If you’re waking up with rows of red itchy bites, especially on your face, neck, shoulders and limbs you may be sleeping with bed bugs. Want to learn how to get rid of bed bugs? We ask the experts for top care and cleaning solutions to banish the pests.
First things first, a bed bug infestation doesn’t mean you have a dirty home and you’re not to blame either! The cheeky little pests can end up in your abode and quickly multiply after hitching a ride in luggage, or in pre-used furniture.
It’s thought due to their hitchhiking prowess sightings have risen by 75 per cent compared to last year, according to research by Mattressnextday.co.uk.
Bed bugs also common in multi-occupancy buildings, such as hotels and blocks of flats where they can easily spread from room to room by crawling through pipes and cracks in the walls.
How to get rid of bed bugs
If you have bed bugs at home, take immediate action to avoid an infestation. It’s best to contact your local council who may treat your home for free, or a pest control company, preferably a member of the British Pest Control Association (BPCA.org.uk) as they are pros at getting rid of stubborn bed bug infestations and have access to the most effective insecticides and equipment available.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, brown and flat blood-sucking insects that hide and breed in cracks and crevices in and around your bed. They emerge at night to feed on a sleeping host, attracted by their body heat and the carbon dioxide they exhale.
Bed bugs aren’t known to spread diseases. Their bite isn’t harmful to humans and although some people can develop an adverse skin reaction to bed bug bites, some don’t react at all. However just knowing they’re there, waiting for you, can be an unsettling thought.
DIY guide to getting rid of bed bugs fast
We recommend getting professional help to get rid of bed bugs as these pests are notoriously hard to eradicate, due to their immunity to some household insecticides. Plus an infestation can easily recur if any eggs are missed, but if you want to try DIY pest control, take these measures:
1. Spot the infestation
Completely strip your bed and put the infested bed linen, as well as pyjamas and soft toys straight into a 50°C – 60°C wash, if possible. Then tumble dry the items on the hottest setting for 30 minutes as the heat will kill any remaining bed bugs and their eggs. Placing bagged-up laundry in the freezer for three days will also kill the pests.
2. Clean the mattress
Clean your mattress every three months. ‘Regularly cleaning your mattress is not only key to making it last longer but it’s also the perfect opportunity to check for bed bugs’ advises a spokesperson on behalf of Matressnextday.co.uk. ‘You should aim to clean your mattress once every three months. Pocket sprung styles can be vacuumed safely, whereas foam styles like memory foam require sweeping to avoid damage.’
2. Inspect the surrounding area and vacuum
Dismantle your bed furniture and thoroughly inspect it along with your mattress and any other potential hiding places around the bed such as carpets, behind bedside tables and cracks in walls (which will need to be sealed) then use a vacuum cleaner with a plastic crevice nozzle attachment to suck up the bed bugs, including their eggs, larvae and droppings.
Throw away the vacuum cleaner bag and its contents in a sealed bin liner, immediately. A heavily-infested mattress will need to be disposed of safely and swapped for a new one.
3. Regularly air bedding
‘Bed bugs prefer a dirty environment over a clean one, so once a week, pull back your bedding and let your mattress air’ suggest the mattress experts. ‘This gives your mattress the chance to spring back into shape, whilst evaporating any excess moisture – which can attract bed bugs. Also, make sure to wash your bedding and sheets at least once a week to avoid a build-up of bacteria.’
4. Check the whole house
The little pests can crawl quite far, so you should go over the whole room (if not your entire home) with a fine-toothed comb, looking under furniture, inside drawers, behind peeling wallpaper – everywhere, for signs of them.
5. Stop them in their tracks
Next use a special bed bugs insecticide, following the manufacturer’s instructions, to treat all infested areas and kill any remaining bed bugs.
6. Use a chemical free cleaner
Steam cleaning is chemical free and instantly kills bed bugs and their eggs. We’ve tried and tested the best steam cleaners in the business to see which is best for the job at hand.
7. Make your own spray
Tea tree oil can also be used as a natural bed bug insecticide – mix up your own spray, using 1 drop of tea tree oil to every fluid oz of water.
8. Keep your room cool – especially at night
‘According to the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), the ideal temperature for an adult bed bug to thrive is between 21-32°C. So, it’s best to keep your room cool on a night-time.’ We have all the tips for ways to keep bedrooms cool, to aid your plight.
9. Declutter your home
Less clutter means less inviting hiding places. It also means your home will be easier to clean. ‘The more objects you own, the more opportunities for bed bugs to hide. Plus, clutter increases the difficulty in eliminating bed bugs once they’ve been established.’
10. Avoid cardboard storage solutions
‘Bed bugs are also known to hide in cardboard, so try to unpack your boxes quickly after moving house. Also, never use cardboard boxes for storage and stick to plastic containers, instead’ advices the mattress experts. Looking for bedroom storage ideas that are sustainable and not inviting to bed bugs.
What to do if you’re worried they’ll come back?! Continue checking regularly for signs of returning bed bugs and treat any infested areas immediately, or call in the professionals if they keep coming back.
How to spot bed bugs
Adult bed bugs measure around 6mm across and their elongated eggs and larvae are much smaller so they can be hard to detect. They don’t fly or jump but can crawl quickly and are experts at hiding.
Inspect your mattress, bed frame and surrounding sleeping area for signs of bed bugs, looking for clusters of brown spots – their droppings, and discarded larvae shells. You might also be able to find blood spots on your bedding and smell the musty scent given off by adult bed bugs.
Always check second-hand furniture for bed bugs before you bring any into your home. If you’re travelling, check the hotel beds and headboards too and store your suitcase off the floor on a luggage rack to avoid them climbing onboard.
‘Bed bugs tend to come out at night in search of their next feed, and always hide in groups’ explains a spokesperson on behalf of Mattressnextday.co.uk. ‘This makes it difficult to spot them in daylight. To spot them on a mattress, look out for signs that they’ve been there previously.’
Here are some things to check for on your mattress:
- ‘Reddish stains or the appearance of rust on bed sheets can be a sign of a crushed bed bug’
- ‘Tiny dark stains or the appearance of rust on bed sheets can be a sign of a crushed bed bug’
- ‘Eggs or eggshells that are 1 mm in size. These can be particularly hard to spot but are usually found in clusters’
Good luck with your cleaning task. it’ll be well worth it for a better night’s sleep.