“Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” may seem like a harmless childhood rhyme, but in fact bed bugs do exist, and they can be a pain! Bed bug infestations are notoriously hard to get rid of. These tiny bugs feed on blood and can leave little bites all over your body. Here’s how to keep bed bugs from biting:
- Avoid infestations. Because bed bugs are so hard to get rid of once you have them, the best way to keep them from biting you is to keep them away from your home. Avoid buying used upholstered furniture and other items that may harbor a bed bug infestation. Once you have bed bugs, there isn’t anything you can do to keep them from biting you other than trying to get rid of them.
- Wash everything. Bed bugs will infest beds as well as luggage, curtains, and any other piece of cloth. If you find bed bugs, wash everything immediately to try to kill them. Use very hot water. Wash your sheets and pillowcases at least once per week. If you can wash the pillowcases themselves, do it. Otherwise cover them in a plastic pillowcase cover.
- Seal your mattress. It may be easier to buy a new mattress than to fight a bed bug infestation. Some people will never feel comfortable sleeping on the bed again once it gets bed bugs, so decide whether you plan to replace the bed or try to get rid of the bugs. If you want to keep your mattress and box spring, get plastic covers with zippers. Cover the zippers with tape so the bugs can’t escape, and keep the covers on for at least a year. It may take up to a year to starve the bugs.
- Spray everything. Mix bleach, ammonia, alcohol, and a little water in a spray bottle. Every day, spray everything, including curtains and carpets. Vacuum every day. Examine the woodwork, carpeting, closets, and anywhere else the bed bugs may be hiding. The rubbing alcohol will kill the bugs on contact. Pay close attention to seams and corners when vacuuming and spraying, because bed bugs may be hiding from you. When you’re done vacuuming, immediately empty the vacuum.
- Steam cleaning. If the bed bugs are living in your carpets, have the carpet professionally cleaned. You may also want to bring in a professional to use Diazanon, a chemical that can kill these bugs.
- Make a tape barrier. If you have a bedbug infestation and want to prevent them from reaching your mattress and biting you while you sleep, make a sticky tape barrier. The bugs will get stuck if they try to climb up your mattress. Make sure no sheets or other items hang down onto the tape.
Once you follow these steps, visible bed bug bites should start to diminish. Eventually, you should see no bed bug bites at all. If you do notice that they seem to be coming back, be extra-vigilant about your daily cleaning regimen, because they may be multiplying.