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Bed bugs are small rust-colored insects that feed on human blood. While they can also survive on blood from other mammals such as bats, rats, and pets – they prefer humans first.
Small as an apple seed, these little pests can become a huge problem once inside your home. They are excellent little hitchhikers and can catch a ride inside your luggage, postal packages, laundry, library books, and even computers and electronic devices.
Did you know that you can have bed bugs and not even know it? This is because they can be hard to see and they numb your skin before feeding so you won’t feel their bite. In addition, not everyone who is bitten will get a mark. Even when a bump is left, most people will think it is simply a mosquito or spider bite. Weeks, or even months, could go by before you realize you have a problem and because bed bugs multiply quickly, it will be extremely difficult to eradicate them by then.
What’s the best way to deal with bed bugs?
The best way to deal with bed bugs is to not get them in the first place. Prevention is key. Today, I am going to share with you several tips to help you prevent bed bugs. I have personally used these tips myself while living in an infested apartment building so I know with great certainty that they work.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs:
Wash and dry all new clothing before wearing them or putting them away.
There is only one thing guaranteed to kill bed bugs: heat. I call it the bed bug kryptonite. Drowning them will not always work as they have been known to survive a cycle in the washing machine. In fact, their eggs can survive under water for 24 hours or more! Therefore, it is extremely important to wash and dry all clothing before wearing them or putting them away. This holds true for your bed linen as well. You should dry your clothes for at least 30 minutes on the highest setting to kill all bugs and any eggs that could be hiding in your clothes.
Do not bring used or previously used furniture into your home.
I can remember the days when I absolutely loved hunting for hidden treasures at a yard sale or a consignment shop. Not anymore. Not ever since I had my horrifying experience with bed bugs that cost me my brand-new furniture, clothes, and my sanity. Unless you know the person and absolutely trust them, then I do not recommend accepting secondhand items and bringing them into your home. As I have already stated, bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and are masters at hiding. So be careful! If for some reason, you do find yourself with preloved or secondhand items, you can purchase a bed bug oven to heat treat your items.
Always inspect your hotel room before unpacking
Bed bugs do not discriminate and can be found even in a five-star hotel. They do not care if their host is filthy dirty, or immaculate and clean. Rich or poor makes no difference either. They aren’t like roaches that will feed off pretty much anything; Bed bugs only need blood to survive. When traveling, make sure to do your research beforehand on the hotel you will be staying at and search for any bed bug complaints. Once you have selected a lodging facility, make sure to inspect your room upon arrival and before unpacking. In fact, I recommend leaving luggage outside the room or place it inside the bathroom or bathtub until you inspect. You are looking for any traces of bed bugs, their eggs, or fecal markings. Bed bug poop, as I like to call it, can resemble black ink marks, make-up spots, or rust marks (see picture below). First, inspect the bed by removing the sheet and checking the seams of the mattress. Also check the headboard, walls, and curtains. If you see anything out of the ordinary or what looks like evidence of a bed bug infestation, take a picture, go to the manager, and ask for another room. Or better yet, leave. Do not stay there! Trust me, it’s not worth the headache.
Place certified bed bug mattress covers on your bed.
Protect your mattress with a certified bed bug mattress cover. I strongly recommend you put one on the box spring too. A bed bug cover is specially made to prevent any insects from living and laying eggs inside your mattress. They can also trap any bed bugs that may already be hiding inside. Do not buy regular mattress covers, they will not work. They must be certified bed bug covers.
Change and wash your bed linen at least once a week.
By washing your linen at least once a week, you prevent any bugs from multiplying and nesting in your sheets, comforter, and bed. It’s also a good time to inspect your bed and bed frame for any signs of an infestation. Again, I can’t say this enough, dry all clothes for at least 30 minutes on the highest heat setting to kill any bed bugs and their eggs.
Beware of Laundromats!
If you must wash your clothes at a laundromat like I do, be extremely careful. I still cringe every time I see someone fold their clothes on the public laundry tables. Fold your clothes at home! Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, cannot always be seen with the naked eye. Placing your clean clothes on one of those tables is like pouring honey on yourself while standing in front of a bee’s nest. Again, make sure you dry your clothes on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes or more. You don’t know who used that machine before you and what may still be lurking inside. Also, do not use the same laundry bag that you brought your dirty clothes in for your clean clothes. I use plastic trash bags or liners for my laundry: one for dirty clothes and one for the clean. An insect could have made its way into your laundry basket from your dirty clothes and is just waiting inside for your clean laundry so it can travel to your bed. And, once home, never dump your clean clothes on your floor or bed. Invest in a folding table or special area designated for your laundry. I fold my clothes straight from the clean laundry bag and then put them directly inside their drawer or I hang them on their hanger. I take no chances!
Be careful who you invite into your house.
Many bed bug infestations occur because a house guest brought them into someone’s home. Sometimes the person was unaware that they had bed bugs, and sometimes the person knew. A person who is living with a bed bug infestation might not be forthcoming and honest. They are usually embarrassed and fearful. They worry that if they inform others about their infestation, they will not be invited to social occasions. This can put you in an awkward situation, but if you suspect someone has a bed bug infestation, you need to be careful and fully aware of the risks involved. Just take precautions and never invite house guests into your sleeping quarters.
When I take the bus or train, I wear “travel clothes” that I immediately remove once I am home. I next secure them in a plastic bag which I place in the laundry basket until it is time for the next wash. You never know what you may have picked up from the seats of a bus. I also keep my purse in my lap while taking public transportation.
Place bed bug traps on the feet of your bed.
A bed bug trap or interceptor will prevent any bed bugs that may have found themselves inside your home from traveling to your bed and nesting inside your mattress. Once a bug crawls inside of the trap, they get stuck inside. These also work to keep roaches and other insects from getting into your furniture.
Dust the perimeter of your home or bedroom with insecticide dust.
This is probably the most valuable tip I can give you. Insecticide dusts work on all insects and kills them through the process of dehydration. They are non-toxic and will kill within 72 hours. The best one on the market is Cimexa. I have used this powder with great success while living in a roach and bed bug infested building. It also kills bed bug nymphs.
Remember, bed bugs are not attracted to food, filth, or poor living conditions. They only want one thing: blood. Protect yourself by following these invaluable tips. Prevention is key.
Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She is well-versed in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies with a focus on health and wellness, fashion and beauty, and natural healing as it pertains to the body, mind, and the soul. She is also a romance writer and the author of Passion of Flames.