There’s nothing more terrifying than seeing your house getting infested with bed bugs. Your bed, mattress, clothes, carpets, and rooms all become infested pretty quickly and you’re left there in panic and desperation.
As the infestation becomes more prominent, bed bugs start scattering around your house until they finally get to your kid’s toys. Worrying about our children’s health is our primary instinct, so you can conceive the shock of knowing that your child could be in contact with bed bugs.
Can bed bugs live in toys? Theoretically, bed bugs can live in toys, especially in stuffed animals and plastic toys but most of the time they use toys just as a short-term shelter. Bed bugs will infest toys primarily if they are under the bed or near the host. As we know, bed bugs prefer to live as close as possible to their host, in which case the bed is the best solution for them.
Since toys can serve as a short-lasting shelter for bed bugs, it’s possible that your children can encounter them, without even knowing what they’re looking at.
In this article, we’re going to examine bed bugs and their connection to toys and children. If you happen to have a child or children, we strongly suggest that you keep reading.
Bed Bugs in Children’s Toys: What Are the Health Dangers?
Bed bugs don’t pose a significant threat to you or your kid’s health directly. People who live with bed infestation usually suffer only from itchy skin but this problem can be exacerbated if you scratch your skin often.
We know how it is when your skin is itchy. Even if you’re completely conscious, you can sometimes go for a scratch, which can expand to seconds and even minutes of scratching. This can lead to a skin infection, which is already a problem on its own.
The main thing with kids is that they rely on their instincts more than their brains. For example, you can tell your kid not to scratch his bed bug wound, he’ll acknowledge that, and after half an hour, you’ll see him scratching. If your kid is very young and doesn’t understand what you’re talking about, it’s even harder to deter him from scratching.
Scratching the bed bug wound poses health dangers but not the bite itself. Skin infections such as cellulitis and impetigo are common in this case and much to your luck, they can be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites on Kids: Are the Children’s Toys Infected?
There are hundreds of types of pests and being able to differentiate each one is impossible unless you’re an expert or have a Ph.D. in pests. That being said, we’re going to explain how the bed bug bite looks so that you can confirm if the bed bug infestation is present in toys.
At first, bed bug bites look like red bumps, very similar to mosquito bites but mosquito usually bites you once or twice at the same place, whereas bed bugs attack in groups and more bites can be seen.
The bites usually occur at exposed parts of your body. When you sleep, your hands or feet may be exposed. Your head is also exposed, so bed bugs can bite you on your neck, for example.
The bed bug bites are also a bit smaller than mosquitoes but they’re also grouped on the same part of your body. When a bed bug bites you, it’s not itchy in the beginning. It takes time for the itching to start.
As for the children’s toys, they are not infected. Infection and infestation are two different things. Bed bugs can INFEST your home but not INFECT it since they don’t spread germs and diseases. This means that bed bug bites won’t make you sick but only give you itchy skin.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Stuffed Animals?
Bed bugs are masters of adaptation. They can live wherever they want, bed bugs can survive even the harshest conditions out there. In comparison to that, a typical stuffed toy is heaven for bed bugs. It’s soft, it’s warm, and offers decent harborage for laying eggs.
The truth be told, this all depends on the circumstances, as bed bugs prefer peaceful and quiet places. If their harborage is quite and offers peace, they will infest that place.
So, can bed bugs live in stuffed animals? Yes, bed bugs can live in stuffed animals if they are placed near the host but if you move your toys frequently, this will disturb bed bugs, making them leave that shelter and infest other places in your house. If your stuffed toys are completely stationary, they can find tiny holes in it and infest them pretty quickly.
To make things worse, bed bugs can also live under the toys, especially if that space offers darkness and conceals them perfectly.
If you leave your toys unattended for a long time, bed bugs can infest it but once you start moving it around, they don’t want to live there and will start looking for another shelter.
This is why bed bugs love your mattress the most, as it’s peaceful at any moment, even if you’re moving on it. They can spend years in your mattress without you knowing for their existence!
Can Bed Bugs Live in Plush Toys?
Plush toys, much like stuffed toys, can also offer a great harborage for bed bugs. These toys are very soft and represent a comfortable bed bug shelter, at least in theory. Everything we said about stuffed toys can also be applied here. In case your plush toy has a tiny hole somewhere, bed bugs can sneak their way inside but only if they find this place quiet, peaceful, and near the host easy for feeding.
However, only in theory could bed bugs infest a toy like that because it’s not as comfortable as your mattress and they can easily be disturbed. Even if the toy is close to you, you’ll still move it around sometimes to make space.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Plastic Toys?
Yes bed bugs can live in or on plastic toys but only if they are really close to the host. For example, if they are located under the bed or in close proximity to the bed. They are not really a good place for bed bugs to lay eggs if the toys are used often.
Also, plastic as a material is smooth and the surface is not really that good for the bed bugs to climb, for these reasons you will rarely find bed bugs on plastic toys but it is not impossible.
Do Bed Bugs Go on Dog Toys?
