If you watch a lot of movies, you’ll know that scene that comes late in the third act. The bad guy/monster/slasher has been defeated, and our chiseled hero heaves a sigh of relief as he heads for home.
Clearly, people in movies don’t watch a lot of movies. Because we know what’s coming. The bad guy isn’t defeated at all, and he springs up to go back to his evildoing ways.
This is exactly what you don’t want to happen when you’re dealing with bed bugs. Anyone who has suffered from an infestation of this pernicious pest knows that you’re never quite the same afterward.
There’s always the fear that one day, the bed bugs may return.
Especially because bed bug treatments usually don’t have a particularly satisfying climax to tell you it’s all over. Most of the time, you just have to wait and see and hope for the best. It’s a nerve-racking way to live.
If you’re recently free of bed bugs, or you’re still in the treatment process but are wondering what comes next, you’ll want to know what you can do to ensure you never have to go through this again.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take after whatever bed bug treatment you opt for to at least lessen the probability of further bedbug problems.
Unfortunately, when it comes to bed bugs, there are no guarantees. But by following this guide, you should be able to sleep a little easier at night.
What to Do Before Bed Bug Treatment
Good bed bug treatment begins with preparation. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a professional, it’s essential to make sure that you wash and especially dry your clothing.
The heat from the dryer will be enough to kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your clothes.
It’s also important to reduce clutter. The fewer possessions you have, the fewer places the bed bugs have to hide.
That doesn’t mean you have to go full minimalist and start living in the IKEA showroom. But do you really need that pile of old newspapers?
Not unless you’re starting a bed bug hotel, you don’t.
What to Do After Bed Bug Treatment
Once your bed bug treatment is complete, bear in mind that your life is not going to go back to normal right away.
It’s a good idea to keep any clothes you don’t need sealed in plastic bags so that you know you’re bed bug-free until you’re sure the infestation is gone.
You will need to live as if you still have bed bugs, constantly checking for any sign of their presence, for around 2 to 3 weeks before you can start to breathe a little easier.
This gives any bed bug eggs that survived the treatment time to hatch out and make their presence felt.
Why Do I Still Have Bed Bugs After Treatment?
It is possible that you will still see bed bugs showing up after your treatment, especially if you chose the pesticide bed bug extermination option.
Most pesticides used against bed bugs have a residual effect, which means that they will kill any bed bugs that cross the area that was sprayed for weeks after the treatment is complete.
However, this residual effect does not kill the bed bugs as quickly as the pesticide does when wet. It can take days to kill a bed bug that has crossed a line of pesticide.
Bed bugs don’t feed every day. So any bugs that were hidden in inaccessible areas that the poison couldn’t reach need to emerge from those areas in order to come into contact with the pesticide.
This can take days. In fact, it’s not rare to see more bed bugs immediately after treatment has been performed, since the pesticide will often flush bugs out of the areas where they were hiding.
However, the number of bed bugs you see should become less and less.
Once treatment is complete, you should soon stop seeing live bed bugs. If dead ones turn up, that just means the treatment’s working. But it could take up to three weeks before you stop seeing any signs of bed bugs.
When Am I Finally Free of Bed Bugs?
Once treatment is complete and you’ve stopped seeing bed bugs, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. After three weeks have gone by and you’re no longer getting bites, seeing live bugs or finding droppings, you can begin to unpack and get back to normal.
But as you unpack, remember to check your belongings carefully to make sure no bed bugs are hiding inside.
Any clothes or blankets that you washed and dried and sealed in plastic bags should be bed bug-free, but what about books or old papers or ornaments or other items that are difficult to treat?
Even one pregnant female bed bug could start the whole infestation over again. So check all items very carefully to make sure no bed bugs are hiding inside.
If possible, you could spray them with isopropyl alcohol or an over-the-counter bed bug pesticide to make sure you haven’t missed any bugs.
How Do I Avoid Re-Infestation After Bed Bug Treatment?
Once you’ve had bed bugs, you’re never going to forget it. Every pimple or rash on your skin is going to make you worry that they’ve come back.
But all you can do is stay vigilant. A bite or two here or there doesn’t mean you have bed bugs; they’re not the only creatures that bite humans. But if you start seeing clusters of multiple bites again, then it’s time to start worrying.
Be wary of hotels and friend’s houses
Many people have bed bugs without even knowing it. Anytime you stay overnight somewhere, especially if you bring luggage with you, it’s a good idea to run everything through a hot dryer soon as you get home.
This way you can be confident you’re not bringing any bed bugs with you. Once you’ve learned to spot the signs of bed bug presence, you may even want to inspect the beds and furniture in any hotel rooms you stay in to make sure there are no bed bugs present. It happens more than you would think.
Avoid used furniture
This is one of the major sources of bed bug infestation. Secondhand clothes are also a problem.
In short, anytime you think you may have been exposed to bed bugs, the best thing to do is remove your clothes (as soon as it practical to do so; please get home first) and run them through a hot cycle on the dryer.
Bed bugs rarely travel on people, but when they do, it’s usually on the clothes we’re wearing.
Finally, try to stay calm. One of the worst lingering effects of the bed bug infestation is the psychological damage it does. You’ll find yourself unable to trust public places such as coffee shops and movie theaters, let alone hotels.
But as more time passes after the treatment, you will finally start to feel that you’ve survived having bed bugs. Congratulations. You’ve earned it.