So you have Bed Bugs! Now what?
1. Protecting your bed from bed bugs
This means you make sure bed bugs are not harboring in the bed frame, headboard, etc., and that you encase mattresses and box springs in high quality bed bug-proof encasements.
Protect: Bed bugs can crawl onto the bed and bite you, but you are taking steps to ensure they do not live there. If they ‘cross poison’ (HPC uses safe and effective products for ‘cross poison’ action) on the way to you, any meal will hopefully be their last.
2. Isolating the Bed
Here, you are trying to get bed bugs out of your bed and keep them out.
Isolate: This option is more controversial and certainly not a requirement. People who are being bitten very badly or who have serious allergic reactions or distress may attempt to do this in order to try and avoid being bitten by bed bugs while in bed.
Bed bugs will still try to get to you, but they should cross poison on the way, and you should be able to avoid bed bug bites.
In a few cases bed bugs have been seen dropping down from the ceiling to bite people in “isolated” beds. It seems to be a rare occurrence, but, can happen. More often, beds not thoroughly isolated have allowed people to continue to be bitten by bed bugs. If you’re going to isolate, you must be meticulous and thorough.
Remember, if bed bugs cannot bite at night, they will bite during the daytime, as you sit in chairs or go about your day. This still may be preferable to some, but it is worth noting.
In most cased, you want to “protect” rather than “isolate” because having bed bugs biting you in bed, or finding evidence they were there (cast skins, blood spots, etc.) is a sure sign that you still have bed bugs and require further treatment. If you “isolate” and don’t react to bites you get during the day, it may be harder to verify bed bugs’ continued presence.
Both methods require you to eliminate bed bugs from the mattress, box springs, headboard and bed frame, and then encase the mattress and box springs. So let’s start there.
The advice below assumes your home will be professionally treated by Havasu Pest Control. Protecting or isolating your bed, on your own will not get rid of bed bugs. You need to sleep in your normal spot in order to get rid of bed bugs, and protecting or isolating the bed will work well with the our treatment plan, which will include laying down residual pesticides that bed bugs will cross while trying to get to you.
Verify you have bed bugs with Havasu Pest Control before you clean your mattress, frame, bed, and home.
Also, once bed bugs are verified to be present by those who need to see them, you should wait to encase your mattress until the HPC has treated your home, because often the mattress (side, seams), box springs, and the bed frame / headboard can be treated with certain pesticides which are labeled for this purpose. Doing so and then thoroughly drying and sealing the mattress and box springs in encasements is best.
Everyone Will Need:
1. Protect-a-bed Allerzip encasements will be provided with treatment. Cost of encasements will be included in your treatment bid.
2. New pillows
3. Pillow encasements; buy with mattress encasements from same source. HPC’s mattress encasements are designed and tested specifically to keep bed bugs out (or in).
4. White sheets and pillow cases, cotton blanket (if you need to replace a comforter or other blanket). Cotton sheets and a cotton blanket are easy to wash and dry. (Comforters may harbor bed bugs even after a long stint in the dryer, and non-cotton blankets do not hold up well to dryer heat.)
Extra steps you can take.
All items below are available widely.
5. Bed risers — they raise the bed, to help keep sheets and blankets off the floor, a must if you are trying to “isolate the bed.”
6. Mineral oil or tea tree oil, (which is more expensive than mineral oil, but some people enjoy the idea that bed bugs hate it).
8. Quality duct tape: Use duct tape to ensure there are no sharp edges on a metal frame before you place an encased mattress on it.
9. Thick garbage bags (contractor bags) and XL and XXL Ziploc bags. Check the hardware department of your favorite big box store for the contractor bags. They are usually not sold with the household trash bags. In the USA, XL / XXL Ziplocs are sold in Target stores (look near the storage section and/or the section with bags), and Home Depot (near the home cleaning supplies)
10. Murphy’s Oil Soap (for wooden bed frames), which is a contact killer for bed bugs and is good for cleaning wood and rendering it bed bug-free. Regular strength works fine. It is sold in ready to use spray bottles and a concentrated formula.
11. 4 bowls for holding mineral oil or tea tree oil under the legs of the bed frame. Stainless steel is the best choice, but other sturdy unbreakable bowls will do. If your bed risers have a little reservoir, you can simply keep that filled instead.
12. You may need a new metal bed frame, if you are unable to get bed bugs out of your wooden bed.
Steps for everyone:
(See “Important” note at top.)
1. Strip the bed. Put all of the dirty linens into a garbage bag and tie it off well. Some suggest using plastic cable ties. You can also knot the bag’s top in one single knot (it must be airtight; push the bag. If air can escape, you are tying it wrong). Launder your bedding as soon as you can in HOT water, and dry on HIGH HEAT until completely dry and then some. When you take it out of the dryer, put it immediately into another garbage bag and tie it off, or use an XXL Ziploc.
