How to Find and Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Home
These Guys Could All Be in Your Bed
So, Bed Bugs Really Do Exist?
How many times have you told your children, "Good night, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite?" I'll bet you never REALLY expected them to be a problem and probably doubted that they even existed. However, I recently read a report on CNN saying that bed bugs are making a comeback. Won't that be fun?
Here's how you can get rid of those nasty little critters should you find that they have invaded your home.
What a Bed Bug Looks Like
Where Bed Bugs Can Be Found
The first thing you have to do is find the bedbugs. The photographs used within this article makes a bedbug look about the size of an ugly roach, but they are actually quite small in size, so although they can be seen by the naked eye, it's probably best to go on your hunt using a magnifying glass. Check every place in your home where people sit for long periods of time or sleep.
Also, you will need a good flashlight or you stand to miss them entirely. A grown bed bug is brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about a quarter to a half-inch in length. You won't find these little devils with just a casual glance...be prepared to do some serious inspection because their flat body allows them to excel in the game of “hide and seek”.
Great Video on Bedbugs by National Geographic
They Are Not Always Found in a BedClick thumbnail to view full-size
Kill Them All!
Once you find that you have a bed bug problem, you will need to clean, clean, clean, and, then, clean some more. Wash all of the bedding in extremely hot water to kill the bed bugs, but before returning the bedding to your bed, vacuum the entire area.
After vacuuming the area, make sure to take the vacuum cleaner bag out immediately and dispose of it. If not, they will just crawl right out and back onto your bed.
Run...Don't Walk, and Buy a Steam Cleaner!
- The next step might require you to spend a little bit of money, but it is well worth the expense. Get yourself a ! I believe in the power of steam and use it to clean almost everything. The steam will kill the bugs and you won't be smelling insecticides while you are dreaming of exotic beaches. You can't steam clean a bed too much, so steam it until your arm is simply too tired to continue. STEAM CLEANER
- Turn the mattress and box springs over and steam clean beneath it, over it, around it and through it if possible. The more you steam, the cleaner your bed will be, so don't be shy. The very thought of one of these bed bugs continuing to live in my home just makes me crazy!
Bed Bug Colony
Overlook Nothing When Cleaning!
Absolutely NOTHING! Clean everything!
Don't forget your children's rooms and your pet's bed. They, too, deserve to sleep tight and not have the bed bugs bite. I use a steam cleaner on my carpet and drapes as well. Pesky little bugs can't compete with those strong bursts of hot steam, so don't be afraid to steam clean drawers, closets, and other surfaces.
Steam under and around all furniture. Don’t miss anything!
Keep Those Dreadful Bed Bugs Away!
Repeat the above steps every week or so, then every month or so to keep the bed bugs away for good. If you kill all the bed bugs in your home, don't think that more won't come to visit because they travel on clothes, bedding, and even stuffed animals (which you should also steam clean) and they are just waiting to hitch a ride to your clean house. So, continue to keep it clean for your family.
Know the Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites
Yes, they do bite, but if you’re not sure if they’ve bitten you or someone else in your family, you would be wise to learn some of the most likely symptoms of the bite of a bed bug.
Bed bugs, after they have bitten you, will leave behind small, red, itchy bumps. Treating those bites is every bit as important as the treatment for ridding your home of these dreadful pests, and I suggest some home remedies, such as essential oils for treating these common symptoms:
You may have itchy skin in the area of the red bumps, which usually occur in lines or in a zigzag pattern on the legs or arms. Unlike some flea bites they don’t have a red ring around the center.
You may also have areas of skin eruptions which are likely to ooze puss prior to healing.
When the bites are healing, you can expect to see dryness of the skin in the area of the bite and even some changes in the pigment in the skin.
There are also psychological symptoms associated with bed bugs, such as insomnia due to the anxiety over the stigma associated with bed bugs.
Note: If you have been bitten by bed bugs, you might try adding essential oils, such as thyme and lemon, to your wash. Thyme is also great to use on bed bug-bitten skin but you need to mix a few drops of thyme with some kind of carrier oil (such as almond oil or olive oil) if your skin is sensitive. You can also add a few drops of thyme oil to your laundry and use it to wipe down surfaces. If you are already suffering bed bug bites, add a few drops of thyme to your bath water.
It is best to clean EVERYTHING in a room where bed bugs are found. Vacuum and steam clean even the dresser drawers if you find an infestation.
Use a brush to brush up the eggs and infestation so that you can see them.
Steam, steam, steam, then steam some more!
There are websites that suggest insecticides, but if you clean with steam, and clean often enough, you should not need those smelly chemicals. Personally, I prefer to do without them.
More Natural Remedies
- Patchouli oil can sooth inflammation and speed up healing. Put some drops (depending on the size of the area infected) of the oil in the palm of your hands and massage into the areas where there are bites. Let the oil soak in – don’t wash it off! You could also, if you prefer, to add several drops to a warm bath and soak in it.
- A cool compress may help to keep any swelling down and soothe your irritated skin.
- Oatmeal baths are also effective at reducing itching and dryness.
- Try a mixture of tea tree essential and coconut oil and apply it to the affected area a few times each day to keep the redness and inflammation down.
- Other essential oils that are great for itchy skin are witch hazel, rose, lavender, and geranium.
Adult Bed Bug, Cimex Lectularius
Bed Bug Extermination Checklist
- Free Bed Bug Extermination Checklist
A superbly-written article by a volunteer with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) who is also a member of the Medical Reserve Corps.
The Life Cycle of a Bed Bug
Questions & Answers
Where do bed bugs come from?
Bedbugs are usually brought into homes in luggage. I think people who are less than clean create a good home for them and then transfer them unknowingly onto furniture they might sell, like beds or couches. Although they originate in filth, you may still have them in a clean home, which is why you should steam clean everything if you see signs of them.
© 2009 Mike and Dorothy McKenney