Chapter 4: Bed Bug Prevention and Treatment Options
If you’ve discovered a bed bug infestation, the first thing you’ll want to do is try not to panic. Although bed bug treatment can be a complex process, it is possible to salvage your furniture and other belongings, and you do not want to toss your belongings in the trash. However, the best way to get rid of bed bugs is to keep them from entering your home in the first place.
In this chapter, we’ll show you how to keep bed bugs away so you can keep your peace of mind. We’ll also talk about how to kill bed bugs if they’ve already made their way inside. If you have any questions, we’re here for you at Pestech Pest Solutions.
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How Do You Prevent Bed Bugs?
It’s always best to focus on preventing a bed bug infestation than treating one. There are many ways to reduce the risk of an infestation, even if a few bed bug hitchhikers get inside.
Here are tips to keep these pests out of your home:
- Educate yourself: Learn about bed bugs and what they look like, where they hide and how to search for them. This will help you correctly identify an insect if you find one and enable you to use the right treatment methods. It also helps to learn about bed bug behavior to take proper preventive measures in the future.
- Remove clutter: It’s important to remove clutter to eliminate hiding places and make it easier to remove any insects you might find.
- Avoid used furniture: Although used furniture might be a bargain, especially if it’s free, it may have come from a home with a bed bug infestation. It’s best to avoid any used furniture if you can, but especially resist bringing furniture found on the street into your home. If you decide to purchase or rent used furniture, check each piece for bed bugs before bringing it inside. Consider only buying or renting used furniture from a place with a bed bug prevention policy.
- Keeps bags away from beds: Do not put luggage, backpacks, bags or purses on your bed or anywhere else you sleep. If you stay in a hotel room, keep your luggage and bags off of the bed. Be especially cautious with soiled clothing because bed bugs are attracted to dirty laundry. In a study from 2017, bed bugs were twice as likely to cluster on bags containing dirty clothes than clean clothes. This study suggests that the human scent triggers a bed bug’s host-seeking behavior. It may be best to keep dirty laundry in a sealed bag, whether you place it on the bed or not.
- Check the hotel room first: Check the bed and furniture for bed bugs when you stay in a hotel or any other overnight accommodation as soon as you get there. Bring a small flashlight with you to perform an inspection, and place your bags in the bathroom. Start by checking the mattress, box spring and headboard — including behind the headboard if possible. Also, make sure to check any cracks or crevices on the luggage rack. If you wish to do a more thorough investigation, examine other furniture in the room, including any framed pieces hanging on the walls. If you find any bed bugs, let the hotel staff know immediately and ask for a room in a different part of the building.
- Use a mattress cover: If you’re concerned about bed bugs in your apartment building, keep your mattress in a protective cover. A mattress cover will help prevent an infestation by sealing in any bed bugs hiding in the mattress and preventing them from getting out and feeding. It’s essential to choose a mattress cover with the right features for it to work properly. This includes a tight seal and a zipper with tiny teeth, so bed bugs can’t slip through.
- Wash your clothes: If you recently traveled and are concerned about bed bugs, wash and dry your clothing immediately, using the highest temperature the fabric can handle. If you cannot launder your clothes the moment you get home, seal them in a plastic bag and keep them in the garage until you can. Don’t forget about your shoes and put them, along with fabric bags, in the dryer for 30 minutes. Use a medium or high heat setting, and always make sure the item can handle a dryer first.
- Unpack with caution: When you get home from a trip, avoid tossing your bags onto the couch. Aim to inspect your luggage in an area separate from sleeping or resting spaces first. Unpack your bags on a hard surface under a bright light or use a flashlight to examine the luggage. Vacuum the inside and the outside of the suitcase using an attachment. After vacuuming, empty the contents into a tightly sealed plastic bag and put it in the trash. Store the suitcase in a big plastic bag or box as an extra precaution.
- Freeze luggage: If you have a chest freezer, you might place your entire suitcase in there when you return from a trip. A freezer can kill bed bugs if it’s set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less, and you can keep items in there for at least four days. Be sure not to freeze anything that could get damaged.
