What Do I Do With My Shoes for Bed Bug Treatment? (Find Out Now!)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

Oftentimes, what causes do-it-yourself bed bug treatments to fail is that people neglect to treat more than just their mattress. In fact, bed bugs don’t just hang out in your mattress, they can also hide in your carpeting, bedding, clothing, personal belongings, and even your shoes. Adopting an attitude that bed bugs can infiltrate pretty much anything can help maximize your chances of getting rid of them. Shockingly enough, bed bugs can get into your shoes and there’s nothing more infuriating (and disgusting).

So, what do you do with your shoes for bed bug treatment? Although heat treatment is the most effective method for treating bed bugs, not all shoes can handle high temperatures. Fortunately, other bed bug treatment methods for shoes include placing them in the freezer and running the shoes through a washing machine cycle to kill the bugs.

Let’s take a deeper look at how bed bugs infest shoes, how to check if your shoes have bed bugs, and, ultimately, how to get rid of them.

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Do Bed Bugs Infest Shoes?

Bed bugs are given their name because they tend to hide in your bed and your mattress. Though, it’s not uncommon for bed bugs to utilize other locations for hiding. This includes your carpets, bedding, clothes, and, of course, shoes. Bed bugs will set up shop and lay eggs in virtually any location that is dark, concealed, and shady.

So, yes, bed bugs do infest shoes. However, they will typically only go in your shoes if they do not get used often. There is also an increased possibility of a bed bug infestation in your shoes if you have them positioned near your bed. Fortunately, though, bed bugs will not cause damage to your shoes, but they can give you a skin infection every time you slip them on.

How Do Bed Bugs Get in Shoes?

Since bed bugs cannot fly or jump, they often end up in your shoes accidentally as they were crawling around in search of the ideal hiding spot. There is nothing particularly attractive about shoes to bed bugs. Though, they attach themselves to a variety of things including bags, clothes, purses, and other belongings. Generally speaking, bed bugs typically prefer surfaces made of fabric materials, as it’s easier for them to stick to.

Due to their lack of ability to fly or jump, bed bugs will hitch a ride on humans and it’s possible for you to have brought them home from a recent vacation. Since their only food source is human blood, they like to be as close as possible to humans and shoes provide an excellent spot for them to get all the food they need.

How to Inspect Shoes for Bed Bugs

Fortunately, bed bugs are not microscopic and they are visible to the naked eye. This means that when you have an infestation, you will be able to see the bed bugs, even from a significant distance. When it comes to shoes, you can easily inspect them for bed bugs by doing the following:

  • The first place to check is the inside of the shoes. If you suspect an infestation, you’ll usually find them there since it is dark, shadowy, and safe.
  • You may find bed bugs or their eggs in the holes that your shoelaces go through, which is also very noticeable.

After inspecting for bed bugs on the inside and outside of your shoes, don’t stop there. If you found them in one shoe, it’s highly likely that they are in another pair of shoes or somewhere else nearby. For this reason, we recommend that you inspect every pair of shoes that you own, as well as the places where you store your shoes. It’s possible for bed bugs to hide underneath the shoes, especially if the shoe doesn’t have flat sole. Some additional symptoms of bed bug infestations include:

  • If you notice an unpleasant, musty odor emanating from your shoes, this comes from the insect’s scent glands and could indicate an infestation.
  • If you have a bed bug infestation in your shoes, your feet will get bitten while wearing them. Inflammation, itchiness, and redness are the most common symptoms of bed bug bites.
  • You notice unexplained bloodstains on your socks or in your shoes, indicating the bugs being crushed each time you put on your shoes.

If you did not find any trace of bed bugs, whether it’s eggs, feces, blood, or the bugs themselves, chances are that you don’t have a bed bug infestation in your shoes.

Bed Bug Treatment Methods for Shoes

Bed bugs are often one of the most challenging pests to get rid of. Their specific biology allows them to survive in pretty extreme conditions. In fact, many suggest that bed bug extermination is the most expensive service in the pest control industry – ranging from as little as $300 to over $5,000 depending on the type of treatment, size of the affected area, and level of infestation.

So, you may be asking yourself: What do I do with my shoes for bed bug treatment? Consider the following methods to rid your shoes of bed bugs once and for all.

1. Heat Treatment

Overall, heat treatment is the most effective way to treat bed bugs and it is the most common method used by professional pest control companies for general house bed bug infestations. However, when it comes to using heat treatment on your shoes, it entirely depends on the shoe’s texture.

Bed bugs cannot tolerate temperatures higher than 113 degrees Fahrenheit, or 45 degrees Celsius. So, the goal is to generate enough heat to kill the bed bugs. Materials like leather cannot handle high temperatures and other types of shoes may experience the layers separating, melting of the glue, or just general damage. Still, this method can be worth trying.

Before you choose heat treatment, make sure that the texture and design of your shoes can withstand it. You do not need any sophisticated equipment for this method, just your household dryer. Follow these steps to treat the bed bugs in your shoes using heat:

  • First, make sure that your dryer setting reaches 113 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Place the affected shoes in shoe bags and hang them on the inside of the dryer door. This will help them stay in place and prevent damage from getting tossed around in the dryer. Avoid plastic bags as they are not suitable for use with high temperatures.
  • Begin the drying cycle and let it finish.
  • Insect the inside of the shoes for dead bed bugs.
  • Repeat the process if you suspect the shoes need an additional treatment.

NOTE: It is incredibly important that you NEVER put leather shoes in your dryer. This will dehydrate the leather surface and cause the shoes to crack.

2. Washing Your Shoes

Only use this method if your shoes are machine washable. The types of shoes that can typically be laundered are those made of nylon, PVC, cotton, polyurethane, and polyester. If they are washable, start by putting about three tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom of the shoes the night before you plant to wash them. In the morning, empty out the baking soda, remove the laces and in-soles, and scrub the inside and outside of the shoes thoroughly with a brush.

Then, put your shoes in a laundry bag and place them in your washing machine. Add in four to five towels to help balance the load and prevent damage to both the machine and your shoes. Set your washing machine to the hottest possible setting that your shoes can handle, pour in some liquid laundry detergent, and run the cycle for about sixty minutes.

After the sixty minutes is up, pull out the shoes and inspect for any remaining live bed bugs. They should be killed off but if they’re not, you can repeat this process again.

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3. Try Deep Freezing Your Shoes

Another incredibly effective way to get rid of bed bugs is to expose them to extremely cold temperatures. Like heat, bed bugs also cannot survive in temperatures that are too low for a prolonged period of time– below freezing point, or zero degrees Celsius.

Simply place the affected shoes in a large plastic bag and put your freezer on the lowest setting possible. Position the shoes in your freezer for at least an hour or, for best results, overnight. This will kill the pests and their eggs. Afterwards, you can give your shoes a good clean, dry them completely, and then place them back in your wardrobe.

4. Call in a Professional Exterminator

If all else fails, calling a professional exterminator is the easiest way to ensure that your shoes are freed from these relentless pests. Professional exterminators specialize in eradicating all sorts of rodents and insects, including bed bugs. They are experienced and well equipped to deal with even the most intense infestations. While these services are the most expensive in the pest control industry, it is certainly worth it to not have to deal with bed bugs in your shoes anymore.

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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