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“We are certain we have bed bugs!”

by Prince Of Petworth — April 18, 2017 at 12:30 pm 62 Comments

bedbugs

“Dear PoPville,

We are certain we have bed bugs! Not too many…yet. A couple live ones today but no other real signs except for a some bites that have been going on for the last few weeks.

Not sure if they’re coming from one of our next door neighbors, which are both group houses (with landlords that aren’t rolling in dough) or from our frequent travel. Could have come in with our dog from boarding or the dog park… But the origin doesn’t matter as much as the solution – except the neighbors aren’t going to pay to remediate based on our experiences (nor should they) so any solution that costs a lot and leaves us open to reinfestation seems silly.

We are planning on bagging the box spring and mattress, washing and drying the hell out of bedding, vacuuming, etc etc. Seems like a decent path to at least try…

Where I get a bit stuck is the professional pest control. Their recommended treatment is super heating. It’s very expensive (thousands!!) and only warranteed for a month.

The chemical treatment seems minimally effective when you have floor boards and baseboards, etc. Plus, there is a noted health risk to the chemicals used.

What have readers’ experiences been? With the risk of reinfestation from neighbors (though I do think the origin was our travel),the thousands of dollars makes it a risky expenditure. A lot on the internet says we can remediate by ourselves (a lot of the internet also has DIY guides for building your own Apollo landing craft) which I’m willing to try since the issue hasn’t gotten really bad… but if the super heating is a slam dunk, I’d give it a shot too. (If it were a slam dunk the warranty would probably be a longer term!). We own our home so there is no one else to pay but us.

So, any experiences with home remediation and the pros, wisdom around the extent of the infestation, etc? I’d poll my friends – but the stigma is a bit overwhelming… this was probably one of my worst fears. It’s hard to 100% trust the pros because their advice comes with a healthy dose of conflict of interest (i.e. Treating the whole house, how much equipment and time) and they’re only accountable for a month…”

  • Kathryn-DC

    It’s true that heat treatment is preferred whenever possible, but multifamily dwellings often are treated with chemical pesticides and aggressive housekeeping measures. The chemicals must be applied several times, about a month apart.

    Good luck, I hope you get through this soon!

  • Colin

    We used heating and it did the trick.

  • Andrew

    I had bed bugs in 2015, and I contacted Bed Bug & Beyond. Charlie was my technician, and he gave me a very reasonable rate. His method was super-heating, but direct super-heating of the infested areas as opposed to heating the whole house. i have had contact with my former roommate at that same house multiple times since, and he has said that they have never returned. Obviously you’ll want to do the bagging and cleaning before and after treatment, I highly recommend BB&B

    • Bitten OP

      Thanks! How did they isolate the infestation site? While I trust dogs, I don’t always trust their owners. And when you say “area” do you mean like a part of a room, an entire room, or like a baseboard?

      • Andrew

        Flooring, baseboards, nooks, crannies, strip the bed, blast the bed with heat. The machine he used directs heat that is well beyond the contact-death-point for both bugs and eggs (SUPER important to get the eggs). He also had a great deal of knowledge about the bugs themselves, which was very helpful, and after heat-blasting, he made sure to lay down Diatomaceous Earth, which he described as being electrified razor wire to live adult bugs, so that any stragglers will immediately die. He does the entirety of each room that you ask him to do.

  • GT

    Hate to be Debbie Downer, but heat treatment did not work for us. Needed several rounds of chemicals after.

