How to save your mattress

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Eliminating Bed Bugs

Winter Pests

Eliminating Bed Bugs

This is embarrassing, but we have bed bugs. I think that we picked them up on a trip either on our daughter's baby blanket or on our dog. How can we eliminate them? I can't stand the thought of bed bugs infesting our home!

Heat It Up!

You can call an exterminator to double check, but from everything I've heard, they have built up immunity to sprays. The only surefire way to get rid of them is to have an exterminator heat up your entire house because extreme heat is the only thing that effectively gets rid of them in all stages of the life cycle in your entire home. They live in furniture too, not just fabrics.
Nicole (via Facebook)

Use Hair Dryer to Eliminate Bed Bugs

Also, take all of your sheets, towels, etc. and run them in your dryer. Use your hair dryer in all of the cracks of your bed, sofa, chairs, and anywhere there is a crack. Bed bugs do not like heat. In the old days, they used a candle on all springs and metal frames. We are lucky to have hair dryers to replace the candle.
Annemarie in Ontario, Canada

There's Only One Way

I've read that putting empty tuna cans filled with borax on the bottom of each bed leg makes the bugs climb onto the bed through the borax, which dehydrates and kills them. Remove bed skirts so they have to use the legs.

Use Diatomaceous Earth

This not actually an "earth" but the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled plants that called diatoms. It is safe to humans and animals.

The microscopic diatomaceous earth particles are deadly to the bed bug. The particles attach themselves to the bed bugs body and physically "scratch them to death!" The bugs die because the scratches in their shell cause them to lose moisture. This works on any insect with an external skeleton like spiders, ants, etc. Because DE kills them mechanically, they cannot become immune to it like they do with so many of the chemicals today. Because it's a mineral, once you put it down it stays there and keeps working. You may sweep it up as you get rid of the dead bed bugs, but diatomaceous earth doesn't lose power over time. Best of all, it is inexpensive, safe, and lasts.

As a side note, if you put a two-inch wide application around the foundation of your house, all insects with external skeletons will be killed walking through the DE, leaving your home pest free.

It's Time for a Camping Trip

Take every textile item out of the house in sealed black plastic bags. Set them in full sun for two or three days, except for the single bag with changes of clothing and towels. This goes to the laundromat in a hot wash and hot dryer. Buy or rent a steamer. Steam everything, including the beds and box springs, except veneered furniture. Take the veneered stuff, coat it in black plastic garbage bags taped airtight with duct tape, and put that out in full sun for two or three days. If it's particleboard and swells up, junk it. Then turn the heat on full blast, turn the A/C off, and get out for at least 24 hours. A camping trip would be ideal.

When you return, take the clothing and bedding bags to the laundry and wash in hot water and use a hot dryer. If it shrinks, throw it out. Purchase bed bug covers for all mattresses, box springs, and any pillows that survive the washing. Cover any new pillows. Order bed bug pesticides online and spray the house thoroughly and repeatedly.

If you can afford professional exterminating, get the pros. These instructions are for those who can't or whose landlords won't hire the professionals.

It's Simple!

It's very simple to get rid of bedbugs. Just buy some food grade Diatomaceous Earth . It is not the same as you use for a pool filter. Just sprinkle this throughout the areas affected and they will be gone. The DE is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton such as a bed bug, it gets caught between their little exoskeleton joints. As they move, the diatomaceous earth acts like razor blades and cuts them up. But it doesn't hurt mammals and can be consumed by humans.

Don't Bring Bed Bugs Home

I am including what to do when you have bed bugs and also how to check your hotel room for bed bugs.

These methods will work as long as you do not have a bed bug community living in your house.

  1. Bed bugs do not like heat. Throw your linens, clothing, etc. into the dryer on high heat for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Steam-clean your bed with lavender in the steam cleaning water. A small hand held steam cleaner is easiest to use.
  3. Use essential oil spray, but be careful around cats (sometimes they have reactions to essential oils).

Bed Bug Spray Recipe

1 cup water
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops essential oil of clove

Place in a fine mist spray bottle, and shake well before using.

Be sure to check for bed bugs in hotel rooms. I do this every time we go to a hotel room, and yes, I found them once. We were immediately moved to another room. Never go to a room next to, above, or below the infected room. Bed bugs love crevices, seams, and small nooks. They are oval and flat shaped. They may be crawling or dead, and you will probably see dark reddish brown stains, blood stains, feces, or dead skins of the bugs.

When checking into the hotel, leave everything (luggage) in the car and go inspect the room. Make sure the lights are out and the drapes are closed. Take an LED light (flashlight) and pull back the covers and sheets on the beds. Check the mattress and the box spring. Check in the crevices. It will reveal the tiny little bugs if there are any. They look like tiny, dark reddish brown, flat, oval-shaped bugs. Call the hotel manager immediately to come and inspect. The hotel manager that I dealt with brought tape to take the critter with her for proof.

Just because you didn't find any bed bugs, doesn't mean there aren't any in the room. To ensure you are not picking up any type of pest, take a few extra precautions. Never place your luggage or your clothing on the floor or bed. Store your bags on the luggage rack or on top of a dresser, off the floor. Keep your other items in baggies or in your suitcase. I also thoroughly wash my clothes when I get home and check my suitcase and clean it out before storing it, vacuuming and spraying with bed bug spray.
Noreen in Edmonton, Alberta Canada

It's Not Your Fault

I can't help you with the solution, but I want to empathize with you about this embarrassing problem. My daughter and son-in-law, who are very clean, had an outbreak a couple years ago, and it was very traumatic. I think the solution involved moving out of their apartment for the time being and zapping everything that had been exposed to the bed bugs. My heart goes out to you.

Eliminate Bed Bugs with High Heat

I had a friend who tried a spray pesticide and had the bed bugs come back over and over again. She learned that a single high heat treatment (your home at 135 degrees+), as are sometimes used for other pest problems, would have quickly eliminated the majority of them. However, if the infestation is severe, then you need to take measures to ensure the hatching eggs are also treated. To do this, you can choose one of the other solutions listed below.

A natural and on-going solution is to find the leaves of green or other bean plants, layer them around the areas where you have bed bugs overnight, then sweep them up, burn, or otherwise permanently dispose of them the following morning. The slightly sticky undersides of bean leaves have a pheromone that attracts and then catches the bugs.

Diatomaceous earth scratches the carapaces of a wide variety of insects and/or makes the environment so dry they cannot live there. You can have this fluffed into your carpet padding, and it will also help with fleas and other problems. However, you do not want to use this anywhere that a toddler is crawling, since it can affect the lungs if deeply inhaled.

May Be Cheapest to Call Exterminator Now

A friend who sleeps in a lot of hotels said she takes a hand-held vacuum with a bag with her to all hotels and does the following:

  • Put a spoon full of 100 percent pure boric acid (roach kill) in the bag. Vacuum the creases and edges of all furniture, and lift up any cushions or mattresses and do the same. Throw the bag away in an outside dumpster.
  • For home, repeat every day for a month. The acid "dries out" the bugs, but new ones are always hatching. You also have to look at all carpets, blankets, rugs, pet beds, etc. and treat them too.

There doesn't seem to be any cheap and easy way to deal with them. The cheapest may be to call an exterminator now before the problem gets overwhelming.

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