Bed bugs were once one of the biggest public health pests in the world, declining in incidence through the mid-20th century. However, they have undergone a major worldwide resurgence as they are now resistant to common insecticides.
Bed bugs are one of the world’s greatest travelers and are easily transported through clothing, bedding, luggage, and furniture. If you wake up with itchy areas in your body that were not there when you went to bed, you may have a bedbug problem.
If you suspect an infestation, you should remove all your bedding and check it thoroughly and carefully for signs of bed bugs or their excrement. You need to remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and take a close look at the seams in the wood framing. The fabric should also be peeled off where it is stapled to the wood frame.
Bed bug-Controlling Methods
Physical methods to control bed bugs include vacuuming, steam cleaning, washing, freezing, heating and throwing items out. You should do steam cleaning before vacuuming as the steam will flush out any bugs that are not killed out of hiding. If you are considering the heating method or pesticides, remember that this is a job that is best left to professionals.
Steaming and Washing
- If your mattress is infested, but intact and cannot be washed with hot water and detergent, the next best thing is steam cleaning. Bed bugs can be killed at 50 degrees Celsius and steam cleaners emit steam at a temperature of at least 100 degrees Celsius. Low vapor steamers or dry steam are better options as they do not leave behind too much moisture. Only bed bugs that the steam reaches will be killed, so it is important to maximize depth by moving the steam cleaner slowly. You need to avoid excess moisture as it could lead to mold.
- You need to wash mattress pads, bed skirts and bedding in hot water and then allow them to dry in the hottest dryer setting.
If yours is a household with family members who have asthma or allergies, you should use a vacuum with a HEPA filter so that you do not put insects and allergens back into the air.
- Bed bugs cling to wood and fabric and their eggs get cemented to surfaces where they are laid. To remove all bed bugs and eggs, use a stiff brush attachment and scrape the mattress surface with a back-and-forth motion and carefully vacuum all the sides. Use a nozzle for the crevices and seams. Remember to vacuum everything, including the mattress, box spring, baseboards and bed frame.
Before using a pesticide, you need to make sure that you use the right one. Every registered pesticide comes with a detailed label that provides directions on how you can use it safely, on what and where it can be used, which pests it controls and how to apply the product properly. However, it is best to leave killing bed bugs with pesticides to professionals.
- Before buying or using pesticides, make sure that you read the label carefully. This will help you figure out which products are best for your situation and how to use the product you choose safely.
- Make sure that you use registered pesticides and only as it is directed on the label.
- Do not use the pesticide on bedding unless it is specifically mentioned in the pesticide label. For example, pesticides that are registered for use on mattresses should not be used on box springs or bed frames.
Protect Your Mattress
Once you have cleaned your mattresses and are rid of bed bugs, you should protect your mattress from further infestation.
Consider using a protective cover to encase both the mattress and box spring, like covers that are used for allergy relief so that bed bugs do not have access to your mattress. Mattress encasements will help in sealing the mattress and box spring. This way, bugs in the mattress get trapped and they will eventually die, while keeping new bugs out as well.
An encasement will not prevent bed bugs from crawling onto your bed and biting you while you sleep, but it will make it easier for you to spot and kill any bugs that live on the outer surface while you are examining your mattress and bed. Once your mattress becomes infested without an encasement, you should consider replacing it or calling a professional pest control company.