How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in 10 Easy Steps
They are creepy, crawly, and downright frightening! They are bedbugs, tiny, insect-like creatures that feed on the blood of their mammalian host. While they don’t have wings and can’t fly, they creep and crawl around the room, navigating their way across your tables, over your nightstand, and onto the fibers of your bed sheets. These bugs are smart and like to hide, concealing themselves under your mattress or box spring, in your head board, and in many other places throughout your personal sanctuary.
So, how do they get into your personal items in the first place? Bedbugs can travel on luggage, personal clothing, and on most other items that enter your home. Once the bugs are in your home, they look for places to hide so that they can wait to feed on your blood. Bedbugs can be picked up when staying at a friend’s or relative’s home, in a hotel, motel, or any other place where there has been steady stream of people from one location to the next.
If the very thought of bedbugs creeps you out and make the hair on your arms stand on end, then it is best to prevent them from coming into your home in the first place. While bedbugs are certainly disgusting, little creatures, a possible infestation can be prevented. Don’t fall victim to a bedbug outbreak. Instead, follow these ten easy steps to get rid of bedbugs before they wreak havoc on your home and family.
1Assess & Act Fast
If bedbugs have entered and infested your home, it shouldn’t take long before you realize that there is a serious problem. You may wake up with itchy spots that you didn’t have on your body when you went to sleep the night before. You may notice stains on your bedding caused by blood from bedbug bites. You may notice dark colored areas, indicative of bedbug byproducts. You may even notice a funny smell coming from your bed sheets that is caused by the bedbugs, themselves.
If you suspect that you have a bedbug dilemma, it is imperative that you assess the situation and act fast. Assessing the situation requires that you pay attention to the cues mentioned above. It requires you to check all of your bedding, your mattress, and the area within your home for signs of bedbugs, and perhaps, signs of the actual bugs. In order to effectively treat the problem, you must be sure that it is bedbugs you are dealing with.
Once you have adequately assessed the situation, you need to act fast. This involves cleaning, removing, wrapping, and vacuuming items throughout your home to ensure that the bedbugs don’t manifest or spread to other areas, including the homes of neighbors, friends, and relatives. Assessing the situation as soon as you notice something is wrong and acting fast to clear up the problem can save you a lot of time, money, and energy in the long run and help to prevent future infestations.
2Wash Your Linens
Washing and drying all of your linens – clothing, sheets, towels, and more – will help to clear a possible infestation. Even if you decide to consult the professionals, doing this one, easy action step will help to clear up the issue.
First, you will want to make sure that you adequately sort all of your clothes. As you normally would, you will want to sort all of your clothes according to their preferred wash cycle. Any clothes that are dry-cleaning only should be put in a separate pile. Once you have all of your clothes sorted, you must put each pile into its own, sealed garbage bag. Sealing the bags tightly will help to ensure that no bedbugs escape and infest other areas of your home as you transport the laundry to and from the laundry room.
Next, you will want to wash and dry all of your linens. Begin by emptying each bag into the wash, carefully disposing of each garbage bag as you do so. Once all of the laundry is placed into the washer, you will want to make sure the wash setting is on the highest temperature possible. This holds true for the drying cycle, too. The hot temperature of both the water in the washer and the dryer will kill off any bugs that may be on the fabric. Once the laundry is finished going through both a wash and dry cycle, fold all of your linens and place them in a new garbage bag. Be sure to seal this bag tightly, as you will want to keep all of your clothes in here until you are sure the infestation in your home is cleared and that you can put the clothes away in their proper locations.
3Brush Your Mattress
Another good thing to do when you suspect a bedbug invasion is to brush your mattress. As mentioned earlier, bedbugs love to hide. Bed bugs will hide just about anywhere they can, waiting to feed on their prey. Mattresses and box springs are a natural place for these little creatures to bury themselves. Washing your bed linens won’t help if you don’t get rid of the bed bugs that are still remaining in the seams of both your mattress and box spring.
Using a brush with stiff bristles, such as a nail brush, brush the surface of the mattress. Be sure to pay special attention the seams and any other little areas where bedbugs may be hiding. Another thing to look for is bedbug eggs. These are often small in size, about the size of a grain of rice, and white in color. The female bedbugs typically lay their eggs on the mattress, even in the piping around the perimeter. It is important, as you brush, to pay close attention to these particular areas to ensure that you snag all of the eggs and young bugs that may be hiding here.
