Bed bugs are small insects that cause itches, small rashes or skin spots. These critters are about 5-6mm long and are brown, red-ish or dark yellow. They have been in the UK for over 100 years and a while the issue wasn’t big as insecticides kept them at bay.
Slowly, though, the bugs developed resistance to the popular chemical treatments. As a result, their population started to grow once again. The good news is that bed bugs, in general, aren’t dangerous. Of course, they are a nuisance, and the itches and skin spots are not something you would like to live with.
Naturally, you would like to remove bed bugs from your house. This can be a bit of a challenge. So, you have to have a lot of patience and a proper plan.
Are there simple home solutions?
First, you have to create an action plan. This would mean thinking about what you want to do, how to do it and what you will need to accomplish your goal.
For example, you will have to identify the infested areas. Next, you will have to decide how to remove the bed bugs, and this will vary depending on the area and items in it.
Locating bed bugs
Signs of bed bugs include small red and/or brown spots on your bedding or furniture. Of course, there are also the tell-tale signs of skin rashes, red bite spots on your skin or itches. But it’s the spots on the furniture that will give you an indication where the bugs actually might be.
Don’t expect to see a bug. They are tiny and can hide even between the seams of curtains, under the mattress and in the bed frame, clothing and so on. They can even nestle in the fur of teddy bears. So, get yourself a torch and some free time and inspect the rooms patiently and thoroughly.
First steps in bed bug removal
When you identify the areas (or rooms) of infestation, your first task is to contain them. This means taking measures to prevent the spread of the bed bugs to other rooms while you take care of the issue.
Among these measures is to limit access to the rooms. Next, remove all items that you have identified as infested. Place small items in a sealed plastic bag.
If possible, replace the infested furniture. If you are discarding the furniture or items, damage them, so they can’t be used by someone else and spread the infestation.
Suppose you can’t replace the furniture. At the very least give it a thorough vacuum. Then vacuum the entire room. And we do mean the whole room. All edges, furniture legs, door and window frames, etc. Remove the vacuum bag, place it in a sealed plastic bag and throw it away.
For infested clothes, soft toys, curtains, fabrics or other similar items, check their labels for cleaning. If possible, use a washing machine to clean the bed bugs. Use the hottest wash cycle possible for the items. An alternative to hot washing is freezing. The NHS says that placing the items in a plastic bag and a freezer at -16°C for four days will be enough to exterminate the bed bugs.
More complex treatments
Doing all of this might be effective if you’ve been lucky enough to discover the bed bug problem in its early stages. Sadly, there’s no real way to know that, so, likely, you will also need additional products for treatment.
There’s a wide variety of home and professional treatment products on the market. Some are specialised for specific items like mattresses or crevices. There are also special spray treatment options. This is the part of your plan which will need additional research for various products depending on your needs.
It’s recommended to explore the local regulations as some don’t allow the use of specific chemicals. There are also non-chemical treatments. They require specialist equipment and are recommended to be carried by trained professionals. This way, you will get the best results.
One of the more popular ones is heat treatment. The “home remedies” version is to use a dryer or place items in black plastic bags under the sun, and so on. Sadly, these methods will not work always. Professionals will have suitable equipment and most importantly, will be able to verify that the treatment has been successful.
Another method is using a steam cleaner. The steam should be above 55°C and with a slow airflow, so you don’t scatter the bugs. This is an excellent way to treat difficult to reach areas, too.
Finally, be prepared for the genuine possibility that you will have to repeat the home treatments more than once until you achieve the intended results.