You may walk through half your life before you ever have to encounter a bed bug. If you really get lucky you may not have to look at one eye to eye snuggled under the sheets with you. These pests are small, yes but they’re very much akin to and just as welcome as rats and roaches! But, have no fear with every pest comes a way to eradicate them and we’re here to educate you on this here.
The most common concern for people who ask is how they can get rid of a bed bug issues in a mattress. This is normal and when you have bed bugs the last thing you get is a sweet night’s sleep. The biggest concern is whether or not you need to throw away the mattress. We can tell you now it’s not always necessary.
The one thing to realize is that each and every infestation is different from others. Here we’ll take you through how to identify the bugs as bed bugs and then eradicating them for good. There are clear steps and education here.
Are bed bugs confined to mattresses?
Bed bugs get their name from the fact that they are found in the bed. However, they’re adventurous creatures and very seasoned travellers. They adapt to any environment that they can get to through a nice, warm and comfortable mode of transportation like luggage.
They love to conserve energy and like to stay nice and close to the blood meal host that is your body. They can’t fly or jump they only crawl at a very slow pace and will stay close to you.
Bed bugs will end up in the bed with you after they’ve gotten a ride to you in your baggage or warm soft clothing. They prefer the warmth of clothes and luggage even though your skin is the blood host for these nasty little suckers but they do not travel on skin or hair or scalp like fleas or lice. You have a normal temperature of 98.6 and that is fantastic for you however; it’s deadly desert heat for the bed bugs.
There is a very bad association that is not so much true about these bugs. They are often associated with nasty, dirty hotels and slums. However, though they will thrive in those places they will also thrive in a clean, neat five star accommodation or home. So, don’t be fooled one moment that they’re restricted to any certain environment.
Initially, once the bed bugs enter the home you will certainly count on the fact that they’ll be in the bed with you. They’ll hide in the mattress and the box spring as well as side walls and seams. After a while they’ll make their way to the rest of the house regardless of how clean or messy it is.
Remember that they are going to travel from one room to the next when you move bedding or furniture from the bedroom to other spaces in the house. So, if you do discover them, make sure you are not moving anything out of that room.
Bed bugs can take up residence in way more than just a mattress. They love all soft furnishings and hard furnishings like drawers, closets and more. They may also live in backpacks and on anything on the walls etc. There is really no limits for the bed bugs but as we said you can confine them to the one room if you don’t move anything from bedroom or whatever room you find them, to another room.
Just be sure to understand that, you’ll find them in your bed eventually because it’s where they need to go.
How to Check for Bed Bugs
Can you see bed bugs? Most people don’t believe that bed bugs can be spotted with the naked eye. Though they are small, you can see them as they are apparent. The difficult part of the process is to find out whether or not the mattress is infested. They hide well so you’ve got to be diligent and identify them more accurately.
The adult bed bug is maybe ¼ inch or a bit smaller wide. You can see this in flipping the mattress over and inspecting.
They have a real bug look as you would think of it. In the case of the bed bug it’s more pronounced when it’s eaten recently. They have wings but can’t fly, they have segments and they have six legs and antennae. They are reddish in color more toward the reddish brown side and look more like little balloons. So, if you’re thinking that you may have been bitten then you are probably right.
They actually have a sweet and musty odor they emit. They look a bit like crumpled up paper after it’s been straightened out. The babies will actually look similar to the adults but a lot smaller. If you learn what you’re looking for you may see the 1 millimeter sized white elongated eggs.
Make sure you get an accurate image of a bed bug because they are mistaken for a myriad of other types of bugs. So, how do you find them and when since you have an idea what they look like. If you don’t see them you’re looking at the wrong time. They are nocturnal feeders so look at night.
Look at the headboard, seams, mattress, side walls, frame , all over. There are other signs as well such as the below list.
- Dark colored blood spots that are small. This is from the feeding on you and you rolling over and leaving spots and also from the withdrawal of the beak from your skin.
- Smears on the mattress
- Red-brown clustered spots on the mattress in different areas
- Look for shells that are empty from bugs
Examine your Skin
The best way to understand that you have a bed bug infestation problem is looking for bites. Little red, round welts on the skin, typically in a straight line one next to the other and can be in a curve or circle too. They bite as they go along but don’t discount isolated bites as well.
