One of the most annoying issues you can deal with in the bedroom is bed bugs. They’re not only a risk for your health and hygiene, but getting rid of them can also be extremely expensive. In order to avoid this gruesome scenario, it’s best to prevent bed bugs from occurring in the first place, and that’s where we come in. Our article will teach you how to protect your mattress against bed bugs, how to identify that you have bed bugs in the first place, and show you some potential remedies you can try out. We have also included an FAQ section where we answer some common questions regarding bed bugs, so stick around with us until the end.
To treat and prevent bed bugs we must first be acquainted with what kind of insects they are and how they look, which brings us to our first section.
What Are Bed Bugs?
If you’ve never had a problem with bed bugs, you might not be familiar with where they come from or what they are exactly. Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed off animal and human blood. Luckily, they are visible to the naked eye and are usually the size of a chia seed.
But, if they attack both animals and humans, why are they called bed bugs? As the name suggests, they’re called that because of their favourite dwellings – mattresses, sofas, chairs, and even clothing, and they usually feed off their hosts when they’re sleeping.
Nobody likes the thought of small insects biting onto their skin while sleeping, which is why it’s better to prevent bed bugs from inhabiting your furniture in the first place rather than trying to solve the problem once they welcome themselves in.
Symptoms of Bed Bugs Bite
If you suspect that your house is infested with bed bugs, there are a few telltale signs you need to watch out for. The most obvious sign of bed bug infestation is insect bites – you will notice bites all over your body. Keep in mind that bed bug bites can take up to two weeks to become visible.
The bites are usually red in colour and can be quite itchy. It’s rare to find isolated bites – bed bugs like to bite in clusters, so the bites can look like a small rash. Some people are allergic to bed bugs, and if you notice that the bites are accompanied by unusual symptoms like severe itching, we urge you to see a doctor immediately.
If you notice bed bug bites in some area of your body, carefully examine your mattress and sofa. Other than looking for bed bugs, you should also watch out for eggs and dark stains that might be left behind by these pesky insects.
Common Places Where You Can Find Bed Bugs
Apart from getting them from an infested mattress, there are several other common places where bed bugs thrive.
Travelling can increase your risk of encountering bed bugs, since hotels and hostels are common dwelling places for bed bugs. So some solutions would be to check the accommodation mattresses for bed bugs and always carry a mattress protector.
Transportation vehicles such as buses and trains are also common hosts of bed bugs. If standing isn’t an option, examine your seat and hold any bags you have in your lap.
If you’ve recently moved into a dorm room or a new apartment complex, you’re also at a high risk of encountering bed bugs, which is why we advise you to double-check your new bed frame and mattress.
If you shop second-hand, you’re at a higher risk of bringing bed bugs into your home, so we recommend washing your new clothes and disinfecting your furniture as soon as you bring your new goods home.
How to Protect Your Mattress Against Bed Bugs
If you’re creeped out by the thought of sleeping with bed bugs in your mattress, here are some steps you can take in order to ensure that your mattress and your house remain bed bug-free.
Buy a Bed Bug Mattress Protector
One of the most affordable and practical things you can do to prevent bed bugs from coming near your mattress is to invest in a bed bug mattress protector. Not only will a bed bug mattress protector keep the bed bugs away, but they’re typically waterproof, which means that you’ll also be protected from any stains that might occur as a result of spillage. Apart from preventing bed bugs from dwelling in your mattress, some of them also have the ability to kill any existing bed bugs, making them a viable solution if you’re already dealing with these parasitic insects.
If you decide on this option, there are a couple of things to consider before purchasing a bed bug mattress protector. For instance, not all of them provide an equal protection level, so look for one that’s tested and proved to work. Since you’re already investing in a mattress protector, why not look for one that’s also breathable and cooling? There are many examples of breathable protectors that also fight off bed bugs. Lastly, one of the main drawbacks of these protectors is that they can be slightly noisy, especially if they’re waterproof, so keep that in mind.
Don’t know where to look for a bed bug mattress protector? We have you covered. Some of our favourite mattress protectors that you can find on Amazon include the Utopia Bedding Waterproof Mattress Encasement, the IMFAA Fully Zipper Encasement Anti Bug Bed Mattress Protector, and the MIA Anti Bed Bug Mattress Protector.
Check Your Bed Frequently
It’s better to nip the bed bugs in the bud as opposed to allowing them to procreate and multiply in numbers. To avoid this, make sure you’re frequently checking your mattress and your sofa. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to monitor the areas around your bed and sofa.
Regular check-ups also apply to your pet’s bed. Bed bugs can be sneaky and attack your pet’s bed, as well as feed on them, which is why washing your pet’s bed regularly on high heat is also an effective strategy against bed bugs.
