Bed bugs have a lot of undesirable qualities. They are creepy, invasive and just make your skin crawl even thinking about them. But, worse than these things, they cost a lot of money to get rid of them! Trust me, I know. I do this for a living and it takes a significant amount of time, pesticide product and effort to get an infestation under control. For this reason, it can be quite costly to effectively exterminate them.
This was the conversation that I had with a recent customer of ours. She was a single mom that brought the bed bugs home from the hotel that she worked at. That is the unfortunate part about a bed bug infestation, most of the time it is not your fault. They just happened to hitchhike on you.
The good news is that she called us quickly as soon as she suspected that she might have had a problem. The bad news is that she really did not have the money for a treatment. Even for a small infestation, a typical treatment will run a couple hundred dollars. She asked me if I could give her some advice on how to take care of the problem on her own and I told her I’d be happy to do it.
Now, keep in mind that it is really hard to get rid of these on your own and it requires quite a bit of luck and effort, but it is not impossible. If you can afford it, I would always recommend having your home professionally treated by a pest control company. But, sometimes that is not an option and when that is the case, do these things:
1) Kill them with heat!
Take every linen (clothes, sheets and even curtains) in the room and put them in the dryer on high heat for about 30 minutes. Any bed bugs or eggs will die in this process. Be extremely careful in transporting all of this to your laundry room. You might want to bag everything first and carry it out of your room and be sure to dispose of the bag when you are done.
2) Take apart your bed frame and spray them
First, remove your mattress (we will get to that in a moment). Now, take the bed frame apart. Have some kind of pesticide available and spray every crack and crevice on the frame, especially the hard to reach places where the frame connects. Since you are going to potentially be applying a “direct shot” to the bed bugs, just about anything will do. Even WD40 will work and might be kind of handy using the straw tip for the tight places. Repeat this process with any furniture that sits within about 5 feet of the bed.
3) Buy a mattress cover
Any pest control company is going to suggest you buy one of these. Don’t pay their marked up prices, you can buy it yourself and save some money. Be sure to buy one for the mattress and one for the box spring. This is going to cost you around a $100 for a good quality brand, but it is well worth it. I hardly ever suggest throwing out a mattress when a good bed bug cover can save your mattress and make it impossible for a bed bug to get out.
4) Treat the perimeter
Diatomaceous earth (this can be purchased at most department stores) provides an excellent way to kill bed bugs. In my opinion, diatomaceous earth works nearly as good as the pesticide sprays that we would use in a bed bug treatment. The problem is that it is a powder that is not really good to breathe, so you don’t want it out in the open. You want it under your baseboards, so you will need to inject it somehow. We typically use a “bulb duster” to do this, but you might be able to pull it off using an old turkey baster. Again, be careful not to breathe it in and also be sure to inject some around the electrical outlets.
By doing a thorough job on these 4 steps, you give yourself a good chance of knocking these out on your own and saving hundreds of dollars. Again, it is always best to call in the professionals if you can afford it because bed bugs can multiply fast turning a small problem into a big problem. But, if you really need to try and handle this on your own, this will give you the best chance of doing so.