"Consumer advice for mattress shoppers...
....and support for local retail businesses.
How to prevent Bed Bug infestation in your Mattress and home.
by Graham Challenger
Bed bugs are awful little pest. Much like our "friends" the cockroach, they are tough to kill and can live through several attempts to eradicate them.
Recent news reports about infestations in NYC, Philly, several places in New Jersey and Ohio have made everyone aware of the problem, but no one is talking about solutions. The reason is: there are not very many good defenses and very few "easy" answers.
Let's start with the basics. Where did these pest come from?
If you have bed beds, they came from 3 places.
A) You or another family member brought them home. Bed Bugs are very good "hitch-hikers". You were in a hotel, or a friend/ family members house and they followed you home. Bed Bugs will attach themselves to your clothing, or body, and start a new "family" when you think you are safely home from your travels. [ Read below: Bed Bugs exist is "clean" hotels/homes too] Bed Bugs will cling to anything that is in, or on the bed. This means the obvious locations like mattresses and box spring units, plus all sheets, comforters and pillows need to be checked, but also clothes, suitcases and travel bags. There are reports that Beg Bugs have been found in warm laptop computers, game consoles and TV remote controls too.
B) If you have just moved into a new home/apartment, the Bed Bugs could have been waiting for you. Bed Bugs can live for almost a year without eating [on you]. Just because the hotel room or apartment/condo was "cleaned" after the last guest/tenant, doesn't mean that Bed Bugs are not waiting for you to arrive.
C) Bed Bugs can travel by themselves too. it's very possible for them to move from your neighbor's apartment into your room, just like roaches and ants will. The renewed publicity about Bed Bugs makes apartment and condo landlords nervous. If one tenant brings them home from a trip, you could be infected, even if you do nothing "wrong". If you are a renter, in most places the property owner has a legal obligation to hire a professional exterminator handle the problem, so ALWAYS report Bed Bugs to your property manager. They will NOT just go away. It is tough to prove "where" or "how" any specific infestation started, so complaining about your neighbors to the landlord will get you "nowhere", in most cases.
There are NO cheap, fast, easy solutions to a Bed Bug infestation. Once you get past that statement, you can move on. There needs to be both a onetime "fix" and an on-going change, to prevent a re-infestation.
1) A mattress infested with Bed Bugs can NOT be saved. You need a new mattress [ and box spring/foundation unit] . I'm in the mattress business, so people assume that I am making a sales pitch. That is not the case. There are too many layers of fabric and padding to "hide" these critters successfully. The exception to the rule is a memory foam bed. Bed Bugs can't live "inside" these beds, but they will climb up to feast on you from the support base and the bedding or pillows. I'll will discuss cleaning the rest of the house, after the mattress is gone, but when the new bed arrives, take precautions. Encase the mattress and box spring in the newly available "Bed Bug Proof" wrapping kits.
2) Hire a professional exterminator service. This is no time to fool around with bait and sprays. You can't kill roaches this way, [no matter what the cartoon bug on TV says]. Roach sprays just make them go somewhere else temporarily, before they return. You will have NO success with Do-It-Yourself treatments for Bed Bugs.
3) Keep your new bed set away from the walls and other traveling pathways, like drapes, long blankets that hang down to the floor or the headboard/furniture units where your alarm clock, glasses and TV remote set.
4) Do laundry like it is your favorite hobby. Wash EVERYTHING you can get it the machine. The obvious stuff is sheets and blankets, but also pillows, decorative "throws" bed skirts. If fact the bed skirts are "history", because they are travel paths for bugs, from the floor up to the bed. All of your clothing is suspect too. Anything made of fabric that touches you or the bed, must be cleaned. Do not forget the kid's dolls and "snuggly" toys. Children's room are especially tough to clean, for both practical and emotional reasons. Wash everything on the highest heat settings. Heat is a well known, proven and accepted method of killing bed bugs on your bedding. Wash everything in a methodical way too, so bugs don't move from one pile to the other as you are working. For "Dry Clean Only" items, inform the cleaner about your bed bugs problem, so they can handle your clothes in isolation, without spreading bed bugs.
Beg Bugs are tough pest and they are very resistant to extermination. This is why you need professional help. Your exterminator will have other suggestions for your home, depending on the level of infestation. I want to finish with some humor.
Here is David letterman's "Top 10 ways to know New York City has a Bed Bug problem".