Bed Bug Treatments | Do You Need a Bed Bug Exterminator?
Your choices for bed bug treatments
Bed bug treatments vary considerably. Bed bug treatments vary from time-consuming do-it-yourself treatments to costly bed bug exterminators who can use heat or chemicals to kill the pesky insects. A lot of factors are involved in deciding whether to use an exterminator.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of a working person’s life. It helps them refresh their mind and body. Imagine getting home after working late on a confusing project and looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Just as you are about to drift off, you feel an itching sensation on your skin. You don’t sleep well. In the morning, you notice red marks on your skin.
After investigating the possible causes, it turns out you have bedbugs. Once you get past your disgust at the thought of these bugs feasting on your blood while you sleep, you need to learn about bed bug treatments so you can eradicate them from your bed and your home. They aren’t easy to get rid of. In this article, we will describe bed bug treatments that work and some that are a waste of time.
The easiest bed bug treatments can be expensive. Every method will take time and dedication. Prevention is the best way to avoid bedbugs. At the end of this article, you’ll find useful tactics to prevent new infestations. Using do-it-yourself bed bug treatments can save money, but not time.
How to check for bed bugs
Bedbugs are identified by their oval, red, body usually measuring about 4-5 mm long. You will most likely find them to be blood-red after feeding. These insects prefer to be active when their food is asleep, which is usually at night. They only feed on blood. They usually dine on human blood but will also dine on dogs and cats.
Bedbugs are very small. You can see their size in comparison to a dime in the illustration. They reside in cracks and crevices such as the seam of a mattress, in the crack between baseboards and the wall, and in the joints where furniture comes together.
Bed bugs aren’t picky about where they take up residence. They will show up in mansions and hovels, clean homes and dirty ones. They like clutter because it gives them more hiding places.
A bedbug infestation can be easily identified through:
Seeing the bugs.
The shells they shed as they grow.
The droppings they leave behind. These are black or brown stains or mounds.
The red bites they leave on the skin.
Bed bugs Inspection Checklist
Before implementing your bed bug treatments, you should inspect your home for bedbugs. It is important to check in the following areas, which have been proven to harbor these insects:
The mattress and box spring
Bed frame and foot/headboards
Between the molding and walls of your home
Walls and carpet
Inspect the mattress closely checking in the seams and turning it over as well. Shine a flashlight in the box spring to ensure no bugs reside there. Be sure to check all the crevices.
Remove all your wall hangings and carefully inspect the walls and carpet. Shine a light into any cracks in your electronic appliances. Remove all drawers or cushions and check other furniture. Look between electric outlets and the wall and baseboards and your walls. Remember that bedbugs, due to their flat bodies, can fit inside any crevice that a business card can fit into.
Once you have identified that bedbugs are in your house, the next step is to treat them. However, before you start going hay-wire with an aerosol, it is important to follow a pre-treatment procedure that ensures the bed bug treatments are effective. Otherwise, you will likely miss some of them, and all your hard work would be in vain.
Reduce Clutter: The first step is to remove all personal items like toys, blankets, gadgets or any stuff that does not stay in the room permanently. Store them in sealed plastic bags.
Launder Garments and Bed Clothes: Since infested garments, sheets, or blankets cannot be treated with an insecticide due to health risks, it is important that you launder them in hot water to get rid of the infestation.
Dismantle Bed Frames: As mentioned above, these bugs can hide inside the smallest of cracks. Thus it is important to dismantle your bed frame to expose these hiding places. Check the mattress and box spring thoroughly. You can either treat them or cover them with a plastic encasement that ensures no bedbugs can enter or exit.
Remove Drawers: It is important to pull out the drawers in your furniture and empty their contents to ensure access to all the places where the bed bugs might be hiding. Drawers can be a popular hiding site for the insects. Launder or heat treat the contents of your drawers.
Clean the Area: Bedbugs lay miniature eggs which might not be visible to the naked eye. It is important to properly scrub all infested areas with a stiff brush to remove any eggs. Dispose of the brush in a sealed plastic bag immediately to prevent further transfer. Vacuum the area extensively with a hose attachment to get to the tightest of places. This will not only ensure that any potential bedbugs are removed, but that any dirt that might block the path of insecticide is removed as well.
Seal: Seal all pipes and wires as well as any cracks in the walls. You want to close off potential hiding spots so they have nowhere to go.
Bed bugs on mattress
Mattresses are usually the hub of all bed bug activity. They provide a place to hide and opportunities to feed, so that is where the most intense infestations occur. You do not necessarily have to throw your mattresses out. There are bed bug treatments that allow you to continue using your mattresses without using toxic chemicals on the mattress.
