Bed Bugs How To Get Rid Uk

Bedbugs

Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

Check if it’s bedbugs

Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

Signs of bedbugs include:

  • bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
  • spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
  • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

Bedbug bites can be red and itchy. They’re often in a line or cluster.

Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo

Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.

How you can treat bedbug bites

Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

Things you can do include:

  • putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
  • keeping the affected area clean
  • not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream)
  • antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you’re unable to sleep

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy after trying treatments from a pharmacist
  • the redness around the bites is spreading

You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

How to get rid of bedbugs

contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides

wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes

put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)

clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early

do not keep clutter around your bed

do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs

Page last reviewed: 21 January 2019
Next review due: 21 January 2022

How to get rid of bed bugs – the signs that say you have them, and how to prevent them

Bites, blood spots on the bed sheets, black spots on the mattress. these are all signs of a bed bug infestation

  • 14:15, 20 AUG 2018
  • Updated 16:15, 20 AUG 2018

Ugh, the slow-dawning and horrifying realisation that you have bed bugs.

The tiny bloodsucking creatures love to live in the crevices between bed frames and mattresses.

Bedbugs feed exclusively on blood, crawling out from their hiding places at night to bite you. They aren’t thought to transmit diseases, though.

Bedbugs tend to prefer fabric or wood over plastic and metal, and often hide near to where you sleep – for example, under the mattress or along the headboard.

They can surprise you though – by hanging out away from the bed in other furniture, along the edges of carpets and even behind mirrors – or inside smoke alarms.

Although difficult to get rid of, it’s not impossible. Here’s a guide to working out if you’ve got bed bugs, and how to treat the problem as soon as possible.

How can I tell if I have bed bugs?

The quicker you can act to treat the problem, the easier it will be, so look out for these seven signs:

What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bugs are nocturnal, but they prefer to feed on a deeply sleeping host, which for human beings is in the few hours before sunrise.

These appear as itchy, red welts that can be flat on the skin or raised.

The majority of bites will appear on the chest or back, neck, hands, feet or face. However, bed bugs can bite any area of exposed skin.

The bites tend to appear in clusters as they crawl around testing areas multiple times to find the best source of blood. So the bites can show up in groups, rows or zig-zag lines.

The bites may cause a rash or fluid-filled blisters. In more severe cases, they can become infected with bacteria if scratched – signs of infection include pain, increasing redness and swelling

How do I treat bed bug bites?

A mild steroid cream or antihistamine can help relieve itchy bites.

You might need antibiotics for worse reactions – see your GP if you experience pain, redness, swelling or other signs of infection.

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Signs and symptoms of bed bugs

1. Blood stains on bedding

You’re not going to like this, but you do need to know about it: when you move in your sleep and squash a blood-filled bed bug that’s just fed, it’ll leave little blood smears on your sheets, duvet covers an pilowcases.

Still, at least you’re getting closer to the truth.

2. Bed bug poo stains

These look like black felt tip marks on fabric. Usually found on the edges of mattresses, or on bedsheets.

These stains are digested blood – the bed bugs’ fecal matter.

Again, sorry. Rest assured, it sounds grim, but it isn’t dangerous.

Wipe the stains with a wet rag – if they smear, you’ve got a positive sighting for bed bug faeces.

3. Bed bug eggs and egg shells

Female bed bugs can deposit one to five eggs a day, and may lay 200 to 500 eggs in a bed bug’s lifetime.

Under normal room temperatures and with an adequate food supply, they can live for more than 300 days.

This is why taking quick action to treat the problem is best.

Bed bug eggs are translucent to pearly white in color and when first laid, are coated in a shiny film to help them stick to surfaces.

Bed bug eggs are shaped like a grain of rice and very, very tiny – around 1mm. Still visible to the naked eye, but a magnifying glass helps.

Empty shells will be less shiny and look flattened.

They’re more likely to be find where the bed bugs are hiding, especially on rough wood or fabric surfaces.

4. Bed bugs’ shed skin (or shells)

Don’t let this spoil the classic cinema snack for you, but bed bug shells look like tiny, translucent popcorn kernels.

After hatching, the bed bug starts life as a nymph. They look like adult bed bugs, except they’re smaller and lighter in colour.

As they mature, they’ll shed their skin 5 times, once at each new stage of development.