  • dcl

    Sorry to hear this – we have unfortunately been in the same boat. We sprung for the heating treatment. But before we did that, we had the company send out one of their bedbug dogs to make sure it was actually bedbugs, as there are other things that look similar. A sweet little dog came and sniffed everywhere and he found some. So, we went forward with the heat treatment. Just a heads up that it is A LOT of time consuming prep work, even with the professionals doing the actual treatment. We had to put every fabric in our home (clothes, linens, etc.) in the dryer on high heat for one cycle then bag it up, take everything off the walls and surfaces that might be damaged by being blown by the huge fans, remove various items that had a high risk of melting (some foods, candles, vinyl record collection), etc. Our bed bugs did go away after this process, though, so I suppose it was worth it. A couple years later we had another scare and called for the dogs to come back, and this time it was apparently just a carpet beetle. So, I felt like the company was honest and not just trying to get our money. We used Superior Bed Bug Solutions – another thing I will note if you are worried about stigma is that all their equipment was very discreet and didn’t say anything about bed bugs and they told nosy neighbors that asked what all the fuss was all about (they do create quite a scene with their huge fans and equipment set up in the front yard) that they were there about water damage.

  • AdMoRez

    This was my worst fear too, and I’m sorry to say this, but there is no good solution. I woke up with bites all over when I lived in my Adams Morgan rowhouse. I did a ton of research, and consulted multiple bed bug experts. The conclusion is, if you live in a row house, there’s no guarantee you can get rid of them. They can go next door, or even live inbetween the rowhouses, little cracks they can hide through. They are extremely resilient, they can detect chemicals and escape them. I had a situation where one of my rentals had bed bugs, and my tenant gased the entire house twice in a week, and they resurfaced a few months later. They can go into hiding and even escape for a bit, but they manage to survive. He chose the heat treatment option, but it’s been within a month so far, so far he hasn’t had any bites. But, if you miss an egg or a bed bug somewhere, then you’ll still have the problem, you have to get every single one. So even in a row house, there’s a chance they be in a deep corner and survive, or be at the next door neighbors and simply go to your house when they want to slurp on blood.

    Seeing as how I may never be able to fix the bed bug problem in a rowhouse, I moved to a single family home with no attached houses. Yes, I become that maniacal, and this is coming from someone who loves living in the city, and liking townhouses/condos because I don’t like having to maintain a yard. I did all of that, because of bed bugs.

    • J

      Yep – I got them in NYC and they were coming from my upstairs neighbor. They treated my apartment twice a week but because they couldn’t treat my neighbors (he wouldn’t let them in, he had some issues) they kept coming back. I slept in the living room for a month, then moved (and got a new bed).

      • Anon

        + 1. I had to go through this as well. I also ended up sleeping on my couch in the living room for a month. The reason that it took so long in my case was because my apartment building was inconsistent with the treatment. Luckily, I had the apartment building pay for the treatments. In the end, I threw out my furry rug next to my bed, my mattress and box spring so there was no place that they could hide/hatch. Then had the apartment contracted company come in multiple times. Afterwards, I purchased a new mattress and box spring (and had them sealed with an outer covering that would not allow any to come in). After a few months, I felt confidant enough to buy a new fabric headboard (sad smile). So sorry that you are going through this – but if you can do so, I would get rid of all fabric near the affected area, sleep in another room, and just have multiple rounds of chemical treatments. Then, slowly try to sleep there like once a week (and checked for bugs. Also, after sleeping there put all sheets/duvet covers/pajamas/pillows in a sealed trash bag and in the dryer immediately). If you don’t get bitten after a tries, then move back in.
        P.S. I got it from a hotel that I stayed in during a work conference. CHECK YOUR HOTEL MATTRESS.

        • Anon

          Anon above at 2:57pm. Also, I manually used a spray and powder every few days for a month in addition to the biweekly company visits. Haile Unlikely below reminded me of that.

          • AdMoRez

            One good I can provide to have a good night’s sleep while having bed bugs is to buy bed bug interceptors, that go inbetween your bed and the floor. Bed bugs are climbers, and mostly don’t live in the bed/mattress but rather crawl to your bed at nighttime, so they get caught and trapped in the interceptors and die. You can also tape the corners of your ceiling as well, so they can’t crawl from the ceiling and drop onto you or the bed (yes they can actually do this). Also, you can use Diatomaceous Earth, it’s natural and chemical free, but it’s also razor blades to your lungs and anything else (pets) that sniff it. If it’s in an area that gets disturbed and goes into your air, it can be very harmful to breathe in. I avoid DE unless it’s used outdoors. They also recommend you get a gas mask that filters out those particles specifically when applying it so you don’t breathe it in.

