Part of keeping up a home means managing and preventing all kinds of pests. Fruit flies, ants, rodents, fleas, etc., are all common sources of household stress, and we will all deal with at least one of them at some point in our lives. One of the worst types of pest problem to have, however, is bed bugs. In this article, we will not only discuss exactly what a bed bug is, but also how to prevent and remove bed bugs in your home.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are household pests known to hide in the cracks and creases of mattresses, headboards, and box springs. They are small (1 to 5mm in size depending on age), wingless, flat-bodied, and difficult to spot. They are nocturnal, meaning they are not active during the day. Oftentimes, their presence goes unnoticed until bites start showing up on human bodies.
Bed bugs feed off of warm-blooded animals exclusively. Their bites primarily cause skin irritation, with bites taking up to two weeks to heal in most cases. Further, the irritation caused by the bites also often leads to insomnia and increased anxiety levels. Like mosquito bites, the itching and irritation caused by bug bites can be treated using both topical cortisone creams or oral antihistamine medication, such as Benadryl.
Bed bugs are also fairly common in America, with one in five Americans reporting that they have encountered bed bugs in their homes or in hotels at some point in their lifetime. Whether or not you have dealt with bed bugs in the past, read on to learn how you can prevent bed bugs in the future.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs
1. Remove Clutter
Bed bugs like to hide in the cracks and crevices of objects and fabrics. Keeping the floor and surfaces free of clutter will make it harder for bed bugs to go unnoticed.
2. Vacuum Regularly
Vacuuming regularly will keep stray bed bugs from reproducing and spreading throughout your home.
3. Clean Your Travel Gear
Bed bugs often hitch rides into homes on clothing and other objects. Making sure you wash all travel clothing, as well as any travel bags, when you return home from trips will ensure that any bed bugs that may have found their way into your luggage will not make it to your bed.
4. Wash Sheets and Bedding Regularly
Washing and drying your sheets and bedding at a high temperature setting about once a week will keep any bed bugs from spreading to the point of infestation.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Getting rid of bed bugs can be quite tricky if your home is already infested. In severe cases, the services of a professional exterminator will be required. To get rid of bed bugs, exterminators like Michigan BBS take a combination of approaches, including chemical treatment, cold treatment, and hot treatment. A professional treatment is truly the simplest and most thorough way to deal with bed bugs.
Before you do anything, however, it is very important that you make sure the bugs you have are in fact bed bugs, rather than fleas or ticks. As mentioned earlier, bed bugs are dark brown, wingless, flat, and about 1 to 5 millimeters in size.
If your bed bug situation appears isolated to one or a few areas, it couldbe possible to get rid of them yourself. Here are a few things you can try:
Vacuuming not only prevents bed bugs from spreading, but can also be used as a tactic to get rid of bed bugs. Choose a great vacuum that can capture small particles such as hair, dust, and dander. To use a vacuum to get rid of bed bugs, make sure the vacuum suction is set to the strongest possible setting. Use vacuum attachments to help get to those hard-to-reach places that bed bugs love so much. Experts also recommend that if you are vacuuming several areas in the house, be sure to seal the end of the vacuum between vacuuming sessions to ensure that no bugs escape. When you are done vacuuming, remove, seal, and toss the vacuum bag, and be sure to wipe clean or wash any of the vacuum’s removable parts. Vacuuming away bed bugs is not likely to be 100% effective, however, so it is best to use this technique in combination with the following two.
2. Steam/Heat Cleaning
High temperatures will kill bed bugs. Before you decide to toss any items that have bed bugs, try cleaning them with steam and/or heat. This includes laundering any and all fabrics that bed bugs may have had contact with. You may also steam clean your mattress and box spring, couches, or other furniture. This process should be repeated several times.
3. Tossing Infested Items
Unfortunately, if a bed bug infestation is too severe, it will be necessary to throw away infested items. This mainly goes for mattresses, since bed bugs can sometimes fight their way into the insides of mattresses, making it nearly impossible to remove them without having to throw the mattress away entirely. Some people prefer to toss infested items even if they could be salvaged, simply because the items have become associated with the stressful experience of the infestation itself.