Preparing Your Home for a Bed Bug Treatment
By James Lyons
Going through bed bug treatment temporarily creates some disruption in your home for anywhere from 14 days to over a few months. This is because your landlord/exterminator is going give you instructions on what you need to do to effectively prepare for treatment. How well you cooperate with these instructions will determine how successful treatment will be. It is also important to note that if your landlord feels that you have not sufficiently prepared your suite for treatment, they may file a claim for extermination costs and in serious cases may seek an eviction for non- compliance.
Bed bug preparation can be a lot of work depending on factors such as the size of your home, if there is lots of clutter, if you have lots of decorations or trinkets, and the types of possessions you have. Take this process seriously, it can take anywhere from an evening to a couple of days. Some of the things you will be asked include:
• Washing and drying ALL linens in hot water. If you are on a budget, you may choose to only wash dirty laundry, and simply put the rest through the dryer for a minimum of 30 minutes on HIGH heat. Ultimately, it is the heat of the dryer that will kill bed bugs. You will be expected to place all of this into tied off garbage bags until after your treatment. Only use the clothes you need during this time.
• All items from dressers, night tables, etc must be removed. Linens should be laundered and bagged and other items may be placed neatly on the floor or on top of the dressers if there is sufficient space.
• All items should be moved at least two feet from the wall to allow the exterminator to access ALL baseboards. This includes moving couches, dressers, and removing all items from the floor of closets to the upper shelves.
• Thoroughly vacuum every few days. Make sure you include around your bed/bedframe, baseboards, furniture, dressers, and other crevices and areas where you think bugs may be hiding.
• Eliminate clutter! It is important that you do not just “pile’ everything in the middle of the rooms. Make sure things are organized and neatly placed in the middle of the room. A mountain of clutter is going to provide excellent hiding spots for bed bugs to avoid coming in contact with pesticides. Use this as an opportunity to go through all your things and get rid of some “unwanted clutter.”
Having a plan and starting early will make this process easier. The previous steps are general guidelines but you should always follow your exterminator’s instructions to avoid any potential conflict.
It isn’t very much fun living out of bags during the extermination process but try to remain positive and remember that the work you are putting in now is going to give you the opportunity to sleep comfortably in the future. If you are unable to properly prepare for bed bugs due to a disability or similar situation, you may qualify for help through the Bug ‘N’ Scrub program. Please feel free to contact me for any information about preparation and available bed bug resources.
Once the treatment is over, you will want to monitor your home carefully for the next few months to ensure treatment has been successful. There is no exact science to determine if you are bed bug free, but doing regular inspections to search for bed bug signs are important. Keep in mind how you determined you had bed bugs in the first place? In what areas were they most present? If you begin to notice signs such as bites, red or black spotting on areas such as your sheets or mattress, or bed bug skins you should immediately alert your exterminator. Also make sure to frequently check any bed bug sticky and interceptor traps you may have set up.
Here is a link to the Province of Manitoba’s “How to get Your Home Ready for a Bed Bug Treatment” brochure: