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  • Writer's pictureTom Frost

5 Ways to Treat Bed Bugs


Bed Bug heat treatment bed close up


Bed bugs are more in the public conscience than ever before. As the numbers of cases grow, we highlight 5 ways of treating them and more importantly, using my 10 year experience of dealing with bed bugs, my expert opinion of the pros and cons of each. Before we get into it, let’s ask two key questions:


1.     Why are bed bug numbers soaring?

2.     What are the chances that they end up in your bed?


(Remember if you want you know if you have bed bugs, check out our blog: 5 Signs You Have Bed Bugs).


Close up bed bug

Why are bed bugs on the rise?

Panic seems to have gripped the nation and much of this hysteria comes from UK pursuing the narrative that bed bugs were coming over from France.  Though the idea of pesky tourist bed bugs (passports in hand), waiting in line at customs is a fun one, we don’t think it’s 100% true.


A more likely reason could be that a few years ago a powerful chemical that was used to control bed bugs named ‘Ficam W’ was removed from sale across Europe.

 

Ficam W the insecticide that used to keep bed bugs at bay

‘Ficam W’ pictured here contained a bendiocarb active, which meant that resistance was futile for our sleep depriving enemies. The chemical was removed from the market as it was unlikely to receive reapproval for use.


The reality is that there is significantly more bed bug resistance to the permethrin-based products that remain on the market. Some say permethrin products usefulness is reducing more and more as the resistance to them grows. But don’t worry bed bugs can be taken care of. Read on to find out how!

 

How do you get bed bugs?

This is the million-dollar question, as there are many ways bed bugs can come in to your home or business. Staying in a hotel, using public transport or buying second hand furniture are a few ways the bites can start. Recently, Managing Director of Pure Pest Solutions, Tom Frost (a bed bug specialist 10 years in the making don’t you know) gave examples of how you can get them in the video below while being interviewed for ITV news at six.





Ok, so you have confirmed you have bed bugs by identifying them on our blog (5 Signs you have Bed bugs) or a pest specialist has paid a visit, so what do you do now? Look below at 5 ways to treat them, including the pros and cons of each.

 

1. A Heat Treatment for Bed Bug Victory

By far the best way to treat them is a heat treatment, by raising the temperature affected areas to between 52.5C and 70C denaturises the insects (drying the outer enzyme), killing them and also cooks any unhatched eggs at the same time. The treatment should also include a steam, spray and a 6-month warranty provided as well. Let’s look at the pros and cons of heat treatment.

 



 

Pros.

  • The treatment takes one day and you can move on with your life bed bug free.

  • A 6-month warranty should be provided with heat treatment.

  • Although some chemicals will be used, the amount is far less than a chemical treatment.

  • A heat treatment includes heat, steam and spray, a combination which effectively eradicates the problem.

  • The preparation is far less invasive than for a chemical treatment (you don’t have to remove and wash all of your clothes for example!)

  • No need to throw out your beds as they can be heated and saved.

 

Cons.

  • You will need to leave your property for a full day with people you don’t know undertaking the treatment.

  • This is by far the most expensive treatment costing a minimum of £500 for a one bed flat.

  • Heat can affect some furniture with vinyl or plastic edging.

  • Sprinklers will need to be disconnected otherwise it could be a watery mess!

 

For more information on what a heat treatment entails, take a look at Pure Pest Solutions who offer full heat treatments using the Puratak system. As with any reputable heat treatment company the service comes complete with a 6-month warranty.

 

2. Steaming Bed Bugs To Get Them Gone

The principle of using steam for bed bugs is excellent. It is very possible to treat bed bugs by yourself using only steam. That being said, getting a steamer that produces enough heat to dispatch these crawling pests is easier said than done. The temperature required is around 50°C, which you would think a standard steamer would be able to hit. But alas many do not.

 

Cimex Eradicator, bed bug treatment

The best in the business is a Cimex Eradicator. This ‘Super Charges’ the steam meaning it is very hot with one ‘pass’ enough to kill any bugs and eggs in its path. The issue with this machine is the cost, weighing in at over £700.


This amount is either close or not far off a professional heat treatment. So, unless you need a professional grade steamer in your cupboard gathering dust, it may not be worth the outlay. Saying that, the eradicator does have an attachment so it can be used as a floor steamer for a future use?

 

Pros

  • 50°C heat+ kills bed bugs in all stages including the eggs.

  • There are no chemicals required if you steam in the right places regularly the bugs can be treated.

  • Frame beds should be easy to treat as all harbourage areas can be exposed.

  • There is no resistance to steam so if it is hot and applied correctly, bed bugs will perish.

 

Cons

  • It’s very hard to find a steamer that will hit the temperatures required and ones that do are very expensive.

  • Hot steam can cause bad burns and can damage furniture if not used correctly.

  • Hard to get the heat unless you use a cimex eradicator which is expensive to buy.

 

3. Professional Chemical Sprays To get your Sleep Back?

Back in the days before heat treatments the tried and trusted method was to apply chemicals to infested areas killing the live bugs. Usually, a course of sprays is needed as bed bug eggs are waterproof a so you will have to wait until they hatch to deal with the nymphs (baby bed bugs).


