Do you have itchy red bites? You may have a bed bug infestation.
- Check your bedding for black spots – this could be dried bed bug excrement.
- Look for mottled brown shells shed by the bedbugs.
- Check for blood spots – you may have rolled over and squashed a bed bug.
- Inspect your mattress and bed frame to see if you can actually spot any bugs. Be sure to check all crevices and joints.
If you’ve discovered any of the above signs in your own home, you should follow the steps in this article.
Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate — but it can be done. The most popular way to get rid of bed bugs is to hire a professional pest control company. However, this can be very expensive. If you want to try a DIY approach first, this article outlines all you’ll need to know about bed bugs: how to get rid of them, what products to buy, and what to expect.
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Getting Rid of Bed Bugs: Identify Which Rooms Are Infected
The sooner you start treating your home, the easier it will be to eradicate the bed bugs. Left untreated, the bugs will gradually spread from one room to another, latching onto clothes and crawling through cracks in search of new food sources. So find out first who is being bitten, and identify their bedrooms as the areas you will need to treat. Bed bugs will inhabit any room where someone sleeps. This can include your lounge or other rooms if your family members, housemates, or guests sometimes sleep on the sofa.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Flats
If you live in a flat, terrace, or semi-detached house, you should inform the building manager and the landlord or your neighbours, as bed bugs can move between your accommodation and that of your neighbours. Getting rid of bed bugs should therefore be a collective effort, or your efforts will be in vain.
How to Kill Bed Bugs: Treating a Bedroom
Once you have identified which rooms to treat, you will need to be very thorough and methodical in tackling them. Bed bugs can easily hide in small crevices or cracks, and eggs are even harder to detect and treat. Here are the basic steps to take when eradicating bed bugs from a bedroom:
- Strip and treat all bedding — This includes not just duvet covers, pillowcases, bed skirts, and sheets, but also the pillows and the mattresses themselves. Read Step 7 to find out how to treat washable items. But the first step is to break down the bed into its component parts and treat them one by one.
- Vacuum the mattress and bedsprings — Thoroughly vacuum all surfaces, using the vacuum extensions to get inside every possible crevice. When you are finished with the vacuuming, you will need to remove anddiscard the vacuum bag to prevent any bed bugs from climbing out.
- Treat the mattress and bed springs with insecticide — The most effective insecticides are a spray or dust, such as Diatomaceous earth (DE) dust or a low toxicity contact spray. “Bug bombs” or aerosol foggers do not reach all the crevices bed bugs can hide out in. Be sure to thoroughly apply the insecticide on all surfaces, crevices, and creases to prevent the spread of bugs. Make sure that you read the instructions on any products carefully before using, and take any necessary safety precautions and test the product on a small area first before continuing.
- Encase the mattress and bedsprings — Purchase a good set of bed bug-proof encasements. These are fabric sacks that zip around the mattress and bed springs. They are specially designed to prevent any bed bugs from getting out and feeding. Encasements are an essential tool when getting rid of bed bugs.
- Treat the bed frame and headboard — Again, you should vacuum all surfaces and crevices thoroughly, and apply insecticide liberally.
- Isolate the bed with interceptor cups — Bed bug interceptors are cups or platforms that sit under the feet of a bed frame, holding the bed away from the floor. These commercial products prevent bed bugs from climbing up or down from the bed. However, you also need to ensure the bed is not touching any curtains, walls, or furniture, as this can also form a “bridge” for bed bugs, allowing them to migrate.
- Remove all non-furniture items from the room and treat them — This is essential: in addition to the bedding and pillows, treat all curtains, toys, clothes, books, and personal items. Washable items should be either dry cleaned (having informed your dry cleaner of the problem), or machine washed in hot water for 30 minutes with a good quality laundry detergent (like Persil small & mighty) followed by tumble-drying for 30 minutes. Be sure to follow the guidelines on all garment care tags so as not to damage any fabrics and to follow the instructions on your detergent’s label. Alternatively, you can bag items in sealed plastic bags, so bed bugs have no access to food. Isolate them for 2-4 months to kill the bugs. If it’s hot out, you can place the bags in direct sunlight for several days to kill all stages of bed bug life. You can also place the bags in a freezer for 8-10 hours. Toys with hard surfaces can be cleaned with hot soapy water followed by an anti-bacterial spray and/or rubbing alcohol.
- Systematically treat the rest of the room — Vacuum all furniture, floors, and surfaces thoroughly. Apply insecticide as with the bed frame and headboard.
The above steps provide a helpful outline, explaining the basics of how to get rid of bed bugs at home. Remember when using any store bought pesticide to read and follow the instructions carefully, ensuring that you are using it effectively and responsibly. A DIY approach can save you a great deal of money compared to hiring a professional, but you do need to be very diligent and patient to make sure that even the resilient bed bugs are thoroughly eliminated from your home.