If you wish to use an insecticide, you can choose from a variety of options. These insecticides are available as dusting powders and aerosols. Dust lasts longer than aerosols. It is also best to use the thin tips designed for reaching cracks and crevices when treating for these bugs. The recommended bed bug treatments for those who choose to use chemicals is a combination of both the sprays and dust for proper treatment. Vacuum the area and carefully spray or dust every potential hiding spot. Be sure to carefully check the potential side effects of the bed bug treatments you choose if you use a pesticide or insecticide on the infestation.
Kill bed bugs with Liquid or Aerosol Insecticides
Heat treatment is one of the best ways to eradicate bed bugs, especially since they have developed immunity to some pesticides and insecticides. Heat treatment doesn’t pose any risk of side effects to you or your family.
Bed bug treatment options mean you can hire professionals or do a heat treatment yourself. The do-it-yourself methods can cost a fraction of the cost of professional treatment but require a combination of heat and some type of poison. There is even a ZappBug heat chamber that is big enough to treat mattresses. If you have several expensive mattresses infected with bed bugs that have a lot of life left in them, it might be worth the cost to kill the bed bugs instead of replacing the mattresses. Do keep in mind that the bed bug infestation probably voids your warranty.
Although you can treat all your mattresses and much of your furniture in such a chamber, it can’t treat the walls of your home so you would have to combine it with the use of some pesticides to totally eliminate the infestation. Treating your walls with pesticides isn’t as risky as treating the mattress where you spend 1/3 of your life. Professional heat treatments can treat the walls of your home.
Heat treatment is a highly effective method of eradicating bed bugs based on the results of research studies. It is the only way to treat some items that cannot be laundered. There are professional treatments that can heat the whole house or all the affected areas of a larger building.
Some of the smaller heat chambers provide cost-effective methods of eliminating bed bugs in clothing and décor you may not want to throw away. If you live in an area with a hot climate, you can encase the mattress in plastic and leave it out in the hot sun for a few days. Be careful you don’t encase it in plastic that could melt in the sun. If you use a heavy mill plastic and cover it with black plastic garbage bags taped to it, the black plastic will make it hotter. Bed bugs will die quickly at 140°.
Heat treatments are safe for your family and effective in eliminating infestations without having to repeat the process multiple times or expose your family to pesticides.
Kill Bed Bugs with a Mattress Encasement
Plastic mattress encasements are another one of the bed bug treatments that don’t require chemicals. This method can be used to encase and protect your box spring or mattress from infestations. These cases block any potential entry or exit sites bed bugs could use to get into the mattress or come out and feed. This ensures no bedbugs can come out of the mattress to feed on you. This is incredibly clever when you find out that bedbugs can live up to a year without a meal. So, encase your mattress for up to a year to ensure the insects do not get their meal. Check regularly to be sure the seams of the encasement remain intact and that your pets haven’t punctured a hole in the encasement with their nails.
Ideally, you’ll encase your mattress as soon as it is delivered to eliminate the risk of a bed bug infestation. If you didn’t do that, you can use a mattress encasement to contain the bed bugs and protect your skin. It will only contain bugs in the mattress or box spring, so you’ll still have to treat other areas of your home. You can supplement it with heat treatments for your clothing and small textiles. You’ll still need to treat wood furniture and crevasses int the walls and along baseboards with pesticides, insecticides, or natural treatments like cedar oil.
If you can handle the idea that bugs are in your bed, using a mattress encasement can save you the expense of buying a new mattress. In any event, you don’t want to buy new mattresses until you are positive all the bed bugs are dead and no eggs will hatch. Although, if you encase your new mattress immediately, it should be safe while you continue eradicating the infestation in the rest of your home.
Kill Bed Bugs with a Pesticide Treated Mattress Liner
If the idea of bed bugs starving to death in your mattress across the timespan of a full year bothers you, there are ways to kill the bugs in the mattress faster. Active Guard Mattress liners kill the bugs almost immediately. Within 72 hours, all dust mites and insects are actively treated. They function as a preventive measure against an infestation as well by reducing the bed bugs’ ability to lay eggs. They are available in the form of fitted sheets in all sizes.
The active ingredient is Permethrin, an insecticide that is generally considered safe for adults, children, and dogs but not cats, fish, or birds. It is unknown if using Permethrin is safe while nursing. Women are encouraged to stop breastfeeding when they use Permethrin. There are side effects from overexposure including shortness of breath, seizures, headaches, muscle weakness, nausea, and dizziness. Permethrin is a carcinogen. Contact Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you experience any of these symptoms following exposure. Long term exposure may affect the body’s hormones.