Look for the evidence in the usual bed bug hangout joints – box springs, mattresses, wooden furniture and framing, and so on.

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5. What do bed bugs look like?

Spotting an adult bed bug going about its business in your home is one of the last ways you’ll become aware of an infestation, but it’s worth knowing what to look out for.

They’re brown, oval and flat, ranging in size from 4.5mm to as long as 7 or 8 mm when fed – approximately the size of an apple seed. They turn a reddish color after feeding – because they’re then swollen with blood.

6. The musty smell

You’ll know it if you ever sniff it – and your instincts will tell you it’s not good.

Bed bugs have glands that release pheromones when they’re disturbed, to warn the rest of the group.

The odour is musty and repellent.

Bad news: if you can smell them, you’ve got a severe infestation on your hands.

Slightly better news: if only a trained bed bug sniffing dog can find it, might be catching the problem early. Hopefully.

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How to get rid of bugs

How to treat or kill bed bugs?

David Cross, Head of Technical Training at Rentokil Pest Control, has the following tips for treating bed bug bites:

“There are many natural remedies and ‘old wives tales’ on what you can use to help reduce the inflammation and itching associated with bed bug bites. Below are just a few of these you may want to try after washing your bites with soap and water, and then drying"

  1. Calamine lotion:This relieves itching and also helps to dry rashes and protect the skin
  2. Baking soda and water:Make a paste with baking soda and water, and apply it directly to the skin. Let it dry before wiping away with a cotton pad
  3. Toothpaste:The menthol contained in toothpaste is said to be a good anti-itch remedy. Apply a generous amount to the bite to soothe the burning sensation and relieve the itching
  4. Witch Hazel:This provides a mild anaesthetic effect that helps to calm the itching caused by bites
  5. Aloe Vera:Both “fresh” Aloe Vera or gel works well against insect bites. The active substances and amino acids present in Aloe Vera help relieve itching and burning sensations
  6. Lemon juice:This has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is also a natural astringent. Lemon juice can help dry rashes and itchiness while reducing redness and swelling”

Prevention and steps

1. Strip your bed

Apart from possibly leading to unpleasant skin reactions, the bed bug bites are also keeping the pests alive, as they feed on your blood.

If they can’t feed, they can’t breed, keeping the infestation alive.

Strip your bed of all sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding, and seal them in plastic garbage bags to keep bed bugs from escaping and infesting other parts of your home.

Take the bags straight to the washing machine, and wash them using the hot water setting.

Then, dry the bedding on high heat if their tags allow it. This heat treatment will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your bedding.

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any bed bugs, shells, fecal droppings, or eggs that might be along the seams of your mattress, pillows, box spring, and along the cracks and crevices in the bed frame, headboard, and footboard.

Follow up the vacuuming with a high-pressure steamer to kill bed bugs and eggs hidden deep within furniture.

While the mattress and box spring are left to dry, spray down the joints of the bed frame, headboard, and footboard with a contact spray and residual spray.

Once the mattress and box spring are dry, encase them in sealed bed bug encasements.

2. Prevention

Move your bed away from any other points of contact, like walls, nightstands, and other furniture.

Tuck in or remove any hanging skirts or sheets, and remove any storage under the bed that is touching any part of the frame.

The only thing your bed should be touching is the floor via its legs. Place bed bug interceptors under each leg – they look like cups that the bed bugs fall into when trying to climb up the legs of the bed.

The cups will help you monitor how quickly the bed bug population in your home is dwindling as they lose access to feeding on your blood.

If your bed has a solid base rather than legs, you’re best off throwing it out.

3. Hunt and destroy all bed bugs in your home

Clothes, books, and other personal belongings shouldn’t be left on the floor, as they make treatment more difficult and add hiding places for bed bugs.

Seal them in garbage bags and store them in another room.

Any clothing that was picked up from the floor or removed from dresser drawers should be dried on high heat for at least 45 minutes.

Once treated, clothing that you don’t normally wear should be stored inside garbage bags outside of the infested room.

Then, vacuum and steam along baseboards, window sills, and the edge of the carpet.

Make sure you clean the vacuum and steam cleaners afterwards.

A portable bed bug heater can be used to clean items that can’t be washed or vacuumed, such as books, shoes or luggage.

