Bed bugs are difficult to find. Their reputation comes from their ability to live and survive in lots of places around the home. They especially like dark places where they can stay hidden, like curtains.
Bed bugs can live in any drapes made of fabric. They are drawn to fabric because it offers lots of dark folds and hiding places. They access it by climbing the drapes or the adjacent wall. Curtains are also perfect for laying eggs, as the glue they use to lay eggs sticks to fabric.
However, it’s unlikely that you will find bed bugs in curtains unless the rest of your room is infested. And wherever you find bed bugs, the treatment that’s required will be the same.
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Do Bed Bugs Like Curtains?
Bed bugs are reliant on you, their host. They need to be near you so that they can feed. That’s why most bed bugs in an infestation will live in your mattress, bedding, or bed frame. But that’s not an exhaustive list of where they live.
According to the Journal of Travel Medicine, bed bugs do live in curtains. In hotels, they are one of the most common places that bed bugs are found aside from mattresses, bed frames, and sofas. Aside from that, they can live almost anywhere in your room, including:
- Bedroom furniture and drawers
- Behind the head of the bed
- Behind the baseboard
- In your curtains
Curtains aren’t the first place that they would pick. But when an infestation gets big, the bed bugs don’t have as much choice. They start to branch out into places that they might not otherwise live.
The curtains are one such place. They are further away from you than bedside furniture, and are less comfortable. They also move more often than a bed bug would like, and may get sunlight on them.
But even so, there’s a possibility that they will start living there. The less frequently you disturb the curtains, the more likely it is that there will be some bed bugs in there. This is the case with anything from curtains to your furniture and mattress.
How Do Bed Bugs Get in Curtains?
Bed bugs are good at climbing. They can climb wood, fabrics, and even the wall. So, one way they can get in drapes is by climbing the wall to reach them.
If the ends of the drapes touch the floor, then they could get inside that way, too. This makes it much easier for them to hide inside. Also, if the bed bugs are hidden in the carpet or behind the baseboard, they can move directly from here to the curtain.
You won’t ever see a bed bug searching for a new home. They will only do this at night. They wait until you are asleep, and until it’s dark, before moving anywhere.
If a bed bug is exposed during the day, it will immediately try to find somewhere dark to hide. It would take too long to reach the curtains by crossing the floor or climbing the wall.
Do Bed Bugs Lay Eggs in Curtains?
Bed bug females have a particular way of identifying places to lay their eggs. The first thing they want is somewhere that’s dark and secluded. The darker a place, and the less frequently it’s disturbed, the safer it is.
Crucially, bed bugs look for places away from their current home to lay eggs. Bed bugs mate in a particular way (traumatic insemination). This damages the female’s shell. She has to get away from all the males nearby.
That means she’ll pick somewhere that no bed bugs are living. She may select the other end of the mattress, for example. But if all the usual places are taken, she’ll pick somewhere new like the curtains.
As for the material, drapes are perfect for laying eggs. They’re made of fabric. When a bed bug lays eggs, it uses a kind of natural glue to keep them securely in place. This glue bonds tightly with fabric.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Net Curtains?
Bed bugs can infest any fabric curtains. That includes net curtains.
They especially like any curtains that get bunched up. Net curtains are easily bunched at the top, where they run over the curtain rail. Bed bugs can live here as well as at the side where the curtains are tied.
However, net curtains aren’t optimal for bed bugs. That’s because they let a lot of light through. Bed bugs don’t like any light at all. They prefer being in complete darkness.
That means that bed bugs won’t be attracted to net curtains over other places. They’ll only pick them as a living space if they are on a window that hardly sees any light.
That’s why bed bugs prefer proper drapes over net curtains, and over blinds, too.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Shower Curtains?
There are crucial differences between shower curtains and regular drapes. One is that shower curtains aren’t made of fabric. They’re made of plastic.
Bed bugs find it harder to climb plastic than they do fabric. That’s because it’s much smoother. There’s nowhere for the bugs to hook their feet into as they climb.
Also, shower curtains are next to a regular water source. Bed bugs don’t like water and don’t need to drink. It doesn’t attract them. If anything, they’d prefer somewhere much drier.
Lastly, bed bugs need regular access to their host. They don’t live on you, but near you, and don’t feed on anything but people (and occasionally other animals). As such, they need to live in your bedding or at least your room.
