Bed bugs are one of the most disturbing little buggers to ever find in your home. They rival maggots and cockroaches in the fact that once you see them the hair on the back of your neck stands on end, your stomach clenches and you think to yourself “why me!?” as you try to remember how these nasty little monsters got into your home in the first place.
Luckily, no matter how large of a bed bug outbreak you find yourself having to contend with, you can get rid of bed bugs in just five simple steps.
STEP ONE: IDENTIFICATION
The best offense starts simply. You need to make sure that it’s actually bed bugs you’re dealing with here and not some strange beetles that are living off cracker crumbs in your mattress. Take a hard look at your bedding and any clothing near your bed (like a dirty clothes pile). This means your sheets, pillowcases, comforters, box spring, bed frame and every piece of frilly material that’s been added to your bed.
The most effective way to do this properly is to get a high powered flashlight, even a little super bright LED will work. Get down to eye level and slowly go over every inch of your bed. Start at the top and strip bedding off as you inspect it. When you strip it, place it into a black plastic bag for now.
When you get to the mattress and box spring, you should have come across signs of bed bugs. This could be tiny blood specks from them biting you or from you squashing them in your sleep. You can often find exoskeletons from molting and live bugs wandering around as you’ve disturbed them with the light and movement.
Once you know for sure it’s bed bugs, you know what you’re dealing with 100%
STEP TWO: CLEAN UP
Now that you know you’ve got bed bugs and your bedding is all in black bags it’s time to kill these little bed bugs. If you live somewhere hot, take those bags and set them in direct sunlight. This will only work if it’s very warm out, think 80-100 degrees F. Leave the bags out there all day. When night comes, dump the contents into your washer then set the dryer for a tad longer than you usually would, just in case. They can’t handle heat at all and will die.
If it’s not sunny out or you live somewhere a bit colder, skip this part and go directly to the dryer. THEN wash and dry the stuff again. Make sure to dispose of the bag immediately using an outside garbage can.
Your mattress and box spring can also be bagged and set outside if it’s warm enough. If not, you’ll have to rely on sprays and chemicals. Make sure these are safe for human use. If you don’t think you can handle this part, toss the whole bed. Frame and all. Mark it up real good so others don’t take it home when they see it by the curb.
STEP THREE: PREVENTION
Now you’ve got a bug free home right? Well, let’s keep it that way. Get yourself some proven bed bug preventative devices. Traps and all-natural repellent products work great by themselves but work even better when you combine them. Use both for at least a few weeks. This will chase off and kill any stragglers that may have been lurking around.
STEP FOUR: PROFESSIONAL HELP
Even after you think you’ve wiped them all out, you should still consult a professional exterminator to make sure you did a good job and possibly to set up a routine to handle them should they come back. Sometimes even the most thorough at-home approach can simply chase them next door or into the garage until they feel like coming back.
STEP FIVE: LEARN FROM MISTAKES
So you’ve dealt with bed bugs from beginning to end. You’re basically an expert now and if you did the right thing and consulted a professional about these critters, you definitely know more than the average Joe. Understanding that used items are a big no-no to drag into your house without a thorough inspection or treatment is the easiest thing to implement and should be shared with your friends and family so they don’t make the same mistake.
If you’re a landlord, always keep in mind you could potentially get in some legal issues if your tenants are infesting your complex or motel so pay a lot of attention to what’s coming in and out, especially if you live in a bed bug prone area of the country. Set up a monthly inspection routine with a local exterminator and set your mind at ease.
Also, here’s a great resource on the truth about bed bugs and debunking myths, very interesting.
If you ever do have to get rid of bed bug infested items, place them in plastic bags that are large enough to cover the item and label it clearly as “infested with bed bugs” or toss in dirty diapers and coffee grounds to avoid further spreading by dumpster divers and such.
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