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How to get rid of bed bugs

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Introduction to Bed Bug Control

bed-bug1Bed bugs have proven to be a challenging  pest to humans throughout history. Most people would love to hire a pest control company to come into their home and spray a special mixture of “bed bug whoop ass” to solve their problem. Unfortunately, this mixture does not exist. Bed bugs and their eggs are highly resistant to many insecticides.

Humans make makes matters worse by providing the perfect cluttered spaces for bed bugs to thrive in. Unable to be treated with harsh pesticides, cardboard, books, bedding, furniture and mattresses make ideal nesting areas. The bottom line is that bed bugs are resilient and pesticides alone can not be relied on to cure an infestation. The only way to get rid of bed bugs is with an integrated pest management approach. A series of precautions, controls and sanitation is needed to eliminate a bed bug infestation.

 

How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation

Bites from bed bugs can sometimes look like this

Bed Bug Bites

Most people misidentify bed bug bites. They are often mistaken for bites from spiders or mosquitoes. On the other hand, there are many people that mistake a rash, hives or a spider bites for bed bug bites.  *Making matters even worse, some people do not have any reaction to bed bug bites at all. Identifying an infestation based on bite marks can be very misleading.

The most accurate method to identify an infestation is to search for physical signs. The key areas to monitor are sheets and bedding, mattress and furniture folds/seams, carpet edges and crevices. If a crack or crevice is large enough to fit the edge of a credit card inside, then it can be a nesting place for bed bugs.

If you suspect that you may have bed bugs or want to check your hotel room before you can rest comfortably, look for the following signs (also see the photos below):

  • Dark spots about size of the period in this sentence. This is what bed bug excrement looks like.
  • Skins that younger bugs shed as they grow
  • Tiny white eggs or shells
  • Live bed bugs
  • Rusty or reddish stains on bedding or mattress (caused by bed bugs being crushed)

What to watch for if you suspect a bed bug infestation

Bed Bug Identification Tool (A Must Have)

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This is a very cool tool that will make life (as well as the treatment plan below) much easier. Bed bugs, eggs and their droppings are very small and easy to miss. Use this tool to help you easily find every infested area. It comes with a UV light source as well as a built in magnifying glass.

- Uses a specific UV frequency that causes bed bug eggs and droppings to illuminate.

- Can be used to quickly scan bedding, mattresses and all the bed bug hot spots (listed below).

- Use on beds, hotel rooms, airplanes and any other public places

- Also detects head lice

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Bed Bug Hot spots

 

When not feeding, bed bugs are capable of living in almost any small crevice or location that provides protection. During the early stages of the infestation, they are mostly found around the bed where we sleep. However, as the problem grows, they venture into other locations. Getting rid of bed bugs at this stage is very difficult. Below is a list of hot spots where you will want to concentrate your efforts.

Please remember that  bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card. This allows them to hide in very small areas. If a crevice is large enough to penetrate with the edge of a credit card, it is large enough to hide bed bugs and eggs. *Note: This is an extensive list but there is not way to predict with 100% certainty where bed bugs will decide to nest. Use your best judgement and do a thorough search of all possible areas.

  • bb hot spots (400x222)Seams, folds and tags of mattresses, box springs
  • Cracks in the bed frame and head board
  • In the folds of curtains or bed skirts
  • Dresser drawer joints
  • Electrical receptacles
  • Woodwork inside and underneath of nightstands and dressers
  • Under loose wallpaper
  • In the cracks of drywall
  • In the seams and folds of chairs, recliners or couches
  • *Bed bugs tend to prefer wood or fabric more so than metal or plastic surfaces (but there are exceptions)
  • Screw holes and knots in wooden bed frames, headboards and other wood surfaces around the infected areas
  • Behind wall-mounted pictures, mirrors, switch plates and anything else on the wall
  • Items stored underneath of the bed
  • Carpet edges along the walls
  • Cracks in wood moulding
  • Clothing and clutter
  • Inside clocks, television or other appliances

 

