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How to Stop the Spread of Bed Bugs

Updated on April 12, 2018
Cheryl Zaidan profile image

Cheryl Zaidan resides in Michigan and enjoys writing and researching about health and well-being.

The number of bed bug infestations is growing across the United States. Once associated with filth and poor hygiene (not true by the way), hoards of bugs are making their home other people's homes. While there are ways to detect and prevent bedbugs, once they're in your house or apartment, it can take a professional to remove them for good. However, if you've been invaded there are ways to prevent your bedbug infestation from getting worse and possibly transferring to other people.

Call a reputable pest control company first. You may think you have bed bugs, but there are many other types of pests out there and each type of infestation requires a different treatment. In fact, due to the increase in bed bug infestations, many pest companies now have specially trained dogs that can sniff out the little critters. Once it's determined you have bed bugs, a specialized treatment can be started. There are generally two types of treatment: thermal treatment, in which the house or apartment infected is heated up to over 130 degrees, and pesticide, which may take longer but is still just as effective.

Don't sleep in another room. The thought of sleeping in a room where bed bugs reside may creep you out but you don't want them spreading to another place in the house. Bed bugs feast on blood and follow where the food is. And like the proverbial vampire, they eat at night, usually between the hours of 3 and 5 am. If a person moves from the bed to say, a couch in another room, the bugs will follow. To keep the infestation confined to one area in the house, sleep only in the room where the bed bugs were originally found.

Wash and dry bedding and clothes before use. Washing sheets, bedspreads and clothes with hot water will kill most bed bugs. After drying your clothes, store them in garbage bags in a spot furthest from the infested area. Also, putting clothes in the dryer for at least 20 minutes on the highest setting before putting them on in the morning will prevent you from spreading bugs to your car, workplace, or to other people's houses. Bed bugs also cannot stand freezing temperatures so it's a good idea to put your bed clothes directly in the freezer as soon as you wake up, before sitting down in another room.

Stop the night bites. Although bed bugs do not spread disease, their bites can irritate, causing small bumps along any exposed skin. To help stop the bites, encase your mattress and box spring with protective covers that are specially designed to keep bed bugs out. Do not take the covers off for at least 2 years after the infestation, as bugs can live up to 18 months without food. Also, bed bugs are notorious climbers so the trick is to make it as difficult as possible for them to climb onto the bed (and you). Put each bed leg in a ceramic bowl filled with 70% rubbing alcohol. If possible, put strips of double-sided tape along the floor and ceiling around the bed to trap the bugs and discourage them from the area.

Know that's it not you! Like head lice, there is a social stigma associated with bed bugs, albeit an undeserved one. The cleanest place could be infected, simply because bed bugs can be found wherever people reside. Bed bugs aren't interested in dirt, their interested in you. If you think you have a infestation, look for any black spots found on your wall or mattress, any unexplained red spots or bites on the skin, and of course, for any bugs you find in the bedroom. Good night, sleep tight, and follow these tips to make sure those bed bugs don't bite!


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