Non-toxic natural remedies to eradicate bed bugs
Bed bugs are infesting the nation and travelling in suitcases and clothing. Their bite leaves behind a modicum of saliva that over a period of many bites could cause severe allergies and painful sores. Getting rid of them is difficult but not impossible. Trying natural remedies before calling the exterminators may work for milder forms of the infestation.
- Bed bugs are attracted to blood not crumbs
- Getting rid of a bed bug infestation requires disinfecting the whole room, not just the bed.
- Spray and scrub
- Use the dryer to kill bugs
- Final thoughts
Bed bugs are attracted to blood not crumbs
There are many types of bed bugs and the type of pesticides used to getting rid of them is dependent on the type of species found in the household. While most people will panic and call an exterminator, there are some natural remedies that are non-toxic and will eliminate current infestations while preventing new ones. However, be aware that a severe infestation may be beyond any natural remedy and pesticides may be necessary to rid a home that has been infected beyond the capabilities of natural methods.
Getting rid of a bed bug infestation requires disinfecting the whole room, not just the bed.
As tempting as it is to move everything out of the room to do a through cleaning, people should do the opposite and work their way amidst all furniture to contain the infestation to that room exclusively. Repeat the process with all rooms in the house afterwards and pay special attention to soft furniture, such as chairs and couches.
You will need a spray bottle containing full strength alcohol or vinegar, a wire brush, plastic mattress covers that encase the mattress and box springs fully (no gaps, no holes, no tears. The idea is to trap and suffocate the creatures while preventing them from feeding). You will also need a powerful vacuum cleaner, preferably one with a clear canister, such as a Dyson.
Additionally, you will need a bucket filled with scalding water and laundry or dishwashing liquid; some plastic garbage bags and a container holding a mixture of baking soda and powder Borax in equal proportions.
Wear gloves and plastic body covers (think infection control personnel) to avoid critters jumping into your clothing and travelling outside the room afterwards.
If the room has baseboards and decorative molding, a home owner will also need caulking and sealants to prevent bugs coming in through those openings in the future.
Start from ceiling to floor, by cleaning walls and sealing cracks and holes.
Vacuum the mattress and box spring and pay special attention to borders and corners, since bed bugs are small and those are their favorite hiding places. There may be eggs laid along the seams as well. Place the encased mattress/box springs against the freshly cleaned and treated walls and move on to the bed frame.
Spray and scrub
Spray the metal bed frame with alcohol/vinegar and vigorously scrub every inch and crevice of the frame. This will dislodge the eggs and disinfect the frame. The smell of vinegar is unpleasant to most insects and it is worth spraying if for no other reason that to disinfect and deter them from laying more eggs in the same location. Repeat the process with wood furniture and take all drawers and contents out. Brush and clean all tracks and undersides of furniture to remove stuck-on eggs.
Place the cleaned frame in upright position with the encased mattress and move on to the floor.
Vacuum thoroughly and empty the canister into a plastic garbage bag often. Spray the carpeting with a mixture of baking soda and borax and let it sit overnight. Vacuum the next day and shampoo the carpet or have a professional carpet cleaner do it in a few minutes.
Use the dryer to kill bugs
Clothing, bedding, small area rugs and toys: empty the closet of all items and carefully place them in a plastic bag to prevent bed bugs from escaping. Repeat cleaning the closet, suitcases, travel bags and shoes in the same manner discussed above. Pay special attention to crevices in walls and seams in luggage. Inspect the edges where wall and carpeting meet.
Finally, take all the clothes, shoes, and anything that can be salvaged, in the dryer for 30 minutes at high heat to kill all bed bugs and prevent re-infestation. High temperatures of over 113 degrees kill bed bugs, so a low (140 degrees) or medium (150 degrees) setting on the dryer is sufficient, if the items can handle higher heat, go for it!. Luggage is difficult to wash but backpacks, tennis shoes, bedding, and even stuffed animals can go in the washing machine and laundered in hot water with a small amount of detergent.
As stated earlier in the article, if the infestation is beyond manageable, an exterminator needs to be called in. Do not put the infected items outside without proper bagging and handling because the bugs will disperse and infest the neighbor's homes making the problem even larger. If the infestation is only in one room, resist the impulse to take things out of the room without properly cleaning and bagging because these bugs will disperse quickly into sofas and chairs where human warmth will provide the next meal. Remember to try to contain the infestation and calculate every move you make and its repercussions.
To clear suitcases of a bug infestation, vacuum every square inch of the suitcases, place the suitcases in large plastic bags and sprinkle liberally with powder Borax. Tie the bag tightly to prevent bugs from scaping or getting any oxygen. Place the tightly wrapped bag in direct sunlight at the hottest point of the day to kill the bugs in case the vacuum cleaner did not get them all.