For the past couple months, we’ve been flooded with news of a bed bug infestation. Starting in Paris, bed bugs have found their way to other countries including the UK, with a West London library having to temporarily close recently after bed bugs were found in soft furnishings.
Bed bugs are small insects found in furniture or the best bedding. They feed on blood at night which results in itchy bites, spots and occasional bleeding. On your furniture and on yourself, it’s relatively easy to treat bed bugs but if you leave them to fester and multiply, you could be looking at having to throw out and replace your entire bedding set-up which isn’t a cheap feat (unless you shop the best mattress deals).
As they’re being found more frequently in homes, many people are looking for ways to maintain a bed bug-free zone. To find out how to get rid of bed bugs, I spoke to Dennis Matthews, the Lead Research Scientist in Microbiology at Dyson who gave me his cleaning and prevention tips to beat bed bugs at home.
How to prevent and get rid of bed bugs
Depending on your bed bug situation, treating them varies from extreme cleaning to regular tidying. As Matthews remarks, “there are ways to manage your home environment to keep it clean and healthy, make it less hospitable for bed bugs and also minimise other nasties like pollen, dust and dust mites.”
First, it’s important to keep watch for any signs that you have an infestation. Bed bugs spread extremely quickly so it’s important to find them early on and take immediate action. Matthews says spots of blood in your bed, a sweet or musty smell in your sheets and exoskeletons or small brown debris are clear signs that you have bed bugs.
If you have a serious bed bug problem, Matthews recommends “fumigation using chemicals or a non-chemical heat treatment. There are other steps to take, like washing bedding at a high temperature, and ensuring any potentially contaminated fabrics like clothing or bedding are kept sealed in plastic until ready to wash.”
Speaking of clothing, you might not realise it but you’re not free of bed bugs just because you’ve left your house. According to Matthews, bed bugs are likely to travel on us from place to place via our clothes or luggage and can be picked up on public transport and in hotels. To prevent any issues, Matthews suggests keeping luggage on the floor, not directly on the bed and storing them away from soft furnishings and clothes between trips. He goes on to say “if you’re concerned you’ve picked up bed bugs on your clothing, be sure to check it closely, shake it vigorously and put it in the laundry as soon as possible, storing it in a sealed plastic bag until then.”
5 cleaning tips for a bed bug-free bedroom
To keep your bedroom bed bug-free, here are five Dyson-approved cleaning tips to help fight them off.
1. Wash your bedding
The easiest way to dissuade bed bugs from your room is by washing your sheets. The general rule is to change your sheets every week or every fortnight (see how often you should wash your bed sheets for more) to remove dust, dirt and allergens, and kill bed bugs and dust mites. Matthews suggests washing your sheets and blankets on a 140°F - 195°F wash for the best results.
2. Vacuum your mattress
Running the best Dyson vacuum cleaner over your mattress might sound insane but it’s the best way to remove bed bugs from the surface of your best mattress. Matthews suggests “using a vacuum with a high power or boost mode to deliver the suction you need to remove as many mites, skin flakes and allergens as possible. A Hair Screw Tool or Mini Motorised Tool in handheld mode won’t damage the surface of your mattress but has stiff nylon bristles that can agitate the fibres in your mattress and loosen dust and debris.”
3. Focus on hard-to-reach areas
“Once you’ve deep cleaned the surface of your mattress, pay attention to any crevices or folds where dust and allergens can gather,” says Matthews. “For cleaning around the edge of your mattress, use a Crevice Tool in handheld mode to remove any hidden dust.” Under your bed is also a good place to cover as bed bugs hide in dark, warm and humid areas.
4. Don’t forget to flip!
To cover more of your mattress, flip it over and vacuum the other side to keep concentrations of visible allergens as low as possible. Flipping your mattress should be done every six months to keep your bed perfectly bouncy, springy and clean (see how often you should flip your mattress for more). For more protection, you can also invest in the best mattress protector to absorb excess sweat and dirt.
5. Vacuum and tidy regularly
As often as you can, make sure to vacuum your mattress and bedroom regularly. Matthews also suggests removing “clutter around the bedroom to provide fewer opportunities for bed bugs to hide, particularly the space around and under the bed.”