A few clouds on the morning horizon. Looks to be a great day.
People are starting to talk about bedbugs. You can hear the fear in people's voices. Some anxiously want to know how to avoid them; others are in panic mode - how to get rid of them? Before you reach for toxic bombs, let's talk about naturally getting rid of bed bugs.
There are lots of websites about bed bugs so I won't go over the basics about them. But just to put some fears to rest, bed bugs do not carry diseases. They bite for sure (yes, they suck your blood - ick) and people vary in terms of their reaction. Some don't react at all while others welt and itch like crazy. Oh, and they do not fly, and that's good news. You are not a dirty person nor a bad house keeper if you get bed bugs, you're just darn unlucky.
So, what are some things to do if you think you have bed bugs? Here are some tips and sensible ways to prepare yourself for battle:
1 - Have a vacuum ready before you begin searching. That way if you find any bugs, or suspicious eggs, you can suck them up immediately.
2 - Upon finding any, first vacuum. Then deal with whatever it was they were on. Mattresses, take out side and continue to vacuum if you can.
3 - Wash bedding, all of it, in hot water - it will kill them. Also dry in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes. (tough for me to suggest using a dryer, but I do hate bed bugs) The heat will kill them.
4 - While the mattress is off the bed, wash down the entire bed frame. If your mattress is directly on the floor, go get yourself a bed frame.
5 - If your mattress was heavily infested, get a new mattress and follow prevention.
6 - If you have recently traveled, vacuum, clean and wash anything associated with your bags.
7 - Think about gutting your room, apartment and house if you are infested. Vacuum and clean every corner starting where you found them and then working away from that point. Using vinegar and hot water is fine. Let it set for a few minutes (good dwell time) before wiping off.
8 - Cold kills bed bugs. If you happen to have winters that get below 25 degrees F, putting your stuff and mattresses outside will kill them.
9 - Throw out the vacuum bag after you suck them up.
Now for the prevention of bedbugs - naturally.
1 - Grease the legs of your bed's frame. That's right, right out of the dark ages but this really is great prevention. You can put petroleum jelly up and down the legs (do not miss a spot). Or you can place the legs (all of them, you might have some in the middle of the bed if it is big) onto a saucer or in a tin can and put petroleum on, around and inside either. This really works and is the best prevention for your bed. The bugs can not walk through it and might even get stuck. Consider greasing sofas and chairs too if you are surrounded by infestation.
2 - Keep the bed away from the wall, several inches.
3 - Herbs can be used as a repellent. They do not like lavender, thyme, rosemary or eucalyptus or mint. (at least that is what I have read) You can either used dried herbs in a sachet, which is great for traveling, or in your drawers. Or you can use real essential oils and create an herbal spray. Be careful with the oils, they can stain. You can spray door thresholds and perimeters of rooms. There are some articles that do say these do not work and to go to a professional exterminator. Herbs are meant as a deterrent only. (so maybe they'll find another home)
4 - Check and clean all fibers attached to the ground - meaning chairs, sofas, clothing, bedding in closets, etc.
5 - Keep clothing off the ground.
6 - When traveling, do not put anything on the ground. Keep your bags up high, maybe on top of a TV, or in the bathtub.
For more information about bed bugs, good photos and all the information you may or may not really want to know, here are some great bed bug links:
EPA Bed Bug Summit
Harvard's Bed Bug Info
Bedbugs by Wikipedia
I grew up hearing "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite." I also used to say it to my children. (well, not one of them since she was terrified of bugs) Unfortunately this fun, old, little good night ritualistic saying has taken on a new meaning. Who would have guessed?
Let me know if you have any ideas to add so others may benefit from your advice.