- Inspect and vacuum: Regularly inspect your home for an infestation so you can address an issue early. Vacuum often to remove any bed bug hitchhikers that may have gotten inside.
- Use the right luggage: You might select your luggage with bed bugs’ least favorite colors in mind. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, bed bugs prefer red and black shelters, while yellow and green areas repel them. They likely prefer darker colors because they make better hiding spots. It might also be helpful to choose a suitcase with a hard, smooth cover since bed bugs generally are not good at climbing slick surfaces.
Are Bed Bugs Hard to Get Rid Of?
Bed bugs are hard to get rid of– for several reasons. And that’s why it’s usually best to tackle an infestation with the help of a pro.
Here’s why you probably don’t want to take a DIY approach to a bed bug problem:
- You might not know you have bed bugs: First, you might not know you have an infestation until you see bite marks or notice signs of a large infestation. Some people don’t react to bed bugs at all, even after being bitten repeatedly. By the time you realize you have a bed bug problem, it may be too difficult to solve it on your own.
- Bed bugs are resilient: Bed bugs are not the type of insect to go down without a fight. Some bed bug populations have developed a resistance to common pesticides, and a lot of store-bought insecticides are not effective at killing the eggs. Another problem with a DIY insecticide is it might only kill a few bugs and send the others running, spreading the infestation to other areas. Plus, let’s not forget that bed bugs can go months without eating.
- It’s hard to find bed bugs: You already know adult bed bugs are experts at squeezing their flat bodies in the tiniest places, making them hard to find. Just a single pregnant bed bug can be enough to start an infestation. It can also be hard to spot bed bug eggs, which might be hidden in cracks or crevices. Plus, the eggs stick to surfaces, so a vacuum cleaner might not suck them up.
Depending on the size of an infestation, it could take a combination of treatment methods and careful monitoring by a trained professional to get a bed bug problem under control.
How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Even though it’s a challenge, you still have options when it comes to bed bug treatment. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
1. Determine the Size of the Infestation
First, you’ll want to determine the size of the infestation by inspecting the affected areas and the surrounding spaces. This will keep you from treating rooms that aren’t infested and can help you keep an infestation contained while you wait for a professional to help. If possible, gather a sample of the insect to show an expert and correctly identify the pest — just to be sure you have bed bugs and not something else. Keep a record of when you found the infestation and each action you took.
2. Isolate the Bed
After you’ve determined you have a bed bug infestation, you’ll want to turn your bed into a protected island. This will help reduce the amount of bed bug bites you get while you wait to treat the area. To do this, first thoroughly vacuum the area around the bed. Be sure to seal the vacuum bag and dispose of it outside.
Next, move the bed at least 6 inches away from the walls and remove any bedding that touches the floor. Then, enclose the mattress and box spring with a smooth, sturdy mattress cover designed for protection against bed bugs. Lastly, place interceptor traps under each leg of the bed.
3. Clean and Store Items
It’s critical to remove as many bed bug hiding spots as you can. You’ll want to clean items and clothing and then seal them in airtight plastic bags or boxes to keep them safe from bed bugs. After you’ve controlled the infestation, you can take the items back out — this is just a temporary part of the process. You’ll want to clean and store everything, including clothing and items on shelves or in other storage boxes. Make sure nothing is left on the floor. To clean items, use these methods:
- Wash and dry clothes, bedding and stuffed animals: Toss washable clothes, stuffed animals, bedding, pillows and shoes in the washer and dryer at the highest temperature possible. If clothes are already clean, you can skip the washer and throw them in the dryer for 30 minutes. Be sure to place clothes in sealed plastic bags such as jumbo Ziploc bags or hole-free garbage bags before carrying them from the infested room to the washer or dryer.
