How To Prevent Bed Bugs Uk

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.

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, 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 Prevent Bed Bugs

It’s not just the bites that make you feel uncomfortable if you have an infestation of bed bugs. But the simple fact is that it can be very easy to bring bed bugs into your home or work place without realising it. Rest assured, an outbreak does not reflect on your standards of cleanliness in any way.

Bed Bug Infestation?

If bed bugs have found their way into your home or business, all you need to do is give Rentokil a call and we’ll do the rest.

  1. Free site survey at your property
  2. Innovative and safe chemical-free treatment by our BPCA certified technicians
  3. Follow-up visits until problem is solved.

Bed Bug Prevention Tips

Here are a number of simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of facing an unwelcome outbreak of bed bugs:

At Home

Wash and dry clothes at the highest possible temperatures.

Eliminate clutter in your house to give bed bugs fewer places to hide.

Avoid spreading bed bugs to your friends and family by not taking any clothes, suitcases or furniture to their homes.

Tidy all areas of your bedroom, especially the floor around/underneath your bed and bed-side cabinets.

Vacuuming can greatly reduce the size of the bed bug population, but only when they’re clearly visible. It cannot guarantee total elimination. (Empty and clean the vacuum to avoid transferring eggs to other rooms.)

Use DIY products, to help eliminating some bed bugs – it’s a good start but shouldn’t be relied on to get rid of the problem completely.

When Travelling

Check hotel bed linen and mattresses for live bed bugs, small dark bloodspots and a distinctive sweet and sickly smell.

Avoid putting your suitcase on the bed.

Hang clothes in a wardrobe rather than use drawers.

Store suitcases in the garage between trips.

How Rentokil Can Help

Use a professional solution like Rentokil’s award winning professional ‘chemical free’ Entotherm heat treatment to quickly and safely eliminate an infestation. A range of other solutions are also available.

High levels of hygiene, deep cleaning and the use of DIY bed bug spray products will help to kill some bed bugs, however professional treatment is needed to completely eliminate infestations.

Why prevention is important:

  1. Bed bugs can easily move from house to house through wall or floor cavities
  2. Bed bugs spread quickly, so infestations need to be treated sooner rather than later
  3. Some people think sunlight can kill bed bugs. Heat does kill them but it needs to be quite high (around 50 degrees) and over a sustained period – so it’s very unlikely with UK weather!

How Hotels Handle And Treat Bed Bug Infestations

Hotels are under attack by bed bugs with a majority of major hotel chains reporting bed bug cases in many of their properties. We deal mainly with independent hotel owners looking to treat their rooms and wanted to share how these hotels handle bed bugs and their perspective on this epidemic.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many of the hotels we stay in have been or are in fact partially infested with bed bugs. Hotels are prime victims and carriers of bed bugs because of the constant turnover of guests, which exponentially increase the odds of at least one room being exposed to bed bugs. There are many states across the country that we deal with, but the majority of hotels with infestations preside in New York, New Jersey, Ohio and California. These states continue to be hot spots where the probability of staying in an infested hotel would be the greatest in our opinion.

In hotels that are infested with bed bugs its not uncommon for guests to complain about bed bugs bites to the front desk or even to not have any bed bug bites and inadvertently bring bed bugs back to their home on their suitcases or clothing. Being bitten by bed bugs while on vacation can detract from the enjoyment and cause increased stress and insomnia.

So whose to blame and how do hotels deal with complaints of bed bug bites as well as accusations that home infestations originated from their properties?

Hotels are of course for profit private entities that rely on high occupancies to drive the bottom line. This makes dealing with bed bugs very expensive not only for the treatments of the rooms, but also for the lost revenue they lose when infested rooms cannot be occupied. Hotels offer a valuable service in offering rooms, but fall victim to guests carrying bed bugs into the property where they in turn infest other guests.

If your wondering if a hotel with bed bugs will shut down a floor or even an entire hotel that’s infested with bed bugs the answer is probably not. With issues in the current economy and with less people traveling for business and leisure, hotels need the revenue more than ever. I genuinely believe that hotel owners look out for their patrons and take extensive steps to prevent bed bugs infestations, but its a losing battle in many cases.

So if your in a hotel and your bitten what can you expect from the hotel? In most cases hotels will refund your money or move you to another room. With most hotel rooms booked on credit cards eligible to be disputed especially for bed bug reasons, you can be sure that they will attempt to satisfy you. Based on the property owners and managers we’ve spoken to, they do not place people in rooms they know are infested as this too is bad for business and not ethically correct.

One issue that is becoming a growing issue within hotels is guests falsely reporting bed bugs bites to gain free stays in hotels. It’s very difficult for hotels to fight false claims of bed bug bites especially with the widespread coverage in the news about hotel infestations. Some people even think they are being bitten by bed bugs when in fact its just an allergy to the hotels lotions, soap or shampoo. This too can be an issue as guests are quick to accuse the hotel of bed bug negligence.

One of the biggest complaints were hear is from guests that recently stayed in a hotel and now have be bugs. I can tell you from experience that hotels will state that it’s impossible to prove that bed bugs from their property infested the guests home and therefore they are not responsible. I’m assuming the guest could sue the hotel in small claims court for damages, but this is rare. There are of course steps to greatly reduce bringing bed bugs home from hotels including the use of the Packtite heat treatment device, drying clothing on high heat and using bed bug luggage sprays before and after the hotel stay.