Before we answer this question, we need to define what dog toys are. Generally speaking, dogs can play with anything they want. A tree branch could be a dog toy but a tennis ball can also come in handy. These are not dog’s toys.
We’re looking only at dog toys that you can buy in your nearest pet shop. Dog toys are usually rugged, made of silicon or durable plastic and they’re not stuffed. What does that tell you? It tells you that bed bugs won’t go on dog toys since they can’t get inside and hide.
Of course, as they move around your house, they might go over some of those toys but as far as the infestation is concerned, they’ll not infest your dog’s toys.
Do bed bugs stay on dog toys? Bed bugs stay on dog toys for as long as they need to traverse that location and move to another hiding space. However, bed bugs will rarely go there.
How to Clean Toys from Bed Bugs – Step by Step Instructions
Method 1 – Use Washing Machine and Dryer (Stuffed and Plush Toys)\
Step 1 – Before bringing the toys to the washing machine, use sealable bags and wrap them.
Step 2 – Check for cracks on the bag, to make sure that you don’t scatter bed bugs around your house.
Step 3 – Bring the bag with toys to the washing machine.
Step 4 – Carefully put the toys inside, use hot water, softener/powder, and leave the toys to wash for an hour.
Step 5 – While you wait, dispose of your sealable bag outside, not inside. Use a clean plastic bag and throw inside the dirty one, then throw it to the trash outside.
Step 6 – When the washing process finishes, check for dead bed bugs.
Step 7 – If you find dead bed bugs, that means that the process is successful. You can repeat the process once again or use the dryer instead of the washing machine. The steps are the same.
Method 2 – Use Sealable Plastic Bags (Plastic Toys)
Step 1 – Plastic toys can’t be washed inside the washing machine, so the first step is to pack them inside a sealable plastic bag.
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- 30-2 gallon Ziploc bags made of durable BPA-free plastic
Step 2 – Beware that plastic bags won’t kill bed bugs immediately, as they can live up to one year without food. To make it quicker, put your sealable bags in the freezer.
Step 3 – Set the temperature to the lowest possible and check if bed bugs are starting to die out.
Step 4 – After the bed bugs are dead, your plastic toys can be used again.
Treatment for Bed Bug Bites on Kids
1. Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil
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If you want an organic treatment for your kids’ skin, Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil from Plant Guru is a great product. It’s cheap and its effects are prominent. Being an organic product, there aren’t harmful chemicals, making it ideal for both adults and kids.
Due to its pleasant smell, it can serve both as a natural deodorant and insect-repellent with antibacterial effects. Smearing it over your bed bug bites will make your skin less itchy and if it’s an open wound, it will disinfect it, preventing cellulitis and other skin infections.
2. Mitesil 10% Sulfur Cream
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The 10% sulfur cream from Mitesil is here to relieve your itchy or painful bug bites. It’s suitable not only for bed bugs but also for other pests, as well as mosquitos. A natural blend of pleasant essential oils and colloidal sulfur in micronized form brings almost instant relief, making your skin soothing and smooth, as it was before bites.
The 4-ounce package in which this product comes is more than enough for several treatments for you and your family and of course, it’s safe for your kids.
If you want a quick, instant, and cheap bed bug bite relief, Mitesil offers you its magnum opus for an affordable price.
3. Premium 10% Sulfur Soap
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Those who don’t want to use sulfur cream can now buy a high-quality 10% sulfur soap, which does the same – alleviate the itchy skin. Unlike the previous products, this soap is fragrance-free, which implies that we have natural substances here, aside from sulfur.
Due to its mildness, this soap is great for kids and on top of that, it can be used for both face and body. When soaked in water, it creates a creamy emulsion that’s easy to smear around your body.
Buying a soap for an affordable price is a quality investment. Soaps usually last more than a month or two, depending on the usage, making this soap even more valuable, given that it costs a dime (literally).
Now that you’ve learned something new about bed bugs and toys, as well as products and ways of getting rid of bed bugs, it’s time to summarize. Bed bugs will rarely infest toys unless we’re talking about special circumstances.
These circumstances will rarely occur, as explained above, so we can safely say that bed bugs won’t use toys as a long-term shelter. But, as they traverse your house, they can use the toys as a short-term harborage.
If you happen to see bed bugs in your toys, you can wash and dry them (stuffed and plush toys) or use sealable bags (plastic toys). Seeing bed bugs in toys means that there’s a severe infestation somewhere in your house, most likely in your mattress or couch. If that’s the case, you can read our previous articles where we talked about bed bug infestations in couch and mattresses.
Knowing a lot about bed bugs is crucial when fighting them. They might not have big claws or teeth but as a byproduct, they’re very clever and cunning.
List of Sources
Diseases & Conditions – Bedbugs, Mayo Clinic
Koehler PG, Pereira RM, Pfiester M, Hertz J. (July 2011). Bed bugs and blood-sucking conenose. EDIS. (26 April 2017)
EPA. (May 2010). Controlling Bed Bugs. Pesticides: Controlling Pests. (26 April 2017)