Even just the word "bed bugs" makes me itch and shiver. No one wants to end up with bed bugs, but unfortunately it is the reality for a lot of people.
It can be hard to figure out where you get them, especially when they could travel anywhere from airplane seats, to hotel beds, and even on the bus.
Bed bugs are kind of a nightmare, but the important thing is to know how to identify if you have them, because then you'll be able to get rid of them.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has some good tips though that you can use to check your beds at home, beds you stay on when you go out of town, and even seats in public places like airplanes.
These tips will hopefully help you identify those little buggers before they get too bad!
1. Rust-colored or red stains
If there are bed bugs, there will likely also be reddish stains on the surface. These are caused by the little creatures getting crushed, or because they "void remains of earlier blood meals while still feeding," according to the EPA.
Check in the seams and corners of all cushioned surfaces as you'll be able to see it better. You should also check around the entire area, because while bed bugs usually stay between three to five feet of the "feeding area" (aka you) they have been known to travel up to twenty feet.
2. Dark spots
The dark spots are probably even grosser than the red spots, because they are basically the bed bugs' poop. The little marks will be a lot darker than the red stains, but honestly, if you have one you'll probably have the other.
3. Eggs and egg shells
The tiny 1mm size eggs are really hard to see, but if you happen to notice these yellowish shelled shapes you know that you are about to get even more bed bugs.
Bed bugs can live up to a year, but they will lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime. So you really don't want those eggs to hatch because those numbers will keep on growing.
4. Live bugs
Bed bugs are hard to spot because they are often afraid of the light and will hide in the seams and in the darkness until you go to sleep, but if you can spot them you'll notice that they are really tiny.
These apple seed-sized menaces may be small, but if you see one, you should realize that it probably means that there are a lot more nearby.
5. Small bites on your body
If you start to get a bunch of tiny bites all over your arms, legs, neck, or face, you may be dealing with bed bugs.
The little monsters feed on your blood, leaving you covered in annoying scabs and bumps that no one wants to deal with.
But how do you actually get rid of bed bugs?
Bed bugs are a huge problem, but it can be costly to bring in a professional to spray the area. If you want to try to clean it yourself, here are some tips.
1. Vacuum and steam the mattress and box spring
While we can't all throw them out when we find a bug, this is your best option. Vacuuming up all the eggs and the live bugs helps, but steaming it is the most important part.
The steam will be hot enough to kill off anything that is left behind, and likely will get through the surface so you won't have to worry about them coming back. You can find steamers online really easy, and they are generally great to have around.
2. Encase your mattress as soon as it's dry
First of all, clean it in an area that isn't carpeted if at all possible, but after it's clean and dry, you're going to want to cover it in a bed bug-proof cover to prevent them from returning if any bugs are missed in your cleaning.
Luckily, these mattress covers aren't all that expensive so you can get one for under $30 to make sure you don't have to worry about this ever again.
3. Clean any and all surfaces and floors
Steam your floors and any soft surfaces or fabrics like chairs or curtains, and then wipe down all other surfaces. Yes, it's going to take a while, but if you don't do it right the first time you're going to keep on having to clean it over and over.
They make a few products that'll help you out though, like the Raid Bed Bug detectors which will help you detect bed bugs early.
There are also many sprays that you can use to help kill off anything that wasn't removed by your cleaning. There are toxic options and non-toxic options that you can chose between, depending on if it's an area where your child or pets could reach.
Make sure you wash all your laundry and sheets with hot water when possible so you can kill off any stowaways hidden inside them!
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