First things first – we’re not experts on these insects. We are, however, professionals for mattresses. We know how expensive these products are and how personal they can become. Sleeping is an essential function and one you do on your bed. For that matter, you’ll want to protect it – especially from these critters.
How to get rid of bed bugs fast? In this article, we’ll analyze every important factor related to this process. Besides telling you how to get rid of bed bugs, we’ll also help you learn how to prevent their appearance in the future. Read on and discover how to put a stop to your bed bug infestation!
What Are Bed Bugs?
These critters are tiny but visible insects without wings. Most of them have a reddish-brown color and are no bigger than an apple seed. Even though they can’t fly, they love burrowing in murky, enclosed spaces. Unfortunately, mattresses are among their favorite places to live in.
It’s pretty hard to see these insects without a magnifying glass. However, that doesn’t stop them from getting into the mattress faster than you can kill them. Female mattress bugs are capable of laying hundreds of eggs. They don’t reproduce as quickly as other insects, but can fairly quickly become your No. 1 nuisance.
Most people don’t know they have a bed bug infestation until they notice the bite marks. These things bite, and the bites quickly turn into red and itchy bumps. It’s not a cause for panic – dealing with them isn’t as challenging as most people may think.
What is the Main Cause of Bed Bugs?
Where do bed bugs come from? These creepy-crawlies are well-known for hitching rides on people’s luggage. However, traveling is not the only way to get them inside your home. Most of the time, these insects are carried into the house on pillows, boxes, clothing, and secondhand furniture.
Unlike dust mites, mattress bugs aren’t found in all homes. In fact, they’re not something anyone should have in their house. Trying to “live with them” is not recommended. They can be present almost everywhere, but they mostly live in hard-to-reach-places. These include mattresses, under carpets, skirting boards, and in cracks.
No matter how much time you spend cleaning your home or cleaning a mattress, a bed bug infestation will typically stem from a single item. This can be a piece of furniture or an article of worn clothing, for example. The risk of these insects increases wherever there are a lot of people living close to each other.
How to Check for Bed Bugs?
Before trying to deal with them, you’ll need to learn how to tell if you have bed bugs. Noticing the signs of bed bugs isn’t that difficult. However, it’s still easy to end up confused. You may be left wondering if your itchy bite marks came from these or some other biting/stinging insects.
These insects are attracted to carbon dioxide, blood, and warmth. To put it simply, they’re attracted to our bodies. And since we spend so many hours a day sleeping in our beds, it is no wonder that these creepy-crawlies are often found in different types of mattresses. To make sure your bed is infested with them, check for the following signs:
Itchy red bites
These are flat, red welts, visible to the human eye. They can be excessively itchy – scratching them causes bleeding.
These critters release pheromones with a damp smell. A large number of these insects cause an excessively strong and offensive odor.
These are one of the best signs of bed bugs. In most cases, they’re a combination of molted skin, fecal matter, and eggshells.
Red or brown stains
As you can already guess, these are the leftovers of human blood, caused by the bites. They also come from squished insects.
How to Kill Bed Bugs?
So, how to get rid of bed bugs for good? No matter which strategy you choose to go with, you’ll have to keep some things in mind.
First of all, make sure to create a schedule. Don’t forget to include your personal plans (like vacations, for example). Secondly, try to keep records throughout the process. Note the locations of the insects and the dates you’ve found them. You’ll be able to keep track of your bed bug treatment and see the progress.
Finally, don’t forget to keep checking once you’re done. Do this for a year to make sure that your pest is gone for good.
Wash and Sanitize Everything
After stripping the bed, kill the lingering bacteria by washing the bedding in hot water. You’ll have to use hot water (120°F) because the bedding can’t be treated with insecticide. In case you can’t machine wash the bedding, use a dryer and dry it on high heat.
The next step consists of spot-cleaning. Do this by using some water, baking soda (or vinegar solution), and a stiff brush. Thoroughly scrub all places with evidence of these creepy-crawlies. Next, vacuum the room. You’ll have to clean the carpet, the baseboards around the bed, and, of course, the mattress itself.
