When it comes to pest infestation, bed bugs are at the top of the list. But contrary to their name, these insects don’t appear only in beds. They like crevices and cracks in the walls and wood, 65°–85°F temperatures, spaces around piping, carbon dioxide, and electronics as warm places to hide.
Bed bugs are among the hardest pests to get rid of, but unless you do so, the infestation will only get worse. Because of this, a better strategy is to make sure these annoying insects never take residence at your place at all. The key here is a speedy reaction, so let’s go over 12 tips that may protect your home from bed bugs.
- Recognize the signs of infestation
Having small red marks on your skin that itch doesn’t necessarily mean you have bed bugs, so you need to do a thorough check of your home. The first step in finding bed bugs is being able to recognize them from other insects. They are around a quarter of an inch long and have flat and oval brown bodies without wings.
Usually, they nest in mattresses, bed frames, box springs, cracks, power outlets, and behind paintings. If you notice dark trails of brown and red smears on the bed, more precisely mattress, linens, and pillows — you probably have bed bugs. Also, when you sleep at hotels or anywhere else but your place, check for bed bugs because you can take them back with you to your home.
- Declutter your home
Decluttering can do so many good things for you, so it’s no wonder preventing bed bugs is one of them. Bed bugs love to hide in spaces between the wall and the clutter, so start cleaning up from there. There are so many options for those unwanted things, like donating them to charity or selling them at a yard sale. Cardboard is especially attractive to them, so it’s best to switch to plastic containers for storing things.
- Use mattress covers
If you can put your mattress into a casing — do it! Besides protecting the futon from dirt, you will also make sure bed bud infestation doesn’t get to it. These casings should be made from durable fabric with a tight zipper without any folds where bugs may hide. This won’t get rid of the insects already there but will make sure that infestation is not so severe you need to suffer the expense of buying a new mattress.
- Cover electrical outlets
Power outlets are hiding spots for bed bugs when they feel threatened, like during extermination. They can use these openings to get into the walls and spread all over the building. This is an inexpensive and easy way to prevent a severe infestation that may turn into quite an ordeal. For them, hiding inside the power outlets may provide a safe place to hibernate and save energy until they need to feed again.
- Use vacuum-sealed bags for clothes
Bed bugs don’t just appear out of nowhere and the most common cause is bringing them with you from someplace else. When you are traveling, it’s recommended to pack your clothes in vacuum-sealed bags so these insects can’t access your things.
Furthermore, you can use plastic wrap or a trash bag for your suitcase once you arrive at the hotel, and keep it on the luggage rack instead of the floor or bed. You can also use vacuum-sealed bags to store seasonal clothes and unused fabrics in your home and keep them safe from bed bugs.
- Let professionals deal with bed bugs
Bed bugs infestations are not something you should take care of alone. Taking care of this problem requires professional pest control for an effective and permanent solution. Products, methods, and tools these companies use may not be available to the general public and can even be dangerous if not used by certified experts. To avoid any accidents that may even harm your health, let professionals handle this issue, and afterward, ensure your house stays bed bugs-free.
- Wash your clothes regularly
Bed bugs love dirty laundry so it’s important to regularly wash your clothes and not leave them in the hamper for too long or all around the house. After traveling, wash all your laundry regardless if you wore it or not. Hot water and high drying temperatures will be enough to eliminate bed bugs, if any, and prevent infestation of your closets.
If you use public laundry facilities, don’t carry your clothes in the basket, but rather put them in plastic bags. After you buy new things, before you put them anywhere in your house, wash them to make sure you didn’t pick up any bed bugs at the store.
- Examine your pets
Bed bugs also like to feed on your pets and are known to hitch a ride into your home on their fur or clothing. Just like your bed, you should examine your pet’s bed for bed bugs and its body for bite marks, especially if they scratch all the time. Wash the bed and your pet belongings in hot water and use the high heat settings in the dryer, if fabric permits.
- Vacuum the floors
Carpets are another convenient spot for bed bugs to hide. However, if you vacuum a few times a week, you may be able to get them all. Buying a vacuum for in-depth cleaning may be a good investment when it comes to bed bugs since you can use it on beds and other furniture.
But, vacuuming the floors and other spaces is not enough. You need to remove the vacuum bag, place it in another sealed bag, and throw it out immediately. In case of a bagless vacuum, empty the canister in the plastic bag and tie it up. The last step is to wash the canister after use, but if this is too complicated for you, it’s best to stick with the bagged vacuum cleaner.
- Check used items before buying
Used items, like furniture, clothes, and even electronics can bring bed bugs into your home. Before bringing these things inside, check if they show any signs of infestation. It would be great if you can examine them before purchase, regardless of what the seller says. When it comes to electronic devices, computers, TVs, game systems, and stereos are especially susceptible to bed bugs.
- Repair the cracks
Any crack, no matter how small, is a potential hiding spot for bed bugs. Silicone caulk is an easy fix for that, inside and outside the home. Check insect screens for tears and patch them up if you notice even the smallest damage. Check your home for all possible crevices and spaces these insects could find refuge and fill them in with appropriate materials to reduce their hiding options.
- Pay attention to infestations in public places
Public places are not immune from harboring bed bugs that can transfer to you and ultimately to your home. When in a dressing room, hang your clothes and other things on the wall hooks and leave them on furniture in the booth. If you spend time in spaces with carpets and cushioned furniture, wash all your clothes after you come back home. This doesn’t mean that all public spaces have bed bugs, but only that it’s best to be safe than sorry.
Protecting your home from bed bugs may sound like a lot of trouble, but most of these things are already on your chore list. So, when you vacuum, change the sheets, or buy second-hand things, keep a closer eye on signs of bed bugs. It may save you time, money, and nerves.