How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Shoes? 7 Most Effective Ways

Find out how bed bugs get into your shoes and how long they can live there, and check out the different methods to get rid of them.
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
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Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: August 20, 2023
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Bed bugs prefer to hide in beds just so they can be as close as possible to their food at night. However, just because there is a ‘bed’ in their name doesn’t mean they can only thrive in your bedding. The little creeps can hide and thrive anywhere that is secluded and dark, like cracks, crevices, furniture, clothes, and shoes. If you don’t wear your shoes often, bed bugs may find a home in them.

This article has a detailed guideline on how to get rid of bedbugs in shoes. Thanks to all the solutions available, a bed bug infestation is not a permanent problem. Subjecting them to high heat is one of the most effective ways of getting rid of the little blood suckers. You can throw your infested shoes in the washer and wash at high heat depending on their material or toss them in the dryer at high temperatures.

Signs of Bed Bugs in Your Shoes

The good thing about bed bugs is that they are not microscopic and can get noticed easily. According to a Healthline Trusted Source Can You See Bedbugs: Size, Identification, Removal, Prevention Adult bedbugs are visible to the human eye. They're about the size of an apple seed and reddish-brown in color. Learn how to identify these unwelcome critters, how to get rid of them, and how to avoid bringing them into your home. article about bed bugs, only young bed bugs are not visible to the naked eye. You will know your shoes are infested if;

  • You see a bed bug or two (brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped insect) crawling out of your shoes.
  • You see bed bug eggs on your shoes’ surface. The eggs are like milky white grains.
  • Your shoes have a musty smell.
  • Your shoes have stains. Small brown dots on your shoes may be bed bugs’ feces.

How Can Bed Bugs Get into Your Shoes?

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Shoes? 7 Most Effective WaysBed bugs are tiny blood-sucking critters always looking for a warm new host. Every time you are around people, you risk picking up bed bugs. If you sit next to a person who has a bed bug infestation at the office, subway, or any other public place, you risk picking up a few because chances are high that they have some on their clothes.

You may also visit a home or hotel infested with bed bugs, and they can easily travel from the carpet or furniture to your shoes. If you have fabric shoes on, bed bugs are likely to hitch a ride on them than leather shoes.

The bugs have tiny hooks on their feet that help them latch onto fabric. They cannot grip on leather easily but can attach to laces or seams on leather shoes.

Can Bed Bugs Live in Shoes, and How Long?

If you wear your shoes often, bed bugs cannot live in them because, unlike fleas, they don’t like a moving host. Plus, if there is one of the two-bed bugs inside your shoes, you are likely to crush them or shake them off when wearing them.

However, if you go ages without wearing your shoes, bed bugs can find a home in them. The pesky critters have requirements for an ideal habitat, and shoes check all the boxes;

  • The hiding spot must be near a constant source of food, where you sleep. If the shoes are 6 feet within your bed’s reach, then the bed bugs will gladly make a home in them.
  • The harborage has to be dark. Shoes underneath the bed or in the wardrobe are suitably dark for bed bugs’ hiding.
  • The harborage must have cracks and crevices where the bugs can hide. The gap between your shoe’s insole and its body can be the perfect hiding place for bed bugs.

7 Most Effective Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Shoes

Having a bed bug infestation is super-creepy and scary, but there are myriad effective methods of eliminating them completely. The top recommended methods include;

#1. Put Your Shoes in the Washer

The most effective way of killing bed bugs in shoes is by washing them in the washing machine and then drying them in the dryer. Many people assume shoes are not machine washable. Depending on the material, you can wash shoes in the washing machine. Nylon, Polyester, PVC, Cotton, rubber, plastic, and polyurethane are all machine washable. Only leather and suede are not machine washable. Also, if your shoes have satin or silk embellishments, avoid throwing them in the washer.

The bottom line is, bed bugs will not survive in the washing machine. They will drown in the water, plus, you can get your washing machine up to a certain heat to kill the bed bugs.

Before throwing your shoes in the washer;

  • Check that the manufacturer recommends laundering them.
  • Scrub any loose dirt away and put the shoes in a mesh laundry bag to prevent them from getting damaged. The mesh laundry bag also prevents the shoe laces from snagging and coming loose or tearing. An empty-tied-up pillowcase can act as a mesh laundry bag if you don’t have one.
  • Put the shoes in the washing machine together with some clothes and towels to avoid banging inside the drum.
  • Hit the hot setting on your machine for at least one hour to kill all the bed bugs.

After the washing session is one, remove the shoes from the mesh laundry bag or tied pillowcase and see if you can spot the dead bed bugs.

#2: Put Your Shoes in the Dryer

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Shoes? 7 Most Effective WaysIf you can’t stand the thought of laundering your infested shoes, try putting them in the dryer. The dryer will kill the bed bugs the same way a washing machine would without water. The bed bugs would not survive the high temperature in the dryer.

To avoid damaging your shoes in the dryer, you can line their inside with towels or other fabrics. You can also put them in a shoe bag and then hang them on the dryer door to prevent banging when the drum cycles.

