How to Get Rid of Bedbugs
• Professional help
Bedbugs measure just 5 millimeters across—smaller than a pencil eraser. These bugs are smart, tough, and they reproduce quickly. Bedbugs know where to hide to avoid detection, they can live for months between meals, and a healthy female can lay 500 eggs in her lifetime.
No surprise that these tiny bloodsuckers can wreak a lot of havoc in your home. If they get into bed with you, they can leave red, itchy welts all over your body.
Fortunately, you can get rid of bedbugs. Be patient as removing bedbugs often takes some time and effort. You may have to try a few different chemical and non-chemical approaches, especially if you have a large infestation.
Certain factors can make bedbugs harder to remove. You may have a tougher time ridding your home of them if you have a lot of clutter, or you travel often and bring new bedbugs home in your luggage.
If you can’t rid your home on your own, you may have to call in a professional exterminator. Read on for a step-by-step guide on getting rid of bedbugs.
Step 1: Identify all infested areas
If you’ve got bedbugs, you want to find them early before they start to reproduce. It’s much easier—and cheaper—to treat a small infestation than a big one. Yet smaller infestations can be harder to detect.
Search for bedbugs yourself, or hire a professional to do an inspection. Some inspectors use specially trained dogs to hunt down bedbugs by scent.
Bedbugs’ small, narrow bodies enable them to squeeze into tiny spots—like the seams of a mattress or couch, and the folds of curtains.
Also, look for them in places like these:
• near the tags of the mattress and box spring
• in cracks in the bed frame and headboard
• in baseboards
• between couch cushions
• in furniture joints
• inside electrical outlets
• under loose wallpaper
• underneath paintings and posters on the walls
• in the seam where the wallpaper and ceiling meet
Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to go over all of these areas.
You can spot bedbugs by these signs:
• live bedbugs, which are reddish and about ¼-inch long
• dark spots about the size of a period—these are bedbug droppings
• reddish stains on your mattress from bugs that have been crushed
• small, pale yellow eggs, egg shells, and yellowish skins that young bedbugs shed
Once you find a bedbug, put it in a sealed jar along with 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Other types of bugs can look a lot like bedbugs. If you’re not sure what type of bug you’ve found, bring it to an exterminator or entomologist to identify.
Step 2: Contain the infestation
Once you know you have bedbugs, you need to keep them contained so you can get rid of them. A quick and easy way to trap bedbugs is with your vacuum. Run the vacuum over any possible hiding places.
This includes your:
• electronics (like TVs)
Seal up the vacuumed contents into a plastic bag and throw it away. Then thoroughly clean out the vacuum.
Seal up all your linens and affected clothes in plastic bags until you can wash them. Then put them on the highest possible temperature setting in the washer and dryer. If an item can’t be washed, put it in the dryer for 30 minutes at the highest heat setting.
Anything that can’t be treated in the washer and dryer, place in a plastic bag. Leave it there for a few months, if possible, to make sure all the bugs die. If you can’t clean furniture, throw it away. Tear it up first and spray paint the words “bedbugs” on it so no one else tries to take it home.
Step 3: Prep for bedbug treatment
Before you start treating your home, do a little prep work to maximize your odds of success. Make sure all your linens, carpets, drapes, clothing, and other hiding places have been cleaned or thrown out (see Step 2).
Next, get rid of bedbug hiding places. Pick up books, magazines, clothes, and anything else that’s lying on your floor and under your bed. Throw out whatever you can. Don’t move items from an infested room to a clean one—you could spread the bugs.
Seal up any open areas. Glue down loose wallpaper. Caulk cracks in furniture and around baseboards. Tape up open electrical outlets. Finally, move your bed at least 6 inches away from the wall so bedbugs can’t climb on.