You can also use bed bug sprays and powders to kill the pests in hard-to-reach areas.

Powders can be left undisturbed to do their work, but sprays will need to be reapplied every two weeks for a few months.

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How do you get bed bugs?

Bed bugs can be transported easily in luggage, clothing and furniture.

Once in your home, they can quickly spread from room to room. They don’t jump or fly, but can crawl long distances.

Top tips to prevent bed bug infestations:

inspect your mattress and bed regularly for signs of an infestation, and get professional advice if you think you have bedbugs

avoid buying second-hand mattresses and carefully inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it into your home

keep your bedroom tidy and remove clutter

Bedbugs aren’t attracted to dirt, so they’re not a sign of an unclean home, but clearing up any clutter will reduce the number of places they can hide.

Once treated, they should be dead within a few weeks, depending on the severity of the infestation.

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control

Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own?

Treating bed bugs is complex. Your likelihood of success depends on many factors, including:

  • How many bed bugs you have;
  • How much clutter is available for hiding places;
  • Whether your neighbors have bedbugs; and
  • Whether all residents of a house or building will participate.

Getting rid of bed bugs completely can take weeks to months, depending on the nature and extent of the infestation. To be successful, everyone will need to cooperate and do their part.

The following steps will help you begin:

You may have to follow these steps more than once to kill all the bugs and their eggs.

Identify the Problem

  • Identify the pest:
  • Collect a sample of the pest to show an extension agentExitor other insect expert.
  • Extension agents can identify the pest at no cost to you. They are trained in pest control and know your local area.
  • If an extension agent or other expert says the pest is a bed bug, notify your landlord if you live in an apartment. The units near yours should be inspected.
    • Landlords may have a responsibilityExit to participate in treatment.
    • Check the housing codes and laws in your area.
    • Inspect all areas that may have bed bugs, plus surrounding living spaces, to find out the extent of infestation.
    • Develop a Strategy

      • Make a schedule for completing the steps below. Be sure to include any personal plans, such as vacations.
      • Keep records through the whole process. Note the dates and exact locations where pests are found. This will help you track progress and better know where to target your work.
      • Keep checking for at least a year after you’re done to make sure all the bed bugs are gone.

      Keep the Infestation from Spreading

      • Remove infested items. Place them in a sealed plastic bag and treat them. Learn more about treatment methods in the sections below.
      • Items that cannot be treated should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and left there for up to a year to ensure any active bugs are dead.
      • Empty the vacuum after each use. Seal the bag as tightly as possible and immediately throw it out in an outdoor trash container.
      • Discard furniture responsibly if you can’t safely eliminate the bed bugs. Destroy it so someone else won’t be tempted to bring it into their home. For example:
      • Rip covers and remove stuffing from furniture items.
      • Use spray paint to mark furniture with "Bed Bugs."
    • Have infested items picked up as soon as possible by the trash collection agency.
    • Don’t discard furniture if you can safely eliminate the bed bugs from it.
    • Prepare for Treatment

      Preparing for treatment is very important; it will make it easier to monitor for bed bugs that haven’t been eliminated. This preparation should be completed whether you are doing the treatment yourself or hiring a professional.