Be Careful When Traveling
Travelling is a major source of bed bug infestation. Apart from encountering bed bugs in hotels and hostels, they can also latch onto you and accompany you home without you even noticing. One of the ways you can bring bed bugs in your home and mattress after a trip is through your clothing. Luckily, there is a way to ensure that you never have to deal with this problem – when you get back from a trip, wash all your clothes on high heat, even the clothes you didn’t get to wear, as well as your travel bag. By doing so, you will prevent the bed bugs from escaping in your other wardrobe or floor and eventually infest your bed and mattress.
If you have a lot of stuff lying around your home, you are at higher risk of dealing with bed bugs because they’ll have a myriad of places where they can hide. Having clutter also makes tracing them a harder task. Ideally, you’ll want to have as much clutter-free space as possible, especially in your bedroom.
Unpack Quickly When Moving
Bed bugs are notorious for being attracted to cardboard boxes. If you’re in the process of moving, chances are you have a lot of boxes lying around your home. To avoid bed bugs from infesting your new place, unpack as quickly as possible, or use an alternative to cardboard boxes such as plastic containers.
Watch Out for Second-Hand Furniture
Purchasing second-hand is a more sustainable and more affordable alternative to buying new furniture. With that said, there are a few risks that come with purchasing second-hand, like being subjected to bed bugs. Purchasing a second-hand bed frame and mattress is quite risky, but if that’s the only viable option for you, carefully inspect them before you decide to purchase them.
Always be careful where you purchase your second-hand furniture – the chances of ending up with furniture infested with bed bugs are lower if you opt for a reputable second-hand store instead of a neighbourhood garage sale.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
We went over some of the steps you can take to lower your chances of being infected with bed bugs, but what if the damage is already done? Here are some of the ways you can say goodbye to bed bugs for good.
Find the Source
First things first, it’s crucial that you find all infected areas before you move on to kill the bed bugs. This will prevent them from reproducing and creating a larger infestation. You can either do the searching on your own or hire an exterminator. The latter option is pricier, but it’s also quicker and easier, not to mention more effective. Some common places that bed bugs love include under your mattress, between the cushions of your sofa, behind wallpaper, and in your bed.
Heat to the Rescue
One of the easiest and most effective ways to get rid of bed bugs for good is to wash the affected areas on high heat. Naturally, this only applies to bedding such as sheets and pillowcases. If your sofa, mattress, or bed frame are infested, try using a streamer. You can also leave smaller items out in the sun, however, this will require more time and patience on your part.
If the affected areas are beyond repair (and they don’t cost a great deal), you can always throw them away. With that said, we recommend trying one of these methods prior to making any rash decisions and only fall back on this option if all else fails.
Take a Trip to the Store
Many brands offer bed bug sprays and treatments that are affordable and easy to use. Some products require more time to work, so we recommend reading the instructions carefully before you decide on a product to avoid committing to a treatment that takes longer than you initially thought.
Treatment for Bed Bug Bites
If you happen to notice bites on your body and you suspect that they come from bed bugs, there are a few easy remedies you can make that will speed up the healing process and help with the itching.
Oral antihistamines and creams that help with itching will help immensely if the bites start to get itchy. If any pain or swelling is associated with the bites, you can take a pain reliever. Avoid scratching the bites since this can cause further irritation, pain, and even bleeding. If the scratching is too much to bear, you can always put a damp cloth or an ice pack on the bites, which can also help with any swelling you might have.
Some people are allergic to bed bugs. If you notice that you start developing symptoms akin to allergic reactions, call your doctor immediately.
Bed bug bites don’t last longer than two weeks, so if you notice that your bites liger for a longer period of time, we recommend talking to a doctor.
Can Bed Bugs Get Through a Mattress Protector?
Mattress protectors that are designed to ward off bed bugs won’t allow for any penetration. Since they fasten with a zip, the bed bugs can’t get to the mattress through any gaps.
How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Inside a Mattress Cover?
Unfortunately, bed bugs can live without food for months at a time, so they can live inside your mattress for quite a long time. If they aren’t supplied with food after a couple of months, they die.
Do Bed Bugs Live in Pillows?
Yes, pillows are a common dwelling place for bed bugs.
Should I Throw Away My Pillows if I Have Bed Bugs?
While throwing away your pillows is an option, we recommend washing them or spraying them with a product first. Chances are, these methods will suffice and get rid of the bed bugs efficiently.
Getting rid of bed bugs is not a walk in the park, especially if they infect several areas of your home. The key to removing them effectively is tracing the source, trapping them, and using one of the methods we mentioned in our article. Alternatively, you can always hire an exterminator.
To sum up, there are many ways you can protect your mattress against bed bugs, such as reducing the clutter in your home and being careful while travelling. If you end up with a bed bug bite, you can use several at-home OTC remedies or oral antihistamines, but always visit a doctor if you notice unusual symptoms.