When bed bugs attack they can get into a surprising number of unexpected places. While we naturally tend to focus on beds and bed linen these invasive pests can, and will, show up all over your home. That includes furniture, carpeting, cupboards and closets, and kitchen pantries. In short, anywhere you go bed bugs are likely to follow and, if possible, set up an outpost.
But bed bugs have even more surprising hiding places within the home. They can also hide in a variety of your personal belongings. It’s not unusual to find bed bugs hidden in clothing, electronics, books, records, and even children’s toys.
If you find yourself in the middle of a bed bug invasion the last thing you want to do is throw out everything you own. But how can you effectively save your personal belongings while safely ridding them of those pesky bed bugs? Well, here a few simple tips that will help you safely remove bed bugs from some of the most common household items.
Laundering on High Heat
Clothing, towels, and bed linen can be laundered on the hottest possible heat settings. This should kill any stray bed bugs as well as any bed bug eggs that might be clinging to the items. This method can be used on any fabric based washable items including canvas shoes, stuffed animals, plush toys, etc.
Here are some basic steps to follow:
Separate infested items into plastic garbage bags and seal until you’re ready to take them to the washer
Wash and dry items on the hottest possible settings (refer to care instructions on garment labels if necessary)
Any clothes that cannot be washed, or that require dry cleaning, should be placed in the dryer on high heat for a minimum of 30 minutes
After all items have been washed and/or dried place them in new garbage bags or plastic bins to prevent any re-infestation
Treating with Extreme Cold
Bed bugs aren’t only vulnerable to extreme heat. They can also be killed by prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures. This can be used to treat a variety of smaller household items that might otherwise be lost to a bed bug infestation.
First you need to be sure that the items in question can withstand freezing without suffering any permanent damage. If you feel it is safe to freeze the items you want to treat the process is fairly simple. Place the item in a clean resealable plastic bag and place it in a household freezer. The freezer should be able to easily reach temperatures below 0º F. It will take several days for the cold to do its work, so you will need to leave your items in the freezer for three or four days at least. The extreme cold should kill any bed bugs in or on the item, as well as any eggs or nymphs (baby bed bugs).
Steam Cleaning Your Items
Steam cleaning can be an effective way of killing bed bugs and their eggs. Properly used a steam cleaner can kill bed bugs on the surface of items and even reach into cracks and crevices. This makes it a viable treatment method for baseboards, box springs, bed frames, drapes, winter coats, and other common household items.
Be aware, however, that you will need to use a commercial steam cleaner for this treatment to be effective. Standard issue clothing steamers of carpet cleaners do not reach high enough temperatures to be effective in killing bed bugs.
Here are some simple steaming tips you can follow:
Follow all instructions on for safe use of the steamer. Commercial steamers will get extremely hot and can result in burns if improperly used.
Avoid using a steamer on any items that are vulnerable to water damage such as electronics.
Avoid using the steamer on any items that are vulnerable to temperatures exceeding 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This is particularly important when cleaning plastic items.
Vapor Treatments for Home Use
Vapor treatments have become a popular method for treating those household items that can’t be laundered or steam cleaned. The process is particularly useful in treating personal electronics, books, luggage and even shoes.
Over the counter vapor treatments can be either plant based or chemical based. It is important to carefully read and follow all instructions for use before treating any of your household items.
Most vapor treatment kits are fairly simple to use. Simply take the items you want to treat and place them in the resealable plastic bags included in the kit. Place a vapor pad in the bag and seal it up. The products instructions will tell you how long to leave the items sealed in the bag and when and how to safely remove them after treatment.
Consult a Professional Bed Bug Removal Service
These treatment methods can be effective in eliminating bed bugs and their eggs from a variety of household items. However, they can’t address the larger infestation in your home. That will require the assistance of a professional bed bug inspection and removal service.
If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation on your hands contact a professional removal service at your first opportunity. The sooner you act the sooner you can safely and effectively eliminate the problem.