        • CoHiHello

          Just an FYI that you absolutely should not go sleep on your couch – people mention this all the time, but the bugs will just follow you to your couch, and then that will get infested too. I know it can be disturbing to sleep in a bed with bed bugs in it, but trust me you are better off just having them attracted to one room rather than your whole house or apartment!

          And beyond that, just be really diligent with all of the measures others have mentioned – get climbups, bedbug specific mattress covers (to keep them out or in your mattress, depending), dry everything on super high heat for at least 30 minutes and keep it all in sealed plastic bags (ziploc makes XL bags that are great for this).

  • Had them in Boston – chemicals did nothing. Had them in DC in old apartment – aggressive cleaning, bagging, 2 chemical treatments worked. Had them in new house years later – called in a dog/heat team, treated the affected rooms. Worked in one shot, and was less disruptive.

  • North Cleveland Park

    We had a mild bedbug infestation in our old apartment in Petworth. We used Affordable Pest and I think our technician was named Emmanuel. Although the chemical treatments required us to leave for a few hours, we didn’t have pets or children to worry about. We also purged all unnecessary clothing, possessions AND furniture. Don’t forget things like books and magazines too!

    Although the treatments were successful, we ended up breaking our lease and moving with very little other than a few trash bags of clothing each (that had been thoroughly washed, dried multiple times on high heat and triple bagged). It’s been almost 5 years and I haven’t experienced a reoccurrence since., nor have either of my two former roommates. The peace of mind took way more time to reestablish though- I still freak out when I have 2+ mosquito bites close to each other and go into bed bug panic mode. Good luck!

  • HaileUnlikely

    I conquered the wretched little creatures in or about 2006 (beginning of big bedbug comeback, before exterminators knew what to do about them) with chemicals purchased online, a mix of one called deltamethrin (to kill live bedbugs) and another called Gentrol (to prevent eggs from hatching), dispensed using a pump sprayer. while wearing gloves and a respirator. The former is relatively benign provided you don’t actively eat or snort it; the latter is nasty stuff that you need breathing protection to use, and is somewhat controversial in the bedbug expert world as to whether it helps, does nothing, or makes things worse. I put it all around the baseboards, and repeated twice.
    .
    More recently I slayed the beasts again, this time using only powdered silica gel, which is non-toxic, technically edible (but you obviously don’t want to eat it) and is basically nothing worse than a mild eye irritant (if I had an asthmatic in my house I’d be somewhat concerned about the possibility that it could trigger an attack, though – I don’t have any research on that, but it’s a really fine dust and thus seems like it could; better safe than sorry). I applied a fine layer of it, with a small paintbrush, to the baseboards and all cracks and joints in wooden furniture in the affected rooms (living room and all bedrooms).
    .
    In both cases the problem was a lot better within a week and gone within about 2-3. Given the cost differential, I’d give it a go on my own with silica gel and see if it worked first, before shelling out $1K+ for the heat treatment. Given the success I had with the silica gel, I would not mess around with the more toxic chemicals again. The one I used is sold under the brand name Cimexa.

    • Bitten OP

      How did you ascertain the extent of the infestation?

      If not for bites and 2 live ones, there’s no clear signs. No dead ones, no exoskeletons, no fecal matter… etc.

      Is it possible that we just got lucky and found this before it got out of hand and that it’s really isolated to the bedroom, or is that wishful thinking and we are totally screwed?