Since all areas with corners and crevices may be filled with bugs, take care of them too. Make sure to vacuum everything you can – even your dresser drawers. All of this may sound quite time-consuming. If killing bed bugs is your plan, though, you’ll have to do it.
Among the things that mattress bugs really hate, heat takes the No. 1 place.
Wondering what temperature takes care of the buggers? This depends on how long the heat is maintained. When sustained for an hour and a half, the temperature of 113°F kills the bugs fast. At 118°F, however, they’ll be gone in under 20 minutes.
Bed bug eggs, on the other hand, are quite a bit more resilient. To kill them fast, one needs to expose them to a temperature of 118°F for an hour and a half. This ensures 100% mortality.
To do all of this, you’ll have to use a steamer on your mattress. Remember the temperatures we mentioned above – if the steamer doesn’t get really hot, it won’t kill the insects. An important thing to say here is that industrial steamers can be quite expensive. If you don’t have one, buying a new mattress may be a better option.
Natural Home Remedies You Can Use
There are many different insecticides and chemicals available for purchase. Although they can be quite useful, handling them can sometimes be risky. For that matter, you should consider using home remedies to get rid of bed bugs.
Petroleum jelly products, such as Vaseline, are one option. To catch these awful little creatures, wipe Vaseline over your bed’s feet and other surfaces. While some consider that it’s the smell that repels them, others say that the buggers get stuck in the jelly. Some people even say that Vaseline makes climbing impossible for the critters by making surfaces too slippery.
Using vinegar is another natural method. As a strong acetic acid, this solution easily agitates the nervous system of these insects. Take a spray bottle, fill it with vinegar, and treat the afflicted area. Spray directly on the mattress bugs in case you notice any.
Bed Bug Prevention
If you’re not dealing with a bed bug infestation at the moment, you probably want to take precautions. Defending yourself against future infestations is the most economical solution.
When purchasing a new, quality mattress, make sure to also buy a mattress protector for it. The ones which envelop the entire mattress are the best. These can be cleaned in the washing machine and have their openings sealed with zippers.
Try to avoid secondhand beds and furniture. As you can already guess, these can easily bring the intruders into your home. If you can’t avoid purchasing second-hand furniture, inspect it as thoroughly as you can. Shared washrooms can also be problematic. If you’re using one, transport your clothes in plastic bags and use high heat temperatures.
Keeping the room clean is helpful, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. Still, it doesn’t hurt to scrub and dust potential hiding places whenever you can.
Essential Oils for Bed Bugs
When it comes to natural remedies, one can also consider using essential oils. These include eucalyptus tea tree oil, thyme oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, lemongrass oil, and cinnamon oil. These are widely available and are quite affordable.
To use the oil against this pest, put ten drops of it into a spray bottle filled with water, and then treat the afflicted area. Don’t forget that your mattress will retain the smell of your chosen oil. For that matter, use the one you like or make a blend.
Flea Bites vs. Bed Bug Bites
People often confuse flea bites with bed bug bites. Not only do these insects bite in different areas of the human body, but they also leave different marks. By telling the difference, you’ll be able to know if it’s time to start the bed bug treatment.
First of all, fleas typically bite one’s lower body. They operate on the legs and around the ankles. Mattress bugs, on the other hand, bite arms and other body areas exposed during sleep. Moreover, fleas prefer feeding on animal blood, while mattress bugs like human blood much more.
The bites that these insects leave are different in appearance. As you probably already know, flea bites are somewhat blotchy, swollen, and red. Bed bug bites aren’t only smaller, but also have harder lumps. Although both bites can be quite itchy, only the bed bug bites are prone to popping when scratched.
Bed Bug Bites vs. Mosquito Bites
Just like flea bites, mosquito bites are also often confused with bed bug bites. Telling the difference between mosquito and bed bug marks is a bit trickier, though. They are quite similar in feel and appearance – it’s no wonder so many people confuse them.
While looking and feeling similar, the marks left by mattress bugs are still slightly different than those caused by mosquitos. The things you need to look for are quantity and frequency. Not only the bed bug bites are more clustered, but they also have a very distinct bite pattern.
