Bed bugs, once thought to be nearly eradicated in the United States, have made an unfortunate comeback. These small bugs feed on human and pet blood and come out in the middle of the night to feed. Their bite can produce a serious reaction in some people, or a small bump on others. The psychological effects of being bitten when you are at your most vulnerable typically outweigh any physical effects. To permanently get rid of bed bugs, you must take several steps.
Launder Linens and Vacuum Mattresses
All bedroom linens should be stripped from the bed and laundered in hot water. The mattress should be examined for signs of infestation. These signs include a musty, sweet odor, as well as small black spots, which are bed bug feces. Look in the cracks of mattresses and under side seams on both sides of the mattress. If it appears that the infestation is not severe, vacuum the mattress thoroughly on both sides and then vacuum the rest of the room. The material in the vacuum should be disposed of outside of the house to prevent the bed bugs from returning.
Install a Mattress Cover
Once the mattress appears to be cleaned of any visible bed bugs, a mattress cover should be installed. Typically, these covers can zip onto the mattress. Look for a cover that is either labeled as bed bug--proof, or choose one that is made of a plastic material that will be harder for bed bugs to get through. This will have the added benefit of locking any bed bugs you may have missed under this cover.
If the bed bug infestation is severe or the problem continues, chemical treatment may be necessary. Keep in mind that this is not always successful, and there still isn't enough evidence to support the fact that sleeping on a chemically treated mattress isn't detrimental to long-term health. It is best to contact a professional to have him spray the mattress to ensure that it is treated properly. If you decide to treat the mattress on your own, look for a spray that contains pyrethrins or that is labeled specifically for use against bed bugs.
Prevention of Reinfestation
Once you had removed an infestation of bed bugs, the last thing you want is to have them come back. If you are a frequent traveler, immediately launder all clothes in your suitcases in hot water when you return home. Even the clothes you are wearing when you get home will need to be washed immediately. The insides of suitcases should also be immediately vacuumed. Bed bugs can cling to clothing and material and spread easily throughout your home. One old-fashioned bed bug prevention technique sounds silly, but actually works quite well. Place a glass under each bed leg and fill the glass with water. Bed bugs cannot swim, and this will prevent them from climbing up from the floor.
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