All these reasons mean you’ll never see bed bugs in the bathroom, and certainly not in your shower curtain.
Why Do Bed Bugs Hide in Curtains?
The main reason why bed bugs like curtains is that they offer lots of hiding places. The most obvious are the folds that run up along the curtains.
While the curtain is up against the window, these folds don’t let light in. They are safe for photophobic bed bugs to hide in. Other places that bed bugs can hide in drapes include:
- The hem at the bottom of the curtains
- Underneath the curtain holder/tieback
- Between the curtain and the wall
This is especially true if the curtains are tied up. When curtains are tied up, there are even more ruffles and folds for the bugs to hide in. The folds are tighter, too, so they let in less light.
And if you’re like most people, then when those curtains are tied up, they are only infrequently untied. Curtains like these are often for show.
These are the kind of curtains bed bugs can hide in. If you were to open and close the curtains every day, you would disturb the bed bugs. They would then choose somewhere else to live. They prefer places where their safety won’t be compromised.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Curtains
If you are sure there are bed bugs in your curtains, you ought to get rid of them. Any infestation will only grow if it has access to a host. So, if you don’t kill them, they will only get worse.
Bed bugs have a reputation as being hard to kill. But when done properly, treatment is effective. Here are the two best ways to kill bed bugs in curtains.
Launder Your Curtains to Kill Bed Bugs
If you want to kill bed bugs on your own, laundering is the best way. The laundry kills bed bugs in three ways. The water is fatal, the detergent is toxic, and the temperature kills them too. In combination, these three things kill every bed bug and egg.
To launder bed bugs effectively, you have to follow a set of guidelines. These guidelines prevent the bed bugs from spreading as you try to kill them. The steps are as follows:
- Seal the curtains in a plastic bag or tub.
- Take the tub or bag to the washing machine, and put it directly inside.
- Put the bag inside another bag and throw it away outside. This gets rid of any bugs that fell out of the curtains and into the bag.
- Launder them as you would launder anything else.
Before you do this, check that your curtains can be laundered safely. Also, don’t overload the washing machine or dryer with curtains that are too big.
If the process is successful, all the bed bugs and eggs will be dead. You can check the curtains afterwards to try and find any tiny dead bugs or eggs.
It may be best if you don’t hang your curtains again until all the bed bugs are dead. Otherwise, they could be re-infested. At least avoid having the ends of the curtains touch the ground when you hand them again.
Hire a Pest Control Expert
The best way to kill bed bugs is by hiring an expert, either for pesticide spray or heat treatment.
A pest controller knows how to prepare your home so that the treatment is maximally effective. They can seal off a room to stop bed bugs spreading. They also understand how to make pesticide/heat reach inside furniture, where they may be hiding.
The most common way that pest controllers kill bed bugs is with pesticide. They spray it around your home, especially in places that bed bugs congregate. It kills on contact and lingers for months. It will kill nymphs as they hatch, too.
The other method is heat treatment. Heat treatment is where the temperature is raised to a level that kills all bed bugs and eggs. Around 140 degrees is required. The only downside is that it doesn’t repel bed bugs that may want to ‘invade’ your home later on.
Either way, both of these methods will kill bed bugs in your curtains.
Buy Bed Bug Proof Curtains
You could also consider buying bed bug-proof curtains. There are several ways that drapes can be made unsuitable for bed bugs.
- If the ends of the drapes don’t touch the ground, the bed bugs will find it hard to reach them
- If the curtains are made from something that isn’t fabric
- If the curtains aren’t bunched up, so don’t offer lots of hiding places
By making your curtains inhospitable to bed bugs, you prevent them from infesting them. This is good because the fewer places the bed bugs live, the easier they are to kill.
Instead of having fabric curtains, you could consider installing blinds. There’s no way that bed bugs could live in blinds. The area next to the window would be either too bright or too cold at night.
You could also spray your curtains with bed bug spray. This would kill any bed bugs that climb inside, or any eggs that hatch there. It may also prevent bed bugs from elsewhere making their home there.
However, using something as a repellent isn’t a good idea. All it does is encourage the bed bugs to live somewhere else in the room. It’s better to kill them outright using spray or heat treatment. Consult a pest control expert for best results.