      Kill the Bed Bugs

      • Make sure the methods you select are safe, effective and legal. See What’s Legal, What’s Not.
      • Considernon-chemical methodsof killing bed bugs. Some will be more useful than others depending on your situation. These and other methods can be helpful, but they might not get rid of the infestation entirely:
      • Heat treatment:You can use a clothes dryer on high heat. You can also use black plastic bags in a hot, closed car in the sun, but success depends on your climate and other factors. Do-it-yourself heat treatments might not work. Professionals have access to more intensive and proven methods that can even treat whole houses with heat. You may also purchase a portable heat chamber, which is usually quite effective.
      • Cold treatmentcan be successful in the home environment if the freezer is set to 0 o F. You must leave the items in a sealed bag in the freezer at that temperature for four days. Always use a thermometer to check the temperature, since home freezers are not always set to 0 o .
      • Steam cleaners(wet or dry) can get into cracks and fabrics to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture. The steam temperature must be at least 130 o F but should not have a forceful airflow, or it may cause bed bugs to scatter. Use a diffuser to prevent scattering.
    • If needed,hire a pest management professional or use pesticidescarefully according to the label directions:
      • Look for EPA-registered pesticides that have bed bugs listed on the label.
      • Use foggers (bug bombs) only with extreme care and only if bed bugs are listed on the label. Improper use can harm your health or cause a fire or explosion. Foggers should not be your only method of bed bug control. The spray will not reach the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. See Should I Use a Fogger? for more information.
      • Carefully look for any evidence of bed bugsevery few days after you complete your initial cleanup and control processes.If you see bed bugs, either the initial cleanup missed some bugs or eggs have hatched. Retreatment may be needed.
      • Consider using different types of pesticides if repeated treatments are needed.Desiccants (chemicals that dry things out) can be particularly effectivein some situations since they work by drying out the bug (which means the bed bugs can’t develop resistance).
        • If using desiccants, be sure to use only products registered by EPA as a pesticide.
        • Do not use pool- or food-grade diatomaceous earth(made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms). This type of diatomaceous earth can harm you when you breathe it in. The pesticide version uses a different size of diatoms, which reduces the hazard.
        • Desiccants can be very effective but may take several months to work.
        • Evaluate and Prevent

          • Continue to inspect for bed bugs, at least every 7 days, in case any eggs remain. You can use interceptors, traps or other monitoring methods. Interceptors are placed under the legs of furniture to catch bed bugs and keep them from climbing the legs. Commercial and do-it-yourself interceptors are options.
          • Continue to protect your home from bed bugs.

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          How to get rid of bed bugs, what causes an infestation and how to treat bites – what you need to know

          Bed bugs crawl out at night and feed on human blood after biting through exposed skin

          • 18 Jun 2018, 15:55
          • Updated : 18 Jun 2018, 16:01

          GETTING rid of bed bugs can be an unpleasant and tricky job which can often require the help of professionals.

          But what can you do to tackle an infestation, how does it occur and how can you treat bites? Here’s all you need to know.

          What are bed bugs?

          Bed bugs are small, blood-sucking insects that can be found in the joints of your mattress.

          They crawl out at night and feed on human blood after biting through exposed skin.

          Typically they are brown, dark yellow or red in colour, are flat and oval-shaped and are the size of an apple seed.

          Although they aren’t dangerous, they can cause extreme discomfort and stress to those who are bitten by them.

          They can’t jump or fly, but can crawl long distances, so can quickly spread throughout a building.

          How can you spot a bed bug infestation?

          Usually small, red bites on your skin will be one of the first indications that you have a bed bug problem in your house.

          You can then spot further signs of small bugs, tiny white eggs in mattress crevices, or tiny black spots which could be their dried poo.

          While you might not spot the creatures at first, an infestation will also see blood spots appearing on your sheets, as you squash the bugs in your sleep, and an unpleasant, musty scent in your bedroom.

          How can you get rid of bed bugs?

          It can be extremely difficult to get rid of an infestation, so your best bet may be to get professional help.

          Once in your home, bed bugs can quickly spread from room to room. Wait too long before you identify the problem, and they could completely contaminate your home.

          The NHS advise contacting your local council or a pest control firm that’s a member of the British Pest Control Association or National Pest Technicians Association.

          Here’s what you should do to prevent an infestation:

          • If you suspect you’ve been infected, the first thing you need to do is strip your bed and wash the sheets and blankets in 60C water, before tumble drying for at least 30 minutes.
          • Better still get rid of them altogether by wrapping in bin bags and disposing in a bin.
          • Make sure you either throw your mattress away, or thoroughly vacuum it, and your carpet under your bed. Then make sure you take the vacuum outside and dispose of the contents.
          • Because 30 per cent of bed bugs live in your bed frame and headboard, it’s vital that you clean those thoroughly, too.
          • While vacuuming will get rid of the bugs themselves, it won’t get rid of the eggs. To do that, you’ll need to wipe everywhere with a good pesticide.

          What causes bed bugs?

          Once in your home, bed bugs can spread from room to room on luggage, clothing and furniture so can quickly be a large problem.

          He warned: “Bed bugs are becoming more and more common in the UK, and we’re close to approaching epidemic levels.

          “We estimate there has been around a three-fold surge in bed bugs in recent years, based on information from our pest controllers. It is a particular problem in highly-populated areas where the bugs can spread easily.”

