Bed Bugs are becoming a bigger and bigger problem to many people. Bed Bugs don't just live in your bed. They will live in any environment that will provide them with food. The food for Bed Bugs is you and your family. They do live on mattresses, in sheets, pillows, comforters, blankets, stuffed animals, upholstered furniture, carpet, clothing, you get the idea. They live where you live.
Bed Bugs are basically microscopic bugs that feed off of your blood. They generally leave a pattern of three close itchy bites in a row on your skin. You never have just one Bed Bug. Where there is one there are many.
Some people are more susceptible to a Bed Bug infestation than others. Those who live in an apartment building are more likely to have Bed Bugs because Bed Bugs make their way from one apartment to the next looking for more and more food. They tend to spread out in search of a host as their colony grows. Another source of Bed Bugs is used items such as mattresses and furniture. Many people will carry Bed Bugs home with them from a hotel stay. Sometimes even a guest in your house can bring them in with them.
Now that you know you have Bed Bugs and can probably surmise where they came from, How do you get rid of them? There are actually several things you can do on your own before calling an exterminator. Of course if you have a true infestation, an exterminator is best.
Kill Bed Bugs with Heat
Use heat to kill Bed Bugs. They cannot survive in temperatures over 120°. Wash all bedding, clothing, stuffed animals, curtains and drapes in the hottest water safe for your fabrics. Dry them at the highest temperature that would be safe for the material. Steam clean your mattresses, carpets, upholstered furniture and anything else that cannot fit in a washing machine or clothes dryer. Everything that is a possible home must be cleaned at the same time or they will migrate from one area of your home to the next.
Does vacuuming work?
Well yes and no. It can suck up the Bed Bugs and get many of them out of you bed for as long as it would take them to crawl back out of the vacuum. Whenever you do vacuum, make sure you take the vacuum outside, remove the bag or empty the dirt cup into a bag and tightly tie the bag closed. Do not throw the bag away or empty the dirt cup in your indoor garbage.
Kill Bed Bugs with Cold
Bed Bugs won't survive cold temperatures. The bed bugs will die within a day or so of being exposed to temperature below 32°, but the eggs with take 4 to 6 weeks to kill. If you live in a very cold climate, you can move stuffed animals, clothing, upholstered furniture, mattresses and bedding into an unheated garage for a month or more, but that is not very practical. It would be better to store a used item in the sub freezing temperatures for 6 weeks before bringing it along with the possibility of Bed Bugs into your home.
20 Mule Team Borax will do a good job at killing and repelling Bed Bugs. Mix approximately 1/2 of a cup of Borax into about 1 gallon of water, sponge down your mattress, colorfast upholstered furniture etc. with the solution and allow it to completely dry. If you decide to try this method, make sure to get the mixture into all of the folds and creases.
Does Lavender Work?
Some say Bed Bugs are repelled by Lavender Essential Oil. This is not true, Lavender has no effect on them.
Buy a mattress cover made especially for killing Bed Bugs. The mattress cover fits entirely over the mattress, more or less like a giant pillowcase. The cover is usually treated with specially formulated with pesticides. The Bed Bugs cannot get through the cover and remain trapped inside of the mattress. It can take up a year to kill the Bed bugs entirely with this method. If you decide to try this, don't forget the pillow covers that repel them. This method doesn't really take care of your problem totally because you will still have other upholstered furniture, clothing etc. to deal with.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) will kill Bed Bugs and most other insects too. Do not buy DE from a pool store, this type is harmful. Also breathing in DE is bad. This is not a method suggested for mattresses or clothing. DE would be effective for stuffed animals and clothing that you are not wearing. Place the item in a large garbage bag, generously sprinkle with DE and close off the top of the bag. DE is very rough and when insects walk through it, it will cut their bodies and they will die. After a few weeks, vacuum off all DE and wash the items.
Pesticides and Foggers
Store bought pesticides and foggers can be effective if used correctly and used throughout the entire house or apartment building. If you live in an apartment building this would mean every single apartment has to be fogged at the same time. If you live in a home, you will have to vacate you home while the fogger is working. Unless you are experienced with using pesticides, it is best left to a professional.
If your infestation is minimal, try any and all of these methods especially heat with has the most success. For major infestations, call a professional exterminator. The time and money you will waste trying to eliminate a major infestation, will be more than if you just hired an exterminator at the first sign of bed Bugs.