While bed bug treatment is not really something that you want to DIY, some people still want to try and fix the issue themselves.
The scary truth is that most people don't know they have a problem until a few days after they've been bitten or until they start to spot signs of bed bugs. These bloodsucking pests are generally considered to be nocturnal, but will come out in the daytime or at night when (even if the lights are on), in order to take a blood meal and are rarely seen by their victims. Prevention is always the best strategy against bed bugs. However, should you find them in your home, here are a few treatments you can try.
While the following tips will not help you fully eliminate bed bugs in your home, they may help you somewhat reduce an existing infestation.
Do DIY Bed Bug Treatments Work?
It's important to note that the best way to deal with a bed bug infestation is to work with an experienced pest control professional. There isn't a single DIY bed bug treatment that will adequately treat and effectively eliminate active infestations on your property.
But, that doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to keep infestations from getting worse or to keep pests from coming back once your pest control professional treats your property. And we're not just talking about reaching for a can of bug spray. DIY bed bug treatments take time and effort. But when they're implemented correctly, they can help you reduce the risk of an infestation in your home.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Your Own
Remember, DIY treatments are never a substitute for professional bed bug control. But they can help you stave off bites while you're waiting for your pest control specialist to come apply a treatment and may even make your professional treatment more effective.
Take Your Infested Bedding to the Laundry Room
Pay attention to the way you feel when you wake up each morning. If you're waking up with insect bites clustered around your arms, neck, back (or any area of your body that is exposed while sleeping), you may have bed bugs in your bedding. Or, if you notice a slightly sweet scent in your sheets, it may be a sign that bed bugs are nesting nearby. It takes a sizeable infestation of bed bugs to create a detectable odor.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions and wash your bedding in hot, soapy water. You'll need to wash it at a temperature of at least 120 degrees and dry it on the highest heat setting to kill any bed bugs in your linens. Bed bugs can't survive in a hot dryer for longer than 20 to 30 minutes. Just make sure to check the care instructions on your items first and keep in mind that high heat settings can damage some fabrics.
It's also good to transport your bedding to and from the laundry room using a dedicated hamper or disposable bags to prevent cross-contamination of clothing, towels and other laundered items. And if you're taking bedding to a laundromat or a professional dry cleaner, let the staff know that there may be bed bugs in the bag. They'll be able to take the necessary precautions to protect others' belongings.
Vacuum and Seal
Vacuuming is one of the best ways to contain small infestations and keep them from spreading throughout the house. The most important thing to remember is that you'll need to use a vacuum with disposable bags, not a container that you dump in the trash can. Those containers may be great for the environment, but they won't stop bed bugs from crawling out of the trash and re-infesting your home.
Run your vacuum across your mattress, inside the bed frame, under your bed and along your baseboards and headboard. Be very thorough in vacuuming all cracks and crevices where bed bugs and their eggs may be hiding. Once you're done, seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag and dispose of it in an outside trash receptacle.
Isolate the Bed
One of the best things you can do when trying to protect the rest of your home from bed bugs is to isolate the bed. This doesn't mean you need to remove your bed from your house. You just need to make it less accessible to bed bugs in the first place.
The easiest way to do this is to lift your bed off the floor. Standard bed risers often aren't enough to keep bed bugs from climbing up the frame. Instead, you'll need to look for bed bug frame cups. These cups sit around the feet of the bed frame and are made of a hard, slick plastic. Bed bugs aren't able to climb out of the cups once they fall in, making it easier to keep your room safe and pest free.
Treat Your Mattress
Before you put freshly cleaned bedding on your mattress, be sure to thoroughly clean it and your box spring. First, use a stiff brush to remove bed bugs and bed bug eggs from mattress seams and box spring fabric. Then thoroughly vacuum your mattress and box spring, along with the headboard, floor and surrounding areas of the room. Be sure to immediately remove the vacuum bag, place it in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it in a sealed trash can outdoors.
Encase your cleaned mattress and box spring in tightly woven, zippered protectors.
