Bedbug Treatment Preparation

Pre-treatment preparation

Proper preparation is a mandatory requirement for control to be effective. Pest control firms should outline this in detail and provide detailed instructions on what to do. This is generally done by the resident; although some firms may offer preparation for an additional charge, this is uncommon. Preparation involves providing access for pest control treatment as well as taking measures to ensure that bedbugs are destroyed or contained. If a home is not properly prepared, the likelihood of successful control is not high. Although preparation may be difficult for some people (for example, seniors or handicapped individuals), it is essential for effective treatment, and thus in such cases family members, friends or social or charitable agencies may need to provide assistance.

Packing

All furniture and appliances in the dwelling usually need to be pulled away from the baseboards, and it is commonly asked that all furniture containing potential hiding crevices, such as bookshelves and desks, be emptied and left open for the exterminator to spray. Items in tightly sealed containers are usually safe from bedbug infestation and need not be emptied.

Laundry

Everything that can be laundered should be laundered, and laundered in advance of the treatment, then placed in plastic bags. This would include stuffed animals, drapes and so on.

The items should be securely tied into plastic bags, and emptied directly from the bags into the machines. (The bags should then be immediately disposed of.) It is heat, not water, that kills any bedbugs residing within the laundered items; so the items should be washed in hot water, regardless of normal washing directions, and should be dried with medium heat (preferably high heat) for 20 minutes or more. (For those who have the ability to measure the temperature of the water in their washing machine, or of the hot air in their dryer, the target heat range is 120°F (49°C).)

(If a marathon laundering session such as described is financially prohibitive, it has been posited by some that the items need only be run through the dryer, not the washing machine. However, the extensive water and spinning action associated with washing machines may assist in dislodging bedbugs from where they are residing within clothes and laundered.) However, this is optional as the heat of the cycle of drying will effectively kill all stages—eggs, immature stage (nymphs) and adults.

For items that require dry cleaning, the dry cleaners should be informed that the items in question are potentially infested, and the items should be bagged. (However, many dry cleaners then may refuse to accept the items.)

Steam cleaning of carpets can be helpful; although bedbugs will not be in the middle of the floor, they may be under the carpets at the edges of rooms. Vacuuming is especially important, however. Pesticide is applied at perimeters and is effective, but the more steps are taken to assist removal, the more thorough the elimination will be.

Vacuuming

The mechanical removal of bedbugs by vacuuming is a most important part of preparing for control. Vacuuming alone will not solve the problem, but it can substantially reduce bedbugs’ numbers and thus help reduce the population as part of preparing for treatment. A crevice attachment should be used on the seams of mattresses, on box springs, on bed legs, within furniture interiors, behind pictures, on curtains, and anywhere there is a possibility of the insects hiding (e.g. inside dresser drawers, dresser cases, under chairs, etc.). Carpets should also be vacuumed throughout the home, preferably with a power-head. Baseboards should also be vacuumed using the crevice tool—not swept—prior to the exterminator’s arrival. Vacuum bags should then immediately be removed and placed in doubled plastic bags and placed into strong plastic bag for disposal. Spraying inside the vacuum cleaner bag with an aerosol insecticide is a good idea. The bags should be stored outside of home before collection. Incineration is not practical in the vast majority of urban centres and may be illegal.

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