Bed bugs can give you sleepless nights worrying about how to get rid of them.
As the tiny bugs love to hide, most people are not even aware of the problem until they’ve been bitten by the bed bugs. Small patches of red spots in a pattern and itchiness are the classic signs of bed bug bites.
Treating bed bug bites is not the solution. You need to deal with the root of the problem – the bed bugs.
Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to eradicate quickly. This is because they tend to hide during the daytime in the corners of the bed as well as in the cracks and crevices in your house, hard-to-reach furniture corners, headboards, picture frames and electrical outlet plates.
At nighttime, they come out of their hiding places and start feeding on the blood of humans as well as pets.
It is important to control the growth of bed bugs as soon as you realize that they are in your house, or else they will start multiplying more and more.
Hiring a professional for bed bug control is expensive and not a feasible solution for many. But you can get rid of bed bugs in your home with some hard work, diligence and patience. Then, you can take steps to prevent them from coming back. However, in case of a heavy infestation, you may need professional help.
Here are some tips to prevent and control bed bugs.
1. Examine Your Bed Carefully
Bedrooms are the principal location for bed bugs, so you need to start searching for the tiny bugs in the bedrooms first. Also, search any other places where people sleep, like your sofa set.
Carefully inspect the mattress, box spring and bed frame. If you notice bed bugs, there is no need to throw your bed away.
Vacuuming the area thoroughly can remove many adult bed bugs and nymphs, but it isn’t very effective at removing eggs; for that you will have to wash the bedding. After vacuuming up the suspected bed bugs from the bed, take your vacuum cleaner outdoors to remove and discard the bag.
Once done, isolate your bed from the rest of the house, then thoroughly examine the room. If needed, use an interceptor, a sticky card that is placed under a bed post and works as a great trap for bed bugs.
2. Check Other Places
Once you are done with your bed and bedroom, it’s time to focus on other areas where bed bugs may be hiding.
Use a flashlight and credit card to search out bed bugs. Simply move the card along cracks and crevices in your house to push out the bugs.
- Check all furniture pieces and anything that has a cushion. Do not forget to check any recessed screw holes in a dresser or other furniture.
- Carefully check all cracks and crevices around windows, outlets, blinds, pictures, posters and clocks on walls, baseboards and so on.
- Do not forget to check under the edges of carpets and any other crevices or void areas in the room.
You can use hot soapy water to wipe up the bugs, blood stains, droppings, eggs and shed skins off your furniture.
3. Clean Up the Clutter
To prevent bed bugs from returning, you need to reduce the number of places where they can hide. In fact, a cluttered home is a more comfortable place for bed bugs to live. Also, cluttered areas can be hard to treat.
Clean your house regularly and discard anything that you do not need. Avoid throwing unused things in your storeroom, though. Less clutter also means you can clean and vacuum your house more conveniently.
If using a canister vacuum, immediately empty the contents into a plastic bag, seal it and throw it away in a garbage can that can be sealed tightly. Then, clean the vacuum thoroughly. If you are using a vacuum with a bag, immediately remove the bag and seal it in plastic for disposal.
If possible, discard low-value, stuffed furniture that is infested and too difficult to treat.
4. Wash Your Bedding Regularly
Change and wash your bedsheets and blankets regularly. In fact, any fabric curtains or clothes that touch the floor should be washed on a regular basis.
Use the highest temperature the fabric can withstand for washing and drying. If washing is not recommended for a particular item, dry it for 30 minutes at the highest temperature the item can withstand.
As bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry hampers, it is highly recommended to clean them also when you do the laundry.
If you can’t wash everything right away, collect the linens and dirty clothes and seal them in plastic bags until they can be washed to reduce the chance of spreading bed bugs.
5. Use Heat or Steam
You can use heat to kill bed bugs. Bed bugs die when exposed to temperature a temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes or 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
But for this, raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters is not effective. To kill bed bugs, you need special equipment and very high temperatures.
However, one simple technique is using black plastic bags. When you pack an infested item in a black plastic bag and keep it in the sun for several hours, the contents will become hot enough and the bed bugs will die.
Another good option is steam. Use a commercial steamer to treat the carpet and upholstery. However, you must keep in mind that the surface temperature of the object being treated should be 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit immediately after the steam brush has passed.
Be very careful when using steam, as it can easily cause burns.
6. Use the Freezing Technique
The freezing technique is effective at killing bed bugs, but the temperature must remain very low for a long time. This is why home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bed bugs if you frequently open them.
To make freezing effective, put items in the freezer for at least four days. Also, the temperature should be lower than 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another important point to keep in mind is that you must be careful about what you freeze, as freezing may cause damage.
7. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth works as a great solution to prevent as well as treat a bed bug infestation. It is the fossilized remains of aquatic organisms called diatoms.
This fine, porous, white to off-white powder works as a natural insecticide. Its particles have sharp, microscopic edges that cut through the exoskeleton of the bed bugs, thus dehydrating and ultimately killing them.
Sprinkle a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on the infested furniture, along moulding, windowsills, any cracks or crevices, behind electrical face plates, around the 4 legs of your bed and the joints, etc.
For easy application, you can use a shaker or applicator to sprinkle diatomaceous earth on bed bug infested areas.
Note: Although filter-grade diatomaceous is considered best for getting rid of bed bugs, you can use the food-grade variety which is safer to use around humans as well as pets. Make sure you wear a mask before dusting diatomaceous dust around your house as it shouldn’t get in your lungs.
- Before you start following the tips to control bed bugs, be sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects.
- Don’t panic. Although it takes work to eliminate bed bugs, it’s not impossible.
- There is no need to throw out all of your things, and if you donate them, you will only be spreading the bed bugs to other people’s homes.
- Use interceptor cups under your bed posts to keep track of your success with bed bug control.
- Do not use pesticides meant for garden or agricultural use to kill bed bugs.
- Avoid using products that claim to be “custom formulated” or products purchased from someone without a license.
- To kill bed bugs, deny them their major source of food – you and your family. Get your house treated with some commercial product and go on a vacation.
- It is also important to treat any animals infested with bed bugs.
- To treat bed bug bites, use witch hazel on the affected area.
- If you live in a rented apartment or condominium, it’s best to alert the property manager.
- After travelling, treat or isolate your bagged items properly.
- A dry heat treatment is an effective method of controlling bed bugs, but this treatment should be conducted by a pest management professional.
- For heavy infestations, you may need to hire a professional. Look for one that offers integrated pest management to limit your contact with pesticides.