Warning: This series of articles may make you slightly squeamish….but wouldn’t you rather be informed than completely ignorant about such an important epidemic?
Please, keep reading.
DIY Methods of Treating Bed Bugs
In the last segment of our four-part bed bug series, we’ll give you advice about what you can do if you notice bed bugs in your home. For frequently misunderstood facts about these parasites, info on how to correctly identify a bed bug infestation, or eco-friendly, professional pesticides that actually work, check out our earlier posts.
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While treatments such as heat remediation, Cryonite, and Apprehend seem to be viable, eco-friendly methods for eradicating a bed bug infestation, there are other options you can enact before the exterminator arrives. (Chances are you won’t want to wait to take action once you notice this nausea-inducing, creepy-crawly insects in your home!)
While your results likely won’t be nearly as effective as the aforementioned methods, here is a complete DIY guide to treating bed bugs in your home:
- Avoid cross-contamination. When transporting any infested or even potentially infested materials, be judicious about the cross-contamination risks. Bedding, mattresses, suitcases, and other items should be bagged and sealed to avoid transferring the infestation to other locations.
- Launder your bedding. In order to kill bed bugs, you’ll need to wash your bedding in hot soapy water at a temperature of at least 120 degrees. Most household dryers are also capable of reaching this threshold to kill bedbugs but keep in mind, bed bugs can survive for up to 30 minutes even at such high temperatures.
- Clean your bedroom. Vacuum every surface of your mattress, bed frame, headboard, box spring, platform, baseboards, cracks, crevices, the area under your bed, and anywhere else the parasites might be hiding. Keep in mind that you aren’t just looking for the insects themselves, you’re also searching for their eggs. Once you finish, dispose of your vacuum bag in a plastic bag that is clearly marked “infested with bedbugs.” Check with your state to ensure you’re following best practices for your local area.
- Steam clean. The University of Minnesota states that if applied properly, steam is a very effective method for killing bed bugs in all the stages of development. To effectively kill bed bugs on surfaces or up to ¾” into fabrics, the surface temperature should be raised to at least 160-180°. Use an infrared thermometer just after the steam brush has passed, and never use a pinpoint steam nozzle which can blow bed bugs out of the steam stream.
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- Wrap your mattress. While it might seem shocking, you will not need to purchase a new mattress! However, once the steam cleaning is completed, you will need to wrap your mattress and box spring in a specially designed bed bug cover. Some sources recommend leaving the encasements on for at least 18 months to ensure that any remaining bed bugs have starved to death. Note: Once the cover has been applied, you may put your properly-laundered bedding back on your bed. Here’s a list of the best mattress encasements according to Frank Apodaca, Lead Editor of The Sleep Judge.
- Move your bed to the center of the room. To minimize the points of contact for bed bugs to access your bed, position your bed in the center of the room so that the only thing connecting the bed to the floor are the legs of your bed base. You should remove hanging bedskirts, push away from your nightstands, and remove under bed storage. Place interceptor products like the ClimbUp Interceptors under each leg of the bed. As bedbugs attempt to crawl up the legs of your bed, they will be trapped and can then be easily disposed of.
- Apply diatomaceous earth. By absorbing the oily, protective layer that covers their exoskeletons, diatomaceous earth (DE) works to prevent a bed bug infestation and can also be utilized as a treatment. Though it only affects adult bed bugs, this natural, low-cost pesticide is free of chemicals and can be effective in an integrated approach to pest management. Click here for more thorough application instructions.
What have you done to protect yourself from bedbugs? Have you successfully exterminated bed bugs from your home?