Prior to brushing, it may even be helpful to run the edge of a dull knife or credit card along the surface of your mattress to shake up any bugs that may be in hiding. This will help to ensure that any bugs that are not initially visible are well taken care of once you brush and vacuum the mattress.
Once you have brushed off your mattress and double checked all of the seams for bugs and eggs, it is important that you vacuum everything. Yes, we mean everything!
If you have a suspected lice infestation, washing your clothes and linens and brushing your mattress is not enough. You must vacuum, as well. While vacuuming is certainly not 100% effective at removing and killing all bed bugs, it can be a useful tool in removing large groupings of bugs at one particular site.
As you get ready to vacuum your mattress and the area surrounding your bed, it is important that you use the smaller, more precise attachments that come with the vacuum. This will help you to get in some of the smaller and tighter places that bed bugs may be hiding in, such a seams and creases. It is also important that you place the vacuum on the highest suction setting possible. This will help to ensure that all of the bed bugs get picked up by the vacuum.
As you vacuum, you want to be sure that you don’t press too firmly on the mattress or the area that you are concentrating on. Any extra pressure could actually cause the bed bugs to jump, or be flicked, from one location to the next. Bed bugs can still live once they are sucked up into the vacuum, so it is also important to remove the vacuum bag or empty the container once you are finished and dispose of the waste appropriately.
5Encase Your Mattress and Other Items in Plastic
Have you ever lived with someone that suffered from pretty severe seasonal or environmental allergies? You may have noticed that they covered their mattress and pillows with a plastic shield. While this plastic layer certainly doesn’t look too comforting, it helps to protect the person with allergies from dust mites and dander that they may breathe in as they lay down and sleep.
Wrapping your mattress and other personal items in plastic is close to the same thing. It follows the same idea. While severe infestations may call for you to just throw the bed and the box spring away, you can always opt to keep it and follow this step to ensure that the bed bugs don’t thrive in your home environment.
After you have brushed your mattress and vacuumed the surface, it is important to wrap your bed in plastic. This includes the box spring. Most hardware stores, as well as online stores, sell encasements that are specifically designed to combat bedbugs. Most of these encasements are made from vinyl and must be left on the bed for a minimum of one year after the initial outbreak. Once the casing is on, any bedbugs that are still surviving on the mattress or box spring will eventually starve to death and die.
Again, depending on the magnitude of the infestation, it may just be easier to part ways with your old mattress and buy a new one. However, for people who are working on a budget or who refuse to get rid of their old bed, this is a helpful step for total pest control.
6Remove Items That Are No Longer Useful or Safe
While no one wants to part ways with items in their home that may have sentimental value, sometimes it is necessary part of getting rid of bedbugs.
Items that can be laundered and vacuumed may be a bit easier to care for and preserve. Larger, more bulky items or items that have been subjected to prior wear and tear may just be easier to toss in the garbage. The important thing to note, however, is that special precaution must be used when disposing of items that have been infested by bed bugs. Just because you throw away your mattress or chuck your closet full of clothing into the trash, doesn’t mean that the bedbugs have died or are not going to come back into your home.
When disposing of personal items that have bed bugs on them, it is important that you seal everything tightly in large, plastic garbage or utility bags. This will help to ensure that the bugs have no way of escaping and that they have no outside food source that will sustain them for long periods of time. When sealed, bed bugs eventually starve and die without a blood source. Smaller items, once wrapped, can be placed for garbage pick-up. Larger items, such as sofas and mattresses, must be marked accordingly so that no one picks up such items without the appropriate care. When removing your mattress or other large items, it is important to vacuum and scrub everything down ahead of time so that bed bugs are not transported to other areas of your home. Once you have the larger items outside, it is important to put a sign on them that states they have been infested with bedbugs.
7Make Appropriate Household Repairs
When it comes to a bedbug outbreak, these little critters can hide anywhere. Just when you think you cleared the bed and washed all of your linens, there is yet another place to inspect for existing specimens – the walls, furniture, electrical outlets and any ventilation holes.
Since bedbugs are so small, they can hide just about anywhere. This is why it is so important, once you have taken care of your mattress and bedding, to address any household repairs that need to be made. It is critical that you inspect your home carefully, making sure that you scan all of the appropriate electrical outlets and any areas of ventilations that bugs may be hiding in. It is also important to check your furniture. Any kind of small crack or break in the material may be a prime spot for bugs to hide and lay their eggs. If the furniture is cracked and cannot be repaired, it is best to dispose of it properly with any other severely infested household items.
