“Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” was once little more than a folksy saying parents told their children before putting them to bed at night. Today, it’s more of a warning.
According to a review of research conducted at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, bed bug infestations have been steadily on the rise since 2004, while researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that bed bug complaints increased nearly 25 percent between 2000 and 2006 alone.
And while most people think of bed bugs as primarily a nuisance, their damage extends well beyond the nasty bites they inflict. In addition to the thousands of dollars it can take to get rid of them, research suggests that bed bug infestations can have serious psychological consequences both during periods of infestation and after.
So, whether you’re worried about these pests taking up residence in your home or have already spotted one creeping around, read on to discover these genius ways to eliminate bed bugs forever. And when you want to keep your whole house spotless, give the 20 Genius House-Cleaning Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind a whirl.
The first step toward reducing your bed bug risk or finding out where they’re hiding is to keep your house as clean and clutter-free as possible. Keeping things organized and keeping piles of laundry, mail, or other junk from piling up around your home will give bed bugs fewer places to hide and make them easier to spot if they do sneak in. And when you want to learn more about how to keep your home shining like a dime, discover the 20 Secrets Housekeepers Won’t Tell You!
Encase Your Mattress and Pillows
Make it harder for bed bugs to take up residence in your home by getting encasements for your mattress, box spring, and pillows. These zippered, pillowcase-like protectors can act as a bed bug deterrent, and may help you preserve your pricey bed, even if your home does become infested. Just make sure your encasements don’t have any holes in them and the zippers meet so that no bugs can sneak their way in. And when you want to make your whole house safer, start by identifying the 50 Deadliest Items in Your Home!
Dry Your Clothes on High Heat
When you bring new clothes home from the store, whenever possible, wash them and dry them on high heat before putting them away. The dryer’s high heat can kill off bed bugs in your clothes and costs significantly less than fumigating your home. Don’t know how to get started? This Is the Best Way to Load a Washing Machine.
Seal Off Your Doors
While bed bugs are small enough to creep in through virtually any tiny hole, ensuring that your doors are properly sealed, especially if you live in an apartment building, can also help keep the pests out. Getting solid plastic adhesive-backed draft stoppers for the bottom of your doors can help eliminate one point of entry, potentially keeping your home a little safer from these pests. And for more great at-home tips, here are 20 Genius Ways to Make Chores More Fun.
Considering that bed bugs are smaller than your average apple seed, they can take up residence almost anywhere. If you have gaps in your baseboards, around windows or outlets, or have cracks in your walls, seal them up with silicone caulk and you’ll eliminate one place bed bugs could be hiding out.
Inspect Laundry Machines Before Using Them
Public laundromats may be a necessary evil, but they can also contribute to the spread of bed bugs. Before you use the facilities at your local laundromat, make sure you’ve checked them out thoroughly using a flashlight or your phone to make sure there aren’t any creepy-crawlies left over from the previous users.
Use a Hair Dryer to Lure Bugs Out
Want to coax any existing bed bugs in your home out of their hiding spots? Your hair dryer can help. Using a hair dryer on a low setting, aim the heat at your baseboards or any other places you suspect bed bugs could be lurking and they might just make an appearance. And for more DIY tips, This Is How to Make Your Own Home Dusting Spray!
Vacuum Your Space Regularly
While vacuuming likely won’t be enough to entirely eliminate a bed bug infestation, it can help reduce the number of bed bugs breeding in your home. Vacuum any areas of your home or any furniture that might be harboring bed bugs and make sure to throw away your vacuum’s bag in two layers of trash bags afterward, sealing each tightly and throwing them in an outdoor trash can. For bagless vacuums, empty the vacuum outdoors using the same procedure and thoroughly clean the inside afterward, disposing of any paper towels you used to clean it with outside, as well.
Sprinkle Some Silica Gel
Getting rid of bed bugs doesn’t always mean harsh chemical fumigation. In fact, silica gel, that stuff you find in tiny packets with new shoes and certain food items, is an effective bed bug desiccant, according to research published in the journal Insects.
Use a Bed Bug Detector
The best way to prevent a full-blown bed bug infestation is to catch these critters in their early stages in your home. Fortunately, there are numerous bed bug detection kits that you can purchase that will alert you to any pests lurking in your home long before a whole-home detox becomes your only option.
Use Plastic Bags to Transport Your Laundry
Want to make sure you’re not accidentally bringing bed bugs back into your home? Try transporting your laundry in a sealed plastic bag, like a vacuum-sealable storage bag, to and from the laundromat so that these critters don’t get into your laundry and hitchhike home with you. Plastic bags can also help protect your clothes from becoming a place for bed bugs to camp out if you do end up with an infestation in your home.
Clean Your Clothes Thoroughly After Vacations
Hotels are often cited as a major source of bed bug transfer, so when you return home from vacation, make sure you’re not putting those clothes that were just in your hotel closet back into your own one. When you return home from vacation, make sure to run all of your clothes through the dryer on a high heat cycle before putting them away and thoroughly inspect your suitcase to make sure you haven’t picked up any stowaways.
Create a Dry Ice Trap
Store-bought bed bug devices aren’t the only ones that work. In fact, researchers at Rutgers University have discovered an effective way to attract and contain bed bugs using dry ice. Want to make your own? Check out how.
Steam Bed Bugs Away
A little steam can go a long way when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs. According to researchers from Virginia Tech’s Entomology Department, steam is an effective way of coaxing bed bugs from their hiding spots and, at high enough temperatures, can kill them off, too.
Sprinkle Some Diatomaceous Earth Around Entry Points
Think only harsh chemical treatments can kill off bed bugs? Think again. Researchers at the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital found that diatomaceous earth, which can be found online or at virtually any health food store, can effectively kill bed bugs, too.
Inspect Hotel Rooms Before Opening Your Suitcase
Before you spread all of your possessions on the bed at your hotel, make sure you’ve given the room a once-over. Inspect the seams of the mattress, check inside the drawers of nightstands and dressers, and check under couch cushions and along their seams for rust-colored dots or black spots, both indicators that bed bugs have been there.
Use Hard-Sided Luggage
Keep bed bugs from hitching a ride with you after your travels by using hard-sided luggage with overlapping zippers. While zippers on cloth luggage tend to gap slightly, hard-sided luggage makes it more difficult for bed bugs to gain entry and come home with you.
Buy a Heating Chamber
If you’ve already got bed bugs in your home, a heating chamber may help you eradicate some of them. These devices, which can be purchased online, can help eradicate bed bugs from contaminated items in your home before a full-blown infestation hits.
Use An Essential Oil-Based Insecticide
While many people assume that natural bed bug treatments can’t be effective, that’s hardly the case. In fact, research from the Entomological Society of America found that two essential oil-based products, Bed Bug Patrol and EcoRaider, killed 90 percent of bed bugs in a trial.
Call An Exterminator
When in doubt, call in the pros. An exterminator can help you assess your infestation, help you figure out which, if any, items in your home can’t be salvaged, and will be able to get rid of any pests better than you would be able to alone. And for more ways to keep your house safe, check out the 15 Best Ways to Protect Your Home!
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