Stop bedbugs before they start!
I’m planning on going to a movie this weekend, and I really don’t want your bedbugs to hitch a ride home with me. Seriously, how would that look if a supposed bedbug expert ended up with the little monsters at home?
I’m guessing you feel the same about another person’s bedbugs.
One of the biggest reasons bedbugs are spreading so fast, is because people don’t understand them. How can you prevent bedbugs if you have no idea how? Here’s one hint: wrapping yourself in garbage bags when you go to bed is not effective. Though there is one thing that would accomplish: you will look like a complete freak. Wait, is that politically correct? How about “loon”? Whatever. You get my point. PC-ness is not my specialty, bedbugs are.
With that said, on with the list…
Top 10 ways to avoid having bedbugs as bed-mates:
(In a hurry? Just read the bold stuff and figure it out from there… I know I’m long winded, but most of it is useful)
- Watch your backside. Rather, watch where you park it. Bedbug eggs are sticky, tiny and hard to see. Inspect anything you are going to sit on or lay on before you plop yourself down. Much like the garbage bag idea, there is no need to look like a crazy person while doing this. In a hotel you can inspect to your heart’s content without ridicule, but at a movie theater or restaurant you’ll probably want to be a bit more discreet. They aren’t likely going to be on plastic chairs, cloth is more common. Bedbugs will typically hide in seams, so give them a quick once-over. You’re looking for small reddish-brown bugs about the size of an apple seed. You may find their skins or clusters of brown spots in there also.
- Keep it clean. If you are unlucky enough to bring an egg or a bedbug home, you may get equally and oppositely lucky and vacuum the bedbug up before it starts laying eggs of its own. Keep clutter around and under your bed to a minimum. Giving them fewer places to nest will help you catch any potential infestations before they get too bad.
- Do your laundry often. Lame, I know, but it will help. Wash your bedding at least once a week (at least do it more than 3 times a year!). Need additional motivation? Gross, but OK: the average person will shed 30,000-40,000 skin cells per hour. Dust mites eat your dead skin. Do you really want to roll around in that every night? Wash or dry your bedding on hot, the heat is what actually kills the bedbugs, not the detergent or the water.
- Make like a private eye. Changing your sheets frequently will also give you a chance to check your mattress for any signs of bedbugs. Check the seams or the mattress and the box springs. We typically find them more in the seams on box springs than on mattresses.
- Wash your clothes. Unfortunately, yes, more laundry. If you went somewhere “questionable”, toss your clothes into a plastic bag when you get home. Seal the bag until you are able to wash the clothes. Make sure you also dispose of the bag or treat it, in case there are bedbugs or eggs in there.
- It’s getting hot, hot, hot! Bedbugs don’t like it hot. Now before you crank up the thermostat, know that it takes around 120°F to kill them. Your furnace won’t accomplish this. You can use a hair drier to treat things like shoes, suitcases, some electronics, and other things that can take the heat, but wouldn’t hold up well in the drier.
- Alcohol is your friend. No, not drinking it. Drinking alcohol has been shown to kill brain cells. Fewer brain cells means you get stupider. Getting stupider means you will not remember these 10 tips for preventing bedbugs. Forgetting these 10 tips means you will be more likely to spread them where I will be… You get the point. Use Rubbing Alcohol to treat anything you suspect may have bedbugs or their eggs on it: chairs, mattresses, clothes, etc. Within reason, of course (in other words, don’t do this while drinking alcohol).
- Don’t be shy. If you live in an apartment, bedbugs can move in with you without any interaction with neighbors that have them. If you spot a bedbug in your apartment, or start to notice bites, talk to your neighbors! Ask if they have noticed any bites or bugs. This is one of the biggest reason bedbugs are spreading. People are too embarrassed to talk to anyone about them. This will only make the problem worse. Contrary to the sometimes popular (and incorrect) belief, bedbugs are not a direct reflection of cleanliness.
- Be a tattletale! If you suspect that you or one of your neighbors has bedbugs, talk to your apartment manager/property manager/landlord. Many Health Departments require property managers to be trained in bedbug detection/identification. They can help you determine if you have them, and can often help you get rid of them. They may also cover the cost of an exterminator.
- Used mattress? Yuck! Not only are used mattresses gross, they could easily harbor dormant bedbugs, in addition to all the other nastiness they might contain. Gross, gross, gross. Did I mention gross? Also be careful when buying any used furniture. One of our customers purchased a used desk that had a hidden bedbug nest, which quickly infested their entire home, prompting them to dispose of several beds, couches and other furniture before they called us. That turned out to be one expensive desk.
- Call a professional. Many companies provide free inspections. Think you have bedbugs? Don’t hesitate to call. The longer you wait, the worse it is likely to get. Bedbugs spread fast (each one can lay 5 eggs a day).
Yeah, yeah, I know. I said the top 10… so I can’t count. That last one is a freebie. Be glad I didn’t turn it into a top 100… but if you do want more information, check out our previous bedbugs post, or get all kinds of info on bedbugs from Wikipedia.