Bed bugs make our list of the worst insect invaders, and studies have shown they are becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides. But following these basic steps for detection and extermination will help you get rid of bed bugs and prevent further infestation.
Level of Infestation
Once bed bugs take hold in a home, they can be extremely difficult—but not impossible—to remove. Your success in exterminating bed bugs can vary based on the level of infestation and physical characteristics of your home. The more clutter you have at home, the easier it is for bed bugs to take hold.
Bed bugs are not just limited to beds, but can be found along baseboards, under chairs, behind picture frames, and in couches. Bed bugs reproduce quickly and can spread from unit to unit in an apartment complex very quickly. If you live in close proximity to neighbors and suspect one of you has bed bugs, notify your landlord immediately who can help with extermination as well as warning your neighbors.
Exterminating Bed Bugs
Depending on your level of infestation, you will probably have to use more than one technique for exterminating bed bugs. Keep a bed bug infested room, and the items in that room, isolated from the rest of your home. Wrap and double bag everything within that room and set it aside outside for further inspection before bringing it back into your home.
Pesticides can be an extremely effective way to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Check that your pesticide is listed by the EPA to kill bed bugs specifically, and follow the instructions carefully. Take care when using pesticides around pets and small children. And beware, foggers are typically ineffective against bed bugs as they don’t get deep into the crevices where bed bugs live.
Vacuum up any bed bugs and eggs you can see. Dump the canister or change the bag after each use to avoid spreading bed bugs throughout your house. Moving blankets, pillows, and furniture from infested rooms to other areas can also spread an infestation. Make sure all linens and clothing that you suspect have been in a bed bug area are washed and placed in a dryer on high heat.
A hair dryer on the high setting will kill any bed bugs it comes in contact with. You can run your hair dryer over your mattress, box spring, and frame, to eliminate even more bed bugs.
Once you’ve removed all of the bed bugs from your bed, you can still keep it, but use a mattress encasement, which is a plastic bag that you wrap your mattress and box spring in. It won’t let any stray bed bugs escape—so they’ll eventually die, and no new bed bugs will be able to gain a hold on your bed.
Bed Bug Prevention
Bed bugs are mobile and can enter your home in a variety of ways, but there are a few preventative measures you can take to create a more inhospitable environment for them.
Reduce the overall clutter in your home. Remove extraneous furniture, keep clothes off the floor, vacuum often, and don’t let boxes or trash build up. Also be very wary of second hand furniture, which might come with a few unwanted stowaways.
If you’ve recently cleaned up from an infestation, don’t assume you’ve removed all of the bed bugs from your home after the first cleaning. Be vigilant about inspecting your home every week which will help you squash any outbreaks before they get too big.