How to Prevent Bed Bug Infestations
If you haven't seen a bed bug in a while or woken up to one of their vicious bites, it can be a huge relief. It will feel like the war is finally over. You'll be able to sleep through the night, and you can finally stop spending hours with a vacuum in hand.
When I finally got rid of bed bugs, I felt that same sens of relief. I had checked the house up and down. There was NOTHING. On the other hand, I knew a few other people that had them. In my city, they seem to be everywhere. My kids go to school with other kids that have them. Stores even have them.
In the middle of a seemingly bed bug infested city, I wanted to make sure that I didn't have to go through all of that mess all over again, so here's what I did, and it's worked so far.
Mattress covers aren't just to keep the bed bugs from biting in the middle of the night, they can also prevent bed bugs from making a nice cozy home in a mattress. They can't lay eggs on a mattress if they can't get to the mattress, right?
I bought a mattress protector that zips around the mattress for every bed in the house minus the futon mattress. Then, I picked up those pillow top covers so the kids weren't too uncomfortable sleeping on vinyl. The cost was low, and nothing compared to the thought of sleeping with bed bugs.
These are the ones that I went with. You want to make sure that you get zippered protectors like this one instead of accidentally winding up with mattress pads.
Don't Forget the Box Springs
Most people remember the mattresses when they have to deal with bed bugs, but they tend to forget about the box springs. This is a horrible mistake.
You have two options. If you're buying new stuff, you can go with a nice platform styled bed. These may have wooden slats, but that's usually about it. Some come with metal bars in place of the wooden slats, and there is no need for a box spring with a platform bed.
If you aren't financially able to buy new furniture or just like having a box spring, pick up an extra mattress encasement to make sure that bed bugs don't make their way inside of the box springs.
Double Dry Everything
Even though I'm not dealing with bed bugs, I still feel like I'm drying everything constantly. The kids go back and forth to school and other people's houses, so I would rather be safe than sorry.
Every single load of laundry gets washed, and dried. Then, after it's dry, it goes through the dryer one more time just to make sure that everything gets hot enough to kill any random bugs that might be hiding on someone's clothes.
In order for this to work, make sure that the dryer gets hot enough to kill bed bugs.
Do Away With Wood Furniture
This can be rather expensive, but I just moved and wanted to upgrade to a modern style anyway, so it worked out perfectly for me.
First of all, I didn't get rid of all the wooden furniture in the house. The children still have wooden dressers, and we had a talk about not shoving dirty clothes inside them to hurry up and clean the room and so on. If everything gets double dried, the dressers should be safe.
I did, however, get rid of the wooden coffee table in favor of a nice glass one. I also picked up some gorgeous metal closet organizers instead of using dressers in my own room. They were cheap, and there is plenty of space. Another person may need two of them, but that should be plenty. I can even fit my boyfriend's thirty pairs of pants on his, so that's nice.
We also got a leather couch. We needed a bigger couch to have more sitting room anyway, and we went with leather to go with the modern look. As a bonus, bed bugs aren't as fond of leather because it is harder for them to crawl up and down.
Keep in mind a leather couch can get infested with bed bugs, but it's not as likely.
This is the closet organizer that I went with. Then, I picked up some fabric baskets for bras, underwear and socks. There is more than enough room for everything with one of these.
Metal Bed Frames
If you have to buy new bed frames because they were so infested that they wound up in the trash, go with metal over wood. The metal material is harder for bed bugs to crawl up and down, so the chances of them feasting on your dear daughter in the middle of the night are pretty slim. they sell really affordable metal bed frames on Amazon, and used ones are another great idea for those that want to be more cost effective.
Dry New Stuff
Unless it comes in a sealed package, it goes from the store to the dryer. I do this with everything, from things that come from the thrift store to things that I order from Rue 21 online.
I've always done this with thrift stores, but when I found out that stores can have bed bugs too, I started doing it with everything, and I don't plan on stopping. Even if a store doesn't have a bed bug infestation, you never know who tried on that shirt before you bought it and took it home. This is a great idea for lice too.
I personally do not do this, but I know people that do. Whether they have seen a bed bug or not, they have a professional come in to spray the house once a month like clock work.
According to them, they never see a bed bug. If you've got the extra cash, the peace of mind it provides could be worth it.
That's right, more drying. Next to a vacuum, the dryer is your new best friend if you want to kill bed bugs. When a kid comes home and they were sitting next to a kid that has bed bugs and the teacher wouldn't let them move, tell them to change their clothes and throw everything straight into the dryer.
When a kid goes to someone's house that has bed bugs, have them do the same thing when they get home.
My daughter has a friend whose mother makes everyone change clothes as soon as they walk in the door and she puts their things in the dryer. This may sound a bit extreme, and the kids might not like it, but she never has to do deal with bed bugs either.
The more hiding spaces there are for bed bugs, the more likely a situation is to turn into a full blown infestation before you can blink. One day you will think there are no bed bugs, and the next day you will wish that you had burnt the house down.
This is because bed bugs hide. They hide in boxes, couches, clothes, you name it. When I first thought that we had gotten rid of them for good, I put on a pair of shorts and instantly got bit. It had just been sitting there for a few weeks.
Bed bugs can go without eating for months, so if they find a good hiding spot, they can stay there for what seems like forever before you find them.
That's why it's important to reduce clutter as much as possible. The less hiding places they have, the more likely you are to see them if they come in. Then, you can sprinkle them with some handy dandy rubbing alcohol and not have to deal with a full blow infestation.
Bed bugs can be a nightmare. It sucks that once they are gone, there is still more work to be done, but not having to deal with being bit in the middle of the night makes all the extra effort well worth it.