How to Handle & Treat Bedbugs 101

By Catherine Frederick on November 18, 2017

You’re sleeping comfortably. The bed is your safe place. It’s where you study, sleep, and maybe eat ice cream, even though you know you shouldn’t. These sheets and blankets have been with you through the good times and the bad times, and they’re there for you when you’re too exhausted to stand after one too many all-nighters. So, it’s with great horror that you discover that you’re not the only one in your bed.

Bed bugs are awful. They’re basically the herpes of the insect world. With ants or cockroaches, you can eliminate their food source, and they’ll generally disappear. With bedbugs, however, you are their food source. What kills some of them won’t necessarily kill all of them, and if you try to kill them with the wrong thing, they’ll scatter and hide in places that you will never get them out of. So, what do you do when you find them?

1) Panic.

1) Don’t panic.

You’re going to want to panic. It’s only natural. There have been insects crawling on you, drinking your blood, and you probably didn’t even notice. They’re not active during the day, so you wouldn’t see them. Your skin will crawl and you might have to fight the urge to curl into a ball and turn into a sobbing mess. But fight the urge, because panic doesn’t help. In order to get rid of bedbugs, you’re actually going to have to be meticulous and organized.

2) Call an exterminator.

Even if you don’t want to hire an exterminator (although, you should. More on that later.), you’re still going to want to call one. Most companies will send out a team to inspect you place free of charge. Terminix and Massey, for example, both do this. This allows you to have your place seen by an expert, who can tell you where the worst of the infestation is, and maybe even how long they’ve been there. This will help you narrow down where you may have picked up these horrible insects, so you’ll know where to stay away from in the future. They’ll also answer the barrage of questions you’ll have thought up to throw at them. Do you need to throw out your sheets? Your pillows? How did they get here? How quickly can I get rid of them? Can they live in my hair? Can they live in my dog’s hair? Should I burn my house down and live in a cave? These inspectors will answer all of your questions to the best of their abilities.

3) Wash your clothes and sheets

Honestly, it’s more of a ‘wash everything you own.’ You’re going to take all the clothes and sheets from your room, and you’re going to put them in plastic bags. You’ll then move to your laundry area with said bags. This is to make sure that you’re not leaving a trail of bedbugs from one room to the next. Instead of putting your things straight into the wash, you’re going to want to dry everything first on maximum heat. The sustained heat from the dryer will kill all bedbugs and their eggs as long as you run them through the dryer for 30-40 minutes. After that, just in case, you’re going to want to wash your things and then dry them again. Once all of that is done, double bag your laundry and place it someone you’re fairly certain is bedbug free, like a garage.

4) Do not try to handle this yourself

The internet is going to give you a lot of DIY alternatives to hiring an exterminator for your bedbug problem. Foggers and sprays and powders. Do not do any of that. If you attempt to kill these bugs and are unsuccessful, you’ll have only made the problem worse. Now, instead of being easy for an exterminator to reach, they’ll hide away in small, hard to access places, like behind the plastic of your power outlets or in the crevasses of your dresser. They’re also more likely to spread from one room to the next. So, instead of having a relatively contained problem, you now have bedbugs in every room of your house. Congratulations.

5) Just hire the exterminator.

Exterminators are expensive. There’s no getting around that. They’re going to take a lot of your money. But, most likely, it’s still going to be less than if your lease ends, your landlord realizes his/her property has bedbugs, and decides to keep you and your roommates’ security deposits. In the long run, the exterminators will offer you peace of mind in a job well done. They’ll also help you keep your security deposit. They will come to where you live, and treat it with various chemicals several times, and they’ll give you a 45-day guarantee. If you don’t, you’re going to spend a lot of time itching and feeling like things are crawling on you. So, have fun with that.

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