Proper methods to treating bed bugs continues to plague facilities across the country as cleaners are finding the pests to be fierce competitors. Although there are pesticides available on the market to treating bed bug outbreaks, their use can require special training and education. Instead, many facility managers are looking for products and/or equipment they have in their arsenal to combat the pests.

The answer to treating bed bugs in many departments is vacuums. Experts agree that vacuums can be used to eliminate bed bugs, but they are not a failsafe. If departments are using a vacuum to remove bed bugs, the equipment must have a sealed bag rather than a dirt cup. Bags will contain the pests during collection and disposal, which should be done in an outdoor receptacle.

Vacuums used for bed bug collection should also feature a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. This will add another line of defense when treating bed bugs, and will minimize the potential of contaminants being redistributed into the air. But, because of their size (comparable to a letter on a penny) bugs can embed themselves in the filters, so cleaning crews should pay attention when cleaning these vacuum attachments.

Although vacuums should not be used to capture bed bug eggs, they have proven effective at removing the insect. There are also some newer products on the market that can make collection identification easy for custodial workers.

One particular product is a vacuum attachment that is clear, allowing professionals to see whether there are bugs present during collection. Chris Portera, president of Ocean Janitorial Supply in Islip Terrace, N.Y., says that this is an effective device for monitoring whether or not the bugs were collected during a cleaning process.

When treating bed bugs, no matter what tools are used in conjunction with the vacuum, experts recommend dedicating one machine specifically for bed bug collection. Singling out one vacuum for use when fighting these pests and stressing proper collection and disposal is important because vacuumed bed bugs can live inside a vacuum and potentially re-infest the facility. Properly collecting and disposing of these pests will eliminate any potential for cross-contamination.

For information on vacuuming furniture and other soft surfaces, click here.
For information on vacuuming partition and cubicle walls, click here.

JENNIFER BRADLEY is a freelance writer based in East Troy, Wis.