Bed bugs have a reputation for being great travelers. Hitching a ride on anything from your suitcase to your vintage sofa, they’re notorious for instinctively following human hosts in search of a blood meal. They’re not too picky about where and when they catch a ride and don’t necessarily have a preferred mode of transportation, so it’s no surprise how many people wonder, are bed bugs contagious?

are bed bugs contagious

Easily Carried but Not Contagious

Though they aren’t actually contagious, these pesky parasites are easily carried on personal and household items. Waiting until the time is right and hiding where they can, bed bugs travel on clothes and belongings to get as close as possible to people where and when they rest. Typically, this means setting up shop within about eight feet of their hosts on anything from mattresses and box springs to picture frames, books, baseboards and more.

While you technically don’t “catch” bed bugs from other people, they are easy to pick up, especially in highly-trafficked locations. When visiting places with a higher rate of overnight guests such as airports, hotels and hospitals, it’s important to protect yourself any way you can. Bed bugs travel on clothing and bags, so be sure to inspect belongings and give yourself and your luggage a good once-over before returning to your home. Plus, they mate and lay eggs at such a rapid rate that it doesn’t take long for homeowners to find themselves battling an infestation of bed bugs.

Contagious or not, bed bugs can travel from house to house pretty quickly, especially in shared living spaces like apartment complexes and dormitories. Transporting them can be easy as leaving your backpack, jacket, or other items in an infested location and carrying it back to your home. They spread at such a fast rate that it’s not a surprise that some people may assume bed bugs are contagious. In the case of an extreme infestation, these parasites have been known to move throughout buildings via floor, ceiling and wall openings, on cables and on pipes.

Reduce the Risk

So, are bed bugs contagious? No. They don’t live on people and can’t be directly transmitted from one person to another. However, as quick as they are to catch a ride on clothing, bedding and furniture, they are easy to transport. The simplest way to protect yourself and make it more difficult for bed bugs to travel from house to house is to stop the problem before it starts:

  • Be cautious when acquiring second-hand furniture. These parasites can easily hide in between sofa cushions and even in the joints of drawers.
  • Inspect your bed and bedding periodically. Familiarize yourself with the signs of bed bugs and stay on alert to ensure you haven’t picked up any surprise visitors.
  • Clean and reduce clutter in your room. The more places bed bugs have to hide, the more likely they are to make themselves at home and become more difficult to spot.
  • Be diligent during your travels. If possible, keep personal items off the bed and floor of hotel rooms and use a valet rack or store your items in the bathroom instead.
  • Inspect your luggage—and yourself—after a trip. Before setting foot inside your home, check your bags, accessories and what you’re wearing if you can; bed bugs can travel on clothes, too, remember!

Expert Insights. Free Inspections.

If you’re still worried about whether bed bugs are contagious, you may have recently spotted one or know someone who has. Let Terminix® put your mind at rest with a free, extensive inspection of your home, including linens, beds and furniture.