Step #1: Bed Bug Free Safe Zone
Dealing with bed bugs is stressful and time consuming. It’s important to maintain your energy and keep up a positive attitude; and for this, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial. The first thing you will want to do is make your bed a Safe Zone, completely free of bed bugs and proofed against re-infestation.
Step 1.1: Move Your Bed Away From Walls
You need to reposition your bed so it does not touch any walls. This is to prevent bed bugs from getting to your bed by climbing up the wall.
Step 1.2: Heat Treat All of Your Bedding
High enough heat kills bed bugs, so you want to heat treat all of your bedding (including linens, pillows, comforters and blankets) using either ZappBug or your home clothes dryer. (A clothes dryer set on high will reach bed bug killing temperatures so it makes a decent alternative to ZappBug.)
You do not want to rely on your washing machine to kill bed bugs. The washing process, itself, can help mechanically remove bed bugs but the water temperature of home washing machines may not get hot enough to kill bed bugs. If you do wash, go ahead and set the temperature on hot; but you really want to think of your dryer or ZappBug as the mechanism that will ensure killing bed bugs.
What this means is you do not actually have to put any of your bedding in the washer, if you do not want to. You can simply put all of your bedding in your ZappBug or in your clothes dryer set on high—no need to first wash it. This will kill any bed bugs.
Here are the exact steps to ensure proper heat treatment of bedding:
A. Bag Your Bedding
When you remove your bedding put all of it in sealed plastic bags. This is to prevent any bed bugs from falling off and spreading when you move your bedding to ZappBug or the washer/dryer.
B. De-Bag Correctly
When you are removing your bedding from bags to wash or heat treat, it is very important to do so correctly, in order to not accidentally spread bed bugs around.
The wrong method of de-bagging is to place your bagged bedding on the floor and then lift out the items for placement in ZappBug or the dryer or the washing machine. As you are lifting items out of the bag, bed bugs can fall off and spread.
If you are using ZappBug, place the entire bag in ZappBug, before removing any items from it. This way if any bed bugs fall off your items as you are lifting them out of the bag, they will fall into ZappBug and be killed when you start the heat treatment.
If you are using a dryer or washing machine, be sure to upend the entire bag, into the dryer or washing machine.
C. Heat Treat
Heat treating with ZappBug or your clothes dryer will kill all bed bugs.
If you are using ZappBug to heat treat your bedding, simply push the “on” button and it will cycle through the heat treatment cycle and turn off when finished.
If you are using your clothing dryer, set the temperature on high and run for at least 45 minutes if the bedding is dry or 70 minutes if the bedding is wet.
D. Re-Seal in NEW Plastic Bags
After heat treating your bedding, be sure to put items into new, unused plastic bags and seal these up.
Do not reuse the bags that you originally had your bedding in before heat treatment. These used bags might contain bed bugs or eggs that dropped off and you don’t want to re-infest your freshly heat treated bedding. Be sure to throw away these used plastic bags.
Recommended plastic bags can be found at our Safe Zone Supplies Store.
Step 1.3: Encase your Mattress and Box Spring (and Pillows)
Long ago, the only effective bed bug proof material for encasements was vinyl which doesn’t breathe and can be noisy, but which bed bugs cannot penetrate. Fortunately, the technology has advanced so that there are now several manufacturers selling encasements that have membranes which breathe, are noiseless and are guaranteed bed bug proof.
It is essential that you encase both your mattress and box spring. You must not remove the encasements for at least 1.5 years, to ensure that any bed bugs have died.
We also recommend that you encase your pillows. This is not necessary because you will have heat treated your pillows and that will have eliminated any bed bugs. But it is an extra precaution that can provide additional reassurance.
Recommended encasements can be found at our Safe Zone Supplies Store.
Step 1.4: Use the Proper Bed Frame and Headboard
You must make sure your bed frame and headboard are bed bug free. We recommend using a metal bed frame, because it is more difficult for bed bugs to climb metal, and bed bugs tend to dislike harboring on metal.
If you are going to keep your bed frame, be sure to vacuum it thoroughly, including all the nooks and crannies.
We recommend that you do not use a headboard which is upholstered with fabric or has a lot of hiding places for bed bugs (for example, a wicker headboard.) Even with rigorous vacuuming, it is very difficult to ensure that upholstered headboards are bed bug free, because bed bugs can penetrate deep into the upholstery. Also headboards that have a lot of crevices and potential hiding places (such as wicker) are a bad idea, because it is very difficult to know for sure that vacuuming has effectively gotten into every nook and cranny.
When you are putting your box spring and mattress onto the frame, we recommend spreading diatomaceous earth between the box spring and mattress.
A recommended metal bed-frame can be found at the Safe Zone Supplies Store.
Step 1.5: Clean the Floor Space Where Your Bed Will Go
Before you move your bed to where it is going to be situated, make sure that the floor area where it will go is free of any bed bugs. Each person’s bedroom arrangement is a little different, so we explain what to do in each situation:
If You Have an Area Rug
Area rugs are easy to make bed bug free. Simply fold up your rug and put it in ZappBug for heat treatment, which will kill all bed bugs in all life stages.
