Dennis Mathews, Lead Research Scientist in Microbiology at Dyson, shares his top tips on how to beat pesky bed bugs and maintain a clean bedroom environment.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are a hot topic right now, as more and more of us report having bed bugs in our homes. Bed bugs are small insects, usually found in furniture or on bedding. They feed at night on blood, and their bites can be itchy and irritating. They are visible, measuring about 5mm long on average.
How can I get rid of bed bugs?
For full bed bug infestations, the go-to solution is usually 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 other bedding are kept sealed in plastic until ready to wash.
How do I prevent getting bed bugs?
Bed bugs will likely travel on us, our clothes or our luggage from place to place. They may be picked up in a hotel or on public transport and then enter our homes with us. Ensuring that luggage is kept off the floor whilst you’re away, and isn’t put directly on the bed when you get home is important. Consider storing luggage in an attic or garage away from soft furnishings and clothes between trips. If you are concerned you have picked up bed bugs on your clothing, or you have left clothing on the floor of an infested hotel room, 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.
A bed bug infestation likely needs more to remove it than a thorough vacuum and washing your sheets – seek advice from pest removal experts in your region. But 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.
Microbiologist’s top tips for a clean and healthy bedroom:
Remove and wash bedding
Washing sheets and blankets on a 140°F or 195°F wash will help to break down and reduce allergens and kill living nasties like bed bugs or dust mites. While you may vacuum your mattress only a few times a year, its recommended that you launder and change your bedding once a week to remove microscopic skin flakes and keep dust and allergens at bay.
Vacuum your mattress
Many bed bugs on the surface may be removed through vacuuming alone, but you will need a deeper treatment to ensure complete eradication. In any case, vacuuming your mattress regularly throughout the year is important. Other nasties like dust mites can live in our mattresses – they might be microscopic in size, but they’re tenacious. Using a vacuum with a high-power or Boost mode will deliver the suction you need to remove as many mites, skin flakes and allergens as possible.
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Use a Hair Screw Tool or Mini motorised tool in handheld mode which 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. Make sure that the vacuum you’re using has a fully sealed filtration system to avoid allergens or debris being expelled back into your face as you clean!
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. For cleaning around the edge of your mattress where there may be a seam, use a Crevice Tool in handheld mode to remove any hidden dust. Don’t forget under your bed as well, as dust mites thrive in dark, warm and humid areas with plenty of skin flakes that often remain undisturbed, and bed bugs like dark, untouched locations where they can hide. Regular vacuuming can make these places less hospitable.
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Flip, repeat, remake
Flip your mattress over and vacuum the other side too to keep concentrations of invisible allergens low. You may want to consider using a mattress protector which will absorb excess sweat and dust flakes and can be more easily washed.
Keep your eyes peeled!
Keep watch for any signs of bed bug infestation – bed bugs spread quickly so taking action in the early days of an infestation is important. Look for any spots of blood in the bed, exoskeletons or small brown debris (their faeces). A sweet or musty smell might also be a sign of infestation.
Stay tidy & vacuum regularly
Try to remove clutter around the bedroom to provide fewer opportunities for bed bugs to hide. Keep the space around and under the bed clear and regularly vacuum these areas.
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