Bedbugs are notorious for ruining furniture, causing difficult infestations and biting people as they sleep. Because the bites tend to look like other bug bites (like mosquito bites), you need to find the bugs to truly identify them. If you do have bed bugs, you will want to start the process of getting them out of your home.

How Do You Know if You Have Bedbugs?

Fully grown bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed, so you will likely start to see them. The bugs are brownish and oval, but they will swell with blood to a rounder size and reddish color. They are most active at night and tend to hide, so the first signs might be the bites. They develop into itchy welts and could be anywhere on the body where the skin is exposed while sleeping.

You might notice blood stains or rusty spots on your sheets. These are signs of bedbug activity. The bugs give off a musty odor that smells bad if a number is left to mature and live in the space. If you suspect you might have bedbugs, remove all bedding and check it over carefully. Look in all cracks and crevices for signs of their excrement, egg shells or shedded skin. They often hide in the headboards, box springs and dust covers. They might hide in areas or items surrounding the bed or in the closet.

How Do You Get Bedbugs?

Often times, bedbugs are brought into the house through infested items. Getting used furniture or clothing is one way they might be brought in. Sometimes they could hide away in luggage. They are experts at hiding and can fit in very tiny spaces that are only the thickness of your driver’s license.

What do Bedbugs Do?

Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed on the blood of animals or humans. They cause irritating welts on the skin that itch. Over time, they will start to leave noticeable signs through excrement and smell.

Not only are they uncomfortable, but they can also cause bigger health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that bed bug bites can lead to secondary skin infections. People can also have an allergy to bed bugs that can make the bites more severe. And, bed bugs often cause additional stress and anxiety as people try to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Bedbugs Yourself

You will have to start by cleaning out all infested areas thoroughly. This is the first step to clean out the bugs and prevent a return infestation.

  • Bag and seal all items, including toys, clothing, sheets and curtains so you don’t spread the bugs throughout the home. Seal the bags (or just hold the top tightly) and take them to be washed.
  • Wash all clothing, linens, bedding and curtains in hot water and put them in the dryer at the highest setting. For items that cannot be washed, use the hot dryer setting for 30 minutes.
  • For soft items that cannot wash or dry (stuffed animals or certain blankets), vacuum thoroughly and then seal tightly in a bag for up to a year so any remaining bugs will suffocate. You can also leave plastic bags in the sun to help them heat up and kill any bedbugs inside.
  • With each vacuum use, dump the contents directly into a bag to be sealed and moved directly into an outdoor trash can.
  • Toss furniture or items that aren’t worth saving or are difficult to get the bed bugs out of, like couches. Destroy those items with spray paint or by tearing up the cushions so no one is tempted to get the items as a curb find. Call the trash company to pick up the items as soon as possible.
  • Keep all clutter from around the bed or furniture so they have no new places to hide.
  • Look for signs of bed bugs again in a few days to see if they were successfully cleared out.
  • For an infested mattress, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one. Regardless of whether you try to clean the old (use a stiff brush on the mattress seams) or get a new one, you will want to get a cover to seal the mattress and prevent bedbugs from being able to live there. Keep the mattress fully sealed for at least a year, since that is how long bed bugs can live without feeding.

Cleaning up the areas infested with bedbugs is the first step to getting rid of them, but often chemicals are needed. Research your chemicals carefully. Insecticides can be used in some places, but areas within the home (like the bedroom) need special chemicals that are safe for those who sleep there. Some chemicals you can get yourself, but be careful to read the instructions and only use the insecticide where it says. Many chemicals cannot be used in the mattress and may not be safe for pets or children. Desiccants can be very effective in drying out the bugs, but they may take several months to work. Foggers exist, but must include bedbugs on the label and be appropriate for the areas you are using them in.

What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Bedbugs?

The right chemicals are designed to work quickly and not harm people or animal inhabitants. There are natural methods for getting rid of bed bugs, like using diatomaceous earth, but they are often messy and take much longer to be effective. If you find the bedbug come back or if you just want to get rid of bedbugs as quickly as possible, you may need to hire a professional. The fastest and surest way to get rid of bedbugs is by starting with the initial cleanup to prepare and then hiring a company to spray.

Lavender oil or tea tree oil can also be used to help repel bed bugs. Finally, keep them away with a deep home cleaning. Continue to purge the areas they like to hide in with regular cleanings so they have nowhere to comfortably hide.