      • HaileUnlikely

        The second time I was getting a few bites over the span of a couple weeks, found 2 dead bedbugs, and found a few of what I believe to have been eggs. I do think I got lucky and caught it early that time. In 2006, I was significantly less lucky; the infestation had become quite advanced (this was at the very beginning of their US resurgence, at which time nobody who just had a few itchy bites would have evensuspected bedbugs)

      • Formerly ParkViewRes

        No, it IS possible. And I REALLY hope it is the case for you. So back in 2015 I started waking up with 1-3 bites and they itched like nothing else I have ever experienced. Maybe I am super allergic, but my god they also swelled up to the size of an inch or two at times. But I had no clue what it could be. Few weeks passed, nothing. Bit again and this time it looked like I was having a reaction or maybe a blood infection? There was a red line going all the way up my arm. It was scary so I went to urgent care (10pm at night). They had no clue what it was from either, but didn’t think bedbugs.

        I did my own research and concluded it had to be bed bugs. Called a company and they searched the whole house. Said they didn’t see any evidence. But it kept happening! It was maddening b/c my wife wasn’t getting any bites/reaction. So I called one of the dog companies, think it was BB&B. They brought in the dog. No bed bugs. By now I had major anxiety over this b/c clearly something was biting me.

        Fast-forward to November 2015 and we moved to Toronto. Now, I knew I’d find out if it was bed bugs b/c those nightmares will follow you to hell. First few nights it was okay, but then a bite! Then another night I woke up right after the bite, like I felt it. I turned my cell phone flashlight on and there the little f!cker was crawling along the bed. My wife had woken up and killed it! I felt such relief. We called in a company to confirm it and since we now had evidence he said yes, but maybe that’s it you just had one. Sure enough he searched our place and said there’s no evidence of bed bugs and it’s very likely we just had that one male bedbug. We paid for spraying anyway and haven’t had a problem since. Every time I hear the word bedbug I have horrible flashbacks.

    • Bitten OP

      Totally missed the silica dust. Is that shown to be more effective than the Diatomaceous Earth? Does the silica get at the eggs? DE does not…

      • HaileUnlikely

        Not sure about effect on eggs, but at least one study I’ve seen found that the silica dust killed a higher proportion of bad guys than DE and did so faster. I’m no expert; I really don’t know enough to evaluate the legitimacy of the study. It might have been bs. But in any event it worked well enough for me. DE is admittedly easier to get and costs less. On the other hand, both are so much less costly than professional heat treatment that I’m disinclined to try to penny-pinch my way to the absolute cheapest option possible… Two $12 bottles of Cimexa silica dust are probably enough to do your whole house.

        • Bitten OP

          Isn’t silica dust a big part of drywall joint compound? Where did you get yours?

          • HaileUnlikely

            Drywall joint compound has lots of stuff in it. Silica dust is somewhere on the list. Silica is also on the ingredient list in clumping cat litter and is sold as pellets the size of lentils in art supply stores to use to dry flowers. I don’t have any idea about the relative safety or effectiveness of just using joint compound or kitty litter or flower dessicant vs. using something manufactured for the purpose of killing insects. Anyway, I believe I got mine on Amazon.

  • JoeC

    We had bedbugs in an apartment a brand-new apartment building in Columbia Heights in 2010. Our landlord paid for the heating treatment and it worked wonders. Agree that it’s a lot of prep work. Also, the heat caused a bunch of our IKEA furniture to peel. I spent an inordinate amount of time researching this and concluded that heating is the most effective treatment. At that time, most pest companies recommended tossing all mattresses and box springs unless you used the heat treatment, which makes the heating more reasonable when you factor everything in.

    Finally, as somebody who has gone through this, you have my sympathy. I wouldn’t wish bed bugs on my worst enemy. Good luck!!

    • DCbyDay

      ugh same. bed bugs are honestly the worst ever.

  • GPDC

    American Pest Control (http://www.pestcentral.com/) are amazing, affordable (about $700 for a 1BR) and have a 1 year guarantee. Do not waste the time and energy trying to gt rod of them yourself. These guys will make small drill holes in the base boards to determine if they’re coming from neighbors.