Alternatively, if it will fit, you can put the rug into your dryer on high heat for 45 minutes. This, too, is effective heat treatment and will kill any bed bugs. But in our experience, the backing on most rugs is too stiff to allow folding of the rug into a small enough bundle to get through the dryer drawer. But if you can make the rug fit into your dryer, then this is also a great method of heat treatment.
Make sure you also vacuum the floor underneath your area rug (see next section below, on Uncarpeted Floors.)
If You Have an Uncarpeted Floor
With bare floors you are going to mechanically remove any possible bed bugs by vacuuming. Follow these steps:
- Spread diatomaceous earth over the floor area where your bed will be situated. This will help kill any bed bugs that might be lurking around. You can use a pesticide duster to spread the diatomaceous earth or just spread it by hand.
- Thoroughly vacuum the floor area, including all of the diatomaceous earth that you just laid down. When vacuuming pay particular attention to thoroughly running the vacuum over any cracks that might be between tiles or floor boards.
See the Supplies section for more information on selecting the proper vacuum.
If you have wall-to-wall carpet
Obviously, you cannot put a wall-to-wall carpet in ZappBug for heat treatment. So you are going to need to mechanically remove any potential bed bugs by thorough vacuuming and carpet shampooing. Follow these steps:
- Spread diatomaceous earth over the portion of the carpet where your bed will go. You can use a pesticide duster to spread the diatomaceous earth or just spread it by hand.
- Thoroughly vacuum the carpet. You will be vacuuming up all the diatomaceous earth you laid down. After vacuuming the carpet, vacuum it a second time. Remember, you want to be very thorough, because you are trying to vacuum up any bed bugs or eggs that might be hidden in the carpet.
- Use a carpet shampooer. After vacuuming, clean this area with a carpet shampooer. You are doing this in an abundance of caution to get any bed bugs that vacuuming might have missed. Like vacuuming, shampooing the carpet won’t kill bed bugs but it will help mechanically remove them.
See the Supplies section for more information on selecting the proper vacuum cleaner and carpet shampooer.
After Cleaning, Lay Down Additional Diatomaceous Earth
After thoroughly cleaning as we described above, put down some more diatomaceous earth in this area where your bed will go. Your bed is going to cover this area of the floor/carpet anyways, so it won’t be unsightly. Until you get the bed bugs under control, it’s a good extra precaution.
If you have shampooed the carpet as described above, remember to first let the carpet dry before laying down additional diatomaceous earth.
Step 1.6:Create a Safety Perimeter Around Your Bed
Think of creating a safety perimeter as creating a layered defense. You are building several layers of defense to prevent bedbugs from getting back into your bed. If a bed bug manages to penetrate one layer of defense, it will hopefully be stopped by the next layer.
We recommend the following:
- Do not Let Blankets Touch the Floor - This is extremely important. Bed bugs are not good climbers of slick, smooth surfaces but they do climb fabric quite well. So do not give bed bugs easy access up to your bed by allowing any blankets to touch the floor.
- Use Bed Bug Interceptors - Under the feet of your bed frame, put bed bug interceptors. These are simple devices that are based on the fact that bed bugs do not climb smooth surfaces well.
- Encircle Your Bed With Diatomaceous Earth - If you use a thick enough bead of diatomaceous earth, bed bugs will avoid crawling through it. Put down a circle of diatomaceous earth around your bed to act as a mechanical barrier to prevent bed bugs from crawling into your Safety Zone. Make the line thick. We recommend a line that is at least 2 inches wide and 0.25 inch high.
You don’t have to keep this circle of diatomaceous earth around your bed forever. But do keep it in place until you are certain that you have eliminated bed bugs from your home.
Step 1.7: Observe Good Protocol & Keep Your Bed Safe
It is extremely important to observe very strict protocol in regards to keeping your bed a Safe Zone. Never cross the bed perimeter without first stripping off all of your clothes.
When you are going through the process of ridding your home of bed bugs, you want to always assume that clothes you have been wearing around your home are contaminated with bed bugs. Are there actually bed bugs on your clothes? Probably not, but it’s impossible to completely rule out.
So for the purpose of keeping your bed a Safe Zone, you must think of anything you are wearing as potentially contaminated and never cross the perimeter without first stripping off all of your clothes. This is to prevent you from inadvertently transferring bed bugs to your bed.
The only clothes that are safe are those that have been laundered/heat treated and which are subsequently stored in sealed plastic bags.
Before going to your bed, strip off all of your clothes outside of the perimeter and then, only when you are totally naked, step over the line of diatomaceous earth to get into bed. Have your freshly laundered/heat treated pajamas in a sealed plastic bag waiting for you on your bed.
Remember: Within the perimeter only put on clothes that have been properly laundered/heat treated and which are stored in sealed plastic bags.
Hint: We love giant Ziplock bags for storing freshly laundered/heat treated clothes. When sealed shut the bags are impermeable to bed bugs. And they also open easily, allowing convenient access to your clothing.
Posted by Cameron Wheeler