Wipe Down Furniture
Though bed bugs are more commonly found in mattresses and bedding, they can also nest in your furniture. Try to wipe down the surfaces thoroughly and vacuum furniture joints as well as you can. For best results, use a vacuum with a disposable vacuum bag and a narrow crevasse attachment. Run the attachment along the seams, joints and cracks of your furniture. This should get rid of both shed skin and any living bed bugs still hiding in your furniture.
Once you're done, seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag and dispose of it in your outside trash can.
Isolate Your Luggage
Fond memories aren't the only things you can bring back home after vacation. If you stayed in a hotel room with an infestation, those bed bugs can hitch a ride on your suitcase and in your luggage. Don't leave things up to chance. Unpack your bag outdoors or in your garage and immediately wash and dry your clothes.
Place your luggage in a large plastic bag and seal the bag tightly. Vacuum-seal bags are great for this purpose. Leave the luggage in the bag. This should be enough to kill any bed bugs still hiding out inside. Before you bring your bag into the house, vacuum your luggage to help get rid of any bed bug eggs, skin or living bed bugs.
Heat & Freezing for Bed Bug Removal
Bed bugs hate extreme temperatures. It's why washing and drying your clothes and bedding on high heat is often enough to kill them. However, you can also freeze them out of your home.
If you know the infestation is contained to a single piece of furniture, you may be able to move it outdoors in the winter to get rid of the insects. Unfortunately, doing so can end up increasing your risk of new insect infestations, plus, temperatures may not stay cold enough to sufficiently treat the problem.
There are heat treatments for bed bugs that you can do yourself, but it's far better to let an experienced professional handle those methods. Professional-grade heat treatments guarantee that your home will actually get hot enough to kill bed bugs and will keep it that way until the problem is gone.
Simply cranking the thermostat isn't enough to get rid of bed bugs throughout your house.
Spread Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is an environmentally friendly way to help prevent bed bugs from moving from one area to another in your home. It is a desiccant that bed bugs avoid because it disrupts their waxy shell, dehydrates them and kills them. If you plan to use diatomaceous earth, follow the instructions on the manufacturer's packaging before applying.
Care must be taken when using diatomaceous earth. If accidentally inhaled, it can cause breathing problems. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using diatomaceous earth that is registered as a pesticide product and carefully following the label directions.
That said, you should only use diatomaceous earth to bolster the effects of a professional bed bug treatment. It's not enough to eliminate an active infestation.
Dust Mites vs. Bed Bugs
Both bed bugs and dust mites can impact your health and the comfort of your home. But they do so in different ways.
Dust mites don't actually bite you, but their waste and decaying bodies can cause skin irritation that looks like a rash or may aggravate your allergies and leave you sneezing when you're indoors. Bed bugs, on the other hand, actively bite you and feed on your blood.
Bed bug bites may sometimes look like mosquito bites — they're typically red, raised bumps. If you're extremely sensitive to the bites or are allergic to bed bugs, you may develop raised welts and swollen spots surrounding the bite area.
The only DIY dust mite removal method is to stay on top of your routine cleaning efforts as best you can. Dust, vacuum and mop regularly, and wash your bedding and linens weekly in hot water to help keep the mites at bay. You may not be able to get rid of them completely, but you can keep their populations down while also reducing your exposure to other allergens in the home.
Schedule a Bed Bug Inspection Now
Though the tips above may help you temporarily reduce the bed bug infestation in your home, these insects are prolific breeders and are difficult to fully eliminate. The best and most effective method for controlling bed bugs is professional treatment. With Terminix®, an experienced bed bug control professional will inspect your home for the presence of bed bugs and recommend a customized solution, based on the size of the infestation and the specifics of your home itself.
Effective bed bug control typically requires different methods of treatment used together - something that only a trained professional is able to do. Schedule your inspection with Terminix today. A local technician is ready to professionally assess and address your situation, eliminate bed bugs where they live and breed, and get your home in order with as little as disruption as possible. Call us and let us help you protect your family from bed bugs.