Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) (Cimicidae) bite people and pets. They are making a comeback in the United States after near elimination 60 years ago. They are found today in hostels, hospitals, hotels and communal living situations. It does not matter if your home is filthy or spotlessly clean, if bed bugs enter the habitat, they will quickly multiply and infest areas where they can feed on warm-blooded hosts. If you have reason to believe that your home harbours bed bugs, there are several homemade repellents and elimination methods you can use to get rid of these bloodsucking parasites.
Look for signs of bed bug infestation. Bed bugs live in dry, dark places and are seldom seen. Multiple bites, drops of blood on bedding or dark stains from insect droppings are often the only telltale signs of a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are most active in the hours just before dawn.
Wash blankets, sheets, sleeping bags and rugs in hot water and 1/4 cup liquid detergent and 2 cups white vinegar. Rinse well. Dry on high heat for at least 2 hours to kill bed bugs and larvae.
Place blankets, pillows and sheets in the deep freezer. Place the contaminated items in a plastic bag and seal. Place in the freezer for at least 48 hours to kill bed bugs and their larvae. It is almost impossible to kill bed bugs with any type of pesticide. Never spray pesticide on mattresses, blankets, sleeping bags or pet beds unless the product is specifically approved for contact with human skin and is safe to breathe.
Vacuum seams of mattresses, upholstered furniture and drapery. Bed bugs will hide in the seams of material or cracks and crevices of bed frames, baseboard moulding, rugs and carpeting. Empty the vacuum bag carefully, place the debris in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of properly. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth, available at home and garden centres, on carpets, along the baseboard and in the back of cupboards and closets. Remove excess with the vacuum.
Avoid buying used upholstered furniture mattresses or camping gear. You may unwittingly invite bed bugs into your habitat. Bed bugs can survive for over a year without food. They only become active when they locate a warm-blooded host.
Encase infected mattresses and box springs in large, airtight coverings. Purchase plastic mattress and box spring covers at a medical supply store. Select the correct size for both the mattress and box spring. Although they are a bit expensive, these special airtight covers cost a lot less than replacing the bed and box spring. Leave the covers on the bedding for at least 90 days. The bed bugs will eventually suffocate. This is the only way to eliminate a bed bug infestation in a box spring and mattress.
Place items that cannot be washed or frozen (electronics, books, magazines, stuffed toys and household clutter) in a large, air tight plastic storage container or plastic bag. Toss in a handful of laundry softener dryer sheets. Seal the container and leave undisturbed for at least 90 days to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs and larvae.
Never spray bedding or mattresses with pesticide unless it is specifically approved for that application.