Updated: May 25
No one wants to find bed bugs in their home ̶ or anywhere else for that matter! However, these tiny invaders are found across the world and make their way into everything from homes and offices to retail stores, schools, taxi cabs and bus stations. If it’s inhabited by humans, chances are good that bed bugs will show up eventually.
The good news is, you can get rid of them with a little bit of know-how and the right insecticide. In this article, will cover all the do's and don'ts of eradicating bed bugs.
Bed Bugs: The Equal Opportunity Pest
According to one reliable source, at least 20% of Americans have encountered bed bugs in their homes, offices, and in hotels and other places. In other words, bed bugs are equal opportunity pests; no one, and no place, is immune.
However, if you do want to minimize your chances of facing a bed bug infestation, there are some tips to keep in mind. For those proactive bed control busters among you, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts. Following this advice could save you a lot of time, money and grief.
The Do’s of Bed Bug Treatment
Here are proven tips on how to prevent the spread and get rid of bed bugs:
First, thoroughly clean the affected rooms (or offices, dormitories, etc) of clutter. The fact is that bed bugs love unmade beds and unwashed laundry, piles of paper and rarely-read books, neglected files and drawers, dusty carpets and drapes, and so on ̶ because it makes it easier for them to move around.
Second, vacuum beds, carpets, chairs, office desks, drapes and window blinds. Be sure to throw away the vacuum bag, and don’t put it in your kitchen trash. Remember, bed bugs are tricky, devious little critters and they’ll stage an escape attempt. Instead, remove the vacuum bag from the building, placing it immediately in an external trash container.
Third, wash all your sheets and bedding in the hottest water you can (at least 120 degrees) and finish them in a hot dryer. If it can't be washed, dry clean it or put it in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. Tip: Commercial dryers in laundromats reach very high temperatures and are especially good for pillows, bedspreads, and bulky items.
Fourth, and probably most importantly, realize that steps #1, #2 and #3 above are only temporary measures, especially if you haven’t treated the infected rooms and areas with an effective bed bug killer such as Sterifab. Vacuuming, cleaning, and washing will undoubtedly reduce and minimize a bed bug infestation, but don’t be lulled into thinking the bed bugs are gone unless you've used the right product.
There are a lot of false claims out there about which products actually kill bed bugs, and there are plenty of articles touting the use of cayenne pepper, tea tree oil and even baking soda to get rid of bed bugs. If only it were so easy. The truth is, there are very few products that can get rid of bed bugs for good, and even fewer that are non-residual - meaning that they leave no trace. We recommend Sterifab, which is what most professional exterminators (PCPs) use, since it has been around for more than 50 years and its effectiveness is proven. Plus, it's EPA-approved as both an insecticide and fungicide, and just 15 minutes after spraying, you can go right back into the room. Plus, it won’t ruin your fabrics or carpets, and it’s one of the only non-residual products that you can use on mattresses and upholstered furniture. In today's world, Sterifab offers the added benefit of being a virucide - meaning it kills viruses like COVID-19.
The Don’ts of Bed Bug Treatment
If you find that you are playing host to these unwelcome creatures, don’t panic. Your immediate reaction may be to reach for whatever insecticides you have under the kitchen sink or to run to your local hardware store and scoop up a handful of bug bombs and foggers.
A word of advice here: Don’t! According to the entomology department at The Ohio State University over-the-counter bug bombs and foggers have little effect on bed bugs – even after direct exposure for two or more hours. Where it’s a home or a business, there are almost always places that bed bugs can hide – sheltered spots where they don’t come into direct contact with fogging mist.
More things not to do to get rid of bed bugs:
First, don’t start throwing away your mattress or your furniture. Not only will you be throwing away money but there’s a great likelihood that you’ll be dropping bed bugs and their eggs with every move you make. Besides, it probably won’t solve the problem. Bed bugs can hide anywhere – inside sofa cushions, behind electrical outlets, within the cracks and crevices of baseboards, and even behind picture frames. They can also hide in the folds of curtains, in household appliances, kitchen utensils, and wall hangings.
Second, don't waste hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new bed and furniture.
Third, don’t abandon your home or office. Simply moving won’t help. Even if you do, there’s a very good chance that the bed bugs will come with you. The mere thought of bed bugs can, and has, led people to make rash, often irreversible, decisions. Don’t be among them.
Fourth, don't start moving furnishings, or other belongings from room to room. Moving pillows, blankets, or toys to another room only risks spreading the problem. However, if you must relocate to a different room, take clean pajamas, clean bedding and clean pillows. The same goes for offices. Shifting files, bookcases, and computers may not help. The bed bugs just go along for the ride!
A Few Tips for Keeping Bed Bugs Out
Of course, you can’t guarantee that bed bugs won’t find their way into your home or office, but there are a few steps you can take to lessen the probability:
If you like to visit yard sales be sure to examine any purchases carefully. Remember: bed bugs are devious little critters, and great ‘hitchhikers.’ Oh, yes, and stay away from used mattresses or old couches.
If you buy a new mattress, move it yourself. Why? The same vehicles that deliver mattresses are often used to haul away old ones ̶ and they may contain bed bugs!
When you travel, whether for business or pleasure, be sure to check your hotel room for bedbugs. Even upscale hotels can harbor these tiny interlopers.
Make sure that you keep your belongings ̶ including briefcases, computer bags, purses, and backpacks ̶ off the floor, even at places like movie theaters, office complexes, and stores.
If you aren't 100% sure that your bites are from bed bugs, be sure to check out our blog about 5 simple ways to tell bed bugs from scabies.