If you frequently find itchy spots on your skin that look like rashes after you wake up, and the itch doesn’t go away, then there’s a good chance that you’ve got a case of the bed bugs. There are some other insects and skin conditions that can cause similar symptoms, but bed bugs are a common culprit.
An important fact to keep in mind is that bed bugs can make themselves at home anywhere, even in the cleanest of rooms, because they seek out the blood of humans and animals, not food or dust particles. So don’t worry, they are not a sign of a dirty or toxic home. Another thing to remember is that bed bugs are not known to carry or spread diseases, so at worst case scenario, they are simply an icky nuisance.
A more definitive way you can determine if you have bed bugs or not is by taking a closer look at your bed. Turn on your light and examine the sides, crevices and underneath the mattress. You’ll know you’ve got bed bugs if you find eggs, shedded skin, poop residue or brown, flat, oval shaped bugs crawling around. Another sign of bed bugs is their unpleasant, musty odor that they produce from their scent glands. Bed bugs are tiny, only 5 mm long when fully grown, so they can be quite hard to spot even in the best lighting.
If you can’t find any signs of bed bugs in your bed, try inspecting boxes, clothes, bed sheets, drawers and all the other furniture in your home as thoroughly as possible.
If you do find any clear signs of a mild-moderate bed bug problem or want to prevent an infestation altogether, here is a list of some of the most effective and crucial steps to take in order to keep these pests under control.
Be sure to clean your bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water, then dry them on the highest dryer setting. The intense heat will kill the live bed bugs and any eggs they laid.
Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed, in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes. Frequently clean and change your bed and pillow coverings.
After you clean and disinfect your bed sheets and other items near your bed, grab a stiff brush and go over the entire bed to help remove eggs and bed bugs from the mattress. Then grab your vacuum and go over your entire bed and the surrounding area. Do this as frequently as possible.
After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic trash bag and throw it into a garbage can outside the house. If you don’t take it out right away, the bed bugs can easily find a way out of the bag and re-infest your home.
Encase your mattress and box springs with a thick plastic or tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, and the vacuuming may not have caught them all. So, it’s highly recommended to keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
Repair cracks and holes in the floor or in the wall, and glue down peeling wallpaper. These are common places where bedbugs like to hide.
Do you have lots of items and clutter around your home, collecting dust and cobwebs that you really don’t want or need anymore? Then get rid of it as quickly as possible. When it comes to bed bugs, the less clutter around your home, the better off you will be.
If you have followed all these steps correctly and still find signs of a bed bug problem, try not to panic. It is likely that you have a severe case and may need to call a professional exterminator to defeat these awful pests once and for all, using safe and nontoxic methods.