Bed Bugs in Curtains: Can Bed Bugs Live in Curtains?

If you have a bed bug problem, you may feel confident that you know where to find them. They are called bed bugs, right?  Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. So, where else can bed bugs be found in your home? The answer may shock you.

Can bed bugs live in curtains? Surprisingly, bed bugs can also live in curtains. Bed bugs cannot fly but they can reach curtains either by climbing/crawling up the curtain which is touching the ground or by climbing the wall near the curtains and onto the any part of the fabric that is touching the wall. However, curtains are not a bed bug’s preferred placed for living.

Bed Bug Exterminators

These insects are sensitive about the temperature of their environment. The ideal temperature for bed bugs to thrive is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (from 21 to 26 degrees Celsius). Although bed bugs and their eggs can survive in both hotter and colder temperatures, this ideal temperature range enables them to reproduce and progress through their growth phases at a faster rate. 

Bed bugs also tend to prefer a dark environment, making the area in or around the windows an unfavorable place for them to reside. In addition, curtains are typically located further away from their food source, making it more difficult for the bed bugs who live there to feed regularly.

So, why would bed bugs make their way onto your curtains?  And what should you do if it happens?  Don’t despair, if you understand the cause and take the right steps, you can manage the problem effectively. We will certainly help you with that so keep on reading!

Why Do Bed Bugs Hide in Curtains?

It makes sense that the most commonplace for bed bugs to live and lay their eggs is close to where their host sleeps or rests for long periods of time. Therefore, there has to be a good reason for them to venture to other areas of your home that are less ideal. If you do find bed bugs in your curtains, it is likely that your bed or any other place that you sit or lay still for long periods (think couches, office chairs, or even wheelchairs) are already hosting a significant number of them.

Although there is still technically room in your bed or chair for more of these tiny insects, there is an interesting reason why they won’t remain there. Bed bugs have a strange mating habit which scientists refer to as “traumatic insemination.” Male bed bugs will pierce through the female’s body at any location on her abdomen. This creates a wound.  The more often a female is mated with, the more damage her body withstands. 

A female who has mated and therefore was injured many times is less likely to successfully lay eggs. Therefore, after she has been inseminated, she will roam to new territory in order to avoid being mated with again. This is when you may start to see these insects wandering to different parts of your home, even those which don’t provide the perfect living conditions.


Bed Bug Eggs on Curtains: Is It Common?

In cases where the mattress and box spring have already been infested with a significant number of bed bugs, it is likely that you will find eggs in other parts of your home.  Curtains are one of those places. Unlike other items in your room, curtains are likely to be moved only slightly throughout the day, sometimes they are not moved at all. This makes them preferable to the female for laying eggs, as opposed to other heavily trafficked items or locations in your home.


Is It Possible to Find Bed Bug Feces on the Shower Curtain?

While it is less likely to find bed bugs in the bathroom, it is a good idea to check every area of the house. As mentioned above, the greater the size of the colony and the longer you’ve had an infestation, the more likely these insects are to wander to new parts of your home. Check your shower curtain thoroughly. Most of the time if you see some dark spots those are not bed bug feces. Sometimes that can be mold or feces of other bugs/insects.

If you are 100% certain those are bed bug feces (although highly unlikely), and your shower curtain is plastic, it should be relatively easy to wipe clean. If the shower curtain is fabric, check out the guide below on how to remove the stains.


How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Curtains – Step by Step Instructions

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Curtains - Step by Step Instructions

It is recommended that the bed bug infestations should be treated by a professional pest control service. However, if you’d like to take care of the issue all by yourself, there are a few things that you can do. If you suspect that bed bugs have settled down in your curtains, check them thoroughly from top to bottom. The most likely place to find them hiding in your curtains are around the folds, seams, and wrinkles.

Remember: Bed bugs prefer a dark environment. Any place that provides a bit of shade and cover from sunlight will be the most likely place to find them. Keep an eye out not only for the bed bugs themselves but also for their eggs. Bed bug eggs are small, about the size of a pinhead and white or off white in color.  You may find them sticking to any part of the fabric, as the female bed bug will drop them anywhere she roams, and will attach them to surfaces with a glue-like substance.


Step 1: Vacuum Cleaner

Once you’ve found the bed bugs and their eggs, use a vacuum cleaner to suck up as many of them as possible. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag immediately, as these insects are capable of crawling right back out of the bag if you leave it sitting around. It will likely be impossible to remove all the bed bugs and eggs in this manner, as the eggs are sticky and the bed bugs are very small. An adult bed bug is about ¼ of an inch or ½ of a centimeter long.


Step 2: Cold Temperature Method

This is why it is crucial to complete the next step: killing any remaining bugs with cold temperatures. Before you jump into this next step, be mindful of the type of fabric you are dealing with, or else you might just end up ruining your curtains.

The colder the temperature, the shorter the amount of time it will take to freeze them.  If you place the curtains in your freezer at home, which is usually set at approximately 0 degrees Fahrenheit (or negative 17 degrees Celsius), it would be best to keep them in the freezer for at least four days to ensure the bed bugs and their eggs do not survive.


Bed Bug Feces on Curtains – How to Get Rid of Stains

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the bed bugs in your curtains, it’s time to get rid of any stains that may have been left behind. Before you start throwing your curtains (and everything else you own) into the washing machine, take a step back and consider the kind of fabric you are dealing with. Are your curtains linen or cotton?  Are they silk or lace? Are they a combination of more than one fabric? Can you put them in the washing machine at all, or do they need to be taken to the dry cleaner? 


Step 1: See the Washing Instructions on the Curtain

Read the tag on your curtains.  If you’ve already removed the tag, do a quick search for general rules regarding that type of fabric.


Step 2: Soap and Enzyme Cleaner

If you can throw your curtains in the washing machine, take the following steps:  First use a cloth soaked with cold water to blot any stains. Then, spray the stains with an enzyme-based stain remover. Allow the enzyme cleaner to remain on the fabric for the recommended time listed on the bottle.

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Step 3: Washing Maschine

Afterward, place your curtains in the washing machine on the cold setting. Bed bug feces are an organic material—that means it’s best to avoid the heat altogether, as it will only set the stains into your fabric.


Step 4: Additional Tips

For this same reason, it is best to air dry your curtains away from direct sunlight.  It may be necessary to repeat this process a few times to completely remove the stains.  If the stains are still present, you may want to consider using a mixture of equal parts peroxide and ammonia to spot clean the areas. Allow the solution to soak the stain for no longer than ten to fifteen minutes. (Any longer may damage your curtains.) Use cold water to thoroughly rinse the solution from the fabric, and allow the curtains to air dry.

If you are working with a delicate fabric and need to have your curtains dry cleaned, tell the cleaner what the stains are so they can do their best to remove them effectively.


Summary

If you find bed bugs on your curtains or anywhere else in your home, please don’t panic.  Take one step at a time. The task may seem daunting, but if you are patient and diligent, it is possible to remove bed bugs and any trace of them left behind in your house! For more pest-related guides please read some of our other articles!


List of Sources

How to Find Bed Bugs, EPA

Bed Bug Behavior, University of Minnesota

How to Get Bed Bugs Out of Your Belongings, Cornell University

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