Before they die from exposure to Permethrin, cats can experience tremors, seizures, and act anxious or hyper.
If you choose to use Active Guard, you’ll still want to use a mattress encasement on top of the pesticide mattress liner to provide a barrier between you and the chemicals. Remember that Permethrin and other pesticides are poison.
Kill Bed Bugs with Liquid or Aerosol Insecticides
Bed bug treatments include the option of treating the insects with a liquid or aerosol insecticide, it is important to cover all sites of the infestation.
Spray under and around the bed, as well as along the baseboards
Remove all drawers and spray around and under the drawers
Move all the furniture away from the wall and spray behind it
Spray the door, door hinges, and the window frame and ledges
Spray behind bed frames and head and foot boards
Do not use on a mattress unless the product is labeled specifically as mattress-friendly
There are several kinds of liquid insecticides available on the market. Some of these are odorless and cannot be detected by the bed bugs. You can adjust the nozzle to turn it into a mist or a fine stream depending on the area you’re treating.
Aerosols come with a thin plastic nozzle that makes it easier to reach into fine cracks and tiny crevices. Pesticides and chemical bed bug treatments can pose a risk to your family and pets. Be sure to read all labels carefully and follow the instructions to ensure your family’s safety.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs with Dust Insecticides
Dust is longer lasting than aerosols. It is odorless and does not stain the surfaces it is applied to. You can use specialized devices to dust the material all over the affected area. Your tools can include small makeup or paint brush. Apply a small amount on the tip of the brush and start brushing it onto the surfaces. If using it for very tight spots, use a small paintbrush to dust in seams or cracks. As mentioned before, be sure to take all the furniture apart as much as possible in order to treat all the nooks and crannies where the little buggers could hide. Many pesticide dusts are available on the market, choose the one that best suits your needs. Read the package instructions and only use products intended for indoor use on the types of surfaces where you’re using them. If they recommend protective gear, wear it.
PRO TIP: Do all the treatments as described above three times, 10 days apart. The eggs won’t be killed by pesticides that kill their parents, so re-treatment is necessary. Otherwise, your problem will return.
Natural and Homeopathic Remedies
Since insecticides are harmful to humans as well as the environment, most folks prefer natural remedies. However, most of these remedies are largely ineffective in treating an infestation. The most popular choice is cedar oil. The problem with home remedies is that they are designed only to cover a specific area.
However, bedbugs may occupy a larger area than expected. When sprayed using a mask and in a properly ventilated area, aerosol cedar oil sprays will not impose the health risks present in pesticides and insecticides.
Bed bugs usually travel by hitchhiking on people or their belongings, but they can travel the width of a typical home in a day. Going on an extended vacation won’t kill them because they can live up to a year without eating. They will wait for your return.
After treating your house using your choice of the above procedures, you will want to ensure no bedbugs return to your home. You must take precautionary steps. These steps include:
When you buy a new mattress, don’t use a vendor who offers a service where they dispose of used mattresses. Someone who is getting rid of a bed bug infested mattress could have their mattress picked up and the bugs could stowaway on the delivery driver’s clothes or hop onto your new mattress while it is in the truck.
Check for any signs of a bedbug infestation on used beds, furniture, mattresses, or box springs before you bring them into your home.
Use an encasement to cover your mattress to prevent a bedbug infestation. Check them regularly for holes.
Reduce clutter to eliminate hiding spots for these insects.
Use public laundry services carefully.
While traveling, encase your entire suitcase in plastic when it will share a luggage compartment with other luggage to avoid bed bugs hitchhiking on your luggage.
When you arrive at a hotel, look for signs of an infestation before unpacking. The easiest way to spot an infestation is to look for the spots left from their feces that can vary in color from yellowish, reddish brown, to black.
You can also use your nose by checking for a sweet odor.
When coming home from traveling, inspect all your belongings carefully for any signs of infestation you might have picked up from a hotel room. Immediately wash your clothes with hot water or put your suitcase (minus any chocolate you brought home) inside a heat chamber.
Seal all cracks around the walls, carpets, and electric switchplates.
Use a heat chamber to eliminate any doubts about bedbugs in your belongings.
Bedbugs are pesky insects that can wreak havoc in your house. Your sleep cycles will be disturbed, and you will be ashamed to invite anyone to your home. The treatments described above are effective against these infestations.
Aerosol sprays and dust insecticides are extremely effective against the insects if the ones that invaded your home haven’t developed an immunity to them. You should follow all the instructions to protect yourself and make sure that all the bed bugs are eradicated. Professional heat treatment is the safest and most effective method and, because heat makes the nymphs in the eggs non-viable, heat is the quickest way to eliminate the infestation.