  • DCbyDay

    I’ve had bed bugs 3 times — (twice of which was while working a the same camp in CA) and what makes the biggest difference is how diligent you are with the prep work/post work.
    .
    Put EVERYTHING in the dryer. Twice. Honestly, if you can’t put it in the dryer. Toss it. Toss ALL papers, newspapers, magazine you don’t need. I’ve found if you’re heat treating you can toss a little less, because things can stay in the room during heat treatment, but I don’t think the chemicals are as effective on things like papers, books, etc. There are some sprays out there that you can use on luggage, etc, but anything I was unsure about, I just threw out.
    .
    In California we used heat treatment for a large house and it was really effective, but the last time I got them, they just treated my apartment and all surrounding with chemicals and I was extra cautious with the prep/post. They never came back.
    .
    It’s awful and annoying — but I’d see if you could contact the landlords on either side of you and ask to have their homes looked at, not because you are blaming them, but because you want to help prevent infestation. That would also help you be able to isolate origins a bit, if none are found next door, treating just your home should do the trick.

  • DC_BB Survivor

    First off, let me say I am sorry. These little pests are beyond awful and have caused us sleepless nights and mental strain. We are in what I call our “sweet spot” currently – we don’t have live ones and occasionally find the very flat skeleton of one that has seen better days.

    We are in a row home and one of our neighbors had an unfathomable infestation that took a toll on four homes and only stopped because one of the homes was semi-detached. We have done EVERYTHING – dog sniffing, heating (x2), chemicals, bagging, caulking, drying, throwing items away – you name it, we did it.

    That being said our “sweet spot” came from heating and chemicals – a tag team effort on all fronts. Three homes participated in the heating and were all done very strategically. Then we started treating with chemicals. The chemicals which we buy are made by Bayer and we spray everywhere (still). We decided that we would rather keep them at bay, then just wait.

    The heating definitely works, but if your neighbors won’t do the heating and/or don’t prep properly for the heating – the problem WILL COME BACK. My recommendation would be to bag all mattresses in the special cases they sell online, put BB traps under each foot of the bed and coat with domesticus earth, professional heating, caulk, spray and then continue spraying.

    Pour a large glass of wine (or whiskey) and start counting your BB free days.

    • Bitten OP

      This is great, but not feel good advice.

      I doubt we will get coordination from the neighbors and if they’re not experiencing any signs I’m not sure why they would shell out the $.

      I wonder if there are people who have used the OTC products (other than chemical, from hailes reply above I don’t think I have the expertise for that) and managed to keep a small issue from becoming a big one? Alternatively are there people who tried to remediate and found it grew out of control and wished they’d just done it sooner? Seems like connected townhouses are tough even if there’s coordination. Borderline impossible without… making the high priced treatments less attractive when it seems minor…

  • James W.

    You seem to have some dated misconceptions about bedbugs… talking about the “stigma” of it and apparently blaming them on the presence of lower income neighbors. Bedbugs don’t discriminate on income, class, or neighborhood. Good luck, but please drop the stereotyping of bedbug infestations as something that only happens to the poor;

    • Bitten OP

      Would you do me a favor and point out exactly where I blamed my neighbors? Quote it please.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I think he probably meant your statement about the neighboring houses being group houses whose landlords were not “rolling in the dough.” I think James took that to mean “poor people are more likely to get bedbugs.” I just took it to mean that the landlords might not be the types to swiftly take expensive steps to eradicate pests before they spread to neighboring houses, which you’re probably better able to assess than anybody else since you live next door to them…

        • Bitten OP

          Correct. I mean, I’m not even going to ask them to pay the multi thousands that the heat treating costs if they haven’t as much as observed a bug.

          But that said, the lack of coordination makes the eradication pretty uncertain…

          As for whether I think poor people have bed bugs, since I said the most likely vector was travel- I’d say someone got their outrage machine a little too far revved up today…

    • CoHiHello

      I think it is worth pointing to you James that there is still very much a stigma about having bed bugs. Have you ever told someone that you had bed bugs and have them recoil and move a few inches away from you? Or say something like “well, I keep my place really clean and our building is nice so I don’t think we would get them”. People who have not had them have never conducted research on them and do not know about their hitch hiking tendencies.

