It’s a tongue in cheek warning that’s more amusing than serious, but when you’re scratching yourself in the middle of the night and wake up with bites all over your body, you realize that bed bugs are no laughing matter after all.
The good news is that most bed bug problems are easy to treat and don’t really require you to throw away your expensive bed sheets, comforters, and bed spreads. Here are some tips to prevent and control bed bugs.
1. Check if they’re bed bugs and not fleas, ticks, or other critters
Different bugs call for different approaches, so before you eliminate these pests on your own it helps to know what you’re fighting against. If you’ve managed to find one of the insects bothering you, you can cross reference it with pictures on the Internet for confirmation. It might turn out that you have a flea problem or some other issue.
Bed bugs are a common problem. Sure, they can be a risk to your health and wellness, but they’re not exactly an emergency either. Don’t take out your sheets to the backyard and burn them—that’s just a knee-jerk response.
Bed bug problems can be treated, and if you can’t get rid of the problem on your own, you can always call a professional pest control company.
3. Make it a habit to wash and heat-dry sheets and blankets that come in contact with the floor
Regularly washing and heat-drying your sheets that touch the floor effectively reduces the likelihood of an infestation. Moreover, you don’t want your sheets to stay dumped in the laundry hamper for too long, as these places can hide bed bugs and their eggs—it’s a good idea to clean these areas too.
4. Clear the clutter
Although it’s common knowledge that bed bugs like to infest the bed, they’re pretty much comfortable hiding anywhere in your home. One way of kicking them out of the house is to clear the clutter in your home—more clutter, more places for bed bugs to hide.
To prevent an infestation of your bed, it’s a good idea to use bed bug covers on your box springs and mattress. You can leave these on for a year.
5. Easy on the pesticides
As tempting as it is to grab pesticides to get rid of your bed bug problems, it’s always a better idea to try other approaches first before risking your health with pesticides. There are several conservative measures against bed bug infestations that work just as well as pesticides. And as mentioned earlier, most bed bug problems are pretty minor and easy to treat—using pesticides might be an overkill solution.
And if you must pesticides, always follow the instructions label or better yet, let a professional do it for you.
6. Be careful with killing bed bugs with heat
High temperatures kill bed bugs more effectively than freezing does, but you want to be careful when using heat. You can’t just raise your indoor temperature using the thermostat. Bed bugs can only be killed with heat if the temperature of their bodies reaches 45°C or 113°F. You can try using black plastic bags to hold small items and place them under the sun.
Your best bet is to heat-dry affected items.
7. When all else fails…
Hire a professional pest control company to fix the problem for you. But don’t just call the first name you see on the Internet. Do your homework by asking around for recommendations from people who’ve hired these companies. Ask companies what steps they take to remove bed bugs and find out if their measures are safe for your family. Finally, compare prices to get the most out of your money.