When I was little, my parents used to tell me to not let the bed bugs bite when they would tuck me in at night. Back then, the phrase was almost comforting, and I didn’t think much of it. After all, I didn’t know exactly what they were.
Now that I’m older and know that bed bugs are very real, that statement suddenly comes with a much scarier connotation. The last thing I want to think about before I shut my eyes is sleeping with bed bugs.
If you don’t already know what a bed bug is, they’re small, brown insects that resemble an apple seed. They feed off of the blood of other animals and humans, so they definitely don’t make for good bunkmates.
Here’s a brief guide on bed bug prevention and how to get rid of them if you have an infestation:
1. Buy Encasements for Your Bed
Purchasing an encasement for your bed and box spring won’t necessarily prevent bed bugs from getting to your mattress, but it does make them easier to get rid of. The encasement stops the bugs from being able to get inside the mattress, forcing them to crawl on the exterior.
This makes the bugs very easy to spot, and you can then take the proper steps to get rid of them, which I’ll get to later.
2. Be Careful About Returning from Vacation
It can be easy to pick up bed bugs when you travel, as they tend to hide in hotel mattresses and box springs. Therefore, it’s best to unpack your suitcase somewhere other than your bedroom.
Throw all of your clothes directly into the wash, and make sure to vacuum your suitcase before putting it back into storage.
3. Regularly Wash Sheets and Clothing
While bed sheets can be a pain to take on and off, you should still wash them once a week. Dust, debris, and sweat can build up over time, and washing the sheets frequently in hot water kills those germs and potential bed bugs.
If there are any stains or spots, use a damp cloth and some upholstery shampoo to remove them. Make sure to wring out the cloth, as you don’t want to soak the mattress – this will only damage the padding and attract mold and bacteria.
4. Make Sure You’re Dealing With Bed Bugs
Don’t jump to conclusions if you wake up with a bite. There could be other insects responsible, like mosquitos, spiders, fleas or ticks. It’s important to know how to identify a bed bug. Typically, they’re the size of an apple seed, brown in color and have a flat, oval-shaped body.
They may be more reddish-brown if they recently ate. You should also look for bed bug eggs, which are pearl white and the size of a pinhead. If you’re still unsure what insect you’re dealing with, you can call pest control to help figure it out.
5. Clean Your Bedding
If you do discover that you have a bed bug infestation, the first step is to clean all of your sheets, pillows, blankets, clothing, etc. Put everything in the washer in hot water, and dry them on the highest dryer setting as well.
Next, scrub your mattress (especially the seams) to get rid of the bed bugs and any eggs that may be there. After scrubbing, vacuum all surfaces of your room. When you’ve finished, take out the vacuum bag, put it inside a resealable container and set it in a garbage can outside. You don’t want any bed bugs escaping back into your room.
6. Hire Pest Control
While you can certainly clean up infested areas, getting rid of bed bugs for good typically requires the use of chemical treatments. Using chemicals on your own can be tricky, because not all treatments are safe for your mattress, or you, for that matter. You may want to call a pest control professional to ensure you exterminate your bed bugs properly.
It’s worth it to pay a professional to get it done, as you’ll rest easy knowing those pests won’t be returning. Make sure to choose the proper professional by going through dependable referral directories.
Any good company will give you a quote before treatment, so you know exactly what you’ll have to pay. These pest experts may also fill you in on how to prevent bed bugs in the future and work with you until your bug problem is completely gone.