- What are bed bugs?
- What causes bed bugs?
- Signs of bed bugs
- Preparing for a bed bugs treatment
- Home remedies for bed bugs
- Prevention methods
Is just the thought of bed bugs enough to make your skin crawl? Although they're surprisingly common, most people don't know about the basic home remedies for bed bugs that can help banish them fast.
If you're unlucky enough to have been hit with a bout of the old bed bugs, we're here to help. We're sharing everything we know about bed bugs to help you banish those pester little critter once and for all!
What are bed bugs & what do they look like?
First thing's first: a bit of bed-bug biology. Bed bugs are small - around 5mm in size - so visible to the human eye, but only just. They're oval-shaped, flat and rusty-brown in colour. Unlike other bugs, they cannot jump nor fly.
They crawl out of their dark crevices at night to feed on blood which results in those infamous bed bug bites. Although they won't spread any disease, they can be uncomfortable and some people will experience a reaction to bites.
Females can lay up to 250 eggs during their lifetime of about two to four months. Eggs are laid in cracks and crevices and are oval and white in colour.
What causes bed bugs?
Before we teach you how to get rid of bed bugs, it's important to first understand what causes these annoying critters.
Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don't have anything to do with dirt - so an extra shower a day won't keep them at bay!
So if it's not dirt, what does cause bed bugs? As bed bugs feed on blood, anywhere with animals or humans is, technically, an ideal place for them to set up camp. Bed bugs move from place to place after feeding, and can hide in anything from bedsheets to your t-shirt, meaning if you sleep somewhere that's infested, your home's likely to bear the brunt of it.
Signs of bed bugs
Think you may have bed bugs? Besides actually catching them crawling across your sheets, there are several other signs of bed bugs to look out for, including:
- Bites on skin
- Small, black spots on your bedsheets (bug faeces)
- Bed bug shells (they shed their skin much like snakes)
- A musty smell in your bedroom
- Blood spots (could occur if you unintentionally squish a bug in your sleep)
If you spot any of the above, you may well have an infestation and should check out the home remedies for bed bugs listed below.
Preparing for a bed bugs treatment
Despite their name, bed bugs don't solely reside in your sheets - they could be hiding in cardboard boxes under the bed or on clothes in your laundry basket.
Before you try to treat bed bugs, you need to get rid of as much clutter as possible. Replace cardboard boxes for plastic boxes, put all your clothes in sealed bin liners and do the same with soft furnishings of ay kind.
Deep clean items that could be infested
Everything that could have bed bugs must be cleaned thoroughly. This means heat treating clothing and sheets in a tumble dryer, or placing them in the freezer for at least 5 days before laundering as normal, both of which will kill bed bugs.
Any furniture in your bedroom should also be examined for evidence of bed bugs and cleaned as necessary. Curtains should be removed and cleaned professionally, and the whole room should be vacuumed thoroughly.
It's extremely important to keep all cleaned items in sealed plastic bags. The vacuum bag should also be removed after use, placed in a sealed plastic bag, and disposed of.
Make your bed an island
Bed bugs are so-called because they bite at night. Although they don't always live in the mattress, they often do. Moving your bed away from the wall, furniture and anything else will make infestation anywhere else less likely.
Vacuum the area
The last step before you start treatment is to completely vacuum on, in and around the affected area.
Vacuum your bed thoroughly, not only concentrating on the mattress but the headboard and slats too.
Once all that's done, you'll be ready to treat your bed bugs using one of our home remedies.
Home remedies for bed bugs
A professional, bed bug infestation treatment is the most reliable way of guaranteeing the full extermination of your bed bugs. If you'd prefer to try a DIY treatment before shedding out any cash, give the following home remedies a go.
1. Starve the bed bugs
If you don't mind taking the slow and steady route, starving your bed bugs is another option.