Also, check for cracks in the walls or rips in the wallpaper. While it seems silly, bugs love to hide in such places. Repair any noticeable cracks and plaster any areas that need extra attention. Inspecting all of the small, seemingly insignificant places around your home will help to ensure that you get rid of any additional bugs that may still be lingering.
One of the best ways to get rid of bedbugs and prevent future outbreaks is to reduce the amount of clutter in and around your home. Let’s face it, as the years pass, the amount of stuff we own typically tends to multiply. Whether it is stopping at yard sales, flea markets, outdoor fairs or receiving multiple household gifts from family members and friends, we have dust-covered trinkets all over the place. Sometimes, we have so much stuff that we don’t know what to do with it all!
If odds and ends are piling up in and around your home, it is time to sift through everything, re-organize, and eliminate the clutter. Clutter makes it very easy for bedbugs to both hide and multiply. During a bedbug outbreak, clutter also makes it very difficult to inspect the home and properly fumigate the area.
If you do suspect a bedbug outbreak, it is time to start removing things from your home and reducing the clutter. This means taking any extra or unwanted furniture out of your home, as well as sifting through trinkets that may be a prime hiding spot for pesky bugs. As you go through all of your belongings, figure out what can stay and what needs to go. Clean everything thoroughly so that the bugs do not spread from one area of the home to the next and remember that if you are going to dispose of something, you need to do so properly. This means that any extra, unwanted or damaged furniture needs to be posted outside for the garbage collectors with a note indicating that there is a possible infestation.
9Treat Pets & Other Household Animals
Although bedbugs are not as damaging or dangerous as some other mites, they can certainly be a nuisance to your household pet. While bedbugs tend to feed on humans more so than animals, they can certainly still bite your cat and dog and wreak havoc on their wellbeing. Also, cats, dogs and other domesticated pets make prime transport vehicles for bedbugs. As they wander throughout your home, bedbugs may be traveling with them, hiding in their fur.
When you are dealing with a bedbug infestation, it is important that you not only treat your household items, but your pets, as well. One of the best things you can do is thoroughly inspect and wash your pet’s bedding and other household items, such as fabric toys, clothes, or leashes. Again, just as you washed your linens, you will want to wash the dog or cat bed in hot water to kill off any bugs that may be attached or hiding in the fabric. Any toys that are made from non-plastic materials should be washed, as well. Plastic toys with holes in them must be inspected, as well, and properly washed with warm water.
If you suspect that bedbugs are on your pet’s fur, it is important to follow-up with the professionals to seek additional help. A professional may be able to recommend safe products to use to help get rid of them. While there is no preventative medicine to curb bedbug outbreaks with regards to your pets, there are things you can do to prevent bedbugs from biting your furry friends and spreading throughout your home.
10Consult the Professionals
If you suspect a bedbug infestation, there are some things you can do to ensure the properly removal of such household pests. While washing your linens, inspecting your mattress and treating your pets for bedbugs are all important things to do, it is critical to consult the professionals during an outbreak, as well. A professional team can give you the advice you need to properly tackle an infestation and can help you design a prevention plan for the future. They can help to ensure that your efforts rid of such pests efficiently.
There are quite a few companies that specialize in pest removal. One of the best ways to find a reputable one is to perform an online search. Browse websites and read reviews to select one that works for you. Many companies will offer free consultations, as well, so it is important to ask about this when you call.
Companies will send a technician to your house to do a thorough inspection. Once they determine that there is a bedbug infestation, they can work with you to eradicate the issue. Not only will they help to clean the area, but also have access to treatment chemicals that can be used to kill off the bugs and their eggs. They can work with you to find a treatment option that is safe for your family, your pets and your home.
Bed bugs are small, little pests that can wreak havoc on your home and the health of your family, pets and other loved ones. While bedbugs are usually good at hiding, they typically leave clues around your home that would warrant further investigation. Whether you notice small, brown spots on your bedding, blood stains, bug shells, or have noticeable, itchy bites on your skin, you need to take proper precaution to eliminate the issue before it becomes a much larger dilemma.
If you suspect a bed bug outbreak, there are a number of things you can do to help treat the problem. Washing your linens, making appropriate household repairs, vacuuming, treating your pets, and encasing your mattress are all good elimination strategies. While each of these tasks can certainly help to eliminate bedbugs, it is also important to consult the professionals in time of need. Not only can the professionals help to ensure that the bedbugs are properly removed from your home, but they can work with you and your family to develop a treatment plan for the future.
While bedbugs may be gross, little creatures, possible infestations are preventable. Following these ten easy steps, and working with a professional team, can help you stay bedbug free for years to come.