Bed bugs look like a reddish-brown apple seed and are oval and flat. While eradicated using DDT decades ago, it is thought that bugs are hitching rides into homes in luggage, on clothing, pets or furniture and even through duct work of nearby apartments, dorms or hotel rooms. These pests are not a sign of cleanliness – as they are perfectly happy in messy spaces as they are in pristine accommodations!
Before realizing you have bed bugs found by inspecting your mattress, furniture and baseboards and finding dark brown spots, you may notice clusters of red bites on exposed skin areas including hands, face, arms and neck. Females may lay up to 500 eggs during their lifespan, so take these precautions to keep an expensive exterminator out of your home.
1. Inspect your mattress and box spring each time you change your bed linens or check into a hotel. Look for dark brown spots (blood stains and fecal matter!) on the mattress as a sign you may have bed bugs.
2. Regularly vacuum mattresses, box springs and headboards to remove bugs and eggs. Empty the vacuum bag or canister in an outdoor trash can immediately. Steam can be used in harder to reach areas and can be extremely effective.
3. Consider mattress, pillow and box spring encasements to prevent bugs from getting cozy.
4. Pull beds away from the wall and keep bedside clutter to a minimum to lessen breading grounds.
5. Unpack suitcases and backpacks outside or in the garage. Laundry items can be washed on hot water and high heat.
If you don’t beat the bugs to your home, you will likely need to hire a professional, pest management company. As German Playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “precaution is better than cure.”
This post is part of our Bug Prevention Guide, which includes many tips on getting rid of insects.
For other housecleaning tips, visit the Molly Maid website.