bed sheet

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs and dryer sheets aren’t two things we normally hear together. But with endless lists of household hacks flooding our inboxes and social media feeds, could they be connected in some way? 

The short answer is that although dryer sheets are on a list of home remedies to combat bed bugs, unfortunately, many of these tactics are ineffective in controlling this very persistent pest.

Despite our insistence that our home could never have bed bugs, these pesky critters do sometimes find their way in. And when they do, many of us are left to wonder how we can efficiently extinguish these bugs. You might wonder if bed bugs could survive a round in the washing machine. Are there products and methods that can kill both bed bugs and their eggs? If bed bugs are living in my home, what are the chances they are hiding in the folds of my clothes?

Let’s separate fact from fiction to answer some of the most common questions about these pesky pests.

Just the thought of finding bed bugs in bedding is enough to stop you from sleeping at night. But unless you take active bed bug treatment measures, the problem will only get worse over time.

Bed bugs can live in your blankets, sheets, and comforters. They can also get underneath your blanket in order to feed on you, but they can’t bite through blankets. But bed bugs prefer your sturdy mattress or bed frame because solid structures offer them additional safety.

The signs of a bed bug infestation are easy to spot, so need to take action straight away. You should search for them without delay so that you can begin treatment immediately. Killing bed bugs in blankets can be achieved by laundering it or hiring an exterminator.

Bed bugs aren’t as common as dust mites, but they can be a real pain in the bum and back and sides and anywhere else on you that they bite.

They eat what’s inside us. The bugs bite humans to suck our blood, leaving their victims with itching, rashes, or in very rare, extreme cases, anaphylactic shock.

Bugs bite you in the night, they’ll defecate the blood on the mattress, and the sheets get all these black spots.

Bed bugs are found all over the globe and are most common in areas with a high density of humans, and places where lots of people come and go — hotels, airports, backpackers, for instance.

Bed bug infestations can be very hard to get rid of. The bugs often actually live in the walls near a bed, and this means one infected residence in an apartment block can quickly turn into an infested complex as they move between flats through the walls.

Regularly changing your sheets and airing your mattress is a good way to keep an eye out for bed bugs, but cleaning alone might not get rid of them.

If you find yourself with bed bugs, you may need to call a pest controller in to help get rid of them.

If you have a furry friend that sleeps in the bed with you, you might also have to keep an eye out for fleas in your bed.

Fleas can’t live in the bed itself for long. They live on hairy animals — usually a dog or cat.

They aren’t a big problem in Australia these days, with flea treatments being quite effective at keeping the jumpers away.

Where Are Bedbugs Found?

Bedbugs are found all over the world. Bedbug infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the pesticide DDT for pest control began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S. Increases in immigration and travel from the developing world as well as restrictions on the use of stronger insecticides may be factors that have led to the relatively recent increase in bedbug infestations. While bedbug infestations are often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals (particularly bats) are nesting on or near a home, bedbugs can also live and thrive in clean environments. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bedbug infestations.

Bed bugs can live in any area of the home and use tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture as hiding places. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses or mattress covers, box springs, and bed frames. They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as commonly as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress, including mattress seams. Other sites where bedbugs often reside and potentially infested items include curtains, edges of carpet, corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.

Since bed bugs can live for months or even longer under favourable conditions without feeding, they can also be found in vacant homes.

Can Bed Bugs Get in My Blanket?

bed sheet

Bed bugs frequently and easily get inside blankets. They adapted thousands of years ago to live in people’s bedding. This includes the bed frame, mattress, blankets, and sheets.

This depends on the kind of blanket you have. If you have a comforter with a cover, then they could get inside through the part at the bottom where the buttons are fastened.

However, if you have a basic blanket that’s one layer of fabric, they can’t get ‘inside’ it. They may get underneath it when they’re trying to reach you to feed.

Do Bed Bugs Like Blankets?

Bed bugs are unlike most other kinds of parasites. Other parasites live on the host, like fleas. They are small enough that they can hide from the larger host animal. Bed bugs don’t do this.

Bed bugs also can’t move from host to host like a mosquito can by flying. Instead, bed bugs choose one place to live. This place has to be close to where a person sleeps so that they can feed. A blanket or comforter is as close as they can get.

