Do you wake up itchy and covered in red bites in the morning? Have you noticed little red or black marks appearing on your sheets? If so, you’re probably playing host to bed bugs, and you need to get rid of them quickly!
Has your cleaning regime changed during the Covid-19 lockdown?
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are parasites that feed on the blood of their human hosts – they usually don’t have a taste for pets. As larvae, they are transparent in colour; adults are a reddish brown. They are largely nocturnal and love to live and breed in warm, dark places like beds, sofas, and other furniture.
How to Kill Bed Bugs
Bed bug infestations can easily spread to neighbouring properties and those of friends and family, so it’s important you deal with the problem straight away. Unlike head lice, bed bugs can live away from their host for months without the need to feed. The best way to get rid of bed bugs is physical removal (vacuuming) or heat (water, steam, or air). They are resistant to most pesticides.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Ridding your home of these nasty pests is no easy feat. Even if you’re able to locate their nest, you’ll still need to perform a thorough deep clean of your home to ensure that none remain. Read on to find out how.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in the Bedroom
Bed bugs can travel long distances, so the bedroom is not the only place they might be hiding – but it’s a good starting point.
- First, tidy up cupboards and clear floors, using the opportunity to check for eggs, larvae or bugs. If you find any, vacuum them up.
- Then remove your mattress and take your bed apart. Check any cracks or crevices in the bed frame and the seams of the mattress. Vacuum both, regardless of whether bed bugs are present (Find out how to clean your mattress with ease here). Consider replacing both.
- Wash your bed linen on the hottest temperature the fabric can handle (check the care label) and use a dryer to minimise the possibility that any bed bugs could survive.
- Next, empty any drawers or cupboards and vacuum inside. Use a clothes steamer to project heat into all corners and crevices. Launder all your clothes as above. Any objects you can’t treat with heat or vacuuming should be sealed in airtight bags for at least three months.
- Remove and launder your curtains and other soft furnishings – treat with the vacuum and steamer if they can’t be washed. Be sure to remove chair cushions and clean under and behind all furniture.
- Inspect the walls for peeling wallpaper and cracks and vacuum these areas thoroughly. Re-glue wallpaper, and plaster over cracks to keep bed bugs from hiding in them.
- Vacuum and steam clean along skirting boards and into corners, particularly if you have fitted carpeting. Launder or discard any removable rugs.
- Finally, following the instructions on the label and making sure to wear protective garments, use a commercial anti-bed bug spray to address the infestation, concentrating on the areas you suspect the bed bugs are lurking in. Alternatively, use a combination of water and tea tree or citrus oil (20 drops in a litre of water) – this can be used to do a general spray of laundry too.
Tips for Treating the Rest of the House
You should clean the rest of the house as above. It’s important you don’t cut any corners with this deep clean, or some bed bugs will remain.
- Don’t hesitate to throw out items you find have been infested with bed bugs – often this is the simplest and fastest solution.
- Don’t forget to do a deep clean of your car too, as bed bugs are just as comfortable riding around outdoors as they are living in your home.
- Once your vacuum is full, be sure to empty the contents into a bag, seal it and throw it away.
- If you have a cat, be sure to throw away the litter every 3-4 days for at least a month to prevent bed bugs from using the tray as a breeding habitat.
- Perform all of the above steps again ten days to two weeks later to make sure that residual bugs from any unhatched eggs are removed.
- If you’ve followed the above instructions carefully and still have bed bugs, don’t hesitate to call in a professional for further help.
To tackle other common household pests, check out this article on how to get rid of fleas.