No one wants to be plagued with the tiny biting pests known as bed bugs. Bed bug exterminators are capable of employing many sophisticated methods for eliminating infestations, up to and including pesticides. But if you'd prefer to keep your home free of bed bugs in the short term without exposing yourself to chemicals, here are four non-toxic strategies to try.
1. De-Bug Yourself After Traveling
Bed bugs have become the scourge of the hospitality industry in recent years, with serious infestations reported in hotels and motels. The good news is that bed bugs don't latch onto human bodies like lice do. The bad news is that they do latch onto clothing -- so if your clothing got infested with bed bugs during your travels, you may be bringing them into your home.
To protect your residence against these unwelcome travel companions, pack up all your used clothing in plastic bags for the trip home. (This will protect the insides of the suitcases from infestation). Additionally, take off your traveling clothes the minute you step through the door. Place these clothes, along with the bagged items, in the washing machine for immediately laundering, preferably on high heat (see below). For even more peace of mind, hand-wash your suitcases with hot water as well.
2. Apply Heat
If you want to make things fatally uncomfortable for your bed bugs, it may be time to turn up the heat on them. Bed bugs cannot survive when exposed to temperatures greater than 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Some electric bed warmers come with a "bed bug setting" that can heat your bedding up to the required temperature. You can even purchase suitcases equipped with their own internal heating units expressly for the purpose of killing bed bugs -- an interesting option for the frequent traveler.
As noted in the paragraph about travel, washing and drying your laundry at high heat can also help by wiping out bed bugs that have migrated from your bed to your clothes or vice versa. Of course you can't try this with delicate fabrics or those prone to shrinking. But more robust clothing, bedsheets and pillowcases can certainly receive this cheap, convenient form of heat treatment.
3. Vacuum Early and Often
You don't have to take lethal action against your bed bugs if you can physically remove them from your property. That's why vacuuming early and often (ideally every day) is a smart preventative strategy for getting those pests and their eggs away from you before they can grow into a major infestation. Make sure you always seal the used vacuum bag and discard it in your outdoor garbage receptacle -- remember, those bed bugs aren't dead!
4. Keep the Outside World Outside
Even if you've managed to defeat a recent infestation, keep in mind that those bed bugs got into your home one way or another. If you didn't carry them in as souvenirs of a recent hotel stay, then they may be crawling in through tiny cracks or gaps. Inspect your house carefully for any such access points. You may find that you need to install new window screens, seal spaces around window and door frames, tighten floor boards or repair loose wallpaper before you have a uniformly strong bed bug barrier.
The area immediately outside your walls could be serving as a temporary home for bed bugs, giving them easier access to your home. Don't let shrubbery, gardening supplies, leaf cuttings or tree branches sit in close proximity to the house. Park your garbage receptacle out of the street, well away from your home, since bed bugs can also hide out in trash.
If DIY measures fail, don't hesitate to call your local pest control company for professional-level bed bug control, with or without chemicals. You deserve to enjoy your home and your belongings with having to share them with the world's least popular squatters! Contact a company like Ace Walco & Sons Termite & Pest Control for more information.