DIY Bed Bug Removal in 5 Easy Steps
A bed bug infestation, like all pest infestations, is an unpleasant and difficult situation to have in your home and requires immediate professional or DIY pest control. These small critters range in size from 2.5 mm to 4.5 mm and can be hard to spot due to their ability to squeeze into concealed gaps and hide from view. You may not notice the infestation until you have a number of bed bug bites or notice markings on your bed sheets. However, once noticed the problem should be dealt with swiftly and efficiently.
It is possible to treat a bed bug infestation yourself without the need for professional exterminators, below are 5 key steps to making sure that you get rid of all bed bugs and avoid future re-infestations.
1. Find All Affected Areas
If you think you have a bed bug problem, it is important to resolve the problem as soon as possible, as bed bugs reproduce very quickly and the wider they spread, the more difficult it is to completely remove the infestation.
Due to their small size, bed bugs can squeeze into small gaps and remain undetected for quite some time. You should try and check regularly for any signs of an infestation, checking your bed frame, headboard, cushion seams and behind any pictures hanging on the wall. In your search to check all areas of the house, you should also remember to look inside electrical outlets, in the carpet or in between floorboards.
Although their name suggests that they reside only in your bed, in reality, they can be found across the house, in different types of furniture and hide underneath your wallpaper. The further they go, the harder it is to eliminate them all, so small numbers should be treated as a matter of urgency.
Telltale signs of a bed bug infestation and their whereabouts include tiny droppings, small yellow eggs and also the small yellowish skins that are shed by young bed bugs. You may also notice small red stains on your bed sheets or mattress, this comes from bed bugs that have been crushed while you sleep.
2. Contain the Problem
Once you are confident that you have a bed bug infestation and have identified all areas of the house or room that are affected, you must then contain the infestation through DIY pest control to stop them further spreading around the house and to maximize your chances of eliminating the problem with the first attempt.
In this situation, the vacuum cleaner will be your close ally. Vacuuming as many surfaces as possible and paying particular attention to the areas where you have already identified the insects will allow you to safely remove and contain as many of them as possible. Once complete, you should empty the contents and remove them in a sealed bag. The vacuum cleaner, nozzle, and pipe should be checked for any remaining bed bugs and then deep cleaned to remove any eggs or bed bugs that remain undetected.
Paying particular attention to the areas where you have already identified the insects will allow you to safely remove and contain as many of them as possible.
Electrical sockets (once removed of any bed bugs with the vacuum) should be sealed shut with tape to stop them re-entering when the clean-up mission is underway. Any linen, clothes, cushion covers, and such should be sealed in a plastic bag ready to be washed on a high heat. Any valuable household items that are infested but cannot be washed or cleaned could be stored away either in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag and left somewhere safe and secure for several months until you are satisfied that all of the bugs are dead. Unfortunately, if this is not an option then the item needs to be disposed of appropriately. Trash collection agencies can collect belongings from your home and destroy them accordingly to stop the infestation spreading or other people from picking up the items for their homes.
3. Prepare the Area
Before starting any treatment, you should prepare your home and minimize hiding places for the bed bugs to escape to. Lifting everything off the floor where possible and placing it high up is advisable. It is important not to move items from the infested room into other areas of the house, no matter if you believe that these items are clean, as there is still the chance that they could spread the infestation.
Openings in floorboards should be sealed and any loose wallpaper should be stuck down and secure, eliminating places for them to hide during the cleaning. If possible, you should also move your bed to the center of the room to stop the bed bugs climbing from the frame onto the walls during the treatment.
4. Kill the Bed Bugs
Removing bed bugs should be done carefully and thoroughly; it is relatively easy to kill the bed bugs without the use of chemicals as they cannot tolerate high heat; however, if not done methodically then the problem is likely to persist.
All linen and washable items that have previously been sealed should be washed in hot water and dried on a high heat for at least 30 minutes each. Items that cannot be placed in the washing machine, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture can be treated using a steamer to kill off an infestation. Remember to properly treat the nooks and crannies where they like to hide, such as seams and pleats which provide convenient hiding places.
Although heat is an effective way to treat bed bugs, it can also be very dangerous in the home when used incorrectly. For this reason, heat treatment should only be used as advised and you should not be tempted to place several portable heaters or light fires in the infested room. This has been known to cause house fires and extreme caution should be exercised with any type of DIY heat treatment.
Bed bugs are also intolerant to very low temperatures; however, this can take longer to ensure that they have died. Items to which you are unable to apply heat can be placed in an empty freezer for approximately one week before checking. Once you have cleaned all affected items, they should be tightly sealed with plastic coverings which will kill any remaining bed bugs.
If this heat treatment does not work, the next step would be to use chemical-based products to resolve the problem. Specialist bed bug removal products are available to buy in stores and should be EPA registered to ensure that they are safe for use and for your home. Many online sites, forums and blogs promote the use of home remedies to remove bedbugs; however, many of these methods are not legal and can be highly dangerous.
Methods to avoid are:
- Using a non-pesticide registered rubbing alcohol to kill the bed bugs. This chemical can be highly flammable and has been responsible for house fires when wrongly used as a pesticide.
- Unregistered gases in fumigation. Gases that are not registered as a pesticide can be highly dangerous to those that inhale them and should be avoided at all costs in the treatment of bedbugs or other household infestations.
Two of the most common insecticides which are used to kill bedbugs are pyrethrins and pyrethroids. Unfortunately, due to their high usage, some bed bugs have developed a resistance to them and, therefore, they might not guarantee to be effective on all infestations. If they do not work in your home, an alternative is neonicotinoics, a type of nicotine, which is effective against bed bugs that have become resistant to other chemicals and treatment.
5. Monitor and Repeat
The timeframe to ensure that the previously infested areas are now clear of bed bugs is approximately one week. It should be checked on a daily basis to look for signs of live bed bugs and upon sight of any remaining critters, the process should be repeated immediately from steps one through to 5.
If after a couple of attempts with both chemical and non-chemical treatment options, you are unable to entirely remove the infestation then it is advisable to seek professional help and hire an exterminator to treat your home. Any pest and bed bug control organization that you use should be Integrated Pest Management (IPM) registered to ensure that they are compliant with best practice, aware of how to treat the infestation with the least environmental damage and use pesticide chemicals safely and responsibly.
Exterminators have the advantage of specialist equipment and chemicals for bed bug control, which are not widely available to ordinary homeowners and can, therefore, treat the room more effectively in one go. They will also advise on appropriate measures to take to avoid re-infestation.
Once your home is clear of bed bugs and the removal has been a success, you should endeavor to minimize the risk of a re-infestation by keeping your home clutter and litter free, removing their favorite breeding and hiding places. Linen and upholstery should be washed on a high heat or steamed regularly and the environment should be made as difficult for them to live as possible. Carpeted floors should be thoroughly vacuumed and also regularly cleaned to remove any pests.
When staying in hotels or at other people’s houses, check for bed bugs in common places to avoid bringing any home with you on your clothes. If you believe that your infestation may have been caused by a neighbor’s home or may have affected a neighbor’s home, then you should alert them as soon as possible so that they can check for signs of an infestation and treat it accordingly.
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