Why should you learn how to get rid of bed bugs? They are a nuisance in every way.
The sleepless nights they cause. The itchy and sick skin they give you and those in your household. The embarrassment you have to endure before your sleepover visitors. And there is more damage these small insects can visit on you.
If they’ve invaded your home, you must get rid of them for you to know peace again.
However, bed bugs aren’t easy to spot, especially during the day. They only emerge from their hiding mostly in the dark of the night to look for food-the food here being your blood.
According to WebMD, a health website, bed bugs prick through the skin and suck blood for a couple of minutes then crawl back to their hiding, leaving an itchy spot.
Before we learn how to kill them, let us see how to know that your house has bed bugs.
How to Check for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are tiny insects with a brownish color which turns to red after they feed. They’re flat and oval shaped. An adult bed bug is about ¾ inches long.
Bed bugs are visible against bright surfaces as they usually camouflage in dark colors. They hang on the bed; hence the name. You may, once in a blue moon, see them crawling on the floor, wall or ceiling. However, on the bed or couches is where they hide. In the fabric and the wooden cracks.
You can also find them in clothes, shoes, and even books.
If you suspect to have a bed bug infestation, look in these places with a flashlight. However, note that they avoid the light at all cost and will almost immediately dash away to a darker corners.
The bugs also leave blood stains or dark brownish spots of excrement on the bed linen. They produce a musty smell around the room though you can miss that.
If you kill a bedbug by squeezing or hitting it with an object, it produces a pungent repulsive smell.
They also leave behind shed skin and egg shells in the cracks where they reside.
Then there are the itchy bites on your skin. The bites are raised, red and with a burning sensation. Multiple bites can be dealt with at straight or zigzag lines of rash.
Once you’ve noticed these signs, you should be finding out how to get rid of bed bugs.
How Do Bed Bugs Get to Your Home?
For the larger part, it is we humans who facilitate the movement of bed bugs. They get caught up in our belongings such as bags, suitcases, boxes and even books. Once this luggage is transported from one location to the other, they or their eggs find a new home.
Second-hand items, especially furniture, are also prime suspects in bringing bed bugs home. You may also get bed bugs from your neighbors. They can craw from one room to the other or even from one apartment to the next.
If you’ve noticed the bugs in your house, check with your neighbors.
You can also pick up bed bugs from public transport such as trains, buses, and cabs.
Once you have just a few of them, you could end up with a full-blown infestation within weeks due to their high multiplication rate. The lifespan of a bed bug falls between 6 to 24 months. Within this period, the female lays between 200 and 500 eggs.
This says why you shouldn’t ignore even one bug.
It is important to note that bed bugs are not a hygiene issue. They can affect even the cleanest of places. They can be found in homes, offices, dormitories, hotels and even hospitals.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites
According to skin health experts or dermatologists, mild bedbug bites can be dealt with at home. You just need to wash the affected area with soapy water to reduce the irritation and help prevent a further skin infection.
If the itching persists, though, you can go for over-the-counter creams. Remember if you continue scratching, you’ll only aggravate the situation by bruising the skin further.
That said, some people react more severely to bed bug bites than others. They can develop an allergic skin reaction, infection, and even blisters. If you have such sensitive skin, you should consult a doctor.
For an allergic reaction, the doctor might recommend an injection. If you have an infection on the skin, an antiseptic could be sufficient remedy for the situation. If the infection that goes beyond the skin, the doctor might prescribe an antibiotic.
A bed bug bite is not a health hazard, but should not be ignored either, especially if your skin is sensitive.
It is important to note that bed bugs mostly go for exposed skin. They are not keen on burrowing through or under the clothes. Even as you continue with the bedbug treatment process, ensure that you cover up as much as you can when you go to bed.
It will, at least, reduce the chances and severity of bed bug bites.
Prevent the Spread of Bed Bugs
You have to find out how to get rid of bed bugs fast once you notice them. That is before they spread quickly throughout your home. For instance, if you have them in only one room in the house, you need to ensure that they’re not spreading to the other rooms even as you deal with that room.
Reduce clutter in the affected room by taking out as many of the items as you can. Take precaution not to transfer any bugs to other areas of your home. If you’re not sure with some of the things that you’re taking out, store them in sealed plastic bags that will confine any bugs.
If there are any cracks on the floors or walls, especially where wood is involved, seal them with molding. This will incapacitate any bugs or eggs held there. Pull the furniture away from the walls to reduce chances of crawling to other rooms.
An infested mattress/spring box presents a unique challenge since it can’t be sprayed with insecticide neither can it be washed. Both cases would present a drying challenge. The mattress could end up with mold. Not acceptable either, right?
Encase the mattress in a plastic cover and keep it that way for a whole year. That will kill them because they will lack food.
Remember, if you try to rid your home of bed bugs while your neighbors are still hosting them, you’ll end up in square one. Make sure everyone in the compound knows how to get rid of them. You all need to get rid of the bedbugs together. This way, the infestation is cleared for good.
Before learning how to get rid of bed bugs, you must first make an effort prevent their spread.
