Bed bugs, once a forgotten pest, have made a strong resurgence in recent years. Now, a stay in a hotel room or even a visit to a movie theater can put you at risk of carrying these little bugs home.
If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, read on to learn how to get rid of bed bugs.
Look for Signs of Bed Bugs
The first step to take before removing bed bugs from your home is to make sure you actually have bed bugs and not another pest like fleas.
You’ll likely notice a few signs of bed bugs before spotting the critters themselves. That’s because they tend to hide during the day, only coming out once the lights are off and you’re asleep.
Evidence of bed bugs includes:
- red, itchy bite marks on any area of exposed skin
- small fecal droppings in bedding
- blood stains on sheets
- egg shells or skin in or around the bed
- a musty odor
The surest way to identify bed bugs is to spot one in the middle of the night. Bed bugs are known for their reddish-brown, flat, and oval-shaped body.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs: First Lines of Defense
Once you’ve confirmed you’re dealing with bed bugs, it’s time to take action to remove them.
First, try to identify the extent of the infestation. For example, you’ve likely already spotted signs of bed bugs in the bed, but do they seem to be in every bed in your house? Are they also in other furniture or textiles in the bedroom, or have they migrated to the sofa?
Make sure to do a thorough check around the house. Bed bugs can hide in cracks, under furniture, and even in books and other items.
Then, vacuum around the areas where you suspect bed bugs are lurking. Vacuum the entire mattress and inside cushions.
Once you’re done, empty the vacuum outside in a plastic bag.
Hot and Cold Methods to Kill Bed Bugs
Remove all bedding, cushion covers, and other textiles, and wash them with hot water and soap. The heat will kill any remaining bed bugs or eggs. For items that can’t be put in a washer, you can also use hot steam.
For anything else that can’t be washed or exposed to heat, you can also try placing the items in the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 degrees Celsius). Leave them there for a few days to shock and kill the bugs.
To better eradicate bed bugs, you may need to turn to chemical insecticides. However, it’s important to be careful with these products and closely follow the directions. After all, if they can kill dozens of bugs hiding in your home, they can likely hurt people too.
Some types of chemical bed bug treatments include:
- Pyrethrins and pyrethroid pesticide sprays
- Silica aerogel and diatomaceous earth dessicant dusts
- bug bombs
No matter which you choose, make sure that the label states that the product is specifically for bed bugs, not general household pests.
Professional Bed Bug Treatment
Because bed bugs are very good at hiding, it can be difficult to completely rid your home of them on your own. You may need to rely on professional bed bug treatment to remove these pests for good.
Trained bed bug exterminators like Pest Extinct have all the equipment and chemicals needed to remove pesky bed bugs. In fact, the most effective pesticides and insecticides aren’t available to the public, requiring a professional who knows how to safely use them.
If you find that store-bought chemicals aren’t working, call licensed pest control as soon as possible to limit the spread of the infestation.
How to Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation
After containing or eliminating the bed bugs in your home, it’s important to follow measures to prevent another infestation in the future.
Make sure to cover your mattress with a plastic cover that is fully enclosed. That way, bed bugs can’t hide in your mattress, and any bugs left in the mattress will eventually suffocate and die within the cover.
Store blankets and other bedding in secure plastic bags or boxes, and declutter your closet to reduce the number of bed bug hiding places.
Also be sure to regularly monitor high-risk areas or areas where bed bugs once lived. For example, check around your mattress and headboard once every few days for signs of bugs. Clean these areas frequently, including vacuuming textiles and washing bedding. And re-treat with chemical treatments periodically.
It’s also important to be cautious when in hotels or other public places where bed bugs may live. If you travel, thoroughly check the hotel mattress, bedding, headboard, and nearby walls for small blood spots. Keep your luggage off the floor, and don’t unpack clothing when possible.
When you buy new clothes, give them a good wash before wearing them or hanging them in your closet, just in case a bed bug hitched a ride on your new shirt. And when possible, inspect movie theater seats or even bring your own seat cover to reduce your risk.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
It can be hard to get a good night’s rest when bugs are creeping and crawling around your bed. If you think you have bed bugs but aren’t sure how to get rid of bed bugs, bookmark this page to help you eliminate these little unwanted guests for good.
For more ways to keep your home feeling clean and comfy, check out our other home improvement articles!