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How to get rid of bed bugs

How to get rid of bed bugs

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs: A Complete Guide

Just the mention of bed bugs can make some people’s skin crawl. Those who have woken up with itching, red bite marks on your body only to find out you’ve been infested and bitten by bedbugs, know how awful bed bugs are. While many associate bed bugs with big cities, the truth is bed bugs can appear anywhere. In fact, 20% of Americans have dealt with an infestation or know someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or during a hotel stay. Bed bugs are difficult to eradicate and can cause problems for months. In this guide, we will review the basics of bed bugs, how to tell if you have bed bugs, and some advice on how to get rid of bed bugs.

 

What Kind Of Insect is A Bed Bug?

A bed bug is a parasitic insect that feeds on the blood of mammals. The common bed bug primarily feeds on human blood, but they will also bite animals like cats, dogs, rodents, and birds. Bed bug nymphs, which are immature forms, look like adults but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs can move quickly across floors, walls, ceilings, and other surfaces but cannot fly or leap like fleas. Even without the ability to fly or leap, their speed makes them highly contagious. 

Bed bug on bed

People often wonder where bed bugs come from and why they ended up with a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are “hitchhikers” and are transported via luggage, clothing, furniture, and other belongings. Although catching bed bugs on the road is unlikely, it’s still smart to take some basic measures just in case. Infestations of bed bugs are common in hotels and other lodgings because of the ease with which the insects may hitchhike on human skin and other items. There are seldom ever any of them in the air, on trains, or in cars. Take care to prevent spreading bed bugs if you have them at home and want to travel.

Diagnosing The Problem

One of the reasons why bed bugs are such a threat is that they can go a year without food. This means that bed bugs can stick around for a long time, if the infestation is not treated as soon as possible. The insects may sometimes be confused for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles, or other domestic insects. Before seeking treatments from a pest control company, or trying a DIY method, make sure that bed bugs are the actual culprit of the infestation. If you aren’t sure if the insects are bed bugs, a pest control specialist can help identify them. 

Diagnosing bed bug infestation

In some cases, those with bed bugs might never see the bed beds. Without bed bugs or other indications of an infestation, it might be difficult to determine whether you have been bitten by a bed bug. This is because the bugs inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant into the victim’s bloodstream when they bite, making it difficult to feel the bite. When bite marks start to develop one to several days following the original bite, the majority of individuals only then recognize they have been bitten. 

How To Tell If I Have Bed Bugs?

Bite marks from bed bugs are similar to those left by fleas or mosquitos. The bite marks will be swollen, red, itching, and uncomfortable. Often, might be haphazard or in a line. In addition to these signs, bed bug bites may also cause sleeplessness, anxiety, and skin issues from excessive itching. Everyone reacts to bed bug bites differently, therefore some may not have any symptoms at all or show any outward indicators of being bitten, such as bite marks. 

Other individuals may be allergic to bed bugs and may suffer negative effects from bed insect bites. In rare cases, anaphylaxis may occur as a result of these symptoms. Visit the nearest emergency room if you are experiencing anaphylaxis from a bed bug bite. It is important to note that bed bugs do not cause or spread disease. However, bites can get infected. 

 

Identify Infested Areas

As bed bugs are very small, they can be difficult to see but there are some common signs of a  bed bug infestation. The telltale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping are among the simplest methods to spot a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are also nocturnal. In the daytime, they conceal themselves in areas like the seams of mattresses, within cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other mess or items near a bed. 

Bed bugs on a mattress

When evaluating if bed bugs have infested an area, it is necessary to check for additional signs since these bite marks may take up to 14 days to emerge in some individuals.

  • Visible bed bugs in the folds of mattresses, sheets, furniture, and fabric-covered surfaces
  • Exoskeletons of bed bugs that have just molted
  • A sweet musty smell in rooms where bugs are present
  • Rust-colored blood stains from their excreted blood-filled feces on the mattress or close-by furniture

As soon as you experience the signs listed above, it is vital to call a pest control company as soon as possible to prevent the bed bugs from spreading. As the name suggests, bed bugs are found in mattresses and fabric-covered furniture. Common locations where bed bugs are found include apartments, shelters, hotels, cruise ships, buses, railroads, and dorm rooms. Studies have shown that 95% of the bed bug infestation will be within five feet of your bed

Prepare For Bed Bug Treatments

Once it’s been determined you are dealing with a bed bug infestation, you must prepare for bed bug treatment. Before doing that, you must decide if you want to call a professional pest control company that will use pesticides. Or if you will choose a DIY method like store bought “bug bombs” or pesticides or all-natural method of killing the bed bugs.

