As bed bugs have become more resistant to insecticides, they’ve become an increasing problem in North America. Because these little insects can be transported in any type of material, from clothing to luggage, it isn’t uncommon to hear about them infesting hotels, dorm rooms, and, most terrifyingly, your own home. If you’ve had any experience with bed bugs, you probably know how they can bite and irritate, causing itchy, scratchy rashes. And, if you currently have bed bugs in your home, you’re probably desperate to know how to get rid of them! Unfortunately, having these insects professionally removed can be very expensive. Fortunately, we have a way you can get rid of them yourself!
1. Locate the Insects
If you’re unsure of where the bugs have taken up residence, this is the first thing you need to do. Check your couches, your carpets, your clothes, and your luggage. But, most importantly, check your beds. As their names suggest, this is their favorite place to get comfy and start multiplying. You can do this by removing all the sheets and blankets from the beds and checking them for signs of bed bugs. Typically, bed bugs look like little dark brown spots. However, they also leave dark bits of excrement where they’re nesting. Look for both when trying to locate where the bugs have set up shop.
2. Check the Furniture
Unfortunately, bed bugs don’t just stay on fabric. In fact, after fabrics, wood is their favorite place to infest. So, you’ll need to check any wooden bed frames you have and anything beside the infected area that’s made of wood. This means bed side tables, dressers, boudoirs, etc, must all be given a thorough examination for the bugs. Unfortunately, if they’ve gotten into the wood, there’s very little that can be done to remove them. At that point, the best thing to do is throw out the infected object.
3. Wash Everything
Now that you’ve figured out where you infestation is, it’s time to start cleaning. The first thing to do is to throw everything they might be on into the laundry. When you’re collecting the items that need to be laundered, be sure to use something sealed, so the bugs don’t move to a different location. It’s probably best to wear disposable gloves and to place the items in garbage bags until they can be placed safely in the washing machine. These items will need to be washed at the machines highest possible temperature. And, they should also be dried at the highest temperatures, too. Make sure to put on a fresh pair of gloves to transfer them from the washing machine to the dryer.
4. Steam Everything Else
For items that are too big to be washed, using a steam machine is the best alternative. Steam machines can usually be rented at hardware stores. Turn this machine to its highest temperature and steam everything you suspect the bed bugs might have been able to access. This includes furniture, box springs, and carpets. To be safe, you might want to repeat this several times over a day.
5. Use a Mattress Cover
If the bed bugs have gotten into your bed frame or box springs, you might be able to purchase a mattress cover that prevents bed bugs. These covers are placed over the infected mattress and essentially deprive the bugs the things they need to survive. They will starve or suffocate. However, you will still need to clean the mattresses to remove the dead bugs and leftover eggs.
6. Get in the Cracks
If you suspect the bed bugs have gotten into nooks or crannies in your walls, floors, or ceilings, you might want to get an insecticide to spray into these areas. These will help kill the bugs in hard to reach places. However, you want to be careful if these come as sprays, as this can just cause the bugs to spread out, making the infestation worse!
7. Clean with Tea Tree Oil
That’s right! The essential oil from tea trees not only repels most insects with its powerful smell, but it also kills bed bugs. If you dilute a little in warm water and scrub or spray the infested areas, not only will you get rid of the little pests, but your home will smell extremely fresh. This is also a solution that can be easily repeated every day for a week or so after you’ve done all the cleaning, just to make sure they stay gone.
Once you’ve laundered, cleaned, and sprayed, you’ll need to thoroughly vacuum your home. You might want to do this several times, just to make sure you’ve gotten every last one and their eggs. And, wearing gloves, thoroughly clean the vacuum out when you’re done. This will keep them from getting back on you and into the house if they’re still alive in the vacuum.
9. Spread Silica Gel
Silica gel, the little beads in those small packets that are used to keep fabrics fresh, can kill bed bugs. The gel sticks to the bed bugs and dries them out. Once you’ve cleaned as best you can, you might want to spread the stuff around the infected areas, just in case there are any stragglers.
10. Throw It Away
If you suspect an item you recently acquired brought in the bed bugs, then the best thing to do is throw it away. The same is true if you can’t get the bugs out of any wooden furniture in your house. While it might seem like a waste, sometimes discarding the problem items is the best way to make sure your bed bug problem is completely gone.
Bed bug eggs can take up to two weeks to hatch, which means if you didn’t get them all, you might be faced with another infestation. Keep vigilant and make sure the areas you recently cleaned don’t start showing signs of bed bug activity again. And, if they do, or if you just want to be safe, repeat the steps above.