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How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs In Your RV


RV mattress - feature image for How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs In A Camper

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs In A Camper

RVs are expensive, and no one wants to bring hitchhiking parasites along for the trip. Bed bugs are an annoyance to everyone that has to deal with them. These tiny insects can hide in folds of fabric and will bite you as you sleep. Although they may not be too dangerous, these little pests are certainly annoying and will impact your quality of life. This is why you need to know how to get rid of bed bugs in a camper.

Bed bugs are notoriously tricky to get rid of. It takes weeks (and sometimes months) to get rid of them entirely. You need to be extremely thorough and apply treatments multiple times to get any eggs or stragglers. Sometimes the treatments don’t work on the first attempt, so get ready to buckle in for the long haul.

There are a variety of products and treatments you can use to get rid of bed bugs in a camper. We’ll cover some of the most effective strategies below, as well as some preventative measures you can use to stop them from taking over. These little bugs are annoying to deal with, but you don’t have to be stuck with them forever! Let’s get down to business. 

Chemical pesticides

Once you’ve spotted signs of bed bugs in your camper, you need to act as soon as possible. These bugs can multiply before you know it, and it’s much easier to kill a few bugs than a huge infestation. Chemical pesticides will help slow the spread of bed bugs, but it usually isn’t enough to get rid of them entirely. 

If you’re preparing for a bigger attack, try spraying a bed bug pesticide around the affected furniture, carpet, and other crevices where they may be hiding. Chemical pesticides will kill or injure a lot of the bugs and will prevent them from spreading as quickly. The chemical residual creates a hostile environment for these pests. The Bedlam Plus Pressurized Aerosol is a good product for this purpose. 

Desiccants

If you want to use a more general form of insecticide, you can use a desiccant. These work well for insect infestations because bugs cannot become immune to them in the same way that they can become chemical-resistant.

Desiccants target the outer coating of an insect. When the bed bug comes in contact with it, the exoskeleton will break down, causing the insect to dehydrate and die. 

If you want to use desiccants in your battle against the bed bugs, try using cold-pressed neem oil, Chlorfenapyr, or another bed bug desiccant that has been approved by the EPA. You can see more options on their website here.

Heat treatments

One of the most effective ways to kill bed bugs is by using heat. These pests can survive high temperatures (up to 122 degrees F), but even they have their limits. If you use a steamer, heat gun, or another high-temperature item, you can get rid of most of your bed bugs at once. 

This method sometimes takes awhile because you will have to cover the entire area by hand. Bed bugs can squeeze into tiny nooks and crannies, so you’ll need to be thorough as you clean. They will also scatter if there is too much air pressure/movement. This is why it’s best to use a diffuser for your steamer.

Natural treatments

There are some natural items that can be used to deter or kill bed bugs. These are more effective as preventative measures rather than treatments, but they can still help you get rid of bed bugs in your camper. Certain oils, spices, and herbs can be used to keep pests away from you. 

Some natural items you can use for bed bugs include:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint oil
  • Thyme
  • Mint leaves
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Clove

The strong scents of these items can ward away bugs. Try applying these treatments near the vents of your RV to prevent any insects from entering. However, this method is not very effective at killing bed bugs once they have taken over. Something more aggressive is usually necessary.

Less effective treatments to avoid

If you need to get rid of bed bugs in a camper, you need to know the most and least effective forms of treatment. While the options above have varying success rates, they are generally more useful than the options below. 

Foggers/bed bug bombs

You may see a lot of products that claim to kill bed bugs with fumes. Although these may be partially effective, foggers don’t reach deep into the nooks and crannies of an RV, so bed bugs still have plenty of places to hide. Unless you want to commit to a full fumigation process, foggers aren’t your best bet. 

Starving them out

Because bed bugs feed on blood, it’s easy to assume that they’ll die off if they’re deprived of food. Unfortunately, these little pests can hibernate for a year or more without food. If you own an RV, that’s probably too long to wait. Besides, even one freshly-fed bed bug can spark up the whole problem again. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. 

How to prevent bed bugs

As is the case with every pest, it’s better to keep them out rather than handle an infestation. Bed bugs are sneaky little insects that can easily hitch a ride on your clothes without you even knowing about it. They can’t fly or jump very far, so at least you have that in your favor. Incorporate the tips below into your habits so you can nip infestations in the bud. 

Carefully inspect the RV before every use

All problems start small, so a little vigilance goes a long way. If you’re buying a used RV or renting one from a service, carefully examine the furniture and bedding. If you see small reddish/brown spots, that’s a bad sign. Perform inspections of your own RV before and after long trips. If someone has a line of inexplicable bites, this is an even bigger reason to be cautious. 

Wash bedding at a high temperature

Bed bugs earned their nickname because they tend to congregate around beds. This is where humans become an easy target and there are lots of places to hide. You can prevent them from getting into your mattress and pillows by using well-fitting covers. You can also kill any intruders by washing your bedding with hot water. Use the highest possible temperature because heat kills bed bugs!

Keep dirty clothes in a separate sealed area

 A lot of bed bugs can enter a camper by hanging onto your clothes. These pests are small and difficult to notice, so it’s easy to introduce them into the space by accident. Keeping your dirty clothes quarantined will help prevent the spread. Use bags or laundry baskets that can be closed and sealed until it’s time to wash the contents. 

Empty vacuum after each use

You can catch a lot of bed bugs with a vacuum if you’re thorough. Simply getting sucked into the container isn’t enough to kill them though. If they’re still alive, they have the opportunity to crawl out and escape. So every time you finish vacuuming, empty the bag and throw away the contents. Dispose of the contents in an exterior garbage can or dumpster so you don’t reintroduce bed bugs into your camper. 

Track your RV maintenance

Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.

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Author Emily Lawrence Avatar

Emily Lawrence

Emily Lawrence lives in Idaho with her husband Nathan. Despite the cold winters in this area, it's Emily's favorite season! She loves to spend time skiing, roadtripping, and just exploring the outdoors.

5 thoughts on “How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs In Your RV

  1. I utilize Hot Shot “No Pest Strips” to keep my travel trailer pest free. I will hang 4 of them within a 26X8X8 foot living space and they will kill EVERYTHING!!! All vapor, no messy residue. The active ingredient is Dichlorvos, which has been proven to be very effective in killing Bedbugs. The strips remain active for at least 3 months. I air out the trailer for 30 minutes before entering for any extended period of time.

  2. If you want to do it yourself then seal your RIg
    First remove all clothing and sheets and etc
    Remove all food and dishes pots pans etc
    Then Close the windows, all the vents and then install a few Vapona strips from the ceiling in each room/ area and compartments
    Leave it shut up for about a week
    Then open up, air it out and wash all surfaces

    1. Agreed! We had them in our house after we got used furniture off CraigsList. 😟. Use DE and CedarCide spray to kill them!

  3. Extreme cold kills as effectively as high heat, so we in Canada or the Northern States can terminate them when our RVs are parked for the winter. At least us non-snowbirds can do this.

    It only takes a few days of sub-zero cold to wipe them out.

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