On any given day, you might unwittingly bring bed bugs into your home; the likelihood of this increases drastically if you list your home on Air B&B or run a small guesthouse too. When it comes to bedbugs, it’s important to know what to look out for and how to prevent it…
What exactly are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, flat, reddish-brown insects that grow to about 5mm in length. As they are found everywhere – from schools to offices and shopping centres – bed bugs spread extremely easily, often stowing away in clothing, luggage and other belongings. This means that every time you leave your home – no matter how clean it is – there is the chance that you could bring bedbugs back inside with you! Once inside the house, bedbugs have numerous favourite hiding places: mattresses and headboards, bed bases… even in cracks and crevices in the wall.
Bedbugs feed on human blood, usually at night, while you are sleeping. After feeding, their bodies swell and and they crawl back to their hiding places, often undetected. When you wake up in the morning, you might be forgiven for thinking that you have been bitten by mosquitoes or fleas instead. Unfortunately, over a lifetime, female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs (about the size of a speck of dust), which only exacerbates the problem.
Tell-tale signs of bedbugs:
- Blood spots on sheets and pillows
- Dark brown or black smears of bug excrement
- Little piles of droppings on hard surfaces
- Egg shells and shed skins
- A musty, unpleasant smell
How to get rid of bedbugs:
The good news is that it is easy to get rid of bedbugs – either as a treatment… or as a preventative measure. Just follow these 10 steps.
- Wash bedding, curtains and clothing on the hottest wash possible (and dry them on high in the tumble dryer – if you have one – for at least 30 minutes.)
- Dry-scrub affected mattresses with a stiff brush, working into the seams to remove any bugs and their eggs.
- Vacuum both the mattress and the carpet thoroughly. Discard the vacuum cleaner contents in a sealed bag in the rubbish.
- Use steam cleaners (the type used to remove wrinkles from curtains) to kill bed bugs and their eggs on contact.
- Check the base sets, lifting the fabric cover to check that bugs are not living within the wooden frame.
- Inspect the rest of the room thoroughly, including under bedside tables, in bedside lamps, under rugs, in plug outlets… even in cupboards.
- A fully encased mattress protector ensures that any current bed bugs cannot leave the mattress and likewise, protects against further infestations. As bed bugs can live for several months without feeding, leave the protector on for at least a year.
- Repair any cracks in the walls, fill gaps around skirting boards, and glue down any tears in wallpaper to minimise the places where bed bugs can hide.
- Never bring second-hand furniture into your home without thoroughly examining it for signs of bed bugs.
- If you think you have a bed bug infestation, contact a pest control company (that specialises in bed bug extermination) to help eradicate the problem.