Bed bugs have something of a bad reputation, and it’s really no wonder when you consider that they bite you all night long, leaving you with itchy welts the next day, and then retreat to their nest in your mattress to breed like crazy. In short, they turn your bedroom into a buffet (and you’re the main course). Tack on the fact that they’re ridiculously difficult to eradicate and you begin to see why most people steer clear of anyone who admits to having the pesky little parasites in their home. So if you find that your house has somehow become infested, you’re no doubt looking for ways to rid yourself of their presence. And while most people go straight for chemical pesticides, you might not be too keen to subject yourself and your family to the harmful side effects of these toxic chemicals, even if the bed bugs are driving you mad. Luckily, there are green alternatives that will help you to get rid of the bed bugs for good.
The first step is a thorough inspection and cleaning. If the bed bugs are currently confined to one area of the house you need to keep it that way! This means placing everything small and plush into trash bags (clothing, pillows, bedding, etc.) and taking it to the laundry room for a wash in hot water. From there your best option is to steam-clean everything that remains. Both extreme heat and cold will kill bed bugs and damage their larvae, but steam is probably the easier option for the rooms in your house. So look for a handheld steamer vac that you can use to target mattresses, plush furnishings, and even carpeting. Once you’ve steamed to your heart’s content, simply vacuum away the dead bugs and eggs.
While this will likely eradicate the majority of bugs in residence, you should be aware that they can also live on hard surfaces if they are driven out of their preferred living quarters. This means you could find them hiding behind headboards, on night stands, and just about anywhere in your home, really, and anything that can’t be steam-cleaned should be tossed. Of course, they tend to prefer places where people sleep since they come out to feed at night, but consider that they may piggy-back around your house on a pet, so it pays to clean pet bedding, blankets, and toys, as well. And if you happen to find them on a person or pet (a rare occurrence) they are safely and easily killed with rubbing alcohol.
If you’re just not sure how to find bed bugs, or you seem to have a recurring problem, you may end up calling in a professional exterminator eventually. But even when it comes to the use of pesticides you don’t necessarily have to choose chemical options. You can try natural pesticides like diatomaceous earth first so that having toxic chemicals in your home is a last resort only. While these substances may not have the immediate effects of growth inhibitors and the like, these non-toxic natural insecticides will work over time and ensure that the human and animal inhabitants of your home aren’t harmed in the process of bug removal. And if you can get rid of bed bugs without polluting your home, why wouldn’t you?
Carol Montrose is a contributing writer for bedbugs.org where you can find out what causes bed bugs and how to eliminate them from your home.