Dealing with a bed bug infestation in your home can be very stressful. Not only do you have to worry about your family, but the fact that your houseguests can get infested because of bugs from your home, can be quite embarrassing. Especially because of the stigma that comes with having bed bugs.
There are several steps one must take to get rid of bed bugs permanently, and in this article we will discuss all of them. So, if you have a bed bug problem that you wish to take care of, just keep on reading.
How will I know if I have a bed bug infestation?
Before we start discussing how to get rid of them, you must be 100% sure that what you are dealing with are actually bed bugs and not another insect.
One sign of an infestation is traces of dark fecal stains on your mattress, pillowcases, and sheets. You may also find blood stains on your sheets and sleepwear if you rolled over the bug and squished them. Waking up in the morning with red welts in a zigzag pattern or in clusters are distinctly bed bug related.
Adult bed bugs are around the size of an apple seed, they have flat bodies and are reddish-brown in color. Their eggs are about the size of a pinhead and are difficult to find because female bed bugs lay them in securely hidden areas. The shed shells of baby bed bugs, or nymphs, can also be found on your mattress or on the furniture near your bed.
How do I get rid of bed bugs at home by myself?
Prepare the things you will need
You need to be very vigilant and observant when it comes to dealing with bed bugs. Before you start the actual treatment, search out which specific parts of your room, bed, and furniture the bugs are hiding in.
You will need a flashlight, gloves, masks, some clear tape, thick and durable garbage bags, a cloth and soapy water, plastic mattress encasements, and a latex or silicone sealant.
Clear the room
Once you have gathered these items, put on your gloves and start removing things and clutter, as well as the drawers from furniture near your bed. Just place these items on the floor and do not place them on the bed or in another room. Do not lean on the bed or sit on the floor so the bed bug will not cling to your clothes.
Place the items you plan to keep in garbage bags and seal them tightly with tape. If you find bugs or eggs on any of the items, place them in one bag and seal tightly. This bag may have to be kept sealed for the next year or so. This is because some bed bugs can survive without feeding over a year. Keeping them sealed will starve and kill them.
If there are items you plan on throwing, place them all in one garbage bag and label it “infested with bed bugs”.
Wash all your clothes and linens
Place all your clothes into a garbage bag and seal well. Do the same for all the curtains in your room, as well as all your beddings. Bring all the tightly sealed bags to your laundry room and place it one at a time into the washing machine. Place the whole bag inside, and tear the garbage bag to take all the clothes or linen out. Make sure you put the torn garbage bag into another garbage bag before throwing it outside.
Put the machine on a hot wash while using laundry detergent. The hot water along with the soap will kill most, if not all, of the bugs and eggs in your laundry.
After the wash cycle, place the items into the dryer and put it on the highest temperature setting the fabric material will allow. Leave the items in the dryer for 30 minutes to make sure that any bugs or eggs that survived the wash cycle will definitely be killed.
Get rid of bed bugs on your mattress
Remove your mattress and box spring and inspect it for bed bugs and eggs. Use a brush to scrub the seams to remove the bugs and eggs. Vacuum along the seams and edges to clean it up as much as you can. After you have cleaned your mattress, wrap it in a plastic mattress encasement and seal it tightly. This will keep bed bugs from setting up shop on it again, as well as starving any bed bugs you may have missed while cleaning.
Clean your bed frame and headboard by running the wet cloth along it. Make sure you pass by every single surface including the back and the bottom.
After you have cleaned all the pieces of your bed, vacuum the floor thoroughly to collect bugs and eggs that have dropped into it while you were cleaning your bed.
What if there are still bed bugs after all of these methods?
If you still have bed bugs even after doing all of the above methods, you might need to invest in a professional service that does heat treatment.
Heat treatment is when they bring in industrial strength heaters to raise the temperature in the room enough to kill the bugs and their eggs. The temperature of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit has to be sustained for several hours to ensure that no bugs or eggs survive.
Get rid of bed bugs permanently by doing an extensive clean sweep of your entire room. Wash your linen and clothes on hot wash with laundry detergent, then dry on the highest temperature setting to kill all of the bugs and eggs.
If you can afford to, pay for a professional heat treatment on your house. This can be quite pricey but it is effective, especially if you want all of the bugs and their eggs to die.
Image: istockphoto.com / Igor Vershinsky