Expert advice on how to permanently remove bed bugs from your home, according to founder of pest control company Merlin Environmental, Adam Juson
There are few things that make our skin crawl more than the thought of parasites in our bed at night, feasting on our blood, then disappearing again in the morning, all while being almost invisible to the naked eye.
Occupying not just our bedclothes, bed bugs can also reside in soft furnishings, walls, skirting boards and clothes.
They don’t present a direct health hazard, but their presence can be unpleasant and result in stress and anxiety. These red-brown parasitic insects are only about the size of an apple pip, but they deliver nasty welt-producing bites that can be very itchy.
They’re not just painful for your skin either. They also leave noticeable excrement, generating an unpleasant musty odour in your home.
How to check for bed bugs
Look out for translucent exoskeletons on your funishings as one tell-tale sign that you have bed bugs
The presence of bed bugs may not be immediately obvious because these intruders expertly hide during your regular housekeeping. Itchy bites are usually the first common indicator; if this sounds like your household, a bed bug inspection is called for.
Look carefully for these giveaway signs that you may have bed bugs:
- Blood spots—when they have finished feeding, bed bugs often leave blood spots behind. If you regularly find spots on your furnishings, it is most likely due to these parasites.
- Excrement—bed bugs produce tiny streaks of fecal matter. This is particularly obvious on your light-coloured furnishings.
- Eggs—female bed bugs produce around 500 eggs in a lifetime. They can be found singularly or in clusters of four or five. They’re very small and whitish in colour, so could easily be overlooked as dust or crumbs during regular cleaning.
- Exoskeletons—bed bugs shed their skins, leaving small, translucent, yellowish shells on or around your soft furnishings.
- Odour—in smaller, enclosed spaces, you may also detect a musty, sweetish odour.
How to get rid of bed bugs fast (without calling pest control)
Washing your clothes on temperatures higher than 50°C helps to kill off bed bugs
The traditional method for tackling a bed bug infestation used to be insecticide contact sprays. Today, more effective and environmentally friendly methods are available, and these are much better suited to a family home.
By applying heat (50°C or more) to the insects and their environment, you can effectively destroy the bed bugs and their eggs.
By washing your bedding, soft furnishing covers, and clothes on a hot cycle and then putting them in the dryer, the combination of hot water and dryer heat will help kill off the colony.
"By applying heat (50°C or more), you can effectively destroy the bed bugs"
As an extra tip, it is common to bring bed bugs back with you on your return from holiday. So, as a precaution, consider washing your holiday luggage on a hot cycle to be safe.
Suck those babies up with a strong vacuum cleaner! It is important to be thorough—vacuum the mattress, bedding, and soft furniture and repeat every few days while battling an infestation.
"It's crucial that you discard the vacuum bag outside, as far away from your home as possible"
Don't forget your carpet, floors, and any cracks in the walls or floorboards. When you’re done vacuuming, it's crucial that you discard the vacuum bag outside, as far away from your home as possible to avoid a re-infestation.
For places that the vacuum can’t reach, steam cleaning is the best option, as the heat will kill the bedbugs and eggs. Follow the steam cleaner’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging your furniture.
These critters are crafty, so don’t forget to run a stiff brush along the mattress seams while you’re cleaning. This will dislodge any clinging bugs that resisted the suction of a vacuum cleaner.
You’ll be relieved to know that an infestation has nothing to do with your hygiene. You have done nothing wrong, as bed bugs can live happily in the cleanest and dirtiest of environments.
"Bed bugs can live happily in the cleanest and dirtiest of environments"
You can’t always prevent bed bugs from entering your home, but you can be aware of the signs and take immediate action. If you tried everything mentioned above with no luck, then maybe it's time to call professional pest control like Toxic Respond.
The faster you act, the easier they are to dislodge as the parasites have less time to spread and reproduce. In most cases, being aware is a great preventative.
Read more: How to get rid of mice for good
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