 Bed Bug Elimination: Step # 1

Using Heat to get rid of infestations on bedding and fabrics

  1. bedding (640x371)Remove bedding, pillows, curtains, clothes, bed skirts and any other fabric items that can be washed and/or dried.
  2. Place items in a sealed bad to prevent spreading the infestation to other areas of your home.
  3. Since these items can not (and should not) be treated with insecticides, they need to be washed and/or dried at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (minimum).
  4. Wash on the highest heat setting for the longest cycle.
  5. Place these items in the clothes drier and set them to high heat for 30 minutes.
  6. You can skip the washer for dry-clean only items. Dry clean only garments will be unharmed in the clothes dryer as long as they are completely dry before they enter. Use medium heat for these items.  Just increase the time to make sure all bugs and eggs are eliminated.
  7. step1 photo (400x224)After the bugs and eggs are killed you can send the dry-clean only items to the cleaners. It is very important that you don’t send infected items to the dry cleaners as we do not want the infestation to spread to other families.
  8. If you have any items that can not be washed or put into the drier, wrap them in plastic and place them outdoors. For this to work it needs to be hot and sunny. The plastic will help the internal temperature to reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also ramp this process up by putting the items inside a vehicle as the temperatures will be even higher. If you are forced to use this method, leave the items in the sun for a few days to make absolutely sure that everything has been eradicated. *Tip: Pack each bad loosely and elevate it off of the ground. This will help the heat to permeate and the items to reach the targeted temperature.
  9. Using this same process in cold weather MAY work also. The process will take longer and I recommend that you expose the items to freezing temperatures for at least several days or even 1-2 weeks.
  10. Note* Do not try to complete this process by turning up the thermostat  in your home. This will not work.
  11. It may be more practical to dispose of some of the infected items. It is up to you to decide if the risk is worth it and whether or not you can afford to replace the items. Just be sure to carefully bag everything you remove from the infested area and handle it with care.

 Bed Bug Elimination: Step # 2

Brush and Vacuum Hot Spots

step2 vacuum (400x226)This step is fairly straight forward. Vacuuming will help to get rid of some of the population and eggs. It also helps with sanitation. This will aid the other methods in our integrated approach. Be sure to consult the common bed bug hot spots above to get an idea of where to look for nesting areas. Vacuum all of the hot spots while scraping with a brush and the vacuum nozzle (where applicable) as you move along.

*Note: Use care when emptying the contents of the vacuum. Use a sealed bag and dispose of it immediately.

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 Bed Bug Elimination: Step # 3

Use alcohol to sanitize and kill bugs and eggs

step3 alcohol (400x224)

Take 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and put it into a spray bottle. Then spray all of the same hot spots with the alcohol . Continue to brush while spraying to dislodge anything you may have missed the first time.

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 Bed Bug Elimination: Step # 4 (Option 1)

Use a steam cleaner (if possible) to kill remaining bed bugs

steam cleaner (400x224)

Bed bugs are easy to kill using heat and the most common method of achieving this is by using a steamer. Many pest control companies are using this exact method to eliminate infestations in homes and apartments. They are especially valuable because of their versatility and they give you the ability to treat an area where insecticides are undesirable (or illegal). Steam can kill bed bugs and eggs in a reasonable period of time while leaving zero chemical residue. Note* This product is 25% off on Amazon.com at the time I am writing this guide.

  • Target temperature range = 150-160 degrees. Be sure that the steamer you rent or buy routinely operates at or above this temperature. The steamer that I own (shown below) is excellent and meets all the requirements of being able to open up a can of bed bug “whoop ass”.
  • Steaming bed bugs is a methodical process and takes a little bit of patience. Make sure that you move slowly enough to maintain the heat concentration over every inch of infested surfaces.
  • Move the nozzle at a rate of about 12 inches every 30 seconds to allow each area to reach the targeted temperature
  • Avoid holding the nozzle head too close and letting the steam come out at too high a velocity that it blows the bed bugs and eggs away to safety.
  • Tip* – If this does become a problem, try wrapping the nozzle in a piece of fabric to diffuse the pressure. Use a piece of fabric that still allows enough heat and steam to escape and reach our targeted temperature of 150-160 degrees.

 Steam cleaner 10 (800x285)

 

 Bed Bug Elimination: Step # 4 (Option 2)

Use Diatomaceous Earth to kill remaining bed bug population

 

Step 4 option 2Diatomaceous earth is a dust/powder made of the silica-based skeletons of diatoms (microorganisms). It kills bed bugs by sticking to their bodies and eliminating the wax layer of skin that keeps in their moisture. Once they come in contact with the powder, they will die within a few days. In some cases with adult bed bugs it could take up to a week or two. The advantages of Diatomaceous Earth is that it has a broad label and is rated for use in areas where insecticides are not.