  • We had one unit in our condo building infested. Treated it with chemicals inserted into the baseboards and it worked. A friend treated for fleas with the silica and it worked for that – don’t know about bedbugs.

    To prevent them however, any time you travel, never put your suitcase on the bed or any upholstered surface in a hotel. Upon return, check all the crevices. I’ve heard spraying with an alcohol solution is good, but Google has lots of other methods too.

    Also, if you have house centipedes (horrible hair-legged bugs) in your house, leave them alone. They eat bedbugs and all kinds of other insects & larvae. Good luck.

    • Duponter

      By house centipedes, do you mean silverfish bugs? If so, good, because I always get them as it starts to warm up in DC.

      Also the sheer number of people here who have had bed bugs makes me now terrified and itchy. KNOCK ON WOOD. This sounds horrifying. Sorry for everyone who has gone through this. I’m glad I just moved out of my rowhouse into a SFH and now plan to never sleep in another bed other than my own ever again. Ugh.

      • A

        House centipedes are bigger & have way more legs than a silverfish. I’ve got them & they freak me out.

        • Yes, house centipedes are different than silverfish. You can google them to see. I think Silverfish eat books, so they are bad. And yes, house centipedes look freaky, but they are shy, don’t want to crawl on you, and eat everything you don’t want in your house – fleas, cockroach eggs, bedbugs etc.

          • Duponter

            Oh. Hilariously, I have always thought house centipedes were silverfish. Okay, well I have house centipedes when it gets warm out. And they are welcome to eat all of those things. I prefer if they do it not in my presence though.

    • OP Anon

      I purchased a bed bug-killing heat unit from Amazon. After I stay in a hotel, my suitcase and belongings go straight into it and the heat fan is blasted for a few hours. It does the trick. Amazon has a bunch of different ones in various sizes. Worth the $200.
      https://www.amazon.com/ZappBug-Heater/dp/B00F6EV306/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492538649&sr=8-1&keywords=bed+bug+heater

      • Bitten OP

        I need this for the future. Thank you!

  • Effie

    Never tried heat treatments… but in college I had a run-in with these nasty things. I washed RELIGIOUSLY.. I mean washing everything all the time, in combination with vacuuming and throwing away the bags after. That worked for me, but if you have some sort of heavy infestation you might have to resort to chemicals and hire someone to come into your home.

    • Bitten OP

      You’ve given me hope.

  • Duponter

    Also, is it definitely certain that they can travel by means of your dog staying at boarding or elsewhere? This probably worries me more than anything. I assumed they weren’t able to travel by pet or how is the entire city not infested. But maybe after all these comments, I should realize it is.

    • No, they don’t come in via pets. They cohabit with humans, their preferred food.

      • CoHiHello

        The whole city is infested is what I am realizing this year – I think DC was rated #2 this year just behind NYC for bed bugs…

        And they likely won’t travel on pets, but it’s not impossible. If you’ve got a bad infestation, they could be in their fur. But, I think the infestation would have to be pretty bad to get that far. They will bite your pets however.

  • APRO

    Diatomaceous Earth Powder everywhere, a bed bag, cups for the feet of the bed

  • anon

    Anyone have any advice for how they killed an infestation of carpet beetles (I’ve got the little ones) who eat wool and other fibers?)

    • rctran

      At the risk of sounding nuts, I used to get those in the things I put in the closet for winter storage (Uggs, shearling, etc.); while not an infestation, I would stick a bayleaf in the shoe/item, and… it’s kept ’em away so far. Have also stuck them in jars/bags of flour and rice with good effect for the weevils/beetles that get into grain.