- Seal or hand-wash other items: Wash plastic toys and other items with hot soapy water before storing them in plastic boxes. Seal items that can’t be washed, such as books and electronics, in plastic bags and bins until you can treat them. To treat items and kill bed bugs, consider non-chemical methods such as using heat or freezing temperatures. Anything you do not wish to treat should be stored in a plastic container and kept unopened for a year.
After all of the items are placed in storage bins, keep them away from the walls. If you decide you want to get rid of some things, be sure they do not have any bed bugs. It’s recommended to avoid moving or discarding infested furniture, which can cause the infestation to spread.
4. Vacuum Thoroughly
After you clean and pack everything away, it’s time to vacuum every part of the room. It helps if your vacuum has a crevice tool so you can reach the tight hiding places. If you have a brush attachment, bring that along, too. You might be able to use a brush attachment to loosen sticky bed bug eggs. If you’re worried about allergens related to bed bugs, consider using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
Once you have your vacuum and attachments ready to go, you’ll want to vacuum everywhere, including all surfaces around the bed, inside furniture drawers, along the trim and over upholstered furniture. Make sure you cover every inch, including nail holes, and especially cracks and crevices.
After you’ve vacuumed, seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag and keep it in the garbage outside, as it might contain live bed bugs or eggs. If you use a bagless vacuum, empty the contents into a sealed plastic bag, throw it out and then wash the container with soap and hot water. Next, wash the attachments with soap and warm water. Finally, store the vacuum and accessories in a large closed garbage bag.
5. Make Repairs
Bed bugs can hide in holes in the walls or cracks in the floor. Therefore, you’ll want to look around the room for any cracks, gaps or potential hiding spots and make repairs. You might apply a sealant around moldings, for example, or repair switch plates to eliminate gaps. Also, look at the hardware in furniture or walls and fill in the holes. Try to seal or paint over any space that could conceal bed bugs.
6. Wait for the Pros
While the above steps might be enough to solve a minor bed bug problem, you’ll generally want to call the pros if you have an infestation. Vacuuming can remove some of the adults and nymphs, but it’s not very effective at getting rid of the eggs, which is why you’ll need to use a special product. In addition, it’s challenging to find every hiding spot.
A professional may combine chemical with non-chemical treatments to eliminate insects and eggs you couldn’t see or find, and they’ll monitor the situation to ensure it’s under control.
7. Continue to Monitor
After treatment, you’ll still need to monitor the situation. Inspect the affected areas at least once every seven days in case some of the eggs were left behind. Place bed bug interceptors under the legs of furniture and continue taking preventive measures, such as vacuuming every few days.
Does Washing Clothes Kill Bed Bugs?
While washing alone may not be enough to kill bed bugs, high heat in the dryer can destroy them.
What Is the Most Effective Treatment for Bed Bugs?
Perhaps the biggest issue with bed bugs is being able to find all of them. That’s why the best way to kill bed bugs is to hire a professional who’s trained in pest management. Only a pro with experience controlling bed bugs can determine the most effective treatment for your unique situation. Someone with training and knowledge knows where to look for bed bugs and their eggs, what treatments to apply and how to manage the situation properly. They also have access to specialized tools and treatments to tackle a heavy infestation successfully.
Get Rid of Bed Bugs With Pestech Pest Solutions
When you think of bed bug extermination and everything it entails, you might feel overwhelmed. The good news is you don’t have to face an infestation alone. Bed bug professionals can help you through every stage of pest control, from identifying the insect to making sure an infestation does not return.
Even though bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases to humans, they still need to be taken seriously. Bed bugs can impact your mental health and decrease your comfort at home. You and your family deserve a good night’s sleep — every night of the year. A bed bug infestation does not need to keep that from happening.
If you live in New York and discover a bed bug infestation, we want to help you. At Pestech Pest Solutions, we understand the urgency of solving a bed bug problem, and we are prepared to offer fast and effective treatment. We’ll first visit your home to provide a thorough inspection, and then devise a step-by-step strategy to eliminate the problem. Since we are a QualityPro-certified company, you can be sure we are committed to excellence, service and our customers’ safety. To learn more about our pest control services, contact us today!