Also, blankets offer some protection for them. Bed bugs don’t like light, and the underside of a comforter rarely sees a bright light. It also has many folds and crevices, e.g. an outer and inner part, which allows them to hide from you easily.

Bed bugs also like things that smell like you. According to Scientific Reports, they’re attracted to dirty laundry. That’s because it smells like your sweat and pheromones. In the same way, they’re attracted to your blanket because it smells like you.

Can Bed Bugs Bite Through Blankets?

While bed bugs can get inside blankets, they don’t bite through them. Bed bugs have a specific mouth setup that prevents this from occurring.

They have a long straw that’s used to suck up blood, like other pests. But as important is another of their mouthparts. They have a shorter, claw-like protrusion above this straw. It scratches through the skin, making a hole for the flimsy straw to get through.

Without this scratcher, they couldn’t feed. This means they can’t poke their feeding straw through the fabric to reach the skin underneath. Even if they did, they couldn’t get through your skin to feed.

Can Bed Bugs Get Under Blankets?

What may be confusing is that bed bugs can’t bite through blankets, but can get under them.

Bed bugs typically live under your mattress and climb out to reach you. Bed bugs can’t live on you permanently, e.g. in your hair. This is the only way they can feed.

In doing so, they can get under your blanket to feed. They will first climb out from under your mattress. They will then determine which way is the best to reach an open patch of skin.

To do this, they won’t usually go underneath your blanket. Rather, they will bite somewhere like:

  • Your shoulders, neck, and face
  • Your feet and legs
  • Your hands and arms

These areas are usually outside of the blanket, which makes it easier to reach. They will sense a patch of open skin by sniffing the air and detecting your pheromones/sweat.

However, if there are no open patches, they will have no choice but to venture under your blanket. This is easy for them as they’re small enough that they can easily find a gap. Once underneath, they will find a patch of skin.

This is a little more difficult for bed bugs because there’s a chance they could get squashed. But if they’re left with no alternative, then yes, they can get underneath your blanket.

What Are the Ways to Eliminate Bed Bugs?

how to get rid of bugs

Reduce Clutter:

Remove all personal items (stuffed animals, soft toys, blankets, electronics, etc.) and anything that does not stay in the room permanently. Caution: Be mindful that items from the infested area can transfer bed bugs to other areas. It is best to bag them in plastic with Nuvan Strips.

Launder Infested Garments and Linens:

Remove all personal items (stuffed animals, soft toys, blankets, electronics, etc.) and anything that does not stay in the room permanently. Caution: Be mindful that items from the infested area can transfer bed bugs to other areas. It is best to bag them in plastic with Nuvan Strips.

Dismantle Bed Frames:

Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically expose bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.

Remove Dresser Drawers:

Remove drawers from desks and dressers since bed bugs like to hide in these areas. Turn furniture over to inspect and clean all hiding spots. All furniture should be pulled away from the walls.

Clean the Area

Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, footboards, bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding, as well as the edges of the carpets (particularly along the tack strips). A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trash can.

Caulk and Seal

Caulk and seal all holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and floor and fill cracks around baseboards and moulding to reduce further harbouring areas.

Integrated and Alternative Approaches to Bed Bug Control

As an alternative or an addition to bed bug control using chemicals, bed bug steamers and heaters have become an increasingly important tool in the pest control industry. Use steamers and heaters where chemical sensitivity is a concern, such as hospitals and nursing homes. These steamers also get rid of allergins, bacteria, germs, and viruses.

The other method is to use ‘heat treatment.’ This is where the pest controller heats your room or home to more than 140 degrees. This can kill all bed bugs and eggs instantly.

Hiring a Professional Bed Bug Exterminator

The best thing you can do is to hire a professional exterminator. People make their living killing pests, and with good reason. Most people think they can take a DIY approach, but it’s much harder than it seems.

The reason why it’s more complicated than you’d expect is that bed bugs have evolved to hide. They can become even flatter and smaller to hide in cracks where you can’t access them.

You can kill them in your bedding by laundering it. But it’s not so easy to kill bed bugs in the wall or furniture. That’s why you need an exterminator.

The exterminator can take one of two approaches. They may use pesticides. This is what almost all pest controllers have done for decades. It kills the bed bugs but can take weeks to kill them all.

Because bed bugs are so difficult to handle using a DIY approach and many common home remedies don’t work, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends hiring a professional to increase your chances of successfully addressing your infestation.

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