    • Anon

      I had them and they’re easy enough to treat. I used a company that did two sprays of some (they claim) organic chemical, which was only a few hundred bucks (I didn’t have to leave the house or anything.) After that I spot treated with diatomaceous earth where I had seen most of the dead bodies for a couple of months until no more bodies appeared. (Weirdly, mine lived in my wood floored kitchen and not upstairs with my carpet. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) It’s been a few years and I haven’t seen them since. You may just be able to treat them yourself. I was so happy to have them because I spent a week worried it might be bb, ha.

  • Janie4

    I went chemical, but heat would probably be less disruptive, as I had to send my cats to live with my mother for two weeks between treatment and follow up.

    As everyone has said, wash all your clothes, linens, stuffed animals and purge belongings you don’t need. You can put stuff that you want to keep in sterilite storage bins. They’re airtight, and the bugs will be dead after 18 months. I had to send several hundred dollars worth of stuff to the dry cleaner. Use rubbing alcohol to rub down furniture where there are crevasses near your bed. They can live in those.

    Schedule a bulk pick up of random household items, because you will get rid of stuff as opposed to clean it or save it, and it’s an excuse to purge.

  • cMaryc

    Best of luck to you. I got bedbugs from a new pillow. It’s a very creepy experience, but I got it diagnosed it and got confirmation quickly through https://www.americanpest.net/k-9-detection – puppy dog checked out my condo, was not interested in the kitchen, was not distracted by the cats, didn’t care about their kitty litter, and honed in on one spot, the nest on the underside of the box spring. They identified that it was a very new nest, no exoskeletons to be found, and recommended heat treatment, but since it was one small spot, I decided not. Instead I got rid of the box spring, super vacuumed the heck out of the room, got a (too big) supply of DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (available thru Amazon or any garden center), and scattered that in the carpet, by the baseboards and between the mattress and boxspring. Lucky for me there have been no recurances.

  • admo_elle

    Experienced bed bugs a year ago as a renter in an admo rowhouse. I hope that you’ve caught them in the early stages, but they can definitely be very well hidden and it might be worse than you think. I would HIGHLY recommend having a professional come out to check and confirm, and would recommend going through professional treatments as well.

    Our landlord paid for the treatment, so I’m not sure of the exact cost, but we went with chemical, which as you’ve learned is cheaper than the heating. I would recommend the company we used ( http://www.actionenvironmental.com/ ) They use an organic system which made us feel much better about spraying, and our landlord had used them with positive results in other properties in the past.

    The man who did our initial check (and treatments) found more evidence of bedbugs than we were able to. There were many more than we had anticipated, and he said they had likely been there for much longer than we realized. Some people are definitely more allergic to the bites than others, so you might not realize how active they’ve been. They were hiding and nesting in the tiny crevices of a wooden bedframe, not so many on the mattress itself. I think they really like wood, so wooden nightstands or bedroom furniture are also a good place for them to hide.

    Overall, the company did a great job explaining the process and exactly what to do to prep for the treatments. Also what to do ourselves between treatments and afterwards. Our issue was pretty much confined to one bedroom (though we did treat neighboring rooms and the living room at his suggestion.) In our experience, and our landlords prior experience with their service, they are able to erradicate the bugs within 3-5 sprays, I think a week or two between each visit.

    The process is a pain in the ass, but you’ll get through it! It definitely helped us to have the professional to keep our fears in check, and to have more confidence that they were actually gone after the treatments. Happily, the house has been bed bug free since then! Sorry this was a bit rambling. Good luck!

  • Anon

    If you catch it early enough, all you have to do is get the mattress covers that are made for bedbugs (bed bath and beyond has them). Some covers still allow the bedbugs get through, so this is an important step. You also need to buy a ton of 91% rubbing alcohol and have it in spray bottles. For about a month straight you will need to drench everything with the rubbing alcohol. Carpet, bedding, spray the walls, EVERYTHING. This kills them on contact. It does not kill eggs, so this is why you need to do it for so long. Keep your furniture away from the walls. They can live in the walls, books, basically any cracks imaginable. Put everything possible in to the dryer. The heat will kill them (and eggs).

