How To: Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are more than a nuisance. If they’re persisting in your home, here’s how to get rid of bed bugs.
Among all types of insect infestations, bed bugs are among the most feared for homeowners. These tiny insects like to live on clothes or bedding and hide in small and flat spaces.
Bed bugs feed on the blood of their subjects, causing tiny, itchy red bumps, typically in straight lines. Here are ways to recognize the problem and several solutions for homeowners who believe they have a bedbug infestation.
Time required: A few days, working as quickly as possible
Estimated cost: $600 to $1,500
For homeowners who are taking care of a bed bug infestation themselves, here are some of the best bed bug sprays to stop the infestation.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN…
When a homeowner first detects bed bugs, they should determine which rooms are infested. Bed bugs typically live in rooms where people sleep or in rooms with sofas. Once they habituate, they’ll slowly spread to other rooms, so it’s crucial to find and treat the problem as soon as they’re detected. Once bed bugs are discovered, homeowners should investigate all of their clothing and find a safe space to sleep while getting rid of the insects.
Bed Bugs vs. Ticks
Before homeowners begin, they should be sure to clarify what type of insect is making them itch. Ticks and bed bugs can often get confused for one another since both cause itchy red bumps.
So, what do bed bugs look like? Bed bugs have six legs and typically hide inside, while ticks have eight legs and prefer to live outdoors. Bed bugs also tend to cause more bites. Regardless of which creature is infesting a home, they need to be dealt with immediately.
Tips for How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
- As with any insect infestation, if a homeowner finds that there are too many bed bugs to handle themself, they should call an exterminator’s expertise to handle the situation.
- Homeowners should treat other areas in their home when getting rid of bed bugs, even if bed bugs haven’t been detected there. Treating these areas prevents future infestations.
- Be sure to wear a mask and goggles and have an area properly ventilated when working with any toxic chemicals.
- Itching bed bug bites can make them worse, so refrain from doing so if possible.
STEP 1: Make sure you identify the correct pest.
As mentioned above, people often confuse bed bugs for another type of insect infestation. In addition to ticks, bed bugs can also be misidentified as fleas. Smaller than bed bugs, fleas are about 1/10 of an inch and hard to see with the naked eye. Fleas also cause bites that become itchy and red. If a homeowner discovers that they falsely believed fleas or ticks caused a bed bug infestation, they should immediately consult with a physician, as fleas and ticks can carry disease.
STEP 2: Determine which rooms and belongings are infested.
Once a homeowner has determined that bed bugs are the problem, they need to assess the other rooms in their home and their clothing. According to Orkin, homeowners should search their homes for tiny spots that the bed bugs’ small, tiny bodies can squeeze into.
While looking for bed bugs, it is helpful to use a flashlight and a magnifying glass to make sure all areas are covered. A homeowner can also hire a professional for an inspection.
STEP 3: Contain the area to prevent further infestation.
After every area of the home has been searched and a homeowner is sure where the bed bugs are, they can now contain them. Bed bugs can easily be trapped through a vacuum, so homeowners should first do a thorough run-through of their bed, dresser, carpet, and any electronics with a handheld vacuum. Once finished, they should seal the contents in a plastic bag and clean out the vacuum.
STEP 4: Reduce clutter around the home.
When determining which areas are infested by bed bugs, homeowners should reduce the amount of clutter in their homes. Bed bugs are attracted to warm and dark spaces and commonly hide in cardboard. By throwing out unneeded items, such as newspapers and magazines, and picking up clothing off the floor, bed bugs have fewer places they can hide.
STEP 5: Remove all linens, clothes, and other items from the infested area.
Any clothes and linens affected by bed bugs should be placed in a plastic bag until they can be washed. They should be washed on the highest possible temperature setting for both the washer and the dryer. If anything cannot be put through the washer or dryer, it should be placed in an air-tight plastic bag and left alone for a few months to give the bed bugs time to die.
STEP 6: Clean and contain furniture.
Furniture that has been contaminated should be stripped of its coverings and thoroughly washed in hot water. If the furniture cannot be completely stripped and cleaned, then it must be thrown out. However, homeowners do not need to throw out their bed if they have a bedbug infestation, so long as they properly take care of their sheets.
STEP 7: Use chemical and non-chemical methods or products to kill bed bugs.
Homeowners should use safe and EPA-approved chemical sprays when attempting to rid their house of bed bugs. Bleach is also an easily accessible household chemical that can work to kill bed bugs. Since bed bugs die at extreme temperatures, use a steamer on couches or mattresses. If it’s above 95 degrees Fahrenheit outside, pack up infested items in a black plastic bag and leave them in a car. Or you can seal contaminated items in a bag and freeze them for at least four days.
STEP 8: Monitor the affected areas and be ready to treat them again.
Bed bugs remain a persistent nuisance because they can hide easily and multiply quickly. After a homeowner has treated all of the areas they believe to be infected, they should monitor them for the next few hours and days to ensure the bed bugs do not return. If they do, they’ll need to treat the area again.
STEP 9: Hire a professional.
If bed bugs are not thoroughly taken care of, it can lead to a cycle of them returning. Homeowners who want a job done quickly and efficiently—or who have struggled to eradicate their infestation fully—should hire a professional.
STEP 10: Prevent bed bugs from returning.
To prevent bed bugs from returning, homeowners should inspect past hotspots at least once a week to check for bed bug eggs. They should also practice frequent cleaning methods, such as regularly dusting and vacuuming.
Getting rid of bed bugs is a relatively simple process, but bed bugs’ persistence can make the infestation challenging to eradicate. If the above do-it-yourself methods are not working or additional bed bug bites appear on the skin, homeowners should call in a professional to take care of the infestation.