While bed bugs tend to live up to their name, you can primarily find them in bedrooms near their food source (they feed blood), people find bed bugs in strange places too. For example, it is not completely uncommon to find bed bugs in bathrooms or laundry rooms.
In this article, we’ll explain why you might find a bed bug in your bathroom and what you should do about it. If you have a specific question, you can skip ahead via our table of contents. If you have questions we don’t answer in this article, contact us here or ask in the comments at the end of this article and we’ll get back to you.
Why do people find bed bugs in bathrooms?
Bed bugs prefer to live close to their food source, normally sleeping, humans. This is how they earned their names. Since bed bugs stick close to their food source, more often than not, they don’t wander too far from bedrooms once they associate a bedroom with a free meal.
Some people, however, out of desperation when dealing with bed bug infestations, have tried sleeping in their bathrooms. This is likely because they noticed there were previously no bedbugs in the bathroom.
When people try sleeping in their bathrooms, it’s not long before active bedbug infestations find their way into the bathroom where the humans related. In such situations, the only way to get bed bugs out of your bathroom is to address the entire bed bug infestation (meaning you need to eradicate the whole apartment or house)
If you live on the top floor and are finding bed bugs in your bathroom during the day, you might be dealing with bat bugs. So when you call a pest inspector, let them know that you found the bed bugs during the day and on the top floor. Those are two relevant pieces of information for them.
Finding bed bugs in an apartment bathroom
If you live in a multistory apartment and find bed bugs in your apartment bathroom, but no evidence of them elsewhere, it might be that the tenant above or below you has a serious bed bug infestation. Apartment floorplans are often set up such that they are directly on top of one another.
This means that if the person below or above you has a serious bed bug infestation, the bed bugs might work their way up (or down) to you via ductwork or wall cavities. If you suspect this might be the case, please notify your landlord immediately and explain to them this possibility. They should promptly have your place and your neighboring apartments inspected.
Do bed bugs live in bathrooms or are they just exploring?
Assuming a building is not suffering a massive bed bug infestation, bed bugs wouldn’t live inside a bathroom unless humans were sleeping in the bedroom. As we discussed above, if humans regularly sleep in bathrooms, however, bed bugs may follow humans from the bedroom to the bathroom, and end up living wherever they can hide within the bathroom.
Another cause of bedbugs in your bathroom could be that they were on you (in your hair or clothing) and fell off as you disrobed or showered. Likewise, sometimes bed bugs remain on your clothing after a nap or sleeping. If you change clothes and toss them into a dirty clothes hamper in your bathroom, the bedbugs will likely eventually wander out of the clothes bin into your bathroom.
If this were the case, though, you will typically notice other signs of bedbug activity like their residue or bite marks. This is not always the case though. Some folks don’t feel or notice bed bug bites and bed bug fecal matter can be small enough that people don’t notice it either.
Where are bedbugs normally found when people find them in bedrooms?
Bed bugs are tiny and can hide in any crack or crevices in your bathrooms, but they tend to be found in certain places more than others. These include the following places:
- Bathroom sinks: When bed bugs are detected in bathrooms, it’s fairly common to find them inside bathroom sinks.
- Bathroom electrical outlets: Bed bugs will also commonly hide in electrical outlets.
- Bathroom drains: Though bed bugs don’t do well in water (they drown easily), they’ll attempt to hide in the darkness of bathroom drains.
- Bathtubs: Sometimes people find bed bugs in their bathtubs. This can be because they fell in while crawling nearby and couldn’t climb back out.
- Tile and wall cracks: Bed bugs can fit into the tiny cracks between bathroom tile and the cracks between your wall and flood (or baseboard).
- Folded towels or washcloths: Bed bugs will hide inside the folds of towels or washcloths if they can too.
- Toilet paper tolls: Bed bugs are so small they can even hide inside toilet paper rolls.
- Ceiling: You can find bedbugs on bathroom ceilings, though this is less common because ceilings don’t offer bedbugs very good concealment (they prefer to remain hidden in dark cracks or crevices).
What to do if you find bed bugs in your bathroom
Unless you regularly sleep in your bathroom, finding bed bugs there likely indicates you have a significant bed bug infestation elsewhere in your home. If you are sleeping in your bathroom to avoid bed bugs in your bedroom, then you already know you have a bed bug problem.
Bed bugs are tiny and can wiggle their way into tiny spaces and holes. To make matters worse, they can go long periods of time between feeding on your blood. Finally, even if you exterminate all bed bugs but miss a few, those few bed bugs you missed can reproduce and expose you to a repeat infestation.
For your own peace of mind, it’s usually best to contact a pest control professional if bed bugs have spread to the point where you observe them in your bathroom. Try to capture one in a plastic bag. You can snap a photo of it and send it to a pest pro or have them come take a look. Meanwhile, you can try putting drain plugs in your bathtub and bathroom while their not in use (just in case bed bugs are migrating from an adjacent apparent through the drain pipes).
A pest control professional will conduct a thorough inspection, determine if you’re dealing with bed bugs or bat bugs in your bathroom (they can look similar), and help you determine the next steps. If you want to learn more about typical bed bug removal processes, we cover that here.
Frequently Asked Questions about bed bugs in bathrooms
Will a shower or bath remove bed bugs?
Yes. Showering or bathing will remove bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t live on you the way lice can live in your head or ticks on your skin. Bed bugs feed on your blood and hide out and live nearby where you sleep (often around your bed and bedroom).
Can bed bugs travel through plumbing into my bathroom?
Yes. Bed bugs can travel through electrical conduits, wall voids, and some plumbing (though they don’t handle water well). This means bed bugs can travel from adjacent rooms or apartments into the room that you find them in. When bed bugs travel through plumbing, it’s usually via drain piping.
Can you get bed bugs from a toilet seat?
Yes. Though not as likely as getting bed bugs from luggage or used clothing, bed bugs can hide in or around toilets. It is possible for them to sneak onto your clothing while you’re using the toilet and to hide on your clothing until you get home. It only takes a few unnoticed bed bugs to turn into an infestation.