You may actually not see any welts but this does not mean bugs aren’t present. You may also mistake bed bug bites for mosquitos and fleas etc. Just keep it in the back of your mind what is there on the skin.
If you see any bugs, even one, then rest assured there will be more. They don’t travel alone so there are already more. The key is to make sure you are tackling this issue early before you are looking at them pouring from walls and electrical outlets.
If you act fast and you are precise in your remedy and patient you can defeat the bed bug situation. Following these processes here in the way that is prescribed it will make things easier. If you have dealt with them more than one time, these are and you adopt these methods it will serve you. How effective it is , will depend on your situation.
Will Getting a New Mattress Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Most times, getting rid of a mattress will not be necessary when getting rid of bed bugs. Most people will jump to throwing out the mattress. Think of it this way, if the bed bugs can migrate to curtains, sofas and more. So, what will getting rid of a mattress do? Not much. Also, when you start moving things around that have bed bugs in them, you are moving new eggs and bugs around so this too does nothing.
Remember to isolate the mattress in the room it’s in. So, make sure you keep it in a space where you won’t spread them around but that you can also easily inspect all sides of the bed.
Clean the Bedding Thoroughly
You must get the bed bugs where they like to be. They like the bed and they end up there, so it only makes sense to clean the bed first, then tackle the rest of the house. So, clean the mattress and the clothing as well.
The bedding must be cleaned at proper heat and dried as well that way. Since your bed clothes will be bulky, you may want to go to a laundromat. They have the better and more industrial machines that can give you both the space and heat to do the job correctly.
This means you can throw your linens into the wash alone and let the hot water circulate properly instead of being shoved in and crowded with other linens. Same for the dryer. Place them in the highest heat and make sure there is enough circulation of air.
Items you can wash, you need to be able to wash them. Purses and other soft, washable material can be placed in the washer and dryer. And, for those items that can’t take being wet or heated you can place those items in the freezer overnight or more. Make sure you seal them in a plastic bag.
Declutter your Spaces
Now, you get to tackle the room. If there is cluttered spaces they are bound to show up again because the environment is ripe for them. If you plan to keep something please place it in a plastic bag of some sort that can be sealed and set it aside somewhere safe and where it won’t yet be carried of the room.
The types of places bed bugs love to hide are in the things that are strewn across a room. This happens in the rooms of teenagers and people living alone. They tend to be a bit more care free when they allow things like clothes, backpacks, book bags and bedding to hit the ground and stay there.
This creates a nice warm space for bed bugs to shack up in and then move from base camp to the bed. This will eventually be their permanent home. We said this before that they will start in one place but eventually migrate to the bed because they don’t want to be too far from the host and that is you.
Keep those items that you don’t need for quite some time, sealed up to a year. Then, for sure they’ll be starved to death as they can live up to a year without food. If you have to use it we would suggest other options. Anything that you’re getting rid of needs to be put in plastic and taken from the home immediately. Fix any areas on the baseboards, floors, wallpaper and floor moulding that may make a good place for bed bugs to reside.
Properly Clean the Mattress
You don’t need to use water and steam and all of that. A nice stiff brush to scrub down the entire mattress works just fine. Make sure you are thorough and you scrub the mattress, side walls, seams, box spring and frames.
Now, vacuum the bed entirely and then the room working from top to bottom and end to end. If you have a bagless container vacuum you are safer as far as contaminating the house. However, whether it’s bagless or not, dump it outside the home immediately.
Now, if you do really want assurity that you’ve done the job, make sure you have a steamer. Steaming the entire mattress, side walls, braiding and box spring slowly and carefully and you’ve got it. Bed bugs and eggs are destroyed.
Use an Alcohol Spray and Skip the Harsh Chemicals
There is no end to the amount of chemicals that can be purchased at any store worldwide. These should be a last resort solution. Why? Because handling them is a health risk. Alcohol is a great way to clear off bed bugs from electronic devices just be very cautious.
