No one wants a bed bug infestation but the truth is, they happen even in the cleanest of homes. It’s easier than you think to pick up unwanted stowaways at a hotel, a friend’s house, or even the Laundromat then inadvertently bring nasty bed bugs back to your home. The bugs are so small they’re difficult to spot and in many cases, homeowners don’t realize they have a problem until waking up with red bumps or welts.
The typical bed bug is about the size of an apple seed and is brown or red in color. They’re most often found in dark, fabric-contained spaces such as in furniture, in clothes, and in mattresses. They’re usually identified by tiny blood spots left in bedding or by their tell-tale bite marks on skin and unfortunately, most people have no idea how to get rid of bed bugs properly.
Dealing With Bed Bugs Yourself
Bed bug infestations are of the most difficult to treat of any pest problem. In most cases, pest professionals should be called in immediately to ensure the problem is treated completely and quickly, before it has time to spread.
If you’ve noticed signs of bed bugs in your home, there are a few things you should do right away:
- Clean all fabric surfaces (clothes, pillows, stuffed animals, curtains) in the affected room with very hot water and dry on the highest dryer setting.
- Use a hard brush to loosen bed bug eggs from your mattress then vacuum the area multiple times. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately.
- Buy a plastic mattress bag or cover that seals completely. Cover the mattress for at least one year (bed bugs can live a long time without food!) to ensure no bed bugs get in or out.
Online you’ll find tons of home remedies for getting rid of bed bugs, some more effective than others. Some say they’ve had mixed success applying a paste of alcohol and baking soda to the affected areas while others swear by steam cleaning the items in question. If possible, putting your mattress in the hot sun for several days at a time may help kill off residual bugs. In most cases, however, home remedies simply aren’t foolproof or extensive enough to fully quash a bed bug problem.
Professional Beg Bug Treatment
If you decide to bring in a professional pest control company to treat your bed bug issues you should expect fast attention and advice on everything from bed bug feeding schedules to proper disposal of infested furniture. Here are a few techniques common among professional bed bug exterminators:
- A full inspection of the entire premises (typically with a flashlight) including the box springs, electrical outlets, furniture, electronics, and even books.
- If you’ve yet to actually see a bed bug the professionals may wish to install a simple bed bug monitoring device to try and catch specimens before proceeding.
- Steam (between 118-122 degrees) is relatively effective at quelling an infestation, if not ridding it completely. Professional exterminators often use large-grade steamers to slowly, carefully steam areas that aren’t suitable for insecticide treatment.
- Although bed bugs are relatively resilient there are some insecticides on the market suitable for treating them. Your pest professional will talk to you about your options and concerns and give you details about the most common treatments including sprays, aerosols, and dusts.
It’s important to remember that it may take several treatments to fully get rid of a bed bug infestation. The bugs are surprisingly hardy and often spread to undetected areas that escape initial treatment.
Preventing a Bed Bug Infestation
It’s far better to avoid contact with pests than to try and figure out how to get rid of bed bugs after the fact. They’re most often picked up when travelling so you should avoid sleeping in hotel rooms you suspect are infested, never put your luggage directly on the ground, and wash anything you believe may be compromised as soon as you get home.
In your own home it’s smart to avoid floor- and bed-clutter to eliminate hiding spots for pests. Carefully inspect the room after a guest stays at your home and never, bring home second-hand furniture (even that without upholstery) if you’re worried about bed bugs. And when in doubt about your level of risk, call a professional for an on-site inspection.