#3: Use Cold Treatment

A cold treatment is another sure way of killing bed bugs. An article by the University of Minnesota Trusted Source Using Freezing Conditions to Kill Bed Bugs | Let's Beat the Bed Bug! names cold treatment as one of the effective ways of getting rid of bed bugs. Put your shoes in sealable bags then put them in the deep freezer for 48 hours or more. Remove the shoes and check for dead bed bugs. If you suspect some are still alive, repeat the process.

#4. Apply Professional Bed Bug Heat Treatment

According to a research paper by the Department of Entomology in Virginia Trusted Source , heat is the most effective bed bug control method. It can be used in different ways; for instance, heat in the form of steam would be ideal for treating infestations in carpets, and upholstered furniture. You can consider paying for heat treatment which is one of the best effective methods of getting rid of bed bugs. The professional will come with special equipment that can heat the entire house up to 122 degrees.

The treatment takes quite some time as it takes several hours to get to such high temperatures in the entire house.

You can also buy the bed bug heater and do the heat treatment yourself. According to popular reviews, the Dr Infrared Heater DR-122 Bedbug Heater is one of the best bedbug heaters that money can buy. It features a reliable heating system that can reach the required 120 to 155 degrees F in a matter of minutes. Plus, it can treat a large area in one go.

#5. Bag the Shoes

This may not be the most effective method of killing bed bugs, but it helps reduce the size of the infestation. You can take your infested shoes and put them in a sealed plastic bag until they die. The only downside is that bed bugs take a long time to die. They can go up to a year without food and sufficient air.

The only conditions that kill bed bugs are extreme heat and cold. If you isolate the bed bugs in the sealed bug during summer, and the temperature inside hits 122 degrees, the majority of them would die. The same would happen on extremely cold winter nights. You would have to let your shoes sit in the sealed bag for a long time for the extreme temperatures to take effect.

#6. Use Diatomaceous Earth

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Shoes? 7 Most Effective WaysDiatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder made with fossilized sea life. Although it is soft to the touch, it features microscopic jagged edges that can easily pierce bed bugs’ shell, exposing them to dehydration and eventual death.

The only downside of diatomaceous earth is its inability to kill bed bugs eggs. Therefore, you have to combine it with another effective bed bug control method that kills the eggs. Use the powder duster included in the diatomaceous earth to apply the powder all over your shoes.

#7. Pesticide Sprays

You can call a pest control professional to spray your entire house with an appropriate pesticide to clear your bed bug infestation or do it yourself. However, pesticides are not the most effective bed bug control anymore because they have developed immunity over time. According to an article by BBC Trusted Source , a new study indicates that bed bugs have developed resistance to the most widely used insecticides in the world.

If you have no idea where to get an effective pesticide for killing bed bugs, consider the popular EcoRaider bed bug killer. It is highly acclaimed as the only natural product that kills bed bugs with 100% efficacy. It kills bed bugs in all stages and is child and pet safe.

How to Prevent Bed Bug Infestation and Hiding in Shoes

Preventing a bed bug infestation is better than treating one. Here are ways of making your shoes less ideal for bed bugs’ harboring.

Wear the shoes more often: Bed bugs cannot withstand a lot of movement. If you wear your shoes often, you reduce the chances of the little critters making a home in them. Plus, you would literally squish bed bugs with your feet if there are any in your shoes.

Use essential oils: Bed bugs find essential oils like lavender, citronella, clove, lemon grass, cinnamon, and sweet orange repulsive. Another plus, is that your shoes will get deodorized by the essential oil’s fragrance and your feet would never stink.

Keep them away from the bedroom: As mentioned before, bed bugs will only harbor near their source of food. Shoes are ideal hiding spots, especially if they are near the bed. Keep your shoes elsewhere, like in the garage or hallway.

Place the shoes in airtight plastic containers: Stashing your shoes in a sealable plastic container, whether already infested or not is a great idea. It will prevent the bugs from coming in and out of the shoes.

The video below contains the most important things you should know about bed bugs before dealing with them.

Final Thoughts

Besides the bed, bed bugs can live and thrive in other spaces provided they are conducive and are close to a food source. If you have shoes under your bed or in your wardrobe in the bedroom, bed bugs are likely to make a home in them. We have provided all the pro tips on how to get rid of bed bugs in shoes. Of all the methods we have highlighted, heat treatment is the most effective.

You can call pest control professionals to help you eliminate an entire bed bug infestation in your home. You can just deal with the shoes infestation and ignore that the blood-sucking critters are probably reproducing and multiplying elsewhere in your home. After clearing the infestation, ensure you employ preventive measures to avoid a future infestation.


Can You See Bedbugs: Size, Identification, Removal, Prevention
Adult bedbugs are visible to the human eye. They're about the size of an apple seed and reddish-brown in color. Learn how to identify these unwelcome critters, how to get rid of them, and how to avoid bringing them into your home.
Using Freezing Conditions to Kill Bed Bugs | Let
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