Bed bug infestations are a common problem throughout the world, affecting folks from the U.S. and Canada and well as those living in Europe and the United Kingdom. If you’re currently dealing with a bed bug problem, rest assured that you’re not alone.
That being said, knowing that other people have bed bugs isn’t particularly helpful when you have a mattress full of the little critters. If you have questions like “how long does it take to get rid of bed bugs?” or “how to kill bed bugs?” keep reading.
Everything you need to know about these tiny pests, including the best ways to get rid of them, is explained below.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny insects that are about a quarter of an inch in length. They are flat, round, and reddish-brown in color and they feed on blood (delightful, right?).
Bed bugs do not transmit disease, and infestations do not present any serious medical risks. However, they often bite and leave itchy and irritating red bumps behind. They’re definitely unpleasant, even if they’re not dangerous, and are something that should be addressed as soon as possible.
What Causes Bed Bug Infestations?
Anyone can experience a bed bug infestation in their home. No matter where you live or your economic status, there’s a possibility that bed bugs can set up shop in your mattress or other soft surfaces around the house.
Travel is one of the most common ways that bed bugs end up in people’s homes. If you visit a place that has bed bugs, it’s easy for them to attach themselves to your suitcase or clothing and catch a free ride back to your house. From here, they’re able to take up residence in your home without you even realizing it (until you find yourself or someone else in your family dealing with bed bug bites, that is).
Secondhand furniture can also be a vehicle for bed bugs to get into your house. If you buy a used couch or chair from someone who has bed bugs in their home, it’s highly likely that you’ll end up bringing home more than just a new-to-you piece of furniture.
Rented furniture can be a source of bed bugs, as well. This is especially true when you rent from a less-reputable store that doesn’t make it a priority to screen furniture for bed bugs when it’s returned.
Signs You Have Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, but they’re not so tiny that they’re invisible to the naked eye. You might realize you have bed bugs by simply looking closely at your mattress or another piece of furniture. If you notice any small, reddish-brown insects crawling around, there’s a good chance they’re bed bugs.
The following are some other common signs that you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation:
- Tiny, itchy red bites show up on your skin
- You have bloodstains on your sheets or pillowcases
- You see dark brown or rust-colored spots on your sheets or pillowcases (this is a sign of bed bug excrement)
- You find eggshells or shed skins on your sheets or in other areas throughout your home
- You notice a musty smell (this comes from the bed bugs’ scent glands)
Keep in mind that bed bugs are not automatically a sign of an unclean home. They feed off of blood exclusively, so dust or dirt in your home is not to blame for their presence.
How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
If you notice any signs of bed bugs, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. The sooner you address the issue, the easier it’ll be for you to say sayonara to those pests.
A lot of people have questions about how long to get rid of bed bugs. The short answer is that it depends on factors like the severity of your infestation and the method you use to eliminate them. In general, though, you can expect it to take anywhere from one to three days before all the bed bugs are killed.
This might seem like a long time. When you stop and think about it, though, isn’t a couple of days of inconvenience worth getting rid of bed bugs for good?
Common Strategies for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
There are lots of different strategies that you can use to get rid of bed bugs. The following are some of the most common options to consider:
High Heat Method
If you want to take a DIY approach to eliminate bed bugs, one of the best options is to use high heat to clean your belongings. Wash your bedding and clothing in hot water, then try them on the highest heat setting. You can also use a steamer on your mattresses, couches, and other soft surfaces to kill any bed bugs that might be lurking there.
Take other infested items and pack them in black trash bags. Set them outside in the hot sun or in a hot car with the doors closed. Leave them alone for a few days so the heat can do its job.
Extreme Cold Method
An alternative to the high heat method is to use extremely cold temperatures. Take the bags that contain infested items and put them in the freezer instead (make sure the temperature is set at zero degrees Fahrenheit). Let them sit in the freezer for at least four days before retrieving them.
Insecticide treatments are one of the most popular options for those who need professional help getting rid of bed bugs. Insecticide treatments involve having chemicals sprayed throughout your home to kill the bed bugs.
It usually takes about 30-120 minutes per room to administer the insecticide treatment. It also takes 2-3 visits to complete the treatment since all the bed bugs are rarely killed in one fell swoop.
The chemicals used during this process are safe for humans, but you will need to stay out of your house during the treatment process and until after the insecticides have dried completely. This can be cumbersome, but the treatment is also highly effective, making it worth a couple of days of inconvenience.
Integrated Heat Treatment
If you’re looking for a faster-acting professional bed bug treatment, click here to learn more about integrated heat treatment. This process involves the use of special equipment that heats your home to high temperatures to kill bed bugs.
Technicians will adjust the furniture throughout the process to ensure the heat reaches all areas of your home, especially the ones where bed bugs have a tendency to hide. This process only takes one day to complete, so it’s much more efficient than other approaches, and it’s also very effective.
Tips for Preventing Bed Bug Infestations
Regardless of the specific method you used, once you’ve gotten rid of bed bugs, it’s safe to say you’ll want to do whatever you can to prevent them from coming back, right? You can’t always avoid bed bugs, but there are still lots of steps you can take to reduce the likelihood that you’ll have to deal with another infestation.
The following are some of the most effective approaches to combating bed bugs that you might want to consider trying:
- Always inspect used furniture and used items before bringing them into your home
- Install a protective cover on top of your mattress and box springs
- Vacuum on a regular basis to pick up bed bugs that might have found a way into the house
- Get rid of clutter so there are fewer places for bed bugs to hide
- When using shared laundry facilities, transport items in plastic bags and put clothes immediately into bags when taking them out of the dryer (fold them at home instead of at the facility)
- Always inspect surfaces in hotel rooms and Airbnbs when traveling
- Store your suitcase on a luggage rack instead of on the bed or floor
- Don’t drop your clothes on the bed or floor
- Store your used clothing and shoes in plastic bags
Remembering these tips can significantly reduce the likelihood that you’ll bring home bed bugs or have to deal with a bed bug infestation. Even if you don’t implement all of them right away, being more conscientious will still pay off in the long run.
Say Goodbye to Bed Bugs Today
After reading this post, you can hopefully answer questions like “what is the best solution for bed bugs?” and “how long does it take to get rid of bed bugs?” with ease.
It’s not enough just to know what bed bugs look like or the methods for getting rid of them, though. If you have an active infestation in your home, it’s time to put this information into action.
Follow the guidelines outlined above and you’ll have no trouble eliminating bed bugs from your home and keeping them from returning.
If you want to learn more about maintaining your home, we also have lots of other helpful articles available on our site. Check them out today for additional tips and tricks.