Important note:* There are a few different types of Diamtomaceous Earth. Some types are toxic and pose inhalation hazards. Make sure that you purchase this powder yourself to eliminate the risk of putting you and your family in danger. Below is the correct type of diatomaceous earth to use for bed bugs inside of your home. I also did the leg work for you to find a reputable (and safe) brand for a really good price.

 

Using the Correct Diatomaceous Earth

This formula is ideal for killing bed bugs.  When they come in contact with the powder it will latch onto their body and cut through their exoskeleton. This allows the the moisture in their body to escape which is vital to their survival. They will dehydrate and die within a few days of contact. Safer Brand’s bed bug powder also contains an attractant formula that will kills insects by ingestion. This is the most economical and convenient solution to help get rid of a bed bug infestation. It provides an organic solution with lasting protection.

*Note: Amazon.com is currently featuring this product and offering a 53% discount (at the time this guide was published)

Important: All Diatomaceous Earth is not created equal. I picked this brand to recommend because it uses amorphous diatomaceous earth (also known as silicon dioxide). Amorphous diatomaceous earth is derived from fresh water sources unlike diatomite diatomaceous earth, which can be derived from unnatural sources (and has been linked to cancer). It is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and USDA Certified for use in organic gardening. This means you are using a product that has undergone rigorous testing to make sure it is safe as well as effective.

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*This product comes in a 7oz bottle and is VERY affordable. I recommend that you get 2 bottles (14 ounces).

Instructions:

  1. Take bed apart and apply a think layer into joints, channels and crevices.
  2. Mattresses should be dusted. Pay special attention to seams, folds and edges
  3. Most of the bed bug hot spots and all cracks/crevices in the room should be treated
  4. You only need a thin dusting in each area. Do not overuse
  5. Please follow the manufacturers instructions carefully for best use and results

 Bed Bug Elimination: Step # 5

When you need an extra punch…

If you need an extra punch because you are unable to get your hands on a steam cleaner or need a more affordable option to work in conjunction with your diatomaceous earth then this is the best chemical solution that I could find. I picked this particular product after reading about it on the NCHH (National Center for Healthy Housing) website. Then when I did my follow up research I found nothing but raving reviews about it’s effectiveness on getting rid of bed bugs (which you can read for yourself here).

- Tempo Ultra SC has no odor and is non- staining and long lasting

- 1- 8 oz. bottle makes approximately 30 gallons and has indoor and outdoor applications.

- Cyfluthrin, cyano 11.8% (Cannot be shipped to CT or NY)

Note* You should always use care when handling insecticides (or any chemicals for that matter). ChippTips.com or Myself take no responsibility for any negative outcomes that may occur from misusing or mishandling this product. While I am very confident in the effectiveness of this formula, it is an insecticide and should be handled with absolute caution and care. Please carefully follow the manufacturers directions. If you have any questions or need more assistance, here is a resource from the the Enviornmental Protection Agency (EPA):

Citizens guide to pest control and pesticide safety

 Bed Bug Elimination: Step # 6

Prevention: Keep them from ever getting onto your mattress again!

encasementThis is another fantastic product that can be a powerful tool in your fight against bed bugs as well as offer great value for you purchase in other areas. SafeRest has created a wonderful way to prevent (and even treat) bed bug infestations while at the same time providing real health benefits for those who suffer from daily allergy and asthma triggers. The quality, effectiveness and durability of this mattress encasement speaks for itself and the company that makes it backs it up with a 10 year warranty! Prices often change but at the time I am writing this guide, they are 35-50% off at amazon.com (which is a great price). Prices do vary depending on the size you need so you can view them here. Or you see all the great reviews this product gets here. *Correction: In my video I called this a “vinyl” mattress cover. However, SafeRest box spring encasements contain no vinyl, phthalates or PVCs. 

