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Bed bugs have been on the rise for the past decade. What begins as a creepy encounter can turn into an infestation. The key is to catch them before they can multiply behind cover.

Once you know what to look for, bed bugs can quickly be identified and you can start treating your home for them. For example, noticing one on a piece of luggage or only in a room that has hosted a recent traveler is the best-case scenario.

To properly assess your bed bug situation, we’ve put together an essential guide. Getting rid of bed bugs isn’t easy, but you can limit the cost and stress of an infestation.

Here’s how.

Evidence of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs aren’t difficult to spot — you just have to know what to look for.

These little parasites are usually reddish-brown in color and have a round, oval-shaped body. They are slightly bigger than a flea, sometimes 3-4 times the size.

Bed bugs like to live in crevices and linings of beds, hence the name. They will also gather around headboards, bed frames, and nearby electrical outlets. They always lay in proximity to their meal (warm, sleeping bodies).

You won’t see bed bugs out in daylight unless the infestation is bad.

Bed bug bites also follow a telltale pattern of groups of two or three in a row. This is them going back for more when the host is shifting in their sleep.

How Do You Get Bed Bugs?

The most common source of bed bugs will come from hotels. This isn’t limited to cheap hotels, motels, or Air BnBs, either. Bed bugs have been found in 5-star luxury hotels before.

Bed bugs are expert hitchhikers.

They’ll pop right on luggage, hide in virtually every nook and cranny of hotel spaces. They can also transfer from person-to-person on subways, trains, and airplanes. As you can see, there’s no real way to escape getting bed bugs, besides taking some preventative steps.

Bed bugs aren’t known to appear very often in other public spaces, such as movie theaters or retail stores, so don’t get too paranoid.

While traveling, it is recommended that you never leave your clothes in your suitcase on the floor. For extra precaution, you can keep them in the bathroom/bathtub, which will all but guarantee no bed bugs. Vacuum-sealing clothes before you wear them is also a great idea to avoid the habit of leaving them on the floor or hamper between washings.

Bed Bugs 101

As with stopping ants from coming into your home, you’ll also need to know thy enemy to stop bed bugs.

Bed bugs thrive in dark, warm, and cluttered environments. Bed bugs can live without having a meal for up to two weeks.

If your home has lots of clothes on the ground and cracks in baseboards, you’re the perfect host. Bed bugs will travel up to 20 feet to get their meals every night. Keep this in mind when considering how clear and clean your spaces are.

If bed bugs are feeding on you, they will leave evidence. This will appear in the form of dark red and black spots between mattresses, headboards, and box springs. Bed bugs need a meal for each of their six life stages.

The female bed bug can lay up to three days per day, every day. It’s in your best interest to find and eliminate them as soon as possible to prevent them from spreading out further.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

There’s no sure way to get rid of bed bugs on your own, but you can take some active measures against them.

The first step is to locate all possible hiding spots for bed bugs. Usually, if they’re limited to one room, you can count on them being centrally located in and around your bed.

If you have carpeting, this cleanup job is nearly impossible to guarantee full eradication. With hardwood floors, your chances of eliminating their escape are much better. Once you have located their hiding spots, you’ll want to start sanitizing bedding.

Seal all clothes and linens in garbage bags. Take those bags to a laundry mat and wash them and dry them with high heat. Next, you’ll want to vacuum up all the surrounding floors and invest in or rent a handheld steamer.

Steam the perimeter, passing over all the cracks and crevices carefully. When you’re ready to tackle the bed, place a layer of diatomaceous earth at the base. Steam the entirety of the mattress and bed frame before flipping everything over and revealing the bed bugs.

Brace yourself for a shocking scene of little brown dots scurrying everywhere. You’ll want to move methodically, letting the steam do the work. Don’t wear any long sleeves or pants while doing this, giving them no place to run.

Why Heat and Not Pesticides

You might find bed bug killers in the store that claim instant eradication, but don’t use them.

They’re the least effective solution because bed bugs, like roaches, evolve over generations and become resistant. You also need to use a lot of these sprays to kill them, which could ruin the mattress and other belongings. You may as well toss your mattress out with the bed bugs if you plan on soaking it in pesticides.

The most effective bed bug exterminators use a variety of methods, but the safest and most reliable is heat treatment. You’ll need to treat and follow through with setting traps and observing the affected areas.

Get a Thorough Cleaning

Getting rid of bed bugs is a stressful job. Don’t worry — you can get rid of bed bugs with the right plan and the right help. At Allied Services, we know what it takes to defeat these pests.

If you’re worried about bed bugs coming back or having to throw away your furniture, contact us for a free consultation. We can help reclaim your home and your life back from a bed bug infestation.