Eco-friendly Ways to Fight Bed Bugs this Holiday Season
Guest post from: Karen Barnes
Wouldn’t it be humiliating to have the house spotless, the holiday decorations glittering, and the most scrumptious seasonal foods prepared for house guests to arrive, only to discover that your home has a bed bug infestation? Though this scenario seems like a nightmare, bed bugs seem to be making a big come back in the current decade. They have not only been reported in theaters, hotels and homes, but also they have been discovered in high end clothing sold at major department stores.
Although bed bugs bites are not dangerous, they are not very pleasant and can cause a lot of miserable itching and sleepless nights. If these little creatures hitch a ride into your home, your first thought might be to call an exterminator. However, most moms feel leery about exposing holiday guests, not to mention their own children, to such strong chemicals. These eco-friendly methods for fighting these parasites are worth trying first:
Make Life Tougher for the Uninvited
Because they are not winged insects, bed bugs must move from one location to another on another person or object. This might be a human, a pet, a fabric bag, linens, or stuffed toys. Once they have settled in at one location, they begin to reproduce quite rapidly, and they can live for months without nourishment of any kind. This makes getting rid of them quite challenging. The following tips should help:
• Wash and dry all reusable shopping bags after each use, especially when they have been used to transport clothing.
• Arrange bedroom furnishings so that the beds do not touch the wall.
• Encase mattresses, boxed springs, and pillows in zippered plastic coverings.
• Place all new or recycled clothing in the heat of the dryer for at least thirty minutes as soon as you bring them into the house.
• Surround the bed posts with sticky pest strips.
Bring in the Professionals
Ridding a home of bed bugs after they have decided to create a family may not be a problem so easily resolved. If persistent effort has proven fruitless, professional help should be considered. Though most people think this always involves the use of chemicals, there are some eco-friendly companies who will do everything possible to treat these insects without harming your family or your pets. They use some of the following methods:
• Dogs that have been specially trained to sniff out the hiding places of these culprits so that only specific areas need to be treated.
• Heat chambers that reach and maintain temperatures high enough to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
• Steam for hard to reach cracks and crevices that may harbor the adult bed bugs or their eggs.
It is possible to tackle the bed bug problem yourself, using a vacuum, lots of soap, hot water, a strong brush, and some major elbow grease, but care must be taken during the cleaning process to isolate each step along the way. Unless garbage bags that are used to transport linens and clothing are not tossed into outside trash bins and vacuuming and steaming are thorough, the bugs will turn up again in just a few days.
By taking a few sensible precautions you can reduce the risk of uninvited guests moving into your home this holiday season. But even if these pests do get through your defenses, there are eco-friendly methods of dealing with them that won’t harm your family’s health or pollute the environment.
Karen has a keen interest in green living and tries to find eco-friendly ways to keep her home clean and free from pests. She found a lot of useful info at bed bugs.org and believes people should be reassured that there are ways to get rid of pests without resorting to chemicals.