    Some other cost effective ideas I haven’t tried: boric acid around where they might crawl (they are unable to crawl through it), vaseline on the bed posts (keeps them from crawling up).

    I had success with this personally and have helped many others with this strategy successfully. Persistence is key. It may have taken a few years off my life…

    Heat treatment is necessary for a major infestation (in walls etc…)

    • Mattress covers only keep them out of the mattress. From what I’ve read, their real stomping ground is actually wooden bed frames, night tables – anything with tiny crevices in wood.

      • Anon

        That’s why you need to drench everything with rubbing alcohol for a month straight 1 to 2 times a day in order to catch the areas outside of the mattress. They absolutely live in the crevices of mattresses. That is the first place I check when I go to a hotel. The rubbing alcohol drys quickly and doesn’t seem to hurt anything I sprayed it on.

        In my experience it has been the most cost effective and efficient measure. But, it is a commitment! I helped two of my formerly homeless clients get rid of infestations this way, I have done it myself, and I have advised friends to do it this way… All of which have been successful. The rubbing alcohol just has to touch the bug and it dies.

    • Nate

      Spraying everything in your bedroom with rubbing alcohol will also turn your place into a firestarter!

      I am not saying it doesn’t work in the way you describe, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk. I would just buy a professional grade bedbug spray (the one my exterminator used was Bedlam plus) online instead.

      Snopes has a collection of certified TRUE accounts of bedbug-alcohol fires that destroyed homes, cars, and entire apartment buildings. They file it under humor/follies but I don’t think I would feel that way if it happened to me…

  • My neighbors had what must have been a years’ long and serious infestation that spread to my house and the other adjoining house. I tried a number of things and companies. In the end, what ended the problem was simultaneous treatment of all three properties. I used a company that drilled into the baseboards every 18 inches all along the adjoining wall and sprayed in poison and that’s what finally did it. Don’t mess around trying a lot of things and spending more and more of your money in the process. Get it handled and find out if your neighbors have the problem. I have PTSD from the whole experience.

  • marianthelibrarian

    We had bed bugs in an apartment several years ago. We used chemical treatment, spent about $500, and it worked. The apartment above us used heat treatment, spent thousands of dollars, and then had to have it done again because it didn’t work the first time. We used MTB Pest Control and the exterminator explained that heat treatment tends to work better in houses, and doesn’t work as well in apartments since the bugs just move to another unit and then come back.

    Also, don’t be that embarrassed about having them. Literally half of my friends who live in the city have had then before.

  • Hill East

    I woke up with itchy, red welts at a high end safari lodge in Africa — saw traces of blood on the sheets — realized later that I had bed bug bites and am one of the people who seems to be allergic. The bites were quite uncomfortable for 24 hours. This happened just before a long flight and there was no Benadryl to be found. (I travel with it everywhere now.) Luckily, they didn’t come home with me. I do have moths in my old row house that have a special taste for my nicest sweaters and am searching for a solution. Anyway, long way of saying, there shouldn’t be a stigma. High end and low end places are equally attractive to those obnoxious creatures. Best of luck.

  • justme

    I had bed bugs last year and I called a thousand places and was getting super high quotes. I ended up picking this one company that had good reviews and they came out and took a look at the place and after they saw that I didn’t have many they lowered the quote significantly. I would highly recommend them. They came out and sprayed 3 times. I went ahead and washed everything I owned in super hot water and I bought those at home dry cleaning pads you throw in the dryer for the things that couldn’t be washed and that did the trick. Haven’t seen one since. The company was called BioTech pest management. I think it ended up being in the 600-700 range for 3 rooms which was way lower then I was getting quoted for elsewhere. https://www.yelp.com/biz/biotech-pest-management-washington?osq=bed+bug+exterminator

  • An

    I use American pest control. They only come out once and provide a 1 yr warranty.

    American Pest Control
    http://www.pestcentral.com
    800-585-PEST

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