What are the hotels doing to control bed bug infestations?

Most hotels regularly treat their rooms through the use of a pest control operator or by treating the rooms themselves using residual chemicals known to treat bed bugs 4-6 weeks. Regular applications can treat bed bugs in infested rooms and help prevent bed bugs from infesting rooms that have none. Treating for bed bugs in hot spots across the country is good for business and can reduce customer complaints and refunds.

From our experience hotels are quick to respond to customer complaints and do not knowingly place new guests in infested rooms that have not been treated. Normally, hotels will keep a room out of commission for at least a day while the room is treated. The issue with this practice is that it normally takes several treatment to fully treat an infestation. The issue here is again the need for the hotel to stay in business and this means occupying the room. Waiting 6 weeks for 3 treatments to be conducted and monitored is often not an option.

As long as people continue to bring bed bugs into hotels it will continue to be a losing battles for hotels, which is why it’s unfortunately up to the guests to protect themselves from bed bugs and to reduce the chances of bringing bed bugs back home.

How Hotels Handle And Treat Bed Bug Infestations

Hotels are under attack by bed bugs with a majority of major hotel chains reporting bed bug cases in many of their properties. We deal mainly with independent hotel owners looking to treat their rooms and wanted to share how these hotels handle bed bugs and their perspective on this epidemic.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many of the hotels we stay in have been or are in fact partially infested with bed bugs. Hotels are prime victims and carriers of bed bugs because of the constant turnover of guests, which exponentially increase the odds of at least one room being exposed to bed bugs. There are many states across the country that we deal with, but the majority of hotels with infestations preside in New York, New Jersey, Ohio and California. These states continue to be hot spots where the probability of staying in an infested hotel would be the greatest in our opinion.

In hotels that are infested with bed bugs its not uncommon for guests to complain about bed bugs bites to the front desk or even to not have any bed bug bites and inadvertently bring bed bugs back to their home on their suitcases or clothing. Being bitten by bed bugs while on vacation can detract from the enjoyment and cause increased stress and insomnia.

So whose to blame and how do hotels deal with complaints of bed bug bites as well as accusations that home infestations originated from their properties?

Hotels are of course for profit private entities that rely on high occupancies to drive the bottom line. This makes dealing with bed bugs very expensive not only for the treatments of the rooms, but also for the lost revenue they lose when infested rooms cannot be occupied. Hotels offer a valuable service in offering rooms, but fall victim to guests carrying bed bugs into the property where they in turn infest other guests.

If your wondering if a hotel with bed bugs will shut down a floor or even an entire hotel that’s infested with bed bugs the answer is probably not. With issues in the current economy and with less people traveling for business and leisure, hotels need the revenue more than ever. I genuinely believe that hotel owners look out for their patrons and take extensive steps to prevent bed bugs infestations, but its a losing battle in many cases.

So if your in a hotel and your bitten what can you expect from the hotel? In most cases hotels will refund your money or move you to another room. With most hotel rooms booked on credit cards eligible to be disputed especially for bed bug reasons, you can be sure that they will attempt to satisfy you. Based on the property owners and managers we’ve spoken to, they do not place people in rooms they know are infested as this too is bad for business and not ethically correct.

One issue that is becoming a growing issue within hotels is guests falsely reporting bed bugs bites to gain free stays in hotels. It’s very difficult for hotels to fight false claims of bed bug bites especially with the widespread coverage in the news about hotel infestations. Some people even think they are being bitten by bed bugs when in fact its just an allergy to the hotels lotions, soap or shampoo. This too can be an issue as guests are quick to accuse the hotel of bed bug negligence.

One of the biggest complaints were hear is from guests that recently stayed in a hotel and now have be bugs. I can tell you from experience that hotels will state that it’s impossible to prove that bed bugs from their property infested the guests home and therefore they are not responsible. I’m assuming the guest could sue the hotel in small claims court for damages, but this is rare. There are of course steps to greatly reduce bringing bed bugs home from hotels including the use of the Packtite heat treatment device, drying clothing on high heat and using bed bug luggage sprays before and after the hotel stay.

What are the hotels doing to control bed bug infestations?

Most hotels regularly treat their rooms through the use of a pest control operator or by treating the rooms themselves using residual chemicals known to treat bed bugs 4-6 weeks. Regular applications can treat bed bugs in infested rooms and help prevent bed bugs from infesting rooms that have none. Treating for bed bugs in hot spots across the country is good for business and can reduce customer complaints and refunds.

From our experience hotels are quick to respond to customer complaints and do not knowingly place new guests in infested rooms that have not been treated. Normally, hotels will keep a room out of commission for at least a day while the room is treated. The issue with this practice is that it normally takes several treatment to fully treat an infestation. The issue here is again the need for the hotel to stay in business and this means occupying the room. Waiting 6 weeks for 3 treatments to be conducted and monitored is often not an option.

As long as people continue to bring bed bugs into hotels it will continue to be a losing battles for hotels, which is why it’s unfortunately up to the guests to protect themselves from bed bugs and to reduce the chances of bringing bed bugs back home.

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