Bed bugs LOVE to travel.
Not by foot particularly… but they’ll happily creep into our luggage or hitchhike onto our clothing and enjoy the ride.
Public transport (buses and trains), hotel rooms, even in the workplace; bed bugs are master survivalists and by the time you realise you’ve been bitten, they’ve probably already set up home under your roof!
what do bedbugs look like?
Bed bugs are reddish brown, do NOT have wings and are about the size of an apple pip.
They basically have 2 aims.
First is to eat blood. They do this about once a week. Their saliva contains anaesthetic so the good news is you won't feel a thing and because it also stops blood from clotting, their feast only takes a few minutes. At least it’s quick!
Their second aim is to make more bed bugs. Females lay between 2 and 5 eggs each day.
3 ways to tell if you have bed bugs.
- You’ll see bites. Most commonly these will be on areas of your skin that haven’t been covered up by nightwear, so perhaps your arms, neck or face. These bites will most likely itch.
- You’ll probably also see spots of blood on your bed linen, either from the bites or from squishing one during the night.
- There will be small brown spots on your bedding or furniture. This is bed bug poop!
how can you treat bed bug bites?
- A cold, clean, damp cloth on the bite will help the itching or swelling
- Try not to scratch so the bites don’t get infected
- A mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone can help
- An antihistamine may be needed if the bites are really itching
In any case, seek medical advice as infected bites may need antibiotics.
what kills bed bugs instantly?
Bed bugs and their eggs will die within minutes at 50°C. So a hot wash of your bedding and clothing is advised with a good quality detergent like smol laundry capsules.
A hand held steamer is also a great tool as this can be used on your mattress, bed and around the house. Steam is 100°C so it's well above the temperature needed to kill bed bugs. In fact it will pretty much kill any insect.
So here’s our step by step guide to blitzing those bugs.
step 1. strip the bed.
Take off ALL the bedding. Sheets, mattress protectors, duvet covers, throws, cushions, pillow cases. Wash it all at 50°C. Duvets and pillows must also be washed.
step 2. check mattress and bedframe.
Thoroughly inspect the mattress seams, all nooks and crannies and steam with a hand held steamer. Do the same with the bedframe and headboard (especially if it's upholstered).
step 3. extend your search.
Remember… they love to travel! So they won’t just be in your bed.
They can lurk in side tables, chests of drawers, chairs, wall hangings, electrical outlets (do NOT use steam near an electrical outlet), picture frames, skirting boards, carpets, curtain folds… literally anywhere quiet, dark and undisturbed… is a bed bug's preferred place of rest.
step 4. keep watching.
Stay alert because you may have to repeat steps 1-3 several times. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of without insecticides and even the shop-bought pesticides can struggle… but it can be done if you are thorough and vigilant.
step 5: get professional help.
If the infestation is too much to handle then it’s time to call in the pro’s.
Always get a pest control firm to quote first so you know what you are dealing with and you should also make sure they commit to re-visiting once they have completed their work. You’ll want them to continue to help rid you of any stubborn remainers.
Be warned. Pesticide treatments can cost several hundred pounds and the newer chemical-free heat treatments are even more expensive.
prevention is better than cure.
Having bed bugs isn’t a sign of having a dirty home. They don’t care if your bed is clean or dirty… what attracts them is the carbon dioxide you exhale, the chemicals you emit when you sleep and the warmth and moisture of your body.
BUT, there are three things we can all do to stop bed bugs taking hold in the first place.
Clean and vacuum regularly. Including your mattress. As mentioned, bed bugs don’t mind if somewhere is clean or dirty… but if you are cleaning regularly you are more likely to spot them early.
Bought any second hand clothing or bedding? Wash it when it arrives at your home. And steam clean any second hand furniture you are introducing into your house.
Keep your eyes peeled when travelling. Keep luggage closed and away from hotel mattresses and up off the floor. When you get home - wash all your clothing and steam your luggage.
get a free trial of smol laundry capsules
Want to dip your toes into planet-friendlier cleaning? Claim your FREE TRIAL of laundry capsules. It's a great way to discover why thousands have already made the swap to smol. Cruelty-free & vegan cleaning products that cut carbon, plastic and chemicals AND STILL give results to match the big brands.LAUNDRY FREE TRIAL