Since the early 2000s, bed bug infestations have become a common issue in the United States, as well as in countries like Canada and the UK. Some research even suggests that this increase in infestations is due to the fact that bed bugs have evolved to resist insecticides.
Do you have concerns about bed bugs in your home? Are you unsure of how to check for bed bugs or which bed bug treatment you ought to use? Read on to learn everything you need to know about handling a bed bug infestation, from how to check for bed bugs to how to keep them from coming back.
Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?
Before we tackle the issue of getting rid of bed bugs, it helps to know what these creepy critters are and where they come from in the first place. Bed bugs are small and wingless insects that have a reddish-brown color. They’re about a quarter of an inch long and do not fly or jump.
They do craw very fast, though, and they often enter people’s homes by catching rides on soft surfaces. For example, if you stayed in a hotel room or visited the apartment of a friend who had bed bugs, the bugs could find their way into your home by attaching themselves to your luggage or purse.
Signs You Have a Bed Bug Infestation
There aren’t many good things to say about bed bug infestations. One positive, though, is that the signs of one are pretty obvious. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to take action as soon as possible:
One of the easiest ways to tell that you have bed bugs is to look for bites on your body. Bed bugs often attack exposed skin while you sleep, so look for bites on your shoulders, neck, face, or arms. These bites will be tiny, red, and itchy.
Bed bugs are most active at night. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep because experience itchiness or irritation, it’s possible that bed bugs are the culprit.
Bed bugs often leave bloodstains behind on sheets and clothing, as well as the wallpaper near your bed and your headboard. Look for tiny reddish browns stains on the bedding and around your bed when you’re checking for bed bugs.
These critters release pheromones that have a very distinct smell, too. This is especially true when they’re present in large numbers. If you notice a dirty, musty smell in your bedroom, chances are that bed bugs are there.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Now, you’re ready to get into the nitty-gritty of getting rid of bed bugs in the house. Here are some tried and true tips that will help you put those pests to rest:
Identify All Infested Areas
Start by figuring out how far the infestation has spread. Check your bed and the area surrounding it, as well as your closet and any furniture you have in your bedroom (couches, chairs, etc.). Inspect the other bedrooms in your home, too, along with other upholstered furniture items.
Trap the Bugs
The easiest way to contain bed bugs and prevent them from multiplying is to trap them with the vacuum. When you find areas that contain live bugs, suck them up using your vacuum. Then, seal the contents of the vacuum in a plastic bag and throw the bag in the trash.
Prep for Treatment
Next, it’s time to prepare your home for treatment. Double-check that you’ve identified and cleared out all the places where bed bugs tend to hide. Pick up (and inspect) items that have been on the floor, such as books, clothing, or magazines.
You ought to seal open areas like loose wallpaper or cracks around your baseboards as well. Bed bugs might crawl into these spaces and make themselves at home.
Kill the Bugs
Now, get ready to kill the bugs. There are some at-home treatments that are effective for this, including the following:
- Washing affected bedding and clothing in hot water for 30 minutes, then drying them on the highest setting
- Using a steamer to clean mattresses, couches, and other furniture items
- Leave infested items out in the sun (pack them in black garbage bags first) on hot (above 95-degrees) days
- Put bags containing bed bugs in the freezer for at least four days (make sure the temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit)
Once you’ve treated the affected areas, continue monitoring them to see if signs of bed bugs persist.
Call a Professional if Necessary
If you keep seeing signs of bed bugs, chances are your home treatments aren’t effective enough. This means it’s time to call in a professional and let them take over.
Don’t be afraid to call an expert. They can get the area contained and pest-free very quickly, which allows you to get on with your life sooner.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs
At this point, you’re probably wondering what other steps you can take to keep bed bugs out of your home for good. It’s not always possible to prevent an infestation. As the folks at CustomBedBug.com have pointed out though, you can reduce your chances by remembering these rules:
- Always inspect new-to-you items with care before bringing them into your home; this is especially true of secondhand items purchased at yard sales or consignment stores
- Use a protective mattress cover
- Get rid of clutter to minimize hiding places for bed bugs
- Vacuum often (including your furniture)
- Use caution when washing items at shared laundry facilities
- Isolate your unit if you live in a multi-family home or apartment building
You might want to consider purchasing a portable heating chamber, too. You can use this to treat any items that you suspect have bed bugs on them.
Say Goodbye to Bed Bugs Today
Nobody wants to hear that they have a bed bug problem in their home. Luckily, though, there are steps you can take to combat a bed bug infestation and prevent these pests from returning in the future. Follow the guidelines above and you’ll be able to get your home clean and pest-free in no time.