The temporary fix or something you can do to start is to place rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and mist the mattress and the other furniture. Just make sure you read if the wood on your furniture won’t be ruined by it. This should not be used as the only treatment as it will only kill on contact so it’s only good when the bed bugs are present.
Alcohol spray is the most effective but make sure the room is very well ventilated and you don’t sleep on a surface that has been treated until totally dry. Keep in mind too that this method does not provide a permanent solution. You will have to spray often. It should be used in tandem with the other methods described here.
Use a mattress Cover
Mattress pads are something that most people have and are placed between the mattress and your body. You can’t use those for bed bugs. You have to have a zippered mattress protector. It has to have a strong seal around it. So, look for zippered mattress covers that will provide complete protection.
Look for a mattress cover that is not only zippered but is breathable and waterproof so that there is no chance of them escaping out of the mattress and on to you. Bed bugs can stay alive for a year so plan to keep it that long.
It may be worth doing some research or reading an in-depth article on the different types of mattress covers. There are those that are treated and those that are waterproof and breathable. If money is an issue then a plain plastic one with a zipper will do and of course you can put duct tape on the zipper part.
If money is no object and comfort is a concern, there are more comfortable ones that may be a bit more expensive and they won’t move when you are sleeping.
Change the Bedding Often
Make sure you continue to change the bedding often. Roll the sheets inward from the sides so as not to spread anything that may be there lingering beneath. Do not snap the sheets in the air to straighten them and do not pull them off the bed violently.
Anything you do with any swift way will blow eggs and bugs onto the floor and walls. This will do the complete opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish and the whole process will start again. In addition, when you bring in the new replacement mattress it will soon be infested with those bed bugs left behind.
Continue to use alcohol spray and steam etc to make sure if anything lingers that they are taken care of.
So, What Happens If All You Have Done Fails to Remove them?
Sometimes trying too hard to get the bedbugs to stop coming or to eradicate them completely gets overwhelming. There may be time to call the pros. They are called pest management specialists. They are ready with the right stuff to bust those bugs for good. It’s a frustrating task to try and eliminate pests at any cost so calling someone at that point is not a failure it’s a smart move.
Finding an exterminator could be best had through friends and family. Word of mouth is the best way and the way to start initially. Don’t take too long to decide because the problem is just getting worse but do look up some reviews and see what the community has to say about the companies you find interesting.
If you’re wondering about the money you’ll be spending, think about the money you’re saving by not having to replace the furniture and bedding.
Process for Disposal of Bed Bug Infested Mattresses
If you’re still interested in solving the problem quickly on your own you may want to throw out the mattress. Especially if it’s old, and hard to clean because it’s worn out it may be a waste of time and energy to try and save it.
Moving the mattress is a process in itself and very important. Put it in plastic and then drag it out. You want to keep bugs and eggs inside the mattress cover or plastic and not spread them through the house. This is one of the main concerns and where people can get a little haphazard they don’t understand how serious that is.
Even if you get rid of the mattress you’ll have to clean and steam the entire room the bed was in. This means doing the ritual we taught you that takes great pains in placing your belongings in plastic. If you don’t move the mattress the wrong way and you let eggs and bugs out into the house, you’ve undermine your efforts.
For the sake of others, that typically pick up other people’s junk to use, mark it with marker Bed Bugs or damage it in a way that no one would want to use it. It may help you to call the department of sanitation to properly dispose of it.
This is a way to keep the neighborhood safe and be considerate as well as keeping an infestation from happening again. They can be transported back to your house quite easily which is why we suggest wrapping in plastic.
Second-hand furniture is one of the number one ways apart from luggage that bed bugs get in only second to termites.
No one wants to even dream of sharing their personal space with any kind of bug or creature. However, we feel that now you have a lot of very specific information about how to identify them and how to eradicate them using several methods. All methods in this article have been tried and tested for efficacy. We’ve made sure that all the methods are instructed for the safest execution of elimination. We also made sure you know the lifecycle and habits of this nasty little blood host feeding creature.
Greg Taylor is a Mechanical Engineer and former competitive long distance runner with a keen interest in health and general well-being issues. He acquired some carpentry and welding skills from his father and worked for a couple of very famous furniture and mattress manufacturers over the course of 30 years.