It only takes a few bed bugs to create a full-blown infestation and once they settle in, they can be difficult to eradicate. Getting a bed bug infestation under control takes time and repeated treatments, so it’s well worth the effort to take preventive measures to protect your home. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – it’s definitely true for bed bugs.
Here’s what you need to know about determining whether your bed bug treatment has been successful as well as some simple tips for preventing future infestations.
How to Tell if Treatment Has Been Successful
From the moment you first discover a bed bug infestation, all you want is to get it under control. Unfortunately, it often takes weeks of repeated treatment to get rid of bed bugs completely. Throughout the treatment process, you’ll need to monitor the situation and keep tabs on the number of bed bugs you have and the signs they leave behind.
The biggest factor in determining how successful your treatment will be is the size of the infestation. If you catch it early, you may get lucky with a single treatment, but widespread infestations typically take multiple treatments to get under control. The type of treatment you choose plays a role as well. Professional treatments stand the greatest chance of success, as do multi-pronged treatment methods.
Throughout the treatment process, periodically check your bed and other areas of the home for live bed bugs – both adults and eggs – and monitor yourself and others in your home for bites. Take every precaution to avoid spreading the bed bugs to other areas in your home and be as thorough as possible with treatment and cleaning. If you still don’t see any signs of bed bugs three weeks after your last treatment, you can cautiously assume you’ve gotten things under control.
Tips for Preventing Bed Bugs
Once you’ve experienced the horror and hassle of a bed bug infestation, you won’t be eager to repeat it. As difficult as it is to eradicate bed bug infestations, it’s fairly easy to prevent them.
Here are some steps to take to keep bed bugs out of your home:
- Cover your power outlets. Bed bugs can crawl into the tiniest of spaces and hiding in outlet covers helps them evade extermination, so use outlet covers on unused outlets.
- Use vacuum-sealed bags for travel. Many bed bug infestations start with a handful of bed bugs brought home from travel. To make your belongings less accessible, store your clothing in vacuum-sealed bags.
- Clean your home often. Bed bugs are great at hiding, especially in carpet and on upholstered furniture. Thoroughly vacuum your carpets and furniture often to catch any lingering bed bugs.
- Do a thorough spring cleaning. If you have a lot of clutter around your house, especially stacked against walls, you’re asking for an infestation. Get rid of junk and keep your home organized.
- Cover your mattress. Bed bugs love to hide in mattresses, so invest in a bed bug-proof encasement for mattress (and box spring, if you use one) to keep them from setting up shop.
- Use bed bug interceptors. Placing bed bug interceptors under the feet of your bed frame helps keep bed bugs away from your mattress but they also make for great monitoring tools.
- Be cautious with used items. If you like to shop at thrift stores and garage sales, be careful what you bring into your home. Clean items thoroughly outside the home before you bring them in.
- Bring your own moving blankets. If you’re planning a move, avoid using the moving blankets provided by the moving company – use your own blankets instead, just to be safe.
- Use plastic bags at the laundromat. Shared spaces are a great place to pick up bed bugs, so protect yourself by carrying your clothes to and from the laundromat in plastic bags instead of hampers or baskets.
Bed bugs are stubborn, and they are great hitchhikers, so it doesn’t take much to make your home vulnerable. Exercise caution in public areas and take steps to bed bug-proof your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What keeps bed bugs away?
On top of the steps listed above, there are some natural remedies that may help repel bed bugs. Using certain essential oils like lavender, tea tree, or peppermint in an atomizer may help. Neem oil is a known pest repellant as well and diatomaceous earth works well against a variety of insect pests.
What attracts bed bugs into your home?
Bed bugs feed on blood, so they are not attracted to dirt or grime. A cluttered home may provide more areas for bed bugs to hide, but bed bug infestations are not a matter of hygiene. You’re most likely to bring bed bugs into the home through clothing, bedding, or other personal items.
Will changing my mattress get rid of bed bugs?
It may seem like a solid solution to get rid of your mattress but doing so only increases the risk of transferring bed bugs to other areas of your home or other homes. Plus, bed bugs can hide just about anywhere in your home, so getting rid of your mattress won’t be a complete solution.