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Gone are the days of tucking your kids into bed, and telling them to “sleep tight, and not let the bed bugs bite.” Unfortunately, bed bugs have become a reality for many people, and they are not going away anytime soon.
Although pesticides and chemicals can be used to treat them, health-conscious consumers are looking for more eco-friendly, green alternatives to get rid of bed bugs.
How effective treatment is at ridding your home of the pesky creatures quickly, will depend on:
- How large is the infestation. The sooner you discover bed bugs in your home, the easier it can be to get them under control.
- Where you live. If you live in an apartment or condo, all neighbors must be vigilant in preventing a reoccurrence after treatment.
- Clutter. Bed bugs don’t stay on the bed all the time. They only go there to feast as you sleep. Bed bugs hide everywhere so if you find one, it is likely that there is much more hiding somewhere in cracks, baseboards, under furniture, etc. Therefore, it helps to reduce clutter.
You undoubtedly will want to know how to kill bed bugs if you find evidence that they have taken up residence in your home. The earlier you find them, the easier it is for getting rid of bed bugs once and for all!
Do you need professional help to get rid of the bed bugs in your home?
If the infestation appears small, you may choose to fight it on your own before calling in professional exterminators. However, it is important to realize that adult bed bugs can lay from 5-12 eggs/day, so the infestation can get out of hand very quickly. As a result, it is a good idea to bring in professional pest control as soon as possible, if you find that you are not getting the problem under control. In addition, it is not a one-time treatment. It is an ongoing battle that can last several months.
How do you begin to get rid of the bugs?
The first thing you can do is locate where the bed bugs and eggs are located. Grab a flashlight and a magnifying glass to help your search.
They are most likely to be found in:
- The seams and crevices of your mattress
- Your box spring
- Bed frame
- Peeling wall paper
- Window frames
- The back of wall hangings
- The edges of wall-to-wall carpeting.
If the infestation is large, they may have moved beyond your bedroom. Another place to check is upholstered chairs and sofas in your home.
Once you find the bugs and eggs, you can begin to treat your home and belongings. This is what you should do:
- You can start by vacuuming all the areas (carpets, beds, baseboards, etc.) where you find the bugs and what they have left behind. Just be sure that, after vacuuming, you remove the vacuum bag, seal it in a plastic bag, and place the enclosed vacuum bag outside your home. You will also want to clean your vacuum hose in case any eggs or bugs remain in there.
- You may want to steam clean your carpets, but it is inadvisable to do so with your mattress as this can create other problems with moisture and mold.
- Instead, with your mattress, you can use a brush to scrub the seams and around the buttons to get rid of the bugs and their tiny, sticky eggs.
- You can then purchase mattress and box spring encasements (sold on Amazon or local stores), which will prevent any leftover bugs from escaping and so they eventually will die. Be aware that adult bed bugs can live up to one year without feeding, so do not remove the encasements for a long time. Just as the encasements prevent the escape of bugs, they also protect your bed from new invasions.
- Sometimes, the bed, box spring, and bed frame have to be discarded, but it is probably best not to do this until you know that the infestation is under control otherwise you risk your new mattress also becoming infested. An exterminator will be able to advise you when it is necessary to get rid of the bed.
- Another thing you need to do is get rid of clutter, as this will only provide bugs with more places to hide.
- In addition, to reduce places where bugs can hide, you also need to make sure to fix any cracks and crevices in walls, wallpaper, and so forth. However, before doing this, you need to treat these sites and other areas such as the baseboards, edges of the carpets, and all other locations with natural products such as Diatomaceous Earth. This product causes damage to the exoskeleton of the bug, so that it dries up and dies. The latter is not toxic to humans and pets, but it is to bed bugs. Be sure to do this for several weeks, because you may miss some bed bugs, and new ones may hatch. It is not recommended that you put insecticides on beds and bed linens, for obvious health reasons.
- Try Kleen Green TM. This non-pesticide spray contains enzymes, which make the bed bug’s outer shell melt prematurely.
- Bed linens, clothing, and stuffed animals need to be laundered in hot water and dried on high heat for at least 20 minutes. In fact, some experts recommend high heat for as many as 60 minutes. This will kill all bed bug stages. After this, you need to put the clean clothing and stuffed animals in sealed bags to prevent reinfestation. When putting bed linens back on the bed, ensure that they never make contact with the floor. Also, move your bed away from the wall, and ensure that the only contact the bed has with the floor is its four legs.
- If you live in an apartment or condo, reduce the chances of bed bugs coming from other people’s apartments by sealing any spaces in the plumbing or heating.
If you need to hire professional exterminators, here are some green tips:
- Use heat treatment Instead of the use of chemicals which is not always completely effective and is harmful to your health, heat is a better choice. Do your research as to what kinds of heat services companies offer. Some offer steam, propane, or electric heat. However, some argue that these sources do not offer complete, safe, or hot enough treatment. Some companies use the “Heat Assault” system, which claims to reach the desired temperatures necessary to kill bed bugs and their eggs, without damage to your electronics and other items in your home.
- One last thing that you should do is a monitor for the continued presence of bed bugs, and prevent them from being able to get up your bed and into other furniture too. To do this, you can place the legs of your bed inside metal tins or glass jars of soapy water, and/or coat the legs of the bed with petroleum jelly or double-sided tape. Alternatively, you can purchase bed bug traps that can do the same thing.
Hopefully, you never need to put your knowledge of how to kill bed bugs to use. However, if you do, the information above will give you a good chance of getting any infestations under control once and for all.