How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Safely at Home

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Bed bugs are tiny, rust-colored insects, the size of an apple seed as an adult. They feed on human blood so they can develop and lay eggs. Although you can't feel bed bugs bite you, they leave clusters of itchy, red welts on your skin. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease, but it's important to remove the bugs from your home.

  • Ascertain whether your bug problem is in fact bed bugs and not another insect commonly mistaken for bed bugs. Look for tiny blood spots, insect droppings and eggs on your mattress, in furniture crevices and in tiny cracks around the room. If you're a tenant, notify your landlord of the problem immediately.

  • Determine where the bed bugs are hiding in your home. Use a flashlight to check under your mattress, behind your headboard, in the cracks of couches, inside dresser and nightstand drawers, under alarm clocks and light fixtures, behind wallpaper and around window frames. Is the problem confined to one room or is it in several? Keep note of exactly where you find bed bugs and their signs. For bed bug problems in several rooms, it's best to hire an exterminator.

  • Wash your bedding and other items on the hottest washer setting, then dry everything in your dryer for at least 20 minutes on the highest heat setting. Seal your mattress and box spring in a waterproof mattress cover for at least a year to kill the bed bugs. If your mattress, box spring and bedding are heavily infested, you may need to replace them.

  • Remove clutter from your room. Vacuum the room completely and scrub infested surfaces with hot, soapy water, using a brush. Steam-clean fabric furniture, window drapes and carpeting. Seal all heavily infested items in bags, label them "Infested with bed bugs" and leave them outside for trash pickup. Make infested furniture undesirable to others by damaging it before leaving it for trash pickup at the curb.

  • Use pesticides appropriately. Use only pesticides labeled for use in removing bed bugs. Follow the directions on the label.

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