          How can you treat bed bug bites?

          Bed bug bites are painless, but some people can have a reaction to the red, itchy bumps on the skin.

          In some cases people can experience a rash or fluid-filled blisters and they can get infected with bacteria if scratched.

          You should see your GP if you have any signs of skin infection such as swelling, redness and pain as you may need antibiotics.

          If they are very itchy you can use antihistamine tablets to relieve the itch and apply a mild steroid cream (such as hydrocortisone).

          How to get rid of bed bugs – the safe and easy way

          We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

          Follow our simple guide on how to get rid of bed bugs at home and make sure they don’t return

          If you’re waking up with rows of red itchy bites, especially on your face, neck, shoulders and limbs you may be sleeping with bed bugs. Want to learn how to get rid of bed bugs? Here’s our simple guide…

          What are bed bugs?

          Image credit: David Brittain

          Bed bugs are small, brown and flat blood-sucking insects that hide and breed in cracks and crevices in and around your bed. They emerge at night to feed on a sleeping host, attracted by their body heat and the carbon dioxide they exhale.

          Bed bugs aren’t known to spread diseases. Their bite isn’t harmful to humans and although some people can develop an adverse skin reaction to bed bug bites, some don’t react at all. However just knowing they’re there, waiting for you, can be an unsettling thought.

          A bed bug infestation doesn’t mean you have a dirty home and you’re not to blame either – the cheeky little pests can end up in your adode and quickly multiply after hitching a ride in luggage, or in pre-used furniture. They’re also common in multi-occupancy buildings, such as hotels and blocks of flats where they can easily spread from room to room by crawling through pipes and cracks in the walls.

          How to spot bed bugs

          Image credit: David Giles

          Adult bed bugs measure around 6mm across and their elongated eggs and larvae are much smaller so they can be hard to detect. They don’t fly or jump but can crawl quickly and are experts at hiding.

          Inspect your mattress, bed frame and surrounding sleeping area for signs of bed bugs, looking for clusters of brown spots – their droppings, and discarded larvae shells. You might also be able to find blood spots on your bedding and smell the musty scent given off by adult bed bugs.

          Always check second-hand furniture for bed bugs before you bring any into your home. If you’re travelling, check the hotel beds and headboards too and store your suitcase off the floor on a luggage rack to avoid them climbing onboard.

          How to get rid of bed bugs

          If you have bed bugs at home, take immediate action to avoid an infestation. It’s best to contact your local council who may treat your home for free, or a pest control company, preferably a member of the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) as they are pros at getting rid of stubborn bed bug infestations and have access to the most effective insecticides and equipment available.

          DIY guide to getting rid of bed bugs

          We recommend getting professional help to get rid of bed bugs as these pests are notoriously hard to eradicate, due to their immunity to some household insecticides. Plus an infestation can easily recur if any eggs are missed, but if you want to try DIY pest control, take these measures:

          1. Spot the infestation

          Completely strip your bed and put the infested bed linen, as well as pyjamas and soft toys straight into a 50°C – 60°C wash, if possible. Then tumble dry the items on the hottest setting for 30 minutes as the heat will kill any remaining bed bugs and their eggs. Placing bagged-up laundry in the freezer for three days will also kill the pests.

          2. Inspect the surrounding area

          Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

          Dismantle your bed furniture and thoroughly inspect it along with your mattress and any other potential hiding places around the bed such as carpets, behind bedside tables and cracks in walls (which will need to be sealed) then use a vacuum cleaner with a plastic crevice nozzle attachment to suck up the bed bugs, including their eggs, larvae and droppings. Throw away the vacuum cleaner bag and its contents in a sealed bin liner, immediately. A heavily-infested mattress will need to be disposed of safely and swapped for a new one.

          3. Check the whole house

          The little pests can crawl quite far, so you should go over the whole room (if not your entire home) with a fine-toothed comb, looking under furniture, inside drawers, behind peeling wallpaper – everywhere, for signs of them.

          4. Stop them in their tracks

          Next use a special bed bugs insecticide, following the manufacturer’s instructions, to treat all infested areas and kill any remaining bed bugs.

          5. Use a chemical free cleaner

          Image credit: Vax

          Steam cleaning is chemical free and instantly kills bed bugs and their eggs.

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