The draw back here is you need to be sleeping in the beds between sprays as bugs need to be drawn out onto the chemical to kill them.


Chemical bed bug treatment, bedroom, infestation

 It's also worth remembering that chemicals are very restricted in where they can be sprayed. For example, they aren’t allowed on clothes and sofas.


This means the level of preparation required for chemical treatments is high. Expect to have to remove and wash all of your clothes at 60°C for example.

 

At the start of this article, I mentioned the increase in bed bugs is due in part at least to the removal of a pesticide (Ficam W) from the market. This has left a big hole in the tool kit required for successful treatments.


Most chemicals left in the United Kingdom are Permethrin based, a compound that bed bugs are growing more resistant to. It does mean more sprays might be needed to reach control. Cost wise, chemical treatments are far less than heat treatments, but unlike heat treatments, don’t expect a warranty as it is not an exact science.

 

Pros

  • A set of sprays should get to the bottom of your issue.

  • The price is far less than a heat treatment.

  • An experienced professional is worth his weight in gold/bed bugs!

 

Cons

  • A considerable amount of preparation is required.

  • Resistance to chemicals is a growing problem.

  • A professional must be well trained and qualified in bed bug treatments to get success.

  • You may need 6 or more treatments (if the infestation is high).

 

4. Cleaning Your Sheets to Sleep Easy

It is often the case that people beset with the plight of bed bugs wash their sheets and wonder why the bugs still bite them in their sleep. This is quite simply because bed bugs prefer the actual bed frame rather than the sheets.


In theory, if you are lucky enough catch and clean all the bugs then the issue will be sorted. This is tricky when you consider the size of bed bug eggs, as they are tiny and easy to miss!

 

A hoover of the bed is a good idea as it will suck up a lot of bugs however, consider doing this alongside a steam and maybe a shop brought spray to act as a knock down. The first thing we do especially with heavy infestations is hoover the bed. Take a look at the video to show some ‘bed bug harvesting’ as we call it in the industry.



If you constantly clean up the bugs quicker than they can multiply, you should be able to get to the bottom of the issue. This may take a long time though and just washing your sheets is not a great way to rid yourself of bed bugs.

 

Pros

  • Washing sheets at 60 degrees will kill the bugs in all life stages.

  • Hoovering your bed frame will bring the numbers down.

 

Cons

  • It’s unlikely to work unless the bugs happen to be within your sheets when you remove them.

  • To get complete success then then washing and cleaning would need to be done continuously.

 

 

5. Move Out and Leave The Bed Bugs Behind?

Bed bugs have moved in, so is time you moved out? You would think this is a fail-safe way to deal with your bed bug issue. There is one main issue here, apart from the poor people who move into your place after you that is, but we will get to that in a second. Remember that bedbugs like to hide in your clothes, your furniture, and your general belongings.


It’s very common that when people move out, they will take the bedbugs with them. To stop this happening, you need to wash your clothes at 60°. Consider reducing your belongings right down so that one can’t sneakily come with you. Of course, it is possible to not take them with you, but it is also relatively common you do.



moved into bed bug infestation, bed bug new home

The other side to this is the moral angle. The bedbugs left behind will cause problems for those people moving in next. We come across this quite a lot as people moving into properties quickly discover they have bedbugs.


If someone buys your flat for example and discovers bed bugs they may be entitled to legal redress for their inconvenience.

 

Finally, it is important to consider if you move out and your flat or property stays empty it is quite likely after about two weeks the bedbugs will start to go to the neighbouring properties increasing the infestation further into the fabric of the building.

 

Also if the property is empty for a short period then, the first night of someone moving in they will get a lot of very aggressive bites. This is because the bedbugs are hungry and they want to eat!

 

Pros

  • If you wash and clean all your belongings successfully, the bedbugs will no longer be with you.

  • You do not need to use any chemicals just wash your items at 60°C and wipe belongings of eggs and bugs.

 

Cons

  • The moral implications are you will be giving someone else your bedbug problem whoever it is that moves in next.

  • It is very difficult to make sure you aren’t taking something with you in the folds of fabrics or in the creases of a suitcase. They can get buried deep within your clothes without you ever knowing.

  • You are likely opening yourself up to legal issues if whoever moves in holds you responsible for their new-found infestation.

 

Conclusion

If you get bedbugs, it isn’t much fun but the good news is these things can be rectified. The best way to treat a bedbug infestation is with a heat treatment by a professional company.


This should give you a six month warranty and complete peace of mind. That being said heat treatments are expensive and so not always a possible option. A chemical treatment by a professional is second best.


The good news here is they are cheaper however it is important to remember there is a growing resistance to chemicals from bedbugs. If the infestation is low level, then it certainly may be possible for you to treat yourself using a hoover and perhaps some kind of spray that you buy online.


But do remember you will need to do this treatment regularly as, there will be very little continuity of the spray once it has dried. Regularly hoovering really helps here too.

 

If you are still unsure if you have bed bugs feel free to send in any pictures of spotting marks or bugs and we will happily confirm (or deny) if we think you have them. Remember Pure Pest Solutions specialise in bed bug treatments so get in touch today.

 



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