It was a silly bedtime rhyme we said when we were kids—a line that meant nothing to me other than it was funny. Goodnight, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite! Years later, I would learn that bedbugs are real and no laughing matter.
Bedbugs are a nightmare. They’re parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on blood. Tiny and nocturnal, bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices. They are also really good hitchhikers, jumping into luggage from an infested hotel room or hiding in the seams zippers of clothing manufactured in an infested factory.
A problem worldwide, bedbugs are resurging, causing property loss, expense, and inconvenience. The good news, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that bedbugs do not transmit disease. But they can torment their blood hosts in ways I won’t go into here.
The best way to prevent bedbugs is with a regular inspection for signs of an infestation—droppings, bite marks,and mysterious bloodstains on bedding. When you see evidence, act immediately and then practice good maintenance and cleanliness.
Do it yourself
While hiring a professional pest control service that specializes in bedbugs might appear to be the best way to go, it can be very costly. You can do this yourself with remarkable and long-lasting success. It takes diligence and tenacity but you can do it for far less than the thousands you’ll end up paying a professional bedbug service.
Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is the only effective option. It is all-natural and safe. DE acts like shards of glass to puncture bedbugs’ exoskeletons. It then absorbs their internal fluids dehydrating them quickly and effectively. If you are experiencing a bedbug infestation, you need these full instructions for how to treat bedbugs with food-grade DE.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous Earth (DE), an off-white talc-like powder, is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton that have been ground to a fine powder.
If you could take a look at it through a microscope you’d see that it resembles shards of glass. It comes in bags and is easily found online ,and in the garden department of stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart and Tractor Supply.
Safe around pets, kids
Here’s the most amazing thing about DE: It kills bugs but doesn’t hurt mammals. You and your pets could eat it without harm. In fact, many people add food-grade DE to their daily diet to promote good health.
What kind of DE?
It is critical to understand DE is available in two grades.
For this application of killing bugs and insects, you must use food-grade Diatomaceous Earth. Make sure it reads “food-grade” on the label. Only food-grade Diatomaceous Earth will rid of centipedes, spiders, bedbugs, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, fleas, and all other creepy crawlies.
Swimming pool supply stores sell Pool-Grade Diatomaceous Earth for DE pool filters. This DE has been treated chemically for this specific use—in a swimming pool DE filter. The pool grade DE is calcined, which changes the chemical compound from silicon dioxide to crystalline silica. Pool-grade DE will not work to kill bugs and insects. Worse, pool-grade DE is very toxic and should be handled with extreme care, to be used only in a DE-specific pool filter.
Step 1: Steam clean
Steam your home with a good portable steam cleaner. Bedbugs cannot tolerate heat above 130 F. (or cold below 32 F., for that matter). If you do not have a steam cleaner, borrow or rent one for now.
Start by thoroughly steam cleaning the room(s) where you’ve found evidence of bedbugs That means every nook and cranny, along baseboards in the corners. Clean high and low. Move the furniture. Clean the underside of the bed, the legs, and feet.
Step 2: Launder all washable fabrics
Launder everything that is washable including but not limited to curtains, bedding, pillows, and clothing. Wash them hot water—above 130F. You may need to adjust your water heater to accommodate. Dry on high heat and then store all washed fabric items in sealed plastic bags or containers.
Step 3: Vacuum the entire home
You want to remove every bedbug and egg from every crevice, crack, corner and place a teeny tiny bug could be hiding. Vacuum even if you don’t see any—their eggs are not visible to the typical naked eye!
Vacuum and steam clean carpets thoroughly. Dismantle furniture as much as possible, then steam clean and vacuum every surface. Pull the drawers out, turn items upside down to vacuum underneath. Looks for cracks in the wood and get into all the tight spots with a good hose attachment. Consider a total encasement mattress cover for every bed that is or may become infested.
Step 4: Apply DE to kill bedbugs
You are going to apply food-grade diatomaceous earth for both immediate treatment and eradication and for prevention which means you’ll be killing the eggs, too. Follow these instructions carefully.
- Make sure that all areas are absolutely dry and free from moisture. DE becomes ineffective if it gets wet.
- Using the powder duster, lightly dust all affected areas with diatomaceous earth powder.
- Get the fine powdered DE into every crack and crevice; behind appliances, along windowsills, and door jams. Remove electrical switch and outlet faceplates and spray in those areas. Work DE into furniture and carpeting.
- Dust DE over carpets, along baseboards, on and around pet bedding; on pillows, and other soft furnishings.
Step 5: Leave the DE undisturbed
Leave the DE for 2 to 3 days or as long as possible before you clean it up, especially in areas that are not visible or bothersome like windowsills and baseboards. After that time, vacuum up the DE.
Step 6. Repeat as necessary
Bedbugs are persistent. Your situation may require more than one treatment. Just know that repeating these steps is necessary to break the cycle of infestation. If you are diligent to use diatomaceous earth in your home, it will prevent future infestations.
Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth is readily available at garden centers and hardware stores. You can get a and 5-lb. bag of Diatomaceous Earth from Amazon that includes a bulb duster. Always make certain you purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth, not the variety of DE used in swimming pools, which has been chemically altered and will not work as a pesticide. It must be food-grade, and Harris is the brand of food-grade DE you can trust. Wholly mined, produced, and packaged in the USA.
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