As far as pests go, bed bugs are some of the most persistent and annoying ones you can encounter. They are tiny and barely noticeable, and they spread so quickly that preventing an infestation is almost impossible.
If your home is full of these creatures, there are some important steps you need to take. Fortunately, we are here to take you through each one, from where to sleep until the infestation is over to how to clean your home afterward. Read on!
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Bed bugs are quite small, round, brown-colored insects that feed on the blood of mammals. Though they can feed on animals as well, they prefer to suck human blood.
Before feeding, the bodies of these insects are flat and only a few millimeters long. However, they begin to swell as they feed, and they get a distinct reddish and brown coloring from the blood they consume. Fully fed, bed bugs can get as big as apple seeds.
These pests cannot fly. Instead, they are quite good at climbing and jumping over any surface. In addition, they are incredibly fast, making them difficult to catch and kill.
Furthermore, female bed bugs can lay more than a thousand eggs in their lifetime. The biggest problem with these eggs is their size, as they are no bigger than a speck of dust. Thus, it is hard to notice the eggs before they develop into insects, by which time it is too late to prevent an infestation.
Bed bugs do not make nests like ants and most other insects. Rather, they live in semi-large groups and hide in soft, warm, and, most importantly, hidden spots. Such places include closets, bedding, old couches and beds, suitcases, boxes with clothing, etc.
However, bed bugs need to have quick access to human or animal blood. So, they usually hide in mattresses, bed frames, box springs, and even headboards. That is where their name comes from.
These insects’ flat bodies allow them to easily hide in tiny nooks and go undetected for weeks and even months. In fact, you might not notice that you have a bed bug problem until after they have already laid their eggs.
The tricky thing about bed bugs is that they can easily spread to the rest of your home as well. As long as you use a certain room throughout the day and there are hidden spots where they can linger, these pests can live pretty much anywhere.
Still, they prefer warmer spots, so your living room and bedrooms will be their favorite places.
As already mentioned, bed bugs bite humans and animals in order to feed on their blood. To do so, they pierce your skin and use their elongated beaks to extract the blood from your skin.
Generally speaking, bed bugs can bite you pretty much anywhere. However, they usually stick to your arms and legs, as they are easy to access. To be fully fed, these insects have to feed for anywhere between 3-10 minutes.
Bed bugs are always active at night. This fact makes a lot of sense, as they count on you being asleep and unresponsive so that they can drink your blood unperturbed and then crawl away when they’re done.
A big problem with bed bug bites is that they usually do not hurt right away. So, you might get bitten and not notice it until a few days later. By that time, the pests have already spread all over your home.
After about 3 to 4 days, the bites start to itch. Then, they turn into dark red welts, and they are quite reminiscent of mosquito bites. That makes bed bugs even harder to detect, as people usually assume they have an annoying mosquito in their room instead.
If you wake up with itchy welts on any part of your skin that was exposed during the night, you might have bed bugs. This possibility is even bigger if your bed is older or you thrifted it.
In order to confirm or reject your theory, you should check your bed. If there are any blood stains or reddish/brown smudges, you are most likely dealing with bed bugs. The blood is yours, and the smudges are bug excrements.
You should also check your bedding and room for a musty, heady scent. Namely, bed bugs have scent glands that release such an odor, and it becomes really noticeable after a few days.
If you determine that you have bed bugs at home, your first step should be not to panic. As annoying as these creatures are, they cannot harm you beyond giving you a few bite marks. In addition, there are effective ways to get rid of them. So, take a few deep breaths, and get to work.
Your second step should be to do a deep cleaning of your bed and bedroom. Generally speaking, you don’t have to find a new place to sleep at all. As long as you clean everything thoroughly, you will ensure that your bed is completely safe to use.
Here are all the steps you should take in order to eliminate all the bed bugs in your home.
1. Wash Everything
Firstly, you need to take off your sheets, bedding, blankets, pillowcases, and anything else you might have on your bed. Throw it all into your washer, and choose the hottest possible setting. Since heat is the best possible bed bug killer, hot water will definitely drown and kill any lingering insects.
For good measure, you should also dry everything on the highest dryer setting. That way, you will ensure that every single bed bug is dead if any of them miraculously survive the washing.
However, you shouldn’t just wash your bedding. As mentioned above, bed bugs can also hide in clothes, shoes, plushies, and any other similar items you keep in your room.
Seeing as you cannot put all of them in your washing machine, you can just use your dryer on them as well. In this case, the highest setting for about 30 minutes should do the trick.