How to Eliminate Bed Bugs with Heat
Bed bugs are resistant to many things, but heat is not one of them. If you’re wondering what kills bed bugs and is readily available, then here is one of them.
Bedbugs can’t withstand temperatures above 113 F. if you expose the affected clothes and bed linen to these temperatures or even higher, you’re sure to kill all the bugs plus their eggs.
Use the highest heat setting for washing and drying the affected material. In addition to killing the bugs, this will clean any blood stains, fecal matter or dead skin left on the fabric.
You can also use your hair dryer at the highest heat setting to ‘spray’ affected fabric and even furniture. Just ensure that you’re not dealing with sensitive items that heat could damage. Concentrate the heat waves in those places with cracks and crevices.
Steam cleaning is also a viable option. The main advantage of steam is that it can penetrate deep into the fabrics reaching even baby bedbugs in their hideouts. If you do not have the steaming facilities, you can hire portable steaming equipment.
There are also smaller steaming devices which are hand-held. With one of these, you can access even the most hidden places in your house. The devices have different attachments to suit different situations.
Applying heat works well, but we also have items in the house that can’t withstand such heat. Thus we need alternative ways of getting rid of bedbugs.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally
Before you think of pesticides and such other chemicals for killing bed bugs, you may want to think of some home remedies. What’s more, you should be cautious of bringing chemicals to the house, especially if you have young kids. The chemicals can cause them discomfort, allergy or worse still infections.
Again we have to begin where the most trouble is. Where do bed bugs hide in most cases? On the bed frame. Your efforts have to start here. Isolate the bed from the rest of the room. This means that it should not be touching the floor or the walls.
Fix bed bug interceptors under the feet of the bed. Interceptors look like small bowls which are filled with a sticky substance to keep the bed bugs from crawling to the floor.
Encase the mattress as earlier elaborated then take the rest of the bed linen to the laundry. Remember this is not a short-term process as the bed bugs can live up to one year without feeding.
If encasing is going to work, you have to be ready to leave the items as such for a whole year.
Encasing as Bed Bugs Solution
Fortunately, you can continue using an encased mattress since the bugs cannot move in or out of it. You can also bag other items that are affected provided you’re ready to give up their service for 12 months.
For those items that can’t be encased, you can use a natural pesticide. Such pesticides are plant-based are safer to use in the house. You can find them in different forms including powder and liquid. The liquid is always more effective as it can be sprayed to the furthest corners.
Vacuum cleaning also works well when done multiple times. The suction of a high powered vacuum cleaner can pull out bed bugs and their eggs from their hiding. Vacuum the mattresses, box springs, carpets and so on. Pay attention to the seams; bed bugs seem to have a preference for hiding there.
Also, concentrate on the areas where pets live, they also harbor the bugs. After cleaning out the bed bugs, the vacuum bag should be disposed of with caution lest they crawl back to the house. Take it far from the house or better still, burn it.
Natural Products that Eliminate Bed Bugs
Some of the products that are readily available in your kitchen or bathroom can go a long way in repelling bed bugs.
One of them is tea-tree oil. In addition to its anti-bacterial qualities, this essential oil can eliminate bed bugs from your home. Add tea tree oil to the water you’re using to clean. You can also add some drops to your clothes and bed linen when cleaning them.
If you have a spray bottle, you can spray the solution on to the furniture, bed, linen, carpet and other surfaces. Not only is the solution safe to use, but it will also leave your house with a pleasant scent.
Other essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint are also effective in eliminating bed bugs. The bugs can’t stand the strong smell, and will readily vacate any area where they’re applied. They are a great option to use since they add a great smell to your house.
If you choose to use the oils in their concentrated form, you can apply a few drops on the frame of the bed. Their strong smell lasts up to a week, effectively eliminating the bed bugs and their eggs.
Baking soda can also have noticeable results. Apply a thin layer of the powder in the affected areas using a brush. After a couple of days, vacuum the powder then reapply.
You have to note that these natural products are rather mild, so you have to apply several times for lasting results.
What If the Bed Bugs Persist?
Bed bugs are stubborn and can be very challenging to deal with. Just when you think you’ve done everything right, one comes crawling right before your eyes.
Their very high multiplication rate makes it difficult to eliminate them permanently. If you leave behind even a few eggs, they will hatch within days. The bugs also develop resistance to certain products when they are used over and over again. If you have been using a product, and it’s no longer working, try to switch to a different product.
If the infestation is severe, you may have to rethink the idea of doing it yourself. You can contact the experts who will assess the situation and advise you on the products that best suit your home. Most of these fumigators will insist on using pesticides since the results are faster and more effective. You can express your concerns about the safety of your home so that they can select products that are safe for domestic use.
The number one trick when dealing with bed bugs is to start the treatment right away. For every day that you delay, there are tens of eggs being laid.
How to get rid of bed bugs doesn’t matter, you have to be consistent. It is unlikely that any method will get rid of the bugs permanently with the first try. What worked for one person will not necessarily work for you. Keep trying.