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Can You Get Bed Bugs From Patio Furniture?

Our neighbors had an outbreak of bed bugs in their pool house (don’t ask), and the critters got into their patio furniture cushions. So do bed bugs like to live in outdoor furniture and what can we do to keep them away (or get rid of them)?

The ideal home for bed bugs is one that has ready access to their food – human blood. So bed bugs can live on patio furniture, inside couches, pillows, dog beds, clothing, mattresses, bedding, your car seats, curtains, stuffed animals, shoes, and behind wallpaper. They can live almost anywhere.

Let’s dive down into the subject of bed bugs in patio furniture in more detail, and discover what types of outdoor furniture they like to live in, how to get rid of them when you’ve got them – and how to stop the critters getting in there in the first place…

Can Bed Bugs Live on Patio Furniture?

The bad news is, yes, bed bugs can live on your patio furniture. The good news is that they probably won’t want to.

The ideal home for bed bugs is one that has ready access to their food – human blood. They like to hang out near beds because they can have hours and hours of ready access to our blood, while we sleep. So, unless you spend upwards of eight hours sitting in your patio chairs, your bed is by far their preference.

Another reason that they won’t want to live on your patio is because bed bugs like the dark – the patio is too sunny. Also, more of their predators live outside. Bed bugs are pretty resistant to temperatures, but if your patio gets colder than 45°F or hotter than 113°F, they won’t like it too much.

So, yes, bed bugs can live on patio furniture, inside couches, pillows, dog beds, clothing, mattresses, bedding, your car seats, curtains, stuffed animals, shoes, behind wallpaper – in fact, they can live almost anywhere.

Grossed out yet? Here’s a disturbing article on bed bugs in patio furniture cushions. Yuck!

How Do I Get Rid of Bugs on My Outdoor Furniture?

Bed bugs have adapted amazingly well, which means that it is really hard to kill them.  You can try the following DIY methods, but ultimately, you may need professional help.

Remember that bed bugs are great hitchhikers, so be careful not to take your outdoor furniture problem inside.

If your cushion covers zip off, take them off and wrap them in a stout plastic bag to prevent any bugs falling out onto your floor. Then, put them in your washing machine on the hottest water setting. Afterwards, dry them in your dryer on hot for at least one half hour. 

For the patio furniture frames, use a stiff brush, credit card, screwdriver or putty knife to scrape all the cracks where the bugs might hang out, then vacuum up the bugs. Use a powerful shop vac to try to get the bugs – and their eggs – in between the pieces of the frame.

Another method of killing the bed bugs is to entomb them in paint. Consider refinishing your patio furniture with some spray paint. Be sure to spray every tiny hole and crack, so they can’t escape.

As a last resort, you can wait for them to die. Exterminators say bed bugs can live from three months up to a year without food. You can wrap your furniture tightly in plastic and simply wait for them to die. For a year – sigh. Then, carefully throw away the dead bugs.

Can Bed Bugs Live on Wicker?

Sorry, but yes, bed bugs like all the dark nooks and crannies of wicker. You can try cleaning up the wicker yourself, using the methods described in the previous section, or you may need professional help.

Some good bed bug DIY advice for most patio furniture is to entomb all those nasty bugs with a fresh coat of paint. Wicker is notoriously hard to paint, so be sure to give it several coats to cover all the details.

Can Bed Bugs Live on Hard Furniture?

Yup. Bed bugs are tiny. They can live on hard furniture in cracks, deep scratches and in between the furniture pieces. They have no preference between wood (natural or engineered) and metal. Most metal patio furniture is hollow, so the bed bugs can also find a nice safe home inside the metal.

Does Bamboo Furniture Attract Bed Bugs?

No, bamboo does not attract bed bugs – your body heat and your expelled carbon dioxide does that. In fact, some folks say that bamboo naturally repels most insects, including bed bugs.

Can Outdoor Cushions Get Bugs?

Yes, outdoor cushions are very vulnerable to infestations. Remember that bed bugs will love where you – their favorite meal – loves. So, if you routinely sit outside for hours, you should check your cushions for signs.

