How to Know if Bed Bugs Hide in Shoes


Just because there’s “bed” on their name doesn’t necessarily mean that bed bugs hide in beds only. If there are lots of them in the bedroom, they won’t hesitate to hide in various items or objects in it, including footwear, especially those that are in close proximity to the bed in which their human host sleeps.

Whether you own just a couple of pairs of shoes or you are what’s referred to as a “sneakerhead”, the presence of some footwear in your bedroom can make it more challenging to deal with a bed bug infestation.

The goal should be to considerably reduce the number of places in which bed bugs may hide in.

Below are some tips on how to remove shoes from the long list of potential bed bug hiding places, as well as a few more helpful pieces of information on dealing with bed bugs.

Hitching a Ride on and Hiding in Shoes

Bed bugs can take advantage of your shoes in two ways to make sure that they won’t go extinct anytime soon. Yes, the things that you wear to go from point A to point B can help bed bugs survive.

Despite not being able to fly or jump, bed bugs find it easy to travel from one room to the other.

As a matter of fact, they don’t have a hard time infesting one house after the other. Some bed bugs may even cross oceans or borders without any trouble. They can do these things as they are very good hitchhikers.

It is possible for bed bugs to hide in suitcases, which is their preferred mode of transportation of bed bugs in hotel rooms that like to have a taste of what it feels like to infest the homes of hotel guests.

Bed bugs may also travel by means of clinging to clothes — although they are not capable of attaching themselves to human skin and smooth surfaces, they find it easy to hang onto fabrics and other materials with rough surfaces.

These blood-sucking critters find it trouble-free to cling to shoes, especially the kinds with textured surfaces and lots of design elements.

If you step foot in an infested room or house, some bed bugs may end up in your bedroom via your shoes.

Other than hitching a ride, bed bugs may also hide in your shoes. This is particularly true for those that you do not wear all the time, such as fancy, expensive or limited edition ones that you feel are better displayed than worn.

Especially if you keep your footwear under or near the bed, it is likely for bed bugs to hide in them.

And, as mentioned earlier, bed bugs don’t mind whether or not your shoes stink.

Some Shoes are Better Hiding Places

First things first: no matter the type of shoes, bed bugs will be more than happy to hide in them. However, there are some shoes that they find more agreeable to sleep and mate in than others.

Between leather shoes and athletic shoes, it’s more likely for bed bugs to hide in the latter.

That’s because leather shoes are out of a smooth material, and this can give bed bugs a hard time whenever they attempt to crawl on them.

But if there are no other options, bed bugs will do their best to succeed.

On the other hand, crawling on athletic shoes is a picnic for bed bugs. This is especially true because most athletic shoes come with interesting textures.

Athletic shoes are usually out of an assortment of materials, which provides bed bugs with variety.

Their soles come with all kinds of lines and patterns to keep their wearers from slipping, and they make for fantastic bed bug hiding places.

The presence of layers of insoles for comfort benefits not only the owners of athletic shoes but bed bugs, too.

If your bedroom is prone to a bed bug infestation, choosing your shoes wisely matters. However, it is not practical to change your lifestyle or hobbies just to keep bed bugs at bay.

Keeping Bed Bugs From Hiding in Shoes

As always, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Doing the necessary steps to discourage bed bugs from sleeping and mating in your shoes is a great idea if you want to keep a bed bug infestation from worsening.

This is especially true if you prefer to deal with bed bugs without the help of the pros.

Here are ways to make your shoes less favorable hiding places for bed bugs.

Wear Them More Often

Believe it or not, something as simple as putting on your shoes regularly can keep bed bugs from hiding in them.

Those creepy crawlers don’t like to hide in anything that moves or gets disturbed often, which is why this tip works 100% of the time. What’s more, wearing your shoes allows you to squish bed bugs hiding inside them.

However, this tip may not be the most practical of the bunch if you have several dozens of shoes in your collection and you cannot wear all of them all the time.

Count on Essential Oils

Spraying essential oils in and on your shoes is like hitting two birds with one stone.

First, it drives away bed bugs and keeps them from coming back, provided that you regularly spray your shoes with essential oils that they cannot stand.

Some very good examples are lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella, cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, and sweet orange.

Second, the use of essential oils deodorizes your shoes and keeps your feet from stinking while wearing them.

