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Do you have to treat the whole house for bed bugs?
Having a bed bug infestation can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. These small creatures are experts at concealment and multiplying rapidly, making them one of the most difficult pests to eliminate.
Therefore, if you’ve noticed some signs of bugs even in just one room, it’s always advisable to treat your whole house. This is because if for instance, you’ve discovered them on your mattress, it’s highly possible that you carried them to all other rooms in the house.
Bedbugs tend to clutch on your clothes or other belongings to be transferred around your house. Therefore, if you just kill the bugs in your bedroom, don’t be surprised if you still find an infestation on your couch.
Important: There are a few rare occasions that can mean you don’t have to fumigate your entire house. These include:
- If you’ve detected them right after a trip or staying at a hotel
- If after an intensive inspection you still find just the one or two bedbugs
- If your house was recently treated but you still found some bugs in one room.
In each of these cases, you’ll need the help of a professional exterminator to help with the inspection. Most of them offer free inspections and due to their experience, they’ll easily determine the rooms are infested.
As a general rule, only treat one or two rooms if the exterminator advises it, otherwise, fumigate the entire house.
Where do the bedbugs come from?
Finding the source of your bedbugs is critical in determining the extent of their infestation in your home. Most people come across bedbugs when traveling in public means or sleeping in hotels.
Since bedbugs can hide even in plain sight, we tend to carry them in our clothes and suitcases on buses, trains, planes, hotels, etc. Therefore, if you’ve just arrived home after a vacation and find these bloodsuckers crawling on your furniture, that could be the reason.
The only positive to these bugs is that they can’t walk for long distances or even fly. Therefore, if you discover them early enough, they’re more likely to still be concentrated in one room.
How to prepare your house for bedbug treatments
If you’ve determined that your entire house needs bedbug treatment, you’ll have to prepare it for the job. First, keep in mind you’ll have to evacuate the home for a few weeks until all the bugs are dead.
But before moving out, here are a few ways you can prepare your house for treatment so that the bugs can’t resurface once you’re done fumigating.
Make your bed an island
Beds are often the main culprits when it comes to bedbugs. So, if you’ve noticed heavy infestation on the bed, ensure you isolate it from other things including the walls and curtains.
Most experts recommend moving it at least 24 inches from your walls. You should also do this for any furniture you think is infested.
Moreover, remove anything that could be under the bed and place bedbug-proof covers with zippers on your mattress. If there are bedbug eggs, shells, or larvae on the bed frame or headboard, use a hard brush and vacuum to get rid of them.
Remove all the clutter in the house
Bedbugs’ superpower of hiding thrives in a cluttered house. Therefore, get rid of any unnecessary items that could act as hiding spots for these bugs. Things like magazines and newspapers, broken items, and other things you don’t use should be thrown out.
But be keen not to move the clutter to another room in the house as that just transfers the bugs. Instead, wrap them in a plastic bag and carry them to an outside bin.
Things like our clothes and shoes should also be removed from the floor. The fewer the hiding spots there are, the more likely you are to finally eliminate bedbugs.
Clean all washable items under high temperature
This means all the sheets, pillowcases, blankets, clothes, curtains, stuffed animals, floor mats, and towels. Place these items in the washer then dry them in the dryer in the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes.
Once dry, place these items in plastic bags and seal them until you’re done with the treatments.
If the items can’t be washed, place them in the dryer for half an hour then wrap them in plastic bags as well. The goal of doing this is to ensure that everything remains bedbug-free after the treatment.
Take everything off closets, cabinets, and drawers
In your bedroom, take all the clothes and shoes from the cabinets and drawers, wash them, then seal them in plastic bags. Do the same as well for all your kitchen items like pots, and pans.
If possible, avoid placing smaller kitchen tools on top of your appliances or furniture. For book lovers, your bookshelves should also be cleared. Put your books in a sealed storage container then move them away from the walls.
Do your best to have your things isolated.
Vacuum and clean all floors
Once you’ve packed all your belongings in sealed plastic bags, it’s time to vacuum and clean your floors and walls. Ensure you vacuum the carpets, floor corners, mattresses, upholstery, sleeper sofa rugs, recliners, futons, and all other items that could hide bedbugs.
If there’s anything plugged into your electrical sockets, unplug them then tape or caulk the electrical plates. If you find loose wallpapers glue them down and repair any damage on your wallboard.
Note: While doing all these, don’t move anything out of the house to another area. So, if you won’t be living in the house during the treatment, only leave with your most important valuables, and leave the rest in the house.
These steps are just the basic prep requirements you’ll have to follow before beginning the treatment. Depending on the infestation levels in your home, you may have to do a lot more before the treatment starts.
Methods of getting rid of bedbugs
After prepping your home, you’ll have to choose a method of treatment for your home. There are two main methods in use today i.e., natural treatments (common for DIYs) and Commercial or chemical treatments (used by professionals).
Natural bedbug treatments
Examples of natural bedbug treatments include;
- Using hot water or steam cleaners
- Using baking soda to dehydrate the bedbugs
- Using black walnut tea or tea tree oil which have insecticidal properties
- Using cayenne pepper, lavender, or peppermint oil sprays which produce scents that repel bedbugs
While these treatments work for some homeowners, they’re not effective on large-scale fumigation like treating your entire house. For this, you’ll need commercial treatments with the help of professional exterminators.
Commercial bedbug treatments
Examples of commercial treatments that are very effective in killing bedbugs include:
Under this treatment, the exterminators raise the temperature in the house to levels that bedbugs can’t survive. This is usually between 135 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s very effective because the heat gets through every crack and crevice killing both the bedbug and its eggs.
Insecticide or chemical treatments
The use of insecticides has been in use against bedbugs for ages with much success. It’s mainly used if the infested areas are all known, making it a perfect treatment in cases of early detection.
You, however, have to be a pro to handle this treatment because bedbugs have developed resistance to some chemicals in use today.
The treatment also requires at least 2-3 follow-up treatments to be sure you’ve killed everything.
Steam treatments are very similar to heat treatments. In this case, the exterminator releases steam in every room in the house ensuring it kills every bedbug present in that room. It’s, nevertheless, more effective when used in smaller houses or rooms.
DIY vs Hiring professionals
When it comes to an infestation, there are no two ways about it. You need to hire a professional to handle the job. While you might save money doing the treatments as a DIY, the bedbugs are more likely to come back again.
DIY treatments should only be small-scale and under the recommendation of a professional.
Hiring a pro assures you that all the bedbugs will be gone within the time they tell you. They’ll also get the job done faster allowing you to get back in your house sooner and live normally again.
Nevertheless, you also have to ensure you hire the right professional exterminator. Check for things like their experience, qualifications review online and by word of mouth, and also whether they are insured before hiring.
Once you discover a bedbug infestation in your house, treating your whole house is the best way to get rid of the bugs for good. But if you’re not sure, get a professional exterminator to do an inspection and advise you on the way forward.
Remember, the earlier you deal with the infestation the better!