Bed bugs might be tiny in size but once they make their way in your home, they can wreak havoc or create a chaotic atmosphere that can take a lot of effort and persistence to eliminate. With a size as small as an apple seed, these unwelcome visitors know too well where to hide and can live for months without feeding while still reproducing rapidly.
Although bed bugs are not known to cause any diseases, their bites can be itchy and unforgiving making you feel quite uncomfortable. They can congregate in your home, and especially on your mattress, much faster than how you can exterminate them.
So, with that said, this short guide will try to uncover the truth about these tiny wingless insects as well as how you can get rid of them much faster.
Where do they come from?
There are many ways by which bed bugs can find their way in your home. Due to their tiny bodies, these non-flying insects can bulldoze their way in by sticking on your luggage after traveling. They can also penetrate into your home through secondhand furniture and beddings. Other rare cases that have been reported include movie theaters and public transportation.
What are their hiding spots?
Unlike ants and bees, which have nests, bed bugs don’t rely on nests but rather live in groups in areas with crevices and cracks. They usually use their flattened bodies to their advantage to make them penetrate to extremely thin crevices (actually as thin as a credit card).
In a nutshell, the initial hideout spots for bed bugs are close to their feeding spots and in this case, in the mattress. Since they survive by feeding on human blood, your mattress, box spring, bed frame and couches are some of the areas where these insects thrive most.
Since the females hatch eggs several times a year, bugs can reproduce much faster and might eventually spread to nearby rooms or the entire apartment.
So, with such valuable information at your disposal, let’s now shift the gears to our main agenda of the day which is getting rid of bed bugs from your mattress.
Getting rid of the bugs
As we mentioned earlier, bed bugs feed on human blood. They usually come out at night making it difficult to know whether you’ve been bitten by a bug or a mosquito. However, once you realize that your home has a bed bug infestation, here are 8 steps that you can use to get rid of them.
- Identify problem areas
One mistake most people usually make when it comes to dealing with bed bugs is waiting for too long to take action. You see, the longer you take, the harder it becomes to handle the situation. So, the moment you sense danger, it’s wise that you spend some time to search through the bedroom furniture to see whether you’ll see any dark spots.
Check along the cracks, behind the headboard, inside the pillows, and on the mattress. Note that bed bugs are very tiny insects (about 5-7 mm). Therefore, noticing them can be extremely difficult unless you’re very careful.
- Reduce clutter
Once you’ve identified the problem areas, try to remove any portable clutter from your bedroom to decongest it. Remove your bedsheets, mattress cover, pillowcases, kids’ toys, and blankets from your bedroom.
Caution: since most of these items are already infested, carry them using plastic/garbage bags on your way to the washing machine to avoid any further contamination to uninfected areas.
Once you’re in the laundry area, wash the beddings then dry them with the highest temperature they can withstand. Since the bugs won’t die in the washing machine, the dryer is the one that hits the final nail in their coffin.
- Wash and sanitize your bedroom
When you’re through with washing all contaminated beddings, put them back in the plastic bags and seal them tightly to avoid any contamination. Now, ready your vacuum, stiff brush and water mixed with vinegar solution.
Start by vacuuming the mattress thoroughly and very carefully while paying close attention to seams, crevices and any other places you suspect might have bed bugs. While vacuuming, ensure that you use the hose attachment for efficiency.
Using a stiff brush, scrub the bed frame and the headboard carefully while paying more attention to cracks and crevices. Scrub and vacuum your floor, your carpet and the walls, especially those places with cracks, as they too provide a perfect hideout for bugs.
Finally, inspect and vacuum the drawers of your wardrobe and dressing table just to be sure that you don’t leave some behind.When you’re through with vacuuming, empty the vacuum cleaner bag outside and wash it thoroughly.
Caution: Don’t use a brush attachment during the cleaning process as bed bugs can stick on the bristles.
- Seal up your mattress
When you’re through cleaning your room and the mattress, use an encasement or rather a mattress protector to seal the mattress against the bugs. Here, we strongly suggest getting only the highest quality encasements that are large enough to seal the entire mattress without leaving any space.
At least by doing this, you’ll be able to suffocate and starve the bed bugs that are inside the mattress as they won’t be able to sneak through the encasement.
Luckily today, there are many vendors including online stores such as Amazon where you can shop for zippered encasements. If you have some extra bucks to spend, you can purchase dust and waterproof mattress protectors that offer added protection against dust, stains, and spills.
Caution: bed bugs can survive for months between meals; so the mattress encasement should go for at least a year just to be certain that all the bugs inside are dead.
- Disassemble the bed
Though a tiring endeavor, dismantling the bed completely is one smart way of exposing bed bug hideout spots. At least this way, you’ll gain access to those profile areas where you could not before. For the case of box springs, stand it up then shine a flashlight underneath to see whether the fabric has holes (potential hideout spots).
- Treat the infested areas by spraying insecticides
After cleaning and vacuuming your mattress, you will be able to tell whether the infestation is mild or severe. If the bed bug contamination is serious, then you can proceed to spray insecticides. Sprays come in two forms which are the pesticide and the non-pesticide varieties.
While the pesticide varieties are active and achieve faster results, they’ve very toxic on the other hand making them risky when sprayed in homes with kids and pets around. So, if you have active children around or maybe if you’re a pet parent, consider spraying non-toxic sprays especially those with plant-based materials as the active ingredients.
Before spraying, always take your time to read through the instructions to ensure that you don’t spray excess insecticides on your mattress. Also, ensure the type of insecticide you’re using is specified for your specific mattress to avoid any damage.
- Use a steamer
Although spraying insecticides does work, spraying them repeatedly will expose your body to potentially harmful chemicals that can lead to long-term health consequences. So, to avoid this, an alternative approach to controlling bed bug infestation is by using a steamer.
Bed bugs hate heat but a steamer is not just a steamer. You need to invest in an industrial-grade steamer/heater that can attain high temperatures of over 120°F to create a lethal heat that’s capable of eliminating all cycles of bed bugs from the eggs, the nymphs, to the adults.
The steamer should have a high pressure behind it to ensure that the heat penetrates to profile areas or those hard to reach areas. Steamers work well as alternatives to pesticides especially in hospitals and nursing homes where chemical sensitivity can be a huge concern.
- Consider glue traps
When you’re done with all the above remedies, move your mattress away from the wall and avoid blankets, bed sheets or any other bedding from hanging too far to the ground. Use interceptor cups on each of the feet of your bed to trap and kill the bugs. These cups contain a powerful insecticide that intercepts and kills the bugs when they try to climb the legs.
Additionally, you may consider using glue traps by placing them near the edge of the bed. These traps contain a powerful adhesive that traps the bugs whenever they get into contact.
To wrap up everything, bed bugs are dangerous and can cause real chaos if you’re not careful. Since they feed on human blood, their bites can cause itching and discomfort. For those asking whether it’s possible to get rid of a bed bug infestation, the answer is YES!
By following the steps we’ve described above, you can successfully eradicate bed bug infestation fast and effectively. However, though, there are things you need to keep in mind such as avoiding second-hand furniture and washing any washable items after coming home from a vacation.
Last but not least, bed bugs can breed almost anywhere whether it’s in a clean well-organized home or a totally disorganized home. All it takes is one contaminated article to start an infestation.