The Drama of Bed Bugs

We first moved into our rental house in May. By June I realized we were getting bitten. One day I had gone into the bedroom had found a bug and squished it. I wondered why it had blood. Finally I did some online investigation about the bites Three bites all in a row. Bed Bugs! Oh no!

By then I had spread the bugs to my office not realizing I had done so. I have a habit of going in my PJ’s to start my computer to browse Facebook.  I started to annihilate the bed bugs in my bedroom.

Started by buying bed bug spray and sprayed the room, the mattress, baseboards, side tables. Found some big ones. Washed all my bedding and night clothes. They came back in about 3 days. Did more research on line and found out about  Diatomaceous Earth (DE). Read more information on how to get rid of them yourself and started to debug the house. By then they had spread to our recliner couch in the living room. That was it!

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Here is how I got rid of them.

  1. Bagged everything in my drawers, closets, bedding. I mean everything! Not realizing at first this needed to be done it did not get done until July.
  2. Everything in bags was treated by using laundromat dryers and high temperature during wash. Did not wash everything but everything pretty well went through the dryers. This took some time as I have a lot of stuff. So what didn’t get treated remained sealed in black garbage bags until I could get to it.
  3. Vacuumed whole room taking special care around baseboards. Sprayed with domestic bed bug spray including bed frame mattress, baseboards, closet, drawers.
  4. Was doing this every week but still having a problem.  August we called exterminators for quotes.When they came they could not find any evidence of bedbugs. That’s because I did not have bedbugs before I moved here and got on them right away when I realized I did. However, I was still getting bites.
  5. Continued with the heat treatments for bedding and clothing, spray and DE.
  6. Second Exterminator suggested we stop using domestic Bed Bug spray and only use DE. Stopped spraying. Continued to cycle bedding through dryers and changing every 3 days. After about 2 weeks of this and coping with trying to treat everything I got totally burnt out. Once I felt more secure I moved the bed treatment to once a week.
  7. Exterminators suggested my wood bed frame was holding the bed bugs. Bought metal frame, bed bug mattress encasement, new mattress pad. Moved bed away from wall. Put legs of bed in tall plastic cups/containers with DE in them. By now it was already the middle of July. Put wood bed frame in big plastic bag that I got from storage company. Put DE in Bag and sealed bag will just leave it for a while. Also the mattress bags from storage company went on our two other beds. One in the guest room and one in son’s room. The mattress bags where not expensive to use and we sealed them with a strong tape making sure there were no gaps.
  8. Continued to get bites and realized that office was contaminated. Took office chair and placed on deck. Started using plastic chair for desk. Started bagging my clothes daily. My bed was an island only PJ’s worn in bed and cleaned every time bedding was treated. Nothing was put on bed. However, later I realized my husband, who gets up in the night to use the bathroom, was bringing the bugs back into the bed on his feet. He was walking around in bare feet. Well that changed, he now has to put on slippers. Finally the bugs started to get less and less.
  9. Slowly started to treat clothing left in garbage bags. Heat treatment. I did find that the dryer at home was not hot enough so had to take them a little at a time to laundromat.
  10. Dresser and closet got steamed to get rid of any lingering bed bugs. Steam ironed all my clothing that were to go into closet or the drawers. Finally felt more secure. Still bagging clothing every day that I wear around the house.
  11.  By September noticed my computer was infested. Shut down office. Put computer, keyboard, mouse in freezer. Two weeks, no ifs ands or buts. Started using cell phone for some online activities. DE placed around office. Totally bagged office chair with DE using big mattress bag. This will sit as well for a while.
  12. Bites becoming less and less. Yeah. Steaming baseboards every 2 weeks. Steaming mattress cover every change. DE under mattress and around baseboards. Still bagging clothes. Now it’s late September.
  13. By the time I figured out how this should work I would say it’s taken a good 8 to 10 weeks to get them under control. 
  14. Some items are still bagged and will remain so for a while. When we remove them we will steam every piece just to be sure. They recommend 12 to 18 mo but hoping by steaming directly on the bed pieces this will illiminate any lingering BB.

 

Recommendations

Don’t be like me and leave out these steps. Here are my recommendations based on my own experience. It took a while to get with the program but once we did we noticed rapid improvement.

By treat I mean dryer 120 ° F and hot water to wash. You can use just the dryer but has to be at 120°F for 20 minutes so 30 minutes in commercial dryer. 10 to get to heat and 20 to maintain. For room use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) around base boards. Make sure you put some in electrical outlets. Steam treat baseboards, mattress, couches, chairs and other soft items. Don’t forget to treat curtains, pictures and electronics. Be thorough.

The Vacuum is your friend. Use often. Bag contents and remove from house each time. I use kitchen catchers for this. My vacuum has a film of DE so this protects it. Will blow out when this is over.

Your bed is to become an island. Move away from wall, put bed feet in cups with treatment in cup. Do not contaminate it.

Do not walk around the house in bare feet. 

Bag everything no fooling around. Clothes, bedding, items in drawers, shoes, books, linens, hangers…

trashbagcollage2jpg

Use garbage bags and seal tightly. Boxes not advisable they are too porous. This part can seem overwhelming but if you take it in stages it will be more manageable.

1.Treat what you need right away. Bedding and some clothes.

2.Then what you need for a week. Change of bedding and some more clothes.

3.Leave the the rest in bags until the epidemic is over and treat everything before you allow back into your house. This can be done over time as you need it.Keep bagged what you don’t need once treated.

Be kind if you are going to purge items treat them first then give them away.

Throw out garbage bags used for untreated items. Use a fresh bag every time.

You can infest your car make sure you treat your car as well.

Electronics can get infested too. Freeze them and leave for 2 weeks to kill the eggs and bugs.

Bed bugs can get in your hair/beards as well as on clothing. They travel with you. Be kind and make sure you notify anyone who you may have accidentally infested with these bugs. That way everyone can become aware and treat for them before they get to the point of total infestation.  Sitting on a couch at a friends, sitting in their car, having kids over night and vice versa. When you travel, check rooms for bedbugs.

Best not to have everything out like extra pillows, throw pillows treat and leave in sealed bags. Same with extra blankets and extra clothing.

Pets can be affected too. Ask your vet about the best to treat. Wash their bedding and get treatment from vet.

Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) only, forget domestic sprays. Not as toxic.

Use a steamer. You can buy them and are well worth the investment.

Steam Iron your clothing. Pay special attention to seams and hems.

Wash your coat hangers. I did them in the kitchen sink.  Hot, hot water. Even boiled the kettle and added that too. Let them soak for 20 min or more. Hang to dry. :0)

Seal away your shoes in DE. Treat with steam those you can. Inside and Out.

Until you get the bugs under control bag your clothes daily and either wash or run through dryer. I used kitchen catchers.

Couches are tough to treat. We stopped sitting on them once we realized we had an infestation. We only sat in the kitchen. DE went in sofa under cushions, in cracks and will steam treat them.  Have DE around baseboards and under couch.

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I want to say they are just bugs doing what bed bugs do. Eat, poop, sleep and reproduce. Learn their habits. Here are some links to some sites for information.

http://www.badbedbugs.com/bed-bug-dust/

http://www.bedbugremedies.com/heat-treatment-for-bed-bugs

http://www.spcpweb.org/factsheets/BedBugsFactsheet.pdf

http://www.srchc.ca/sites/default/files/multicultural/Bed%20Bugs_English.pdf

http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/ehs/bedbugs.aspx

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