Losing sleep over bed bugs? Learn about effective, natural and environmentally friendly ways of getting rid of bed bugs from our homes.
While it may be comforting to know that the tiny biting bugs do not transmit any diseases or pose any serious health issues, many people find them disgusting and their presence in our homes can be very distressing.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) warns that one should be careful about choosing chemicals for the application and extermination of the bugs. Some pesticides are toxic and harmful to us and our family’s health. The suggested approach is called Integrated Pest Management and the use of common sense, non-toxic methods and natural remedies to get rid of bed bugs.
Integrated Pest Management
Bed bugs can be very persistent and can hide in tiny spaces, avoiding our efforts to detect and kill them. They have very strong survival instinct and can live without food for many months, making the elimination of the bugs a tough but not impossible task if done correctly.
Effective exterminating of the bugs requires what is described as Integrated Pest Management approach. Part of Integrated Pest Management is to work in eliminating the pests in several stages with the most economical means without posing any hazard to the people, property and the environment.
Integrated Pest Management begins with detection, monitoring and identification of the pest, prevention, elimination and control (without poison).
If one suspect that one may be plagued by bed bugs, the first step is to confirm the presence of the bugs and not some other insects by inspecting the mattress and the bedroom. Look for any possible signs of bed bugs along the seams, edges and labels of the mattress as well as underneath the box spring and behind the baseboard. If bed bugs are detected, homeowners and tenants are encouraged to clean and eliminate unnecessary clutter around the room to limit possible hiding spaces for the bloodsucking pests.
Good integrated pest management also means using a variety of removal methods for the control and extermination of the bugs. While there are a number of chemicals available on the market that are advertised for eliminating bed bugs, EPA suggests that we carefully read the label to learn how to use them safely and to make sure that they are actually meant for the removal of bed bugs. Whenever possible, it is always better to use non-chemical and non-toxic methods, to avoid endangering our health.
Below are five suggested effective, natural and environmentally friendly methods for getting rid of bed bugs in our homes:
Vacuuming with a powerful vacuum cleaner is one of the best and safest ways of getting rid of bed bugs out of their hiding spaces. We might not see them, but vacuum cleaner can suck them out of cracks in the baseboards, from the carpet, wallpaper and all other nooks and crannies where they hide between feedings. If one suspect that one has bed bugs in the house, daily vacuuming will be able to radically limit their number if not eliminate them completely.
2. Thermal steam treatment
Knowing bed bugs physiology and the fact that they cannot survive temperatures higher than 115°F give us a powerful tool for their natural and environmentally friendly termination. Using a bed bug steamer, the hot steam from the cleaner can ensure swift treatment for all furniture and mattress while killing all bed bugs and their eggs that are hidden deep in the cracks and crevices.
3. Non-Toxic Bed Bug Sprays
EPA has registered and approved about 200 natural bed bug treatment products that are safe and effective. Most are pyrethroids, organic compounds similar to pyrethrins, insecticide made from chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethroids are safe to humans and the environment and are very effective insecticides. One of the most commercially used and popular bed bug spray is Steri-fab, which is a U.S EPA approved non-toxic bed bug killer. Steri-fab is water-based, fast drying and is safe for both children and pets.
4. Bed Bug Proof Mattress Cover
Special bed bug mattress covers are allergy proof covers made of very dense fabric, that keep mattresses protected from any bug or bacterial infestation. The covers not only prevent bed bugs from getting in your mattress, but will at the same time prevent existing bugs already hiding inside the mattress from getting out to feed on your blood. Once used, a bed bug mattress cover has to be sealed for at least a year to completely kill off all bugs and eggs, since bed bugs can survive for many months without feeding.
5. Diatomaceous Earth
A common pest control product, Diatomaceous Earth is very abrasive powder made of crushed fossilized shells of diatoms, tiny algae. The sharp particles of the powder cuts and dehydrates the waxy cuticle of any bugs that comes into contact with the powder, causing them to asphyxiate and die. The best way for preventing and getting rid of bed bugs is to apply diatomaceous earth under the bed or use them as barriers around the bed or room where possible bed bug activities are detected. Plus, diatomaceous earth lasts virtually forever if left untouched so it will provides continuous, long-term effective control against bed bugs.