Pests, Mold, Water, Fire, Radon, Lead and Asbestos
Home Remedies to Bed Bugs
Bed Bugs: Do-it-yourself control
Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pest problems to eradicate quickly. By far, the best solution for bed bugs is to hire a pest control company with experience successfully controlling bed bugs. Unfortunately, this can be expensive and beyond the means of many people. If you feel you cannot afford to hire a professional, and want to attempt do-it-yourself bed bug control, there are some things you can do. With diligence and patience and some hard work you have a fighting chance of getting rid of bed bugs in your home. If you live in an apartment or condominium, it’s best to alert the property manager. A coordinated bed bug control effort using a pest control company is generally needed in such situations. Bed bugs readily move from apartment to apartment, with many people unaware that they have a problem. If one apartment is infested, adjoining units (left side, right side, above and below) should be assumed to be infested unless shown otherwise through inspection or monitoring. Simply asking tenants whether they have bed bugs is not enough. In one recent study only half of residents in a large apartment with bed bugs knew (or admitted) they had a bed bug problem. Pesticides alone are not the answer to bed bugs. Most of the commonly used pesticides today, including professional products and consumer products advertised for control of bed bugs, are at best moderately effective at controlling these pests. Pesticides must be used with care for safety and with attention to proper application to work well. Aerosol “bug bombs” or “fumigators” are also mostly ineffective in eliminating bed bugs. Aerosol insecticides mainly kill insects that are exposed, and out of their hiding places, not those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.
Steps for do-it-yourself bed bug control
- Determine which rooms are infested. Bedrooms are the principal locations for bed bugs; however, any room where people sleep in the home may provide harborage for bed bugs. Living rooms with sofas and sofa beds are the next most common sites for bed bugs. Typically an infestation starts in one room and spreads slowly to other places where people sleep. The sooner you find and treat bed bugs the easier it will be to get rid of them. Wait too long and bed bugs may be found throughout your home.
- Don’t throw your bed away. It’s generally unnecessary to throw away beds or bedding. It is expensive to replace bedding, and chances are that any new mattresses, box springs or beds you bring into the home will quickly become re-infested. The money to replace a bed or mattress might better be spent on hiring a professional.
- Create a safe place to sleep. This is critical because staying in your own bed will reduce the risk of bed bugs spreading throughout your home. If you move to another room to sleep, the bed bugs will eventually follow. Then you’ll have bed bugs in multiple rooms. Make your bed a safe place to sleep by:
- Stripping and vacuuming the mattresses and box springs, and encasing them. Double bag your bedding and wash in hot water and dry for at least 30 minutes (discard the inner bag after putting bedding into the washer, as it could have bed bugs). After vacuuming suspected bed bugs from the bed, take your vacuum cleaner outdoors and remove and discard the bag. Purchase a good quality set of bed-bug-proof encasements for your mattresses and box springs. Bed bug-proof encasements are fabric sacks into which you slide your mattress or your box spring. The zippers on bed bug encasements are designed to be tight enough to prevent even the smallest life stages of the bed bugs from escaping. Also, good bed bug-proof encasements are woven to prevent bed bugs from biting you through the encasement. A good encasement will trap all bed bugs in the mattress and box spring inside, and will be smooth on the outside, providing few places for bed bugs to hide. Sears, Target, Walmart and other stores may sell bed bug-proof encasements, but these can also be purchased online. A good place to look for different brands and reviews of mattress encasements is Amazon.com (whether you buy there or at a local store). Go to http://www.amazon.com and search for “bed bug mattress protectors”.
- Isolating your bed from the rest of the house. If you don’t use a bed, purchase a frame that gets your mattress off the floor and installbed bug interceptors under all feet of the bed frame to keep bed bugs off your bed while you are sleeping. Interceptors are special platforms or cups that are purchased to prevent bed bugs from climbing on to your bed. An interceptor can be as simple as a sticky card placed under a bed post (sticky and messy). Better are one of the commercial pitfall traps made specifically for this purpose. The Climbup™ Bed bug Interceptor and BlackOut BedBug Detector (Google them) are two such products sold online. Relatively inexpensive, these cups trap bed bugs attempting to climb (or exit) the bed. If you have encased your bedding, treated your bed frame thoroughly and installed interceptors, you will be instantly protected against bed bugs. Don’t take out your clean bedding or put it back on the bed until the bed has been treated (and dried) and encasements installed. And note that for this method to be effective, beds and bedding must not touch the floor, furniture or walls. This would provide bed bugs other ways to climb onto the bed and foil your defenses.
Treat areas of your home. If you do not have access to pesticides than using heat treatment like a Shark steam cleaner is a great option. Systematically treat the room–all cracks and crevices around windows, outlets, blinds, pictures, posters and clocks on walls, baseboards, under edges of carpets and any other crevices or void areas in the room. Remember that immature bed bugs are very tiny. Dozens of bed bugs can hide in a recessed screw hole in a bed frame or dresser. Therefore it’s important that no hiding place be overlooked. Treatment can include vacuuming, but should not be limited to vacuuming only. Vacuums do not remove eggs, and will likely not remove all bed bugs from deeply infested cracks and crevices. Vacuums can remove many bed bugs from mattresses and the exterior of box springs (remember to immediately double-bag the vacuum bag after cleaning and dispose of outside in a trash can or dumpster). Sticky tape is another method of picking up bed bugs from furniture, walls, etc.
Treat or isolate your bagged items. For washable items research shows that dry cleaning, washing in hot water for 30 minutes, or tumble drying for 30 minutes on high will kill all stages of bed bugs. Non-washables are a little trickier. Items that aren’t needed for a while can just be stored. It takes 2-5 months to kill bed bugs by isolating them in bags (the warmer the temperature, the shorter the survival time for starving bed bugs). Heating bags by placing in direct sunlight is one of the most effective methods during the warm summer months. Seven pounds of items placed in clear bags in direct sunlight on a 95 degree day will get hot enough to kill all bed bug life stages in one afternoon. Also, placing bagged items in a chest freezer (0 degrees F) for 8-10 hours is lethal for bed bugs and their eggs. Some toys may be disinfested by cleaning with hot soapy water and/or rubbing alcohol.