I read an article recently highlighting the steps to DIY bed bug control. The title claimed the steps were easy. I agree the concepts are not complex, but the effort required from the homeowner is SIGNIFICANT. Here are their steps to success:
- Step 1: Find bugs, eliminate clutter, bag everything in plastic sealed bags,
- Step 2: Kill bugs with alcohol/bleach
- Step 3: Launder everything (that you can fit in your W/D) in hot water and hot dryer
- Step 4: Vacuum everything (walls, furniture, curtains, rugs, books)
- Step 5: Steam clean everything
- Step 6: Wrap upholstered furniture in plastic and seal with tape
- Step 7: Repeat vacuum and steam cleaning daily for a few weeks
- Step 8: Contact exterminator when this does not work
As a homeowner, mother of two, animal owner of 7, business owner and a bed bug specialist here are my thoughts on their strategy…I do not want my family to live with a growing population of bed bugs eating them. I do not want chemicals (pesticides or bleach) covering my home impacting my children and pets. I do not have time to do this every day with no guarantee that the bugs will go away. But knowing that not everyone can afford a heat treatment that will solve the problem in one day, here are my recommendations. Most DIY efforts take from 2 to 6 months to resolve, plan accordingly.
- Step 0: Do not spray pesticides, it will scatter the bugs and make your job harder
- Step 1: Find bed bugs – look everywhere around where you sleep, this includes the couch
- Step 2: In the affected room, bag all linens from the bed, seal the bag, and put all linens in the DRYER for an hour on high heat. Then wash them and dry them again on the hottest settings. Throw bag in outside garbage. Do the same with all your clothes.
- Step 3: Buy the best HEPA vacuum cleaner you can afford and at least 30 filters (1 per day of cleaning). Vacuum up everything you can see including bugs, eggs etc. Vacuum every last inch of your mattress, box spring, front and back of head board, mattress frame, frame wheels. Yes I mean EVERYTHING. Then vacuum your side tables and anything around your bed the same way. Vacuum the walls, the base boards, the rug, When you have finished throw the filter out in the outside garbage.
- Step 4: Rent or buy a steam cleaner and utilize it on every square inch of space in your room, just as you have done with the vac. Obviously avoid utilizing steam with electronics.
- Step 5: Repeat the vac/steam process DAILY to ensure that new babies are caught before they feed and before they start laying more eggs.
- Step 6: Optional, but effective. Purchase a PackTite personal heater that you can use for larger items and items that cannot be put in the dryer.
- Step 7: Call me when you are exhausted, we can be there quickly
Please note, if you do purchase a HEPA vac., rent a steamer for a month, and purchase a PackTite you could have paid for the heat treatment to start with. My philosophy, if you don’t have the money to do it right the first time, then what makes you think you will have the money to do it the second time.