Prepare for bed bug treatments

While there is no harm in trying DIY or all-natural methods, it is best to get in touch with a specialist as soon as you discover bed bugs since, unfortunately, natural remedies are seldom 100% successful. Also, “bug bombs” contain numerous chemicals that when mixed together can lead to explosions, harmful chemical inhalation, and chemical burns. 

Whatever method you are choosing to get rid of bed bugs, the best way to prepare for treatment is to thoroughly clean your home and remove any items where you can actually see the insects. When having a professional extermination service treat your home for bed bugs, it is possible you might have to leave for a few hours. Make arrangements for yourself, children, and pets ahead of time to avoid exposure to pesticides. 

Keep The Infestation From Spreading

Once bed bugs enter your home, they may quickly spread from one room to another. With the right conditions, they can multiply rapidly and spread quickly. You must act immediately and eliminate bed bugs before they spread and make the situation worse. It is important to know how you can control bed bugs to keep the infestation from spreading. Below are things that you can take to prevent bed bugs from spreading into other rooms. 

Prevent bed bug infestation

Move Your Bed 

  • Make sure the bed, frame, and headboard are free of any bed insects, larvae, or eggs.
  • Place your bed at least 6 inches from the wall.
  • Put bed-bug-proof coverings or protectors on your mattress and boxspring and store in another location.
  • Remove all bedding.
  • Remove all items from underneath the bed and store away from other items. 
  • Place any items removed from underneath the bed in a bed-bug-proof covering or protector.

Clean Items in the Infested Area 

  • Clean all items removed with heat, if possible. Put them in the dryer on high for 30 minutes. Store cleaned items in a plastic bag.
  • Clean and remove curtains and curtain rods.
  • Thoroughly vacuum, then take out and discard the vacuum bag, or clean the vacuum canister with hot water.

Check Bed Bug Hiding Places 

  • Check baseboards and crevices in walls for signs of bed bugs. If bugs are present, cover and caulk accordingly. 
  • Make sure the wallpaper is not loose and repair any wallboard damage. 
  • Look for signs of bed bugs in wall switches and electrical outlets. If necessary, clean. 
  • Caulk or tape around the outlets. 

Kill the Bed Bugs

Wash sheets and bedding

Like we mentioned above, the best way to kill bed bugs is to call a professional exterminator. This is especially important if it is a severe infestation. However, in the instances of less severe infestations, a DIY at-home method to kill the bed bugs can be just as effective at a fraction of the cost. Here are some of these you can try out. 

Hairdryer

Heat kills bed bugs

Extreme heat is one of the most effective ways to kill bed bugs. Take a hairdryer on its hottest heat setting but lowest airflow setting and aim the hot air on any area where bed bugs might be hiding. After 30 seconds of continuous heat, the bugs should be dead. This method is great for books and papers that cannot be placed in the dryer.

Clothes Dryer 

Dryer helps remove bed bugs

If you have stuffed animals or other small fabric items that cannot be washed, placing them in the dryer on its highest setting for 30 minutes can help to reduce and remove bed bugs and their eggs from the items.

Steam Cleaning 

Steam cleaning

If you have a steamer at your disposal you can use it to kill bed bugs. This method uses water, heated to 150°F to kill and drive out bed bugs from cracks, crevices, and soft furniture. Be careful as heated steam can ruin the finish on some furniture items.

Bed Bug Heaters

Bed bug heater

There are special bed bug heating devices that you can purchase on pest control websites that can kill bed bugs. You can use them with attachments to create a tent oven that will help to kill bed bugs that have infested papers, books, bedding, clothes, and shoes.

Place Infested Items in the Freezer

Freeze infested items

Cold temperatures will kill bed bugs. To do this, place your bed bug infested items in a bag and place it in a freezer. It is best to not use near food items. The temperature needs to be at zero degrees and the items need to be placed in the freezer for four days to fully kill the bed bugs.

Interceptors 

Interceptors for bed frames

Interceptors are dual-well cups that are placed under the feet of bed frames. These items have a dual-well that not only prevents bed bugs from crawling up furniture but catches them sort of like glue traps. To ensure that the treatment works, you will need to keep the bed and bedding away from floors and walls.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth

This is a powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms that naturally contain silica. This product works by using its sharp edges to cut the insect allowing the silica to get inside and dry them out. You can spread diatomaceous earth around in the seams of your mattress and along the rails of box springs without being worried about harsh chemicals. Try to keep the substance away from children and animals so that they don’t ingest it.

