You wake up on a bright, sunny morning, ready for a wonderful day-until you notice itchy red welts on your arm. You think you know why, but the cause still unnerves you: bed bugs.
Then you puzzle about how bed bugs could have multiplied in your clean, orderly home. The truth is that bed bugs aren’t a sign of a dirty house. They can come to the cleanest homes as well.
If you have bed bugs, you likely wonder what to do next. We’ll give you a step-by-step guide for getting rid of them for good.
- Make sure you really have bed bugs.
Besides the small red bites on your body, you should look for other signs of bed bugs. Rust-like spots on your mattress indicate signs of crushed bed bugs. You may also see egg shells, fecal spots, or shed skins, or smell a musty odor.
Now, see if you can spot the bugs themselves. Bed bugs span about Â½ inch long and have flat, oval-shaped bodies. They appear brown or reddish-brown.
Bed bugs aren’t noticeable during the day because they like to hide from the light. Look in hidden places in your bed like cracks or rips in the head board, box spring, or mattress. After you check all the beds in your home, you should also look in other areas such as:
- Inside cracks in your wall paper
- Behind and under furniture
- Inside furniture seams
- Under carpet edges
- Behind pictures and posters on the wall
- Behind baseboards
- In your closet, particularly on clothing
- In electrical appliances like radios
- In luggage and backpacks
- Behind electrical outlets
It’s important to eradicate bed bugs right away because their population will continue to multiply. A female bed bug can lay up to 250 eggs during her life. The eggs take 6 to 10 days to hatch, but once they do, the baby bed bugs are hungry for blood.
- Call a pest control expert.
Once you’ve identified you bed bugs, the time has come to call in a pest control expert. They have the experience and knowledge to completely eliminate the insects.
Your certified pest control expert will probably use a method called fumigation. Fumigation fills the area with pesticides to poison and kill the bed bugs. During the fumigation process, you and your family will need to stay away from your home, since the pesticides can prove dangerous to humans. Once the bed bugs are eliminated, the pest control expert will ventilate the area and tell you when it’s safe to enter.
The pest control expert may also use other methods, such as heat and steam treatments.
- Examine your mattress.
Once the pest control company finishes its work, you may worry about your previously infested mattress. Is it time to throw your mattress away? That depends on how much damage the bed bugs caused. If the mattress has holes or tears, you may want to replace it.
You should vacuum your mattress thoroughly, but you can’t wash your mattress or it will develop mold. To protect it, ask your pest control expert about bedbug-certified mattress and box spring covers that will keep bed bugs out.
4. Wash, wash, wash.
Now that the bed bugs have been eliminated, you need to get rid of anything they left behind. Wash and dry all mattress covers, sheets, pillow cases, clothing, curtains, rugs, shoes, backpacks, and stuffed animals on a hot setting. The heat will kill any remaining bed bugs.
If you still worry about bed bugs in your linens, use a steam machine to spray steam at the corners and seams.
If an item should not be washed, simply place it in the dryer on a hot setting. You can also spray it with tea tree oil or another non-toxic spray and store it in a sealed bag for several months.
- Clean with tea tree oil.
Bed bugs despise the smell and taste of tea tree oil. To keep them away, place a few drops of oil at the corners of your bed frame. As you wash your bedding and clothes, add a little more of this oil.
You can also create your own tea tree spray by mixing 18 oz. water with 18 drops tea tree oil. Spray it on all the beds, carpet, and furniture in your home.
Vacuuming your bed, carpet, and furniture will remove bed bugs and their eggs. Just don’t forget to empty the bag right away in an outside garbage. This may also be a good time to invest in carpet cleaning, as steam eradicates the bugs.
- Place bed bug interceptors.
If your recent bed bug infestation freaks you out and you worry about bed bugs returning, consider bed bug interceptors. These small plastic trays go under bed legs and prevent bed bugs from climbing to the bed. They’ll also let you know quickly if you have another infestation because you’ll see bed bugs trapped inside the tray.
Fortunately, bed bugs do not transmit disease to humans, but their bites-and their presence-are still unwelcome. Bed bugs can live for a year without food, so make sure you’ve eliminated all bed bugs and eggs after an infestation.
If you suspect bed bugs have invaded your home, call a pest control expert. Follow these tips to eliminate bed bugs and prevent their return.