Bed bugs are a nuisance that can be challenging to fully eliminate. To avoid encounters with these pests, it’s crucial to understand what kind of environment bed bugs prefer and what could lure them into your living space.

In this guide, I explore everything that might attract bed bugs into your home. I’ll share the knowledge and experience I’ve picked up over the years working as a pest control professional. I’ll go over some of the most common questions people have about what attracts bed bugs. By separating fact from fiction, you’ll know how to avoid creating conditions that entice these pests.

What Attracts Bed Bugs?

A prevailing myth suggests that bed bugs target dirty homes and are attracted by clutter, grime, and filth. However, this is not the case. Sure, bed bugs look pretty nasty, but they do not discriminate based on ‌prettiness, cleanliness, or socioeconomic status when they decide whether or not to infest your home.

These pests are attracted to warmth, carbon dioxide, and access to their preferred food source — blood. Wherever humans and animals congregate, bed bugs are likely to follow. Hotels, motels, apartments, shelters, and modes of public transportation are some of the most often infested locations.

Unfortunately, there is not much an individual can do to make a home less appealing to bed bugs. Maintaining cleanliness is important, as it can remove hiding places and pick up stray bed bugs. But bed bugs will still seek out humans to bite regardless of living conditions.

Learning everything you can about bed bugs helps you prevent them. Knowing what they look like is also crucial to determine whether they are present in your home.

Do Chemicals Attract Bed Bugs?

Household cleaning solutions or naturally occurring human hormones do not attract bed bugs. Rumors that ammonia, bleach, or scented products draw in bed bugs are false.

However, scientists have identified that bed bugs produce a chemical called histamine that is very attractive to other bed bugs. Humans also produce histamine during some immune responses, but these small amounts are unlikely to attract bed bugs.

Instead, the accumulation of histamine in bed bug feces and shed skin alerts other bed bugs that a location is inhabited and safe. For homes with major infestations, this chemical buildup can worsen the problem by drawing in new bed bugs. But for minor infestations, promptly removing bed bugs prevents substantial histamine accumulation.

How Do Bed Bugs Enter Homes?

Bed bugs typically hitch a ride into homes by climbing onto clothing, luggage, pets, furniture, or other belongings. Their small, flat bodies allow them to hide in tiny crevices and gaps during transit. While bed bugs do not care if a home is tidy or messy, reducing clutter does eliminate potential hiding spots.

Frequent and thorough vacuuming can also remove bed bugs that enter your home before they multiply. But ultimately, bed bugs are transported inside by accident, not attracted by conditions inside the home itself.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Bite Humans?

Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood, which is why they bite humans — not because ‌humans are dirty. The CO2 emitted when humans exhale helps bed bugs pinpoint a blood meal host. The bugs are most active at night when hosts are sleeping soundly, making it easiest to feed without interruption.

Humans cannot change their CO2 exhalations or body temperature enough to be less attractive to bed bugs. Likewise, no evidence suggests certain blood types are more appealing. With humans being their sole food source, bed bugs bite simply because they require human blood to survive.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

While you can’t make yourself less appealing to bed bugs, keeping a clean body free of other pests, as well as cleaning your home regularly, can help detect bed bug bites early. Prompt inspection and treatment stops bed bugs before significant biting occurs.

Do Crumbs Attract Bed Bugs?

Unlike some other household pests, bed bugs are not attracted to food spills, crumbs, or trash. They cannot survive on or digest human foods at all. Ridding the home of clutter and food debris provides fewer hiding places but won’t deter bed bugs motivated to feed on human blood.

However, some limited research suggests bed bugs may be attracted to dirty laundry. The study found bed bugs were more attracted to soiled clothing than to clean garments. Stains, sweat, and skin cells on worn clothes could make it easier for bed bugs to detect a human host.

Regular laundering of bedding, clothing, and other washable fabrics is a smart precaution against bed bugs. But food spills and crumbs themselves pose no attraction or benefit to bed bugs. Their biological drive to obtain blood governs their behavior.

Preventing Bed Bugs in Your Home

While no home is immune from bed bugs, several proactive steps make infestations less likely:

  • Inspect secondhand furniture before bringing it inside. Look in seams, under cushions, and behind panels for signs of bed bugs.
  • Inspect the bed and surrounding area regularly for fecal stains or live bed bugs.
  • Examine clothing and gear after returning from trips away from home.
  • During travel, inspect hotel rooms thoroughly and keep luggage off floors and beds.
  • If bites or bugs are found, contact a pest management professional immediately.
  • Seal cracks and crevices throughout the home so bed bugs have fewer entry points and hiding spots.
  • Limit clutter and keep rooms tidy to remove bed bug harborage areas.

So, Is Your Home at Risk of Bed Bugs?

While bed bugs do not discriminate based on living conditions or demographics, certain behaviors do increase infestation risks. Traveling, buying used furniture, and living in high-density housing make encountering bed bugs more likely. Clutter gives bed bugs more room to hide and multiply as well.

But bed bugs transported from other locations are ultimately what spark most home infestations today. Diligence is required to prevent bringing bed bugs in and to detect them early if they do enter your living space. Watching for signs like fecal stains and live bugs allows treatment before populations grow out of control.

With vigilance and preventative measures (such as keeping things nice and neat, as well as regular vacuuming and steam cleaning), even homes in high-risk settings can avoid bed bug encounters. But if you do find yourself with an infestation, check out our in-depth bed bug removal guide. In some severe cases, you’ll need to contact a licensed pest management professional right away to eliminate the population.

Not sure whether you need a pest control company or a bed bug exterminator? Pest control companies are all about controlling pests long-term, while exterminators typically guarantee to kill all pests present (without any additional treatments). A bed bug exterminator will give you a game plan to prevent further infestations.

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FAQs About Bed Bugs

What time of day are bed bugs most active?

Bed bugs are most active in the middle of the night when hosts are sleeping. Peak feeding activity is typically between midnight and 5 a.m.

Can bed bugs come in through open windows?

Screens on windows can help block bed bugs, but they may still enter through small gaps if an infestation is close by outside. Sealing openings with caulk limits potential entry points.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Currently, bed bugs are not known to transmit communicable diseases. However, their bites prompt allergic reactions and skin infections in some people. Fecal matter may also trigger asthma symptoms.

How long can bed bugs survive without feeding?

Adult bed bugs can survive 4–5 months without a blood meal. But nymphs may die after just 1–2 months without feeding. Prompt inspection and treatment help eliminate bed bugs before months pass.

Can bed bugs infest a clean apartment?

Yes, bed bugs can infest any home, regardless of cleanliness and sanitation levels. Their attraction is to human hosts, not clutter and dirt. However, cleaning does remove hiding spots.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

Expert Writer & Reviewer

Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas is a globetrotting content writer hailing from the USA. With a passion for pest control, he brings a unique perspective to his writing from his early years working for one of the largest pest control companies in America. Throughout his early 20s, Jordan gained valuable experience and knowledge in the field, tackling pest infestations head-on and ensuring the well-being of countless homes.

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Casey Daniel

Casey Daniel is a writer and editor with a passion for empowering readers to improve their homes and their lives. She has written and reviewed content across multiple topics, including home improvement, lawn and garden care, sustainability, and health and wellness. When she’s not reviewing articles, Casey is usually playing board games, repainting her bathroom, or quilting.

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