Step 1. Stay where you are! Do not sleep in other rooms, or on other furniture. Changing rooms can often cause the bed bugs to spread. Bed bugs only feed on blood, so they will always try to get to you where you sleep. Also, don't throw out your bed. Until the bedbug infestation is resolved, bringing in new furniture will only risk getting it contaminated.
Step 2. Eliminate clutter, especially underneath the bed. These can be placed in plastic bags and (depending on the items) treated with heat or cold (see below). (Warning: treating items with heat or cold can ruin them. Treat items at your own risk.)
HEAT: Use heat to treat infested materials. A hot cycle in the clothes dryer will kill all life stages of the bed bug. This is the most convenient way to sterilize dryer-friendly items. Many other materials can be cleaned with a steam cleaner. A clothes iron will also kill bedbugs. Check that the materials are heat tolerant before treating. Temperatures above 50 °C can kill all stages of the bed bug in less than 1 minute.
COLD: You can leave items outside during cold weather. Keep in mind, you need a week of temperatures below -10 °C to kill all life stages of the bed bug, or -32 °C for half an hour. Ah, the beauty of Montreal winter.
Step 5. Now we want to continue isolating the bed from the floor. In this step we will be creating glue moats that catch bed bugs that try to climb into your bed. This step may vary depending on the type of bed that you have.
If your bed has legs, place a mouse glue board under each leg. (Warning: be careful with the glue boards since they are very sticky! Keep them out of reach of children. Use vegetable oil to disolve the glue if you need to un-stick something.) To avoid getting the glue board permanently stuck to your bed's legs, cover the legs first with plastic wrap and tape (like little boots). You may also want to protect the glue board with some sort of tray (see my dollar-store solution at right), so you don't step on it by accident.
If you have a box bed frame, you'll need some creativity to isolate it from the floor. Place something like a block of wood, or a hockey puck in the middle of each glue board. Then distribute these under the bed frame to elevate it from the floor. Use your discretion to make sure that the bed is well supported.
Step 6. Sterilize the bed: Have all the bedding go through a hot dryer cycle. Clean the mattress, box-spring and bed frame with a steam cleaner. Make sure to pass steam on ALL the surfaces, joints and screw-holes of the frame. Be careful, as steam can damage some finishes. This is probably the most tedious part of the DIY process. You must be very systematic and thorough with the steam. Make sure you give a generous amout of steam into any seams or joints of the bed frame. You can save time cleaning the mattress and box-spring using mattress and box-spring covers (the kind that encases the whole mattress). Make sure the covers have a good seal on the zippers, or tape over the zipper for good measure. Leave covers on for 18 months to be safe. When you are done treating the bed, reassemble it, making sure it is properly isolated with the glue traps. Make sure there is no other way for a crawling bed bug to climb into the bed (such as bed skirts, or blankets touching the floor). Other furniture can also be ecologically decontaminated with a steam cleaner.
Step 7. Check for signs of bed bugs. Bed bugs are so elusive that it is difficult to tell if you are rid of them. Continue sleeping in the now-sterilized bed. The glue traps will help protect the bed you spent so long cleaning, and kill bed bugs that try to climb in. Finding bed bugs in the traps tells you that it's not over yet. If you react to bed bug bites, you will know if there are still bed bugs in the bed. Here's what we want to see:
- No live bed bugs when you inspect the bed and room
- No new bed bug bites (read our blog on bed bug bites)
- No new bed bugs caught in the traps
Step 8. Repitition: Unfortunately, even with all the cleaning, there is a good chance there are still bed bugs in the room, or even in the bed. Bed bugs can also be carried into the bed after cleaning and isolating it. For this reason, you will want to repeat step 6 as much as possible, untill you stop finding bed bugs in the traps, and stop getting bites at night. I suggest you repeat step 6 two more times after you feel you killed all the bed bugs.
So there you have it, DIY bed bug control. Battling bed bugs is no easy task, but it can be done. It's important to remember, bed bugs only feed on blood, so they will always try to get into your bed where you sleep. By isolating and sterilizing your bed, you make your bed safe to sleep in, and trap bed bugs looking for their next meal. This is the basis on which the GoodKnight self-sterilizing bed was designed. The GoodKnight makes it easy to heat-sterilize the bed, and has a built-in trapping system, so you can have permanent protection from bed bugs. Check it out here.
I wish you good luck if you choose the DIY approach. Don't hesitate to contact our team of entomologists if you have any questions.
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