2. Vacuum the mattress and box springs really well. Pay special attention in areas with stitching, piping, tufts and the plastic corner guards. You might want to take the corner guards off. You may also want to take the gauzy covering off of the bottom of the bed spring and vacuum inside.
3. With service your HPC technician will put the mattress and box springs into the Protect-a-bed Allerzip covers and seal them.
4. Vacuum your bed frame. If you have a metal frame, ( Optional ) put DE down in the legs and cover over all of the holes and spaces with duct tape. Wooden bed frames, and fancy headboards and foot boards are very problematic and need extra considerations.
5. Move the bed frame away from the wall.
6. Vacuum under and around the bed frame very thoroughly.
7. Put the mattress set back on the frame, very carefully, so you don’t rip the covers. (See comments above about duct tape.)
The following steps are only for those “isolating” the bed. If you are only “protecting” the bed, skip to step 12.
8. Put the bed on the risers, and put mineral oil (or tea tree oil) in the depression in the castors are resting in. If your bed is already high off the floor, or if the bed risers have no wells to put the oil in, put the legs in bowls of mineral oil.
9. Wrap double sided tape around the legs, and coat above and below the tape with vaseline.
10. Vacuum again, to hopefully pick up any strays that fell or crawled off of the mattress and box springs in the process.
11. Remember not to let your sheets and blankets drag on the floor while you sleep. Realize also that you may carry bed bugs into the bed, for example, by simply sitting on a chair where a bed bug was able to crawl onto your clothing. If you isolate the bed, try to hop in bed clean and wearing clothing which was itself isolated and kept in sealed plastic bags.
12. Break out the new pillows and put encasements on them.
13. Put on clean white linens (so you can see blood or other stains more easily).
Change and launder bedding (and blanket, if used) about every 3-5 days. Check the sheets every day for bugs, molted skins, blood spots (tiny to inch long smears), and black poppy seed-sized spots or what look like black ink spots.
If you “protected” the bed, this is evidence you still have bed bugs (helpful to know, especially if you do not react to bites). If you “isolated” the bed, this is evidence that the bugs are still in the bed.
If you find evidence, consider repeating the steps above of cleaning the frame and having it treated with pesticides, to ensure bed bugs are not living in the bed. And in any case, continue professional treatment approximately every two weeks until bed bug bites and all other signs are long gone.
14. Unless you are doing more cleaning immediately, take the bag out of the vacuum, tape over the hole, put the bag in a Ziploc bag or a securely tied garbage bag and put it in an outside garbage receptacle.
15. Examine all of your precautions often. Encasements can get holes; try to avoid this. If it happens, promptly duct tape or replace them.
If you have a cat with claws, ensure the cat cannot make contact with the encasement (or even the encasement covered in bed linens). Keep the cat away from the bed if at all possible.
If you’re isolating, tape and vaseline can get dusty and lose their ability to trap bugs; you’ll need to replace them.
Wood Bed Frames:
If you have a wood bed frame, take it completely apart, if you can, and wash it down (every inch) with Murphy’s Oil Soap, or another wood friendly cleaner that contains d-limonene. Spray Murphy’s Oil Soap on and wipe it off. Don’t just spray it on a rag and wipe. The Murphy’s will kill bed bugs on contact, if you douse them. Since you are cleaning, you can pay close attention to all the little cracks and crevices in the wood and joinery, looking for all of the signs listed in step #13. HPC technician may spray the bed frame all over before you reassemble it. You may also consult your technician about a pesticide you can use all over the frame. Take precautions and use pesticides only as labeled.
Captain’s beds (with drawers underneath a wooden platform) can be a bed bug nightmare. Consider destroying and carefully removing them. Otherwise, every piece will need to be disassembled, cleaned and sprayed with pesticide (by a PCO). A PCO who knows bed bugs will be able to advise about which items you should discard and which can be treated successfully.
Upholstered Headboards and Footboards:
Any upholstery is very difficult to treat successfully. Others may have different answers, but I would say to remove them from your frame, and vacuum and have your technician. Let it dry completely, then seal the item in plastic wrap (ie. heavy painter’s tarp or shrink wrap plastic), duct tape all of the edges of the plastic and store it for a year to 18 months. Another option is having your upholstered items steam treated by HPC. Your technician will be able to tell you which method is best for your specific situation. Some items are particularly difficult to treat and should be discarded. Again, ask your technician whether the item can be salvaged.
Contact Havasu Pest Control to schedule an inspection!