bugs hide in shoes?
Yes, bed bugs can hide and live inside shoes, especially in cracks and crevices of seams, linings, and soles. Their small size allows them to tuck away unseen.
What to do with shoes when you have bed bugs?
Inspect thoroughly, isolate infested shoes in sealed bags/bins, and treat using heat, freezing, pesticides, or laundering to kill all bed bugs.
How long to dry shoes for bed bugs?
Dry shoes on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes to ensure temperatures exceed 120°F throughout which will kill bed bugs and eggs.
How do I make sure I don’t have bed bugs in my shoes?
Regularly inspect shoes, especially after traveling. Check crevices carefully for live bugs, eggs, spots, and skins.
Seal shoes in plastic bins/bags when storing. Address any home infestations quickly.
Resources – (for further reading)
UF/IFAS Extension – Bed Bugs – UF/IFAS Extension: Solutions for Your Life
University of Minnesota – Bed bugs | UMN Extension