Place Them in Plastic Containers

Whether there are bed bugs hiding in your shoes or not, it’s a good idea to stash them in plastic containers when they’re not in use.

The right ones for the job are those with gaskets as they can keep bed bugs from coming in and out of them.

If you don’t have the budget to shop for several airtight plastic containers, depending on the number of your footwear, you may simply opt for plastic bags or large Ziploc bags. Just make sure that you seal them very well each time.

Keep Them Out of the Bedroom

To make sure that no bed bug will hide in your shoes, consider placing them away from the infestation. This means that it is a good idea to keep all of your shoes elsewhere, such as in the hallway or garage.

Also following the tip mentioned earlier, particularly the one that suggests placing your shoes in airtight plastic containers, can help considerably lower the risk of your footwear serving as excellent hiding places for those blood-sucking pests.

Sometimes, it’s not enough that you carry out a single tip for keeping bed bugs from hiding in your shoes.

There are cases in which doing two or more of them all at the same time can prove to be a smart move.

For instance, you may spray your shoes with bed bug-repelling essential oils, keep them in plastic containers, and then organize everything outside your bedroom to protect your shoes from bed bugs.

Getting Rid of Hiding Bed Bugs

Fret not if your shoes are already harboring some bed bugs.

That’s because there are certain steps that you may take to eliminate bed bugs hiding in them, thereby reducing the population of bed bugs residing in your bedroom.

Just like other all-natural home remedies for a bed bug infestation, it is a good idea to carry out these tips regularly…

Wash Them in Hot Water

Shoes out of synthetic materials such as polyester, polyurethane, PVC, and nylon can be washed in hot water, which is something that bed bugs cannot survive.

See to it that you wash your infested footwear in hot water for not less than 30 minutes. This is to make sure that every bed bug potentially hiding in your shoes will be killed. Refrain from washing in hot water shoes that are out of cotton, wool, suede, and leather.

Toss Your Shoes in the Dryer

If you don’t have the time to wash your bed bug-infested shoes in hot water, simply fling them into the dryer.

Again, it is a good idea to expose them to heat for at least 30 minutes to ensure that bed bugs, including the eggs that they may have laid in your footwear, will get eradicated.

Use a Steam Cleaner

There is another way to kill bed bugs in shoes using high temperatures without washing your footwear in hot water or drying them. It’s none other than getting your hands on a steam cleaner.

Never hold your shoes while steam cleaning them to avoid burning your hands. If you don’t own a steam cleaner and refuse to buy one, too, you may rent a unit.

However, be careful because it is possible for steam cleaners to harbor bed bugs, especially if they are usually rented by homeowners to deal with a bed bug infestation.

Suffocate or Starve Bed Bugs

Just like other living creatures, bed bugs cannot survive without air or food.

This is why you can kill those that are hiding in your shoes by placing your footwear in plastic bags and sealing them very well.

But because bed bugs may live for several months without feeding, consider speeding up the process by sprinkling diatomaceous earth in and on your shoes before locking them up in plastic bags.

Especially if the bed bug infestation is severe, you may have to carry out these tips several times to make sure that those bed bugs won’t multiply uncontrollably, to the point that the only remaining way to deal with the problem is by getting in touch with professional bed bug exterminators in your area.

Bed bugs will do anything and everything to keep their numbers up, and it includes hiding in places and items that you never thought that they could hide in.

Some of them are your shoes. Especially if you do not use your shoes regularly or you keep them under or near the bed, they can make for excellent bed bug hiding places.

If you are planning to deal with a bed bug infestation on your own, it’s not enough that you kill bed bugs hiding in your shoes. It is also a must that you keep your footwear from giving refuge to bed bugs.

To increase your success rate, follow the above-mentioned tips on protecting your shoes from bed bugs and killing those hiding in them.

Pro-tip: Did you know that one of the easiest ways to get rid of bed bugs is to use special powders? Check here if you want to know the best bed bug killer powders (safe for humans and pets) on Amazon.com now.

Photo credit: ©canva.com/jayfish

Wyatt Welch

Hi, I am Wyatt, and I live in North Carolina. I've been working as a Pest Control Technician and now I am enjoying my retirement. This blog is a perfect outlet for me to share my knowledge in the field and I'd be happy to help if you have any questions.

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