Do you think you have bed bugs? Instead of running from your home screaming, follow these steps to confirm an infestation, get rid of the insects and prevent future problems.
How Do You Check for Bed Bugs?
First, make sure that the signs you’re seeing really indicate a bed bug problem. Other insects like spider beetles and roach nymphs can look similar and leave some of the same evidence behind.
So what does a bed bug look like? They are small (about 3 – 5 mm long), oval-shaped, and brownish red with six legs and two short antennae. (Like this.)
Here’s how to check for bed bugs, and telltale signs of their presence. Just follow these steps, and mark any visible evidence of bugs with some bright masking tape to you know where to focus your elimination efforts.
- Use a flashlight to look for them at dawn or in the evening, as they are usually hiding during the day.
- Look for rust-colored stains on any surfaces, especially furniture.
- Look for light-brown, oval bug skins – they shed them.
- Look for tiny yellow eggs or eggshells.
- See if you smell a musty smell that wasn’t there before. The bugs release a stinky pheromone.
- Check for small clusters of bites on your body that begin to itch and burn within a day or two. Bites typically look like small red dots with no ring around them and no white center.
- Check every inch of the room, including these common bed bug hiding places:
- Seams and tags of furniture
- Cracks in wood – e.g., furniture, floorboards, baseboards
- Electrical outlets
- Crevices of electronics
- Curtains and blankets
- Under wall decorations, including wallpaper
- Spot-check other rooms of your home to see if the bugs have spread anywhere.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs – Step-by-Step
First, make sure you do not throw out your furniture or move it to another room, as this could lead to a worse infestation in your home or your neighbors’ homes.
Next, follow these steps:
- Identify which infested items you don’t mind throwing away.
- Brush off any visible insects, and tightly seal the bugs in a small plastic bag or container.
- Double (or triple) seal the throwaway items in strong plastic bags and throw them away. Label the bags “BED BUGS” in bold letters.
- Double seal your clothing, curtains and linens in plastic bags, and plan to wash them later.
- Vacuum (a lot) using the below method.
Cut a 6- to 12-inch section off the leg of a pair of pantyhose, and place it over the nozzle of your vacuum. Push the fabric inside the nozzle and tape it securely around the edge so it can serve as a “net” as you vacuum up the bugs. Each time you fill up the pantyhose with bed bugs, eggs and shells, empty them into a tightly sealed plastic bag – double up to be safe! – and throw them away.
- Have carpeting and upholstered furniture cleaned– with the below information in mind.
Most rented or store-bought steamers will only scrape the surface of your bed bug problem. Professional services, like our upholstery and carpet cleaning services, are much more effective, and could save some of the furniture that looks hopeless.
- Wash your clothing, curtains and linens in small loads. Place your washer on the hottest setting – 120 degrees is the minimum temp required to kill bed bugs. Dry on the hottest setting for at least a half hour.
- Call an experienced bed bug exterminator that uses EPA-approved chemical treatments and includes follow-up services.
Treatments used may include:
- Pyrethrins, pyrethroids and pyrroles (the three most common)
- Plant-oil-based treatments
- Even after an exterminator treats your home and follows up, it’s a good idea to purchase bed bug-proof mattress and furniture covers and leave them on for up to a year. Bed bugs can survive for a long time without feeding, so don’t take any chances!
Lighten Your Load
Choose Rainbow Restoration® to professionally clean your carpets and furniture – steps 3 and 4. With specialized equipment and training, our experts will get to work. After our high-powered vacuums collect loose bugs and waiting eggs, the hot steam from our cleaning equipment will kill bugs on your furniture, upholstery and carpets. Let us contain the problem so you can focus on other tasks and minimize the need for expensive follow-up inspections from an exterminator. Call your local Rainbow team today, or schedule an appointment online.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs in the Future
After the bed bugs are gone, you might still feel paranoid that you could get them again. Your best bet for preventing future infestations is simply being aware of your surroundings and any items you bring into your home. Check the mattress in your hotel or bed-and-breakfast; inspect that antique lamp from the consignment store; don’t bring home curbside furniture.
Can’t stand to look at your carpet, even after the bed bug incident is over? Get advice from Mr. Handyman® about ripping up your carpet to start fresh. Like Rainbow Restoration, Mr. Handyman is part of the Neighborly® family of trusted home service professionals.