Now that everything is free of the bugs, it is time to turn to the bed and the rest of your room.
While your bedding is in the washer, you should inspect your mattress, bed frame, and box springs. Using a stiff brush, thoroughly clean the seams in your mattress, making sure to scrub off any possible bed bug eggs.
Then use the same tool to clean your headboard, bed frame, and box springs. The brush is extremely effective, as its tips can get even in the tiniest of nooks and remove any bugs that might be hiding.
After you go over everything, it’s time to vacuum. The air from the vacuum will get out any bed bugs that you lured out with the brush, and they will become trapped in your vacuum bag.
Aside from the mattress and all parts of your bed, make sure you also vacuum the floor, your nightstand, any shelves close to your bed, and so on. Since bed bugs can hide pretty much anywhere until you’re done cleaning, it is pivotal to cover all your bases.
Now, don’t forget to immediately dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag. Don’t open it or try to clean it. Simply put it in a trash bag and take it out into a dumpster. That is the easiest and safest way to go about it.
3. Steam Cleaning
In most cases, vacuuming and washing everything in hot water will be more than enough to kill all bed bugs. However, if you want to make sure that you truly get every last one and erase the possibility of them coming back, using a steam cleaner might help.
As their name suggests, steam cleaners use hot steam to clean even the most persistent stains. Seeing as heat is the best way to kill bed bugs, these cleaners are true life savers for infested homes and rooms.
So, use a steam cleaner on your bed and mattress, the walls in your room, as well as the insides of your closet and nightstand. This step will ensure that you actually kill every single remaining bed bug, making your room clean and safe once again.
4. Encase Your Mattress and Bed Springs
When everything is nice and clean, it might be smart to buy encasings for your mattress and box springs. The encasing should be tightly woven and zippered so that it prevents anything from both coming out and going in.
This step is essential if you’re unsure if there are any bed bugs left and you don’t want to buy a new mattress. In addition, it is a great safety measure if you think that the rest of your home might be full of bugs as well. This way, they won’t be able to get to your mattress at all.
5. Don’t Forget the Rest of Your Home
Even If your room is clear of bed bugs, your job still isn’t done. As you already know, these pests usually infest your entire home quite fast, so you need to do a deep clean of every room. With that being said, it is pivotal to dedicate most of your time and energy to your living room and other bedrooms.
The steps mentioned above work for the rest of your home as well. Wash everything that you can, dry everything you can’t, and vacuum every spot thoroughly. Then, use the steam cleaner to finish off the job.
While you do this, pay attention to any holes or cracks in your walls or wallpapers. Bed bugs can easily hide in such spots, so it is vital to close them up as soon as you can.
6. Clean Regularly
After you’ve done cleaning your home, you can be sure that the infestation is dealt with. However, you need to prevent the pests from returning. Luckily, the best preventive measure you can take is regular cleaning.
So, try to vacuum at least once a week and change your sheets just as often. In addition, use your steam cleaner every once in a while too. It’ll be a win-win, as your home will be squeaky clean and it’ll keep bed bugs away.
Finally, try to keep the area around your bed as decluttered as possible. Only keep the items you really need around, and dust and wipe your nightstands and headboard every few days. That way, bed bugs won’t find the space inviting, as it will be hard for them to find a good hiding place.
Of course, not everyone has a steam cleaner at home. Moreover, many people have no time and energy to spend a whole day cleaning every nook and cranny in their home and killing bed bugs in the process.
To that end, you can always hire a pest company to solve your bed bug problem for you. Depending on the size of your home, the cleaning process can take anywhere between a day and three days. However, once the pest control is done, you will be completely sure that your home is safe.
While they do their work, it is best if you can find another place to spend a night or two. That can be a friend’s house, a motel or hotel room, or anywhere else you feel comfortable staying.
If you have nowhere to go, don’t fret. You can still sleep at home, although you’ll need to take a few precautions. For one, try to sleep in clothes that cover most of your skin. Doing so will prevent the bugs from biting you.
Furthermore, you may also buy a bug and insect repellant, be it a spray or a topical product. Put it on your skin or clothes, and you should be able to sleep without fear of bites or any other issues.
If your home is infested with bed bugs, it is essential to clean it or hire professionals to do it for you as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can still sleep in your bed if you wear clothes that cover your skin and use a bug repellant. That way, you will ensure a good night’s sleep, knowing that the bugs cannot harm you.