For most of us bed bugs were nothing more than a cute little quip we said to youngster’s right before bed. Then, many cities starting experiencing bed bug outbreaks and we knew they were more than a harmless nocturnal reminder.
If you’re worried about creepy-crawlies invading your home, you need to be informed on how to get rid of bed bugs so that you can prepare to fight them. There are effective methods of ridding your home of bed bugs and there are ways that will keep you itching for months.
Keep reading to learn what you should—and shouldn’t—do to get rid of bed bugs.
Bed Bug or Other?
Before you can kick bed bugs to the curb, you want to make sure you have correctly identified the problem as a bed bug infestation. Before you call an exterminator or buy expensive fumigation products, you want to make sure that your problem is in fact, bed bugs not spiders, carpet beetles or cockroaches.
Bed bugs are small insects and they feed on human blood, which is why you might have those tiny red bumps appearing on your body. Baby bed bugs are semi-transparent and beige in color. They are very, very small and impossible to see. Their adult counterparts are more visible with a rust colored, oval shaped body. They are the size of seeds and can therefore be overlooked quite easily.
If you have bites on your body in the morning and can’t readily identify spiders or beetles, chances are good your problem is bed bugs.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites don’t appear on every person who has a bed bug problem, making it even more difficult. But the bites will appear almost immediately or within a few days and they will appear on patches of skin exposed when you sleep such as arms, legs, neck and face.
If you have red marks, bumps or welts and you can’t identify the source, it could be bed bugs.
Bed Bug Symptom #1: Waste
One of the most common symptoms that you have bed bugs is bed bug waste. They leave behind their waste after you have been bitten. The spots will be somewhat darker than your mattress color, a light brown or faint yellow hue. Sometimes you will actually see dead bugs or bed bug skin on your mattress.
If you think you may have bed bugs look for symptoms like this. Be sure to inspect your mattress when you remove the sheets. If you wake up with an unknown bug bite, inspect your bedding for bed bug waste.
Symptom #2: Bites
One of first indicators that you may have bed bugs is the ever present bed bug bites. These most commonly occur overnight while you are sleeping either in bed, on a sofa or the floor. So look for bed bug symptoms when you wake up in the morning.
Differentiating bed bug bites from other bites means you need to inspect your bites closely. Look for these signs:
- The bites make you feel itchy.
- Red spots that are somewhat darker red in the center.
- A cluster or line of bug bites.
- Bites are located on exposed skin so look in placed that are not covered by your sleep attire.
The difficulty with using bed bug bites to determine if you have bed bugs is that not everyone has a reaction to bed bug bites. This is why it is so important to pay attention to the other symptoms as well.
Symptom #3: Blood
Although it is true that there are dozens of household bugs that bite the truth is that there aren’t many that will leave blood stains. A clear symptom that you have bed bugs is waking up to find blood stains on your sheets, pillowcases or other cloth material where you sleep or sit for long periods of time. Bed bugs often strike at night during sleep, however they are drawn to heat so you should also look for symptoms in common areas such as the television room, recreation areas and other gathering areas.
The spots of blood you find will be quite small but easily identifiable as blood. If you notice these stains, particularly after spotting bed bug bites, you probably have bed bugs.
Symptom #4: Odor
Many people don’t realize that even though bed bugs are quite small an easily identifiable bed bug symptom is their odor. The scent gland of bed bugs produces a musty odor that is often described as smelling like coriander. The smell is not pleasant. If you have an infestation of bed bugs you may begin to notice your home smells like moldy shoes or wet moldy clothes.
Since bed bugs are hard to spot their awful odor is one of the most prominent symptoms of an infestation. Smell under the mattress, near the headboard or underneath couches and chairs for rotten raspberries or an overwhelming odor of mold.
If you notice one or more of these bed bug symptoms then you need to inspect for any of the other symptoms. Most people begin to suspect bed bugs once bites have been discovered however it is important to keep an eye (or nose) out for the other symptoms as well.
Don’t ignore a musty older because it may be a wet towel but it may also be a bed bug infestation. Carefully search your bed, carpeting, upholstered furniture and curtains for signs of bed bugs.
Once you are aware of the symptoms you can start to develop a plan to get rid of bed bugs.
Now you know how to spot bed bugs and bed bug bites, let’s talk about how to get rid of them.
I Have…Bed Bugs?
We all used think we were safe from bed bugs, chalking up the phenomenon up to those with messy or unclean homes. But the truth is that even the swankiest hotel or high rise condo is susceptible to bed bugs. It is up to you to inspect for bed bugs and then figure out how to rid your home of them.
Bed bugs come in many colors, but the small flat bodies are easy to identify!
Since we know that bed bugs feed off blood your first inspection points should be places where you or your family sit or lie often. Sofas, chairs, beds, box springs and bedroom furniture and the floor are all good places to start.
You will need: a flashlight and magnifying glass to see these tiny creatures.
When you inspect your home for bed bugs, look for the actual bed bugs, eggs or droppings to start. Then look for small spots of blood on sofa cushions and places on the bed where your exposed skin has been. When you find any of these signs, take a note of it so you or a pest control pro knows where to start to get rid of bed bugs.
Just as important as getting rid of bed bugs is preventing the spread of bed bugs in your home. These little buggers can latch on to a variety of materials including clothes, furniture and luggage, which are most common. But bed bugs are crafty and can also get in by wiring or connecting pipes from repairmen. This is especially worrisome if you live in an apartment.
Keep bed bugs away from your home by:
- Checking all used or rented furniture for bed bugs.