Silica Gel

Silica gel

Often found inside of newly purchased clothing packages or shoes, these little packets are filled with silicon dioxide which is essentially porous sand that works to absorb moisture. This method works by opening the packets and spreading the powder in cracks and crevices; however, be careful about where you put this substance because it can be harmful to children and small animals!

Certain Pesticides

Pesticides against bed bugs

There are certain pesticides that you can purchase at stores that will kill bed bugs. Make sure to research them properly before purchasing and follow directions before using the pesticides in your home. 

Remember, that none of these methods are 100% effective. If you still see signs of bed bugs after any of these methods, call a professional. 

 

Evaluate And Prevent Future Bed Bugs

Preventing bed bugs is impossible. It is also difficult to tell where the bed bug infestation originated and the source of how they ended up in your home.  However, there are a few things you can do to prevent future bed bugs. 

Reduce Clutter 

Clutter on a mattress

Even the smallest amounts of clutter can be a magnet for bed bugs. Bed bugs are naturally solitary and nesting parasites, so although these seemingly little accumulations of cluttered items may not seem like a concern at first glance, they may prove to be a major problem in the long run. Clothing, mattresses, bags, and curtains are common places where bed bugs nest.

Vacuum Daily

Vacuuming home

The overwhelming revulsion you feel from having a bed bug infestation in your life might lead to paranoia and an obsession with cleanliness which can lead to excessive cleaning. While cleaning too much won’t prevent bed bugs from, daily vacuuming helps eliminate any lingering pests and picks up any eggs that may have fallen to the floor.

Use Protective Mattress Covers 

Bug proof mattress cover

Using a bed bug proof mattress cover is an excellent way to prevent the bugs getting into your mattress, if your home is infested. Make sure to apply the seal correctly to properly encase your mattress. Having a protective mattress cover will prevent you from having to throw away your mattress 

Keep Your Mattress Away From Walls

Mattress away from the wall

Placing your mattress and bed away from the wall is another way to prevent bed bugs. Keeping your mattress away from the wall makes it difficult for bed bugs to enter your mattress. 

Do Not Purchase Second Hand Furniture 

Old furniture

Though a lower price is always appealing, it’s smarter to either pay full price or visit a reliable vendor of gently used furnishings. This is due to the fact that bed bugs may thrive in almost any kind of upholstered furniture. Buying an unknowingly infested item will end up costing much more than buying a new piece of furniture from the start. 

 

Finding A Professional

Professional exterminator

Finding a professional extermination company to help kill the bed bug infestation in your home or other property might sound like a daunting task. There are many local resources available to help you find the right professional for the job. You can easily find an extermination or pest removal company by searching online. Find local extermination companies here or visit the EPA’s local resources for bed bug assistance

 

FAQ

Can you get rid of bedbugs on your own?

You can get rid of bed bugs on your own using some more natural methods mentioned above such as steam and pesticides approved for home use. 

Where do bed bugs hide? 

Bed bugs can hide anywhere in your home. Bed bugs hide in concealed areas like mattresses, sheets, walls, furniture, and outlets. Also, make sure to double check any other fabric in your home for an infestation such as drapes, clothing, blankets, and dirty laundry. 

What to avoid with bed bugs?

The best thing to avoid with bed bugs is prevent the infestation from spreading to other items and rooms of your home. You can do this by cleaning the area and sealing up cracks where bugs can enter. 

How can you tell if you have a bed bug infestation?

You can tell if you have a bed bug infestation by the following signs: 

  • Bed bugs are clearly visible in the crevices of beds, sheets, furniture, and other fabric-covered surfaces. 
  • Bed bug exoskeletons that have just undergone a molt 
  • Bug-infested spaces have a pleasant musty odor. 
  • Bloody, rust-colored streaks on the mattress or nearby furnishings

What attracts bed bugs to your home?

There is not a single thing that attracts bed bugs to your home. However, there are a few things that make it more comfortable for them including:

  • Warm temperatures
  • Presence of animals 
  • Cracks in pavement and foundation
  • Excessive clutter
  • Dirty laundry 

 

Summary

There is no way to fully prevent a bed bug infestation but with the tips mentioned above, if the unfortunate event happens, you will likely be more prepared. Remember, that it is best to enlist the help of a professional when dealing with bed bugs. Not all cases of bed bugs result in having to purchase a new mattress. If you do need to buy a new mattress after bed bugs, SleePare can help! Visit our website to learn more about buying a mattress from SleePare. 

 

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Emily Stringer

Emily Stringer


Emily Stringer is a Content Writer at SleePare. Emily has over five years of experience writing and conducting research for different industries. When she’s not writing, you can find Emily with her dogs in Lexington, Kentucky.