Can bed bugs live in carpet? It’s a common question, especially since all popular knowledge assumes that bed bugs belong in beds.
And yes, bed bugs do like to live in beds. They’re the shut-ins of the insect world. If they could, most bed bugs would live out their entire lives inside somebody’s bed.
It’s a great place to sleep, feed on sleeping humans and raise a few hundred kids in which the parents take absolutely zero interest. It’s true. Bed bugs are trash.
But if you think that the bed is the only place that bed bugs can or do live, and that a search for bed bugs only needs to focus on your bed, you’re sadly mistaken.
Bed bugs can live in all kinds of places, and that includes carpet. If you think you might have a bed bugs in carpet problem, read on. There’s so much for you to learn. And most of it is kind of horrifying.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Carpet?
Good question, and may we say, how good-looking of you to ask. If you have carpet in your home, you may be worried about the possibility of bed bugs living in it. But is this really a risk?
As is so often the case with bed bugs, the answer is – kind of. Although bed bugs love to live in beds, they’re not especially picky about where they choose to establish a home.
What’s most important to them is that it is somewhere where they won’t be found or disturbed, and provides a somewhat rough surface on which to lay their eggs.
A carpet fits both these requirements.
Where Do Bed Bugs Like to Live?
The semi-good news is that the weave of modern carpets is generally too dense and too short for bed bugs to get deep inside the fibers.
Bed bugs won’t live deep inside your carpets in the same way that fleas will. Instead, they are more likely to stay close to the surface of the carpet.
An adult bed bug’s body is flattened across the top. This allows them to squeeze their bodies into tiny cracks and crevices where they can hide.
So the most likely scenario for bed bugs to be in your carpet is if there is something on top of the carpet that they can squeeze underneath. The legs of your bed, for instance.
It’s quite common for bed bugs to squeeze underneath the legs where they meet the carpet and establish a home there. The same applies to any furniture and is also true of baseboards.
Bed bugs are often found on top of carpet underneath baseboards, in the tiny crack between the two.
So there’s the happy news: unlike fleas, bed bugs are unlikely to be living all over your carpet. Now for the not so happy news…
Do Bed Bugs Lay Eggs in Carpet?
Bed bugs are extremely neglectful parents. For a male bed bug, his involvement with the kids stops the minute he’s impregnated their mother – who could also be his own mother.
And the females aren’t much better. Once they’ve laid their eggs, they make no effort to care for them in any way.
As truly negligent parents, bed bugs aren’t overly picky as to where they lay their eggs, so anywhere bed bugs live, you’re likely to find bed bug eggs.
About the only requirement bed bugs have for a spot to lay their eggs is that it be somewhat coarse. That’s because bed bug eggs don’t stick well to smooth surfaces like metal, glass or plastic. So bed bugs secrete an adhesive chemical that they use to stick the eggs in place.
Which is why a bed bug will prefer to lay its eggs on something like wood or fabric where it can be confident that they will stay put until they hatch. Carpet is unfortunately perfect for this.
So yes, bed bugs can and do lay eggs in the carpet. And if this is the case for your carpet, you’ll need to get rid of those eggs ASAP because an infestation will never be cleared without killing the bed bugs eggs.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Carpet
If you have bed bugs, and you have carpet, chances are high that you have bed bugs and especially bed bug eggs in your carpet. So now, the most important question is: how to get rid of them?
It can be a challenging surface to treat for bed bugs, since it tends to absorb chemicals used for killing them.
But before you vow to only live in storage facilities with sealed concrete floors from now on, don’t despair. Killing bed bugs in the carpet is possible.
Here’s the action plan…
Vacuum up bed bugs in carpet
Sometimes the obvious solutions are the best. If you suspect there are bed bugs in your carpet, the first course of action to take is to vacuum.
This will help to remove lots of adult bed bugs from the carpet. It won’t get rid of all of them, but when you consider how quickly bed bugs can reproduce, killing one today is like killing thousands a couple of months from now.
Bed bugs generally die quite quickly inside a vacuum, but to be on the safe side, you’ll want to either seal and get rid of the vacuum bag or empty the vacuum outdoors as quickly as possible.
Best to empty it into a bag which you then seal inside another bag and throw away. When it comes to bed bugs, there’s no such thing as overkill.
Be sure to use a HEPA vacuum. These vacuums offer the highest filtering of the air that they eject, making sure that the bed bugs and all of their nasty pathogens stay inside the machine.
Pick up after yourself
Sorry to sound like your mom but if you’re trying to get rid of bed bugs, anything that has been on the floor, such as discarded clothing or children’s toys, should be thoroughly washed and put away – preferably in airtight storage bins that bed bugs cannot get into.
This must be repeated for emphasis: When you’re in the middle of dealing with a bed bug infestation, it’s a good idea to store anything that you have washed and know is clear of bed bugs inside a sealed plastic bag or plastic container.
This will prevent the bed bugs from re-contaminating the objects that you have treated.
Steamed bed bugs to death
If bed bugs have one serious weakness, it’s heat. Although these bugs like it warm, there is a limit to their tolerance. Temperatures in excess of 120°F will kill bed bugs almost instantly.
The best way to get this heat to the bed bugs in your carpet is to buy or rent a steam cleaner.
Note that these are different to regular commercial carpet cleaners, which don’t get hot enough to kill both bed bugs and their eggs.
You want a steamer that can generate and maintain the necessary heat to penetrate the fibers of the carpet and kill any bed bugs it comes into contact with.
A solid, popular choice is the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner. It’s one of the most affordable options for such a powerful machine – it heats water to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than hot enough to completely destroy bed bugs in all life stages.
Prepare yourself to perform this treatment more than once. A large part of what makes bed bugs a tricky pest to control is the fact that if you miss even one, there is a chance of re-infestation.
It’s a good idea to alternate between regular vacuuming and regular steam cleaning of your carpet for a few weeks or perhaps a month. This should kill not only adult bed bugs but also any eggs and juvenile bed bugs lurking around.
When steaming, pay special attention to crevices under baseboards or beneath furniture. These are the most likely places for bed bugs to hide.
Get diatomaceous with it
Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic physical control that comes in the form of a fine white powder. When bed bugs try to cross this powder, it lacerates their exoskeleton and kills them via dehydration.
Regular dusting of your carpet with diatomaceous earth will kill bed bugs when they crawl across the carpets to get their food source – you.
Since you’ll also want to vacuum regularly, you’ll find yourself reapplying this diatomaceous earth at regular intervals.
Also, this is where a HEPA vacuum comes into its own, since the fine filter will prevent the machine from blowing diatomaceous earth all over your house.
How to Keep Bed Bugs Out of Your Carpet
The last step is to make sure there’s no chance of re-infestation. And that means killing bed bugs in the rest of your house.
You see, once bed bugs are inside a structure, they spread very easily. If there are bed bugs in your carpet, there is a very good chance that they are elsewhere in your house too.
Most especially, they are likely to be in your furniture. And I’m not talking about just the bed. Sofas, dressers, bedside tables, bookshelves – all of these make fine places for bed bugs to hide.
So there’s no point treating just your carpet if you want to get rid of bed bugs. Make sure that you’re also treating the rest of your belongings with the same diligence.
Remember, if just one adult female bed bug escapes your treatment, she can quickly lay enough eggs to make the whole problem flare up again.
Getting rid of bed bugs requires perseverance. But with perseverance, the right knowledge, a vacuum and a steam cleaner, you have all the tools you need to get the bed bugs out of your carpet, your house and your life for good.