First and foremost, it's important to vacuum your bed thoroughly. Next, you'll need to get hold of some Ziploc bags for your mattress and leave them on for around a week - this will prevent any bugs from getting out and feeding, thus causing them to starve to death.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth is often considered the most effective of all the natural bed bug treatments, killing more than 90% of bed bugs.
It's also cheap and easy to use - its powdered form means it can be sprinkled into even the smallest of cracks and crevices. The downside? It takes up to 10 days to work.
To use, apply 100% Diatomaceous Earth onto the affected area and leave for a few days. You should slowly start to see dead bed bugs, which you can vacuum away. Repeat the process several times, until all bed bugs appear to have been eradicated.
3. Bicarbonate of soda
Here's another reason why it's always handy to have a pot of baking soda in the home - it can kill bed bugs.
Sprinkling bicarbonate of soda onto areas affected by bed bugs is thought to physically dehydrate their skin, whilst others suggest it's abrasive enough to cut them.
It's cheap, it works, so what's the downside? Treating bed bugs with baking soda is timely - you'll need to repeat the process of sprinkling and vacuuming regularly in order to banish them. This in turn, means you're going to need a lot of powder, making this home remedy more expensive that it may originally seem.
4. Tea tree essential oils
Tea tree oil is used in many home remedies, especially those concerning pests.
When it comes to bed bugs, tea tree oil not only works to kill them, but also to mask the human smells which would usually attract them. Best of all, tea tree oil is easy to get hold of and an inexpensive solution to an infestation.
Dilute twenty drops of all natural, pure tea tree oil with 200ml water and spray onto affected areas.
Vinegar is as strong as it smells when it comes to banishing bed bugs. It's also something most of us have in our homes, making it the ideal emergency home remedy to use.
However, it's important to remember that whilst vinegar will kill bed bugs by damaging their nervous systems, it won't do anything for eggs.
Saturate the edges of the infected area (such as underneath and around furniture) with white distilled vinegar, and then directly onto bed bugs. This way, when they flee, they won't be able to escape the vinegar.
6. Rubbing alcohol
Another popular home remedy for bed bugs is rubbing alcohol.
Borax is another quick and easy way to treat bedbugs. To suffocate the bugs, generously sprinkle borax on the mattress, then spray on water.
Borax is also useful when it comes to washing affected items - add some to your washing machine to ensure those bugs are gone for good.
How to get rid of bed bugs using a pesticide
Using pesticides is the quickest DIY method for treating bed bugs. Before you start spraying, you need to prepare the area.
Next, you'll need to pick up a pesticide to kill off any bed bugs hiding in and around your mattress.
Spray the pesticide all over the mattress, including around corners, and in seams. Next, spray the bed, including the headboard, slats and inside any drawers, being sure to get right into the corners. If you have a particularly bad infestation, you may see some bed bugs emerging from their hiding spots in an attempt to flee the poison.
After an hour or so, vacuum the entire bed once more to remove any dead bugs. Keep a close eye on things over the days that follow and carry out additional treatments as necessary.
As with most things, it's much easier to prevent bedbugs than it is to treat them. There are a few things you can do to stop bedbugs infesting your home, including:
1. Vacuum regularly
Vacuuming is one of the easiest ways to remove any stray bedbugs. Whilst it's not enough to deal with a whole infestation, vacuuming regularly will go some way to keeping the area bug-free.
2. Check second-hand furniture
When bringing second-hand furniture into your home, you should always consider what's lurking inside. Always check for any signs of bedbugs before purchasing anything.
If there are signs of bedbugs, recognise that just getting rid of them will be a project in itself.
3. Take precautions when laundering
Bedbugs travel in furniture and on clothes. If you share laundry facilities, you should always take extra precautions to avoid picking up anyone else's bugs.
Always transport clothes to and from the launderettes in sealed plastic bags, and leave them out for as little time as possible.
Have you ever had a bad experience with bed bugs? Share how you dealt with it with us in the comments below.