- 11 Mar
Bed Bugs: How to Get Ready for the Exterminator and Get the Bugs Out of Your Home for Good Part 1
It’s true. Bedbugs have made quite the come back. But don’t think your home is off limits to these blood-sucking little creepers just because you are very clean and live clutter-free. All it takes is one night’s stay in a not-so-clean hotel for one of these pesky pests to stow away and set up housekeeping in a mattress near you. And while mattresses are a favorite nesting place for bed bugs, this is largely because the bugs can find their meal of blood easy to access from a human who is in repose for hours at a time. Bed bugs are notorious for hiding and laying eggs in the smallest spots they can find, most everywhere in your home. And the problem can escalate quickly.
In the 1950s in the United States, the stay-at-home mom was largely responsible to helping to eradicate bed bugs, which at the time were as common a household infestation as ants. The cleaning power of these focused American mothers was no match for any bed bugs that managed to avoid being exterminated by the now banned DDT insecticide. With both of these factors now largely a thing of the past, it can be very challenging for anyone to devote themselves to the extent required to cooperate with professional exterminators to ensure success.
Before you start casting all of your belongings into the dumpster, read these tips below that can help you get rid of bed bugs once and for all, and keep them from coming back.
- Admit there’s a problem. Being in denial about an infestation in your home won’t solve anything. It’s understandable you may be embarrassed, and shy to discuss the bed bug topic with anyone, including a professional exterminator. But you really can’t get stuck here, at step one, or you will be stuck with the bugs.
- Place a piece of duct tape touching the floor at the bottom of your furniture legs in your bedroom, leaving the sticky side out to catch and trap the bugs as they attempt to travel up to your bed. This is a handy way to collect a specimen to show your professional exterminator, and if you are a renter, your landlord. Depending on your local laws, your landlord may be under legal obligation to help you with the extermination.
- Once you’ve made your appointment with the exterminator, you’ll be instructed to prepare your home before their visit. Some items that can just be discarded, go ahead and do so. Be sure to destroy anything heavily infested, so someone else is not tempted to adopt your trash as their treasure. But things you will be keeping that cannot be treated by chemicals will need to be placed in sealed plastic bags for an extended period of time.
- Reduce clutter. But be wary of spreading the bed bugs to other areas while you move things. Keep all stacks and piles of books, newspapers, magazines, clothing and boxes off of the floor. Replace any cardboard containers with plastic ones. These areas give the bed bugs a real advantage when it comes to staying alive and spreading. And it is not really possible to clean all the miscellaneous dead skin cells these creature eat, the dirt, the dust and the debris from a cluttered area, which you will also want to do.
- Isolate your bed. Ensure all bed bugs, larvae, and eggs are removed from the bed, frame and headboard, and you’ve removed everything from under the bed. Place your mattress and box springs in fully-zipping bed bug encasement covers. These will stay on for at least a year, and will trap any remaining live bugs inside so they cannot attack you and breed, nor can any new bugs get into your bed to hide. Your bed should be at least 6 inches away from any wall, and no bedding should be touching the floor.
- Wash any potentially contaminated clothing and dry at a high setting for at least 30 minutes to destroy bed bugs on these items. Seal them in plastic bags when clean until you know your infestation has been conquered. Remove and clean drapes and hardware. Inspect and clean all baseboards, outlet covers, and light switches. And don’t forget to seal up the vacuum bag and throw it away immediately after using.
Now your exterminator can come help you, and will give you even more advice on how to keep the bed bugs from coming back.
About the Author
My journey as a Cleveland home inspector began 15 years ago when I was buying real estate properties in Ohio. Because they were my investments, I wanted to make sure I was getting a great deal, so I decided to learn everything I could about general home inspections.