Here are the signs you may have a bed bug infestation in your cushions: deep red blood stains (from your blood), dark brown rusty spots (bed bug poop), itchy, inexplicable dark red skin rashes on you or your loved ones, and a strong moldy smell coming from the cushions or the seams of the cushions.

Here’s a video on how to look for bed bugs on a couch.

Do Certain Types of Fabric Attract Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are not attracted to certain types of fabrics – they are attracted to certain types of blood. Our blood. They find us through the heat of our bodies and the carbon dioxide we emit when we breathe out.

Bed bugs are called bed bugs because they have figured out that we humans will lie in one place for up to nine hours at a time. They can hide in cracks and seams around the bed – in the dark – and feast at will for up to nine hours a day.

What Outside Temperature Can Bed Bugs Live in? (Summer, Rain, Winter?)

Bed bugs can exist in some pretty cold and hot places. They can live in a temperature range from 45°F up to 113°F. 

Exterminators warn that it’s very difficult to freeze out bed bugs, even if you live in a cold climate. Below 45°F, bed bugs simply slow their metabolism, and they can survive up to a year. Studies showed that to freeze a bed bug to death, the temperature had to stay at 14°F for at least 3 consecutive days.

Bed bugs can die in hot temperatures – but your patio will have to be super hot. Bed bugs will die if they get to 122°F for 20 minutes or longer. But it’s not just the surfaces that have to reach that temperature – seams and crevices will too.

Can Bed Bugs Travel From My Patio to My House?

Bed bugs may be the ultimate hitchhikers of the galaxy. They can use humans, dogs, cats, cushions, socks, pants, pillows, luggage, hard furniture, clothing and more to hitch rides. They can survive up to four months without eating (some say up to a year), just waiting for a ride.

Can bed bugs live on patio furniture?
Can Bed Bugs Live on Patio Furniture?

Summary: How Can I Keep Bed Bugs Off Patio Furniture?

Although bed bugs won’t prefer your patio furniture, you may find some there. Yes, they are very gross, but don’t panic. Ultimately, you may need professional help, but there are some things you can try first. 

If you see you have bed bugs, you can dump your deep seating patio furniture and replace it with smooth, molded plastic – with no cushions. Be sure not to pass the infestation to someone else. Instead, enclose the old furniture tightly in plastic, then take it to the dump.

If you love deep seating patio furniture, make sure your cushions have zip off covers, so they can be washed and dried at high temperatures. Make a seasonal habit of washing the covers. If you store your cushions over the winter, store them in sealed bags and then examine the bags for dead bugs in the spring.

Vacuum your patio furniture routinely. Use a powerful shop vac to get into the seams and in between the pieces of furniture. When you have finished vacuuming, seal up the bag or shop vac contents tightly and put it in the trash.

Professional exterminators use steam to kill bed bugs, and you can DIY by renting a steamer. Be sure to keep pets and kids away and wear clothing to protect yourself from steam burns.

If you suspect you may have some bed bugs, spraying them with hydrogen peroxide may help, but it may also bleach your cushions. Try spraying a hidden area first and check for bleaching. 

Spritzing a dilute mixture of lavender or eucalyptus on your furniture can be a deterrent. You can DIY your own spray or Cutter makes some. Or, plant a few marigolds in patio pots and place them next to your furniture.

If you suspect that your patio furniture may have bed bugs, then your indoor furniture may too, thanks to their hitchhiking skills. To prevent an infestation in either or both areas, check them out routinely. 

To check for bed bugs inside your house, you will need a scraper (like a credit card, flat head screwdriver or plastic putty knife), a magnifying glass, a powerful vacuum, a flashlight, a white sheet and a pair of gloves. First, get the gloves on. Set the furniture on the white sheet. It will help you spot the “salt and pepper” of eggs and poop. 

Shine a flashlight on the seams of the furniture and scrape them out with the credit card onto the sheet. Examine the sheet for eggs, poop, live bed bugs and molted skins. Vacuum up anything you find.

Here are the top ten tips from the EPA to prevent or control bed bugs.

Anyway, I hope all this helps you. I’ve got to stop writing now as this subject is giving me the creeps! 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >