They’re small and elusive. They creep into dark corners and hide, waiting for you to finally call it a night and climb in bed. Knowing that you've locked your doors, you snuggle and drift off to sleep with a sense of security. Little do you know that things that go bump in the night are the least of your worries. Once the sun goes down, it’s the ones who bite in the night who should worry you.
Ok, so maybe they're not THAT scary, but they certainly aren't something you should ignore. And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t get bed bugs simply because you’re dirty or live in a cardboard box. These guys are famous for hitching a ride on whatever they can grip onto, and they don't discriminate. Going to the movies, using a dressing room at the mall and staying in a hotel room all hold high risks for for picking up a bed bug hitchhiker. Knowing not only how to look for bedbugs, but also how to prevent them from entering your home, can help to ward off your fears of these tiny little vampires.
Below are some tips on keeping your home bed bug free.
1) Give secondhand furniture a good inspection
Thrifting is a great option for saving money. Who doesn't love to peruse Facebook marketplace for a new bargain find? While buying used is economical and eco-friendly, keep in mind that you may be bringing in some unwanted guests. Don’t panic. We’re not telling you to delete your craigslist app. The key is to be conscientious of what comes into your home. Before bringing a thrift find inside, give it a good once over. Even if it looks clean, vacuum it thoroughly and wash it well with some hot soap and water. Once it’s clean, look it over again and then enjoy your newly purchased treasure.
2) Be aware when you travel
When staying in hotels, the first thing you should do before bringing in your luggage is inspect the room. Look over specifically the beds, bedding, curtains, carpet and upholstery. If you find any bed bugs alert the staff and find a new room. If the coast is clear then keeping your luggage off the ground as an extra precaution is also recommended. Once you get home, wash your clothes immediately and check your luggage for any bed bug activity. Giving your luggage a good wash down with soap and hot water helps to insure that everything that you bring into your home is clean. Even if you haven't stayed in a hotel, this is good practice in prevention when traveling. Keep in mind that airplanes, buses, trains and rental cars can all harbor bed bugs.
3) Inspect your bedding
Inspecting your bedding isn’t something you need to do on a daily basis. However, giving your mattress and bedding a good once over when you wash your sheets is the best way to make sure you have’t been missing anything when you hop in bed at night. If you happen to find something that concerns you, take all bedding, including pillows, shams, throws, rugs and curtains and wash them in on the hottest setting. Take your mattress outside and brush it off well. Follow this up with a good vacuuming. Remember, anytime you are vacuuming for bed bug activity, take your vacuum bag and double bag it in another plastic bag before throwing it away. If you have a canister make sure you wash it throughly with hot soap and water.
4) Don’t ignore the signs
If you’re waking up with itchy rows of small, red marks on your body, inspect your bedding and mattress. If you see anything suspicious, refer to tip 2 and cleanse your bedroom thoroughly. Attacking the problem right when you see it is key to preventing the infestation from spreading.
The elusive bed pug
5) Check your pets
Those might not be fleas on Fido. As with your own bedding, your pet’s bed is a great hiding spot for bed bugs. Keep an eye on your pet’s bed and the area surrounding it, and wash the bed on a regular basis.
6) Don’t be a clutter bug
We’re not saying you have to go into full Marie Kondo mode (although her house has got to be a pest control professional’s dream), but the less clutter you have, the better. Bed bugs love when you pile things in the corner. It gives them so many great little crevices to choose from. Instead, go through your rooms and closets frequently. Donate or throw away what you don’t want and organize those things you don’t use regularly in sealed bags or plastic containers.
7) If you’re worried, use monitors
Bed bug monitors are devices that are placed under the feet of your bed. This helps to prevent bedbugs from getting into your bed from the floor. Regularly inspect and clean these monitors, and if you happen to see bed bug activity, quickly identify the source.
8) Don’t freak out
While bed bugs are scary, and not something you should ignore, they can be treated. In more cases than not, your furniture can be cleaned and treated, so don’t start throwing out your belongings just yet. A knee-jerk reaction like taking your mattress to the curb for the garbage man to deal with could only result in the spread of more bed bugs. In some cases, you may need to dispose of your mattress, however if you do this make sure it is slashed through to a point that no one would be tempted to dumpster dive for it. No matter how big the infestation, these little guys multiply quickly, and it’s always safest to call your pest control provider for help.