The time of appearance is just as important. If your bite marks appear after you’ve spent the night outside, they were probably caused by mosquitos. If you notice the marks in the morning after you’ve spent the night in bed, they were most likely caused by this bedroom-invading pest. Quite simple, isn’t it?
Scabies vs. Bed Bugs
Caused by eight-legged microscopic mites, scabies is a skin condition that causes rashes and itching. As it is contagious, it easily spreads from one human being to another. In settings like a school class, family home, or prison, a scabies outbreak is never far away from happening.
How to tell the difference between bed bug bites and scabies? While both of these feed on human blood, there’s an important difference between them. While mattress bugs bite from the outside, scabies do the same thing from the inside. These critters burrow under one’s skin, where they feed and lay eggs. Moreover, they can’t be seen without a microscope.
Another thing we should mention here is the difference between ticks and mattress bugs. Unfortunately, they both feed on human blood and have a similar appearance. However, ticks don’t breed as rapidly – they cause just a couple of bites. Bed bug bites, on the other hand, will be numerous.
Many sleepless nights have been caused by the resurgence of these critters in American homes. Once they detect mattress bugs, people often try to remove the mattress as soon as possible. Itchy, irritating bites are not the only reason for which people try to kill them – there’s also the fear of the unknown.
If you’ve never dealt with these nasty little buggers, there’s a good chance you know close to nothing about them. Like all other people in the same situation, you probably have dozens of questions on your mind. How long do these insects live? Can they fly and jump? Will they bite my pets, too? And most importantly, do they carry diseases?
To clear up the confusion, we’ve decided to create a short and informative FAQ. In the following paragraphs, we’ll try to give answers to the most frequently asked questions about bed bugs. After all, dealing with a bed bug infestation is easier when you know what you’re up against.
Do Bed Bugs Jump?
When we think about dealing with insects while sleeping, we think of fleas. These critters can jump, which is precisely why catching them can be so tricky. Unlike fleas, mattress bugs are unable to jump long distances. These insects move around mostly by crawling.
Do Bed Bugs Carry Diseases?
The discomfort that these insects cause boils down to a simple loss of sleep. Fortunately, they are not known for carrying or spreading any kind of disease. However, excessive scratching and itching can significantly increase the chance of a skin infection. That’s why dealing with them as soon as possible is so important.
Do Bed Bugs Have Wings?
As we already said, mattress bugs are wingless, and therefore cannot fly. Their primary way of moving is crawling. Indoors, these insects move from one room to another by clinging to people or objects. They often hide in places that are in the vicinity of their host targets.
How Long Do Bed Bugs Live?
With no people around, these insects have nothing to feed off. However, that doesn’t stop them from surviving for more than a year. Newly hatched bugs, on the other hand, die fairly quickly if there are no hosts to feed off.
Do Bed Bugs Bite Dogs?
Technically, yes, they can bite dogs. However, as they have no claws to move through fur easily, they prefer to leave canines alone. Human skin is much more accessible, allowing them to feed on our blood without much effort. Nevertheless, they can use dog bedding as a hiding place.
Having these critters in your home can be a significant issue. These critters don’t hesitate to bite humans, causing itching and scratching in turn. Another issue is that they multiply quite quickly, particularly when they’re located in a mattress or other bedding. This is why it’s so important to put a stop to them immediately.
So, how to get rid of bed bugs naturally? As shown above, there are a couple of different strategies you can take. Besides using baking soda and a stiff brush, you could also treat them with high heat. Going natural is another option – Vaseline, vinegar, and essential oils are also useful.
Moreover, taking sensible precautions for the future is just as important. Avoid purchasing second-hand furniture or placing your luggage on the bed. When you come home from traveling, make sure to remove and wash all of your clothes. By taking these steps, your home is bound to become a lot less bug-friendly.
Bed Bugs FAQs – https://www.cdc.gov/
Bed Bugs – https://www.pestworld.org/
Bedbugs – Symptoms and Causes – https://www.mayoclinic.org/