Beware of Bedbugs in Books

If you're a reader, you know the pleasure of curling up in bed with a good book. Bedbugs feel the same way. If you buy used books or belong to a lending library, you're at risk for bedbugs.

Here's how it works: Female bedbugs lay their eggs in secure locations -- like the spines of hardcover books. When the eggs hatch, the baby bugs may linger, or viable eggs may be present long enough for the books to change hands. Introduce an infested book to your bedroom and it becomes ground zero for a bedbug infestation.

Bedbugs can live up to a year without feeding, they're hard to see, and once established, they're devilishly hard to get rid of.

How can you guard against bedbugs introduced through books? Well, you can read ebooks exclusively or opt for new books only. If that sounds too restricting, there are now products on the market that heat treat items like books and clothing, killing the bedbugs inside.

Here are some other suggestions for dealing with hitchhiking bedbugs:
  • Ask your library what precautions it's taking to protect patrons from bedbugs.
  • Keep used books or library books away from where your family sleeps.
  • Heat kills bedbugs, but it has to be 110 degrees F (or higher) for at least three hours. You may be able to do this on a warm day by sealing books in a plastic bag and placing the bag outdoors in the sun.
  • Try placing used books in your (dry) bathtub at night to check for bedbugs. When it's dark, the bugs come out to explore. Turning on the lights in a darkened bathroom to see if anything scurries around the bottom of the tub is one way to detect them. (The slick sides of the tub will keep the bugs from escaping, and you can rinse them down the drain with hot water.)  
  • Treat books with a vapor style pesticide designed to kill bedbugs and their eggs.
Bed Bug Control Products

If you'd like to check out some bedbug busting products you can use to treat books and other belongings, I have a couple of Amazon links below. These use heat and are quite pricy. The good news is that you can use them to treat other belongs, which is convenient if you're afraid of bringing bedbugs home when you travel.

Bedbug Heat Treatment
Portable Bedbug Heat Killing Unit

If you think you may have bedbugs but aren't sure, an early detection system will help identify the problem. There are many on the market. Here's one economical option:

Bedbug Detection System (one-room)

If you discover you do have bedbugs, take a look at some herbal treatments that may help in the early stages of an infestation.  There's also quite a bit of basic information you should know for future refrerence. These are links to past posts:

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs 

Natural Bedbug Control

For more information about the risk of bedbugs in library books, please visit this informative article posted on the AARP blog this month:  Are There Bedbugs in Your Library Books? or check out The New York Times article: The Dark and Itchy Night


  1. That is really interesting. I live in Florida and German cockroaches were introduced here to control bed bugs. The roaches can be just awful. I have a customer who asked me to start making sulfur soaps d/t an infestation in her boarding house. She says the soap works really well.

  2. Good grief! Add that to the list of OMGs.


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