Features:

  • Independently lab tested and certified bed bug entry proof, escape proof and bite proof
  • Surrounds the box spring on all 6 sides with a durable high-grade polyester surface material back coated with a water, bed bug and allergen proof membrane layer (great for those with asthma and allergies)
  • Exclusive Micro-Zipper technology prevents all stages of bed bugs from passing through the zippers teeth
  • 360 Secure zipper feature prevents accidental openings by sealing the end zipper traveler with a Velcro flap
  • *10-year full replacement warranty and machine washable (registered with the FDA as a class 1 medical device)

encasement 2

Save Your Infested Box Spring 
Rather than disposing of expensive box springs, SafeRest encasements can be applied sealing off the box spring preventing bed bugs trapped inside from escaping. Over time, any trapped bed bugs will die of starvation due to the lack of a blood source. The encasement will also protect a new box spring from bed bugs entering the mattress.

Specifically Designed and Lab Tested for Bed Bugs and Allergy Protection
SafeRest box spring encasements, with a polyester surface material and waterproof membrane back coating, were specifically designed and lab tested for bed bug and allergy protection harnessing cutting edge Micro-Zippers along with breathable bed bug and dust mite proof materials.

SafeRest’s Exclusive 360 Secure Feature 
SafeRest’s patent pending 360 Secure Feature offers the ultimate in protection against bed bugs by eliminating the risk that the end zipper traveler will pull back exposing the box spring to bed bugs. This is realized by securing the end traveler with a fold-over Velcro flap covering it on all sides.

Machine Washable
Machine-wash with your sheets using normal household detergents that do not contain bleach. Tumble dry on low heat. Do not iron.

 

Bed Bug Detection Tool (cheaper of the two options)

It is very important to catch a bug infestation early before it becomes too large to get under control. I found a very useful tool to detect bedbugs and even help determine where they are coming from. This is a trap that slides under the four posts of your bed frame (or any piece of furniture with legs). When bed bugs try to climb into your bed and feast on your blood they get caught in this trap. The thing I love about this design is that the trap has sections so you can monitor which direction the bugs are traveling from to get into your bed. As far as I know, this is the only one of these traps that has this feature. In summary, this device will:

  • Trap and kill any new bugs trying to make a meal out of you
  • Help to detect the source of the infestation by letting you know which direction they are coming from
  • Helps you to monitor the efficiency of the treatments

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 Summary

Here is a list of all the items we talked about that you need to complete your treatment plan. All you need to do is check the items you would like to keep and “x” the items that you don’t want to buy. It doesn’t get any easier than this!

Click Here for your convenient list!

 

 Frequently Asked Questions

What are bed bugs?

Cimex lectularius (Bed Bugs) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. However, they can live many months without a meal. This makes them extremely hard to deal with.

What has led to the bed bug resurgence?

Once nearly eradicated, bed bugs have returned with a vengeance over the past 20 years. There are many theories about the bed bug resurgence. One of the major reasons is a widespread resistence to insecticides such as DDT. Here are a few other suspected causes for their population growth:

  • Lack of bed bug awareness and prevention
  • Increased international travel
  • The increased sales and transfer of second hand furniture and clothing. Second hand stores and sites like Craigslist have aided this process.
  • Population growth
  • A higher turnover of people living in multi-unit housing.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs can be found everywhere from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. The presence of bed bugs is not just a problem in developing countries. Their populations are rapidly spreading in major cities of 1st world countries. They can be found everywhere from 3rd world countries to 5 star hotels and resorts. Cleanliness is not always a factor.

Infestations occur mostly within about 8 feet of sleeping areas such as houses, apartments, hotels buses, trains, airplanes etc. Bed bugs remain out of sight during the day and usually feed at night.

Can bed bugs transmit disease?

Bed bugs have not been know to spread disease and are generally not considered a medical or public health hazard. They are however, a huge annoyance. Having bed bugs equates to a lot of itching, frustration and loss of sleep.

What are the Health Risks of Bed Bug Bites?

Bed bug bites can affect people in different ways. Some people have no reaction to the bites at all and some can have a serious allergic reaction. In some cases, multiple bites can require medical attention.

Treatment of bed bug bites

Most bites resolve within one to two weeks. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, and include:

  • Applying a topical cream, such as cortisone to relieve itching.
  • Avoid scratching as this can cause infection.
  • If infection does occur an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.
  • If there is a severe allergic reaction oral corticosteroids may be prescribed.
  • Antihistamines may also help relieve allergic reactions.

How Did Bed Bugs Get Into My Home?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

 

Thanks for visiting my blog! If you found any of this information to be useful, please feel free to share this page on your favorite social network. Your support allows me to continue doing what I love. Thank You!!!

 

 

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