- Inspect all beds and furniture in hotels, motels and other vacation properties for bed bugs.
- Seal cracks and crevices at your home with caulk. Even if you don’t have bed bugs yet this will keep them—and other pests—from invading your home.
- Avoid putting suitcases on the floor or beds when traveling. Find a table or other hard surface until you’ve inspected for bed bugs.
- Avoid bringing used upholstered furniture, box springs or mattresses from the street into your home.
This is an easy way to let bed bugs into your home!
Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs
Once you’re certain you have bed bugs your first instinct will be to run—FAST—to someplace the bugs aren’t. Avoid that temptation as it simply increases the chances of spreading the bugs and bringing more back into your home.
You can always fork over some cash and get an exterminator or pest control professional to your house immediately to help you get rid of your bed bug problem. But there are other, cheaper, ways in which you can get rid of bed bugs on your own.
Hot Hot Hot
Wash all of your bedding and your pets bedding in hot water with 4oz of CEDAR-AL CEDAR OIL and dry them on high heat for a few hours in order to get rid of bed bugs. This is a great way to get rid of them without getting rid of furniture and linens prematurely. Run the dry cycle several times just to make certain you’ve gotten rid of them from your bedding.
A hair dryer is a good tool to help you get rid of bed bugs, particularly if you’ve identified a few spots where they hide. Cracks or crevices in your walls should be showered with a blow dryer on high for at least 30 seconds. This continuous contact of heat will kill the bed bugs immediately.
Other Home Remedies
Use packing tape to get them out of tight corners, power outlets or upholstered furniture without further damaging your items.
Reducing and eliminating clutter is a great way to stop bed bugs from spreading because it gives them fewer places to hide. Put what you can in storage areas and then vacuum daily until you are certain all bed bugs are gone. It will take some time to rid your home of them, but monitor it carefully until you notice no more eggs, droppings or bugs.
If you do have to get rid of bed bug infested items, place them in plastic bags large enough to cover the item and label it clearly as “infested with bed bugs” to avoid further spreading.
Maintaining a clean home is one of the most important things you can do. Vacuum every carpeted area thoroughly every day, use a cleanser like Pine Sol or a bleach solution on your tile and linoleum. This not only keeps bed bugs away but also keeps out other pests like roaches and spiders. Your home will also naturally smell better.
Clothing clutter is another big issue that can lead to bed bugs. They like to hide in cloth items like sheets, mattress pads, couches, and even drapes. If you don’t use a dresser and instead keep a pile of clothing on the floor like a bachelor, that’s inviting bugs in. Just keep your clothes and other linens off the floor when possible.
Simple items like bed bug repellants, CEDAR-AL CEDAR OIL SPRAY AND CARPET SHAMPOO work very well and are cheap. Cedar oil smells good too. Please read the How to Use and Infestation articles on our website to treat your home with our cedar oil.
Sprays are risky because they pose a hazard to children and pets and often don’t work. Before resorting to a bug spray, make sure it even works on these particular critters.
More Intense Remedies
Sometimes you can just have bad luck and the standard methods to get rid of bed bugs just won’t work. This is usually when you have a couple options but they’ll all usually require an exterminator to come visit or require you to purchase special products. If your bed area is totally infested, the best thing to do is throw it away but you’ll want to bag it or wrap it up so the bed bugs don’t simply wander back into your home waiting for the garbage truck or head for your neighbors. Once the main dwelling area of the bugs is gone, this is when you should do intense cleaning and consult a professional.
If you are a renter, especially if you live in an apartment building, you could get bed bugs popping up out of nowhere and your landlord should actually be responsible for getting rid of them. You can’t just spray one apartment as they’ll quickly head next door so it’s a very large and expensive endeavor that could last months with repeat sprayings and inspections.
There are a lot of remedies that vary in effectiveness so the best thing you can is do a thorough inspection now and again to make sure you even have these little guys in your home and you haven’t just been bitten by a random horsefly or mosquito.
Can dogs carry bed bugs into your house?
They sure can. Although it is typically uncommon for bed bugs to make their way onto your pet while it’s outside — after all, bed bugs are nocturnal and they don’t particularly like fur — for the safety of your pet and your family, you shouldn’t disregard the possibility. Bed bugs aren’t smart enough to knowingly hitch a ride on your pet in order to gain entry into your home, but if your dog encounters another dog who has them or a patch of grass where the critters happen to be, there’s a chance they might use your dog as a way of inadvertently being smuggled inside.
Are bed bugs harmful to your dog?
Latching onto a dog is a bed bug’s last resort. They don’t want to climb through all that fur to get to some juicy skin they can siphon blood out of. If bed bugs do get on your dog and can get to the skin, however, they will treat your family pet in the same way they will treat you. Which means not very well, as they bite and suck blood until you’re able to get rid of them. The good news is that, unlike other blood-sucking parasites, bed bugs do not carry disease. The good/bad news is that once a bed bug leaves your dog, it is more likely to find its way to you rather than back to your pet.
How do I treat my dog if he has bed bugs?
Unfortunately, topical flea and tick medications that you apply to your dog will not kill bed bugs. What you’ll want to do is contact your veterinarian and let them know what you’ve discovered. He or she will tell you the best treatments available. For example, certain shampoos used to kill bed bugs on a dog are harmful to a cat, so a veterinarian will need to know if you have cats living in your home and how to avoid exposure. Once the infestation is gone from your dog use CEDAR-AL Pet Shampoo regularly to help prevent further infestation.