Bed bugs were initially associated with dingy and unhygienic living conditions commonly infesting mouldy beds, old furniture and carpets.
However lately it’s been discovered that rather than poor personal hygiene, bed bugs are more likely to spread as the pests jump from one infested area to another making their way around by means of travellers, pets and personal items.
In fact, a high-density population area is more likely to experience bed bugs than their lower density counterparts.
It makes sense that keeping your home clean and sanitized limits these infestations, however, can a vacuum cleaner actually help you get rid of a bed bug infestation?
Well, vacuuming is helpful in reducing the number of bed bugs in some locations, especially where there are groups or clusters.
Vacuuming may not be 100% effective; however, it will definitely help you capture them. But, in order for vacuuming to be effective, there are some tips that you need to take note off and implement.
In the following article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of eliminating bed bugs using a vacuum cleaner.
What exactly are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are basically blood eating insects. They need blood to feed and survive. However, unlike mosquitos, they can’t fly to get to their food.
And unlike ticks, they don’t have the convenience of living on their host. Bed Bugs need to find another way to get to the food that they need. So naturally, they hide as close as possible to their food source.
Some people are of the misconception that a bed bug infestation is related to filth. However, this is not true because these bugs are not drawn to decay.
In fact, they can live in any environment as long as they have access to their food source. And the sooner you understand this, the sooner you can prevent an infestation of your home.
At first, it’s difficult to see bed bugs because they are so tiny and in fact, some of them can be as small as the tip of a pen. They also have transparent skin which makes it even more difficult to see them.
However, once they reach adult size, it’s hard to miss these bugs. The only way you’re going to miss an adult bed bug is if the environment is so cluttered that it conceals them.
However, they’re not drawn to clutter, but a mess will help them hide and remain undetected for longer. So this is basically the idea that has given rise to the belief that bed bugs are attracted to filthy places.
Believe it or not, these pests can live in the cleanest and tidiest of environments, but it is just more difficult for them to continue to avoid detection in a neat and organized environment.
Where do they come from?
Bed Bugs live almost exclusively with humans, and they can be found all over the world.
It’s often assumed that hotels and motels have the highest rate of bed bug infestations, however, bed bugs can be found in the most unlikely of places.
These bugs are basically hitchhiking nomads that can make their way pretty much any place as long as they can get there via a convenient source of transport.
Bed bugs can come from basically any place at any time by any means.
So if you’ve had people stay over at your home, ensure that you thoroughly wash their bedding and linen in the hottest possible wash to eliminate a potential bed bug infestation.
Also ensure that when you are in a public place, you look out for signs of these bugs, especially in places such as public pools, locker rooms, etc.
You should be especially wary of bed bugs if you purchase used furniture like used sofas and beds. However, irrespective of how they find their way into your home, your duty is to ensure that you get to them as soon as possible.
How often should you vacuum your bed to get rid of them?
When compared to other insects such as houseflies, bed bugs are slow to reproduce.
An adult female only produces one egg per day, and this takes approximately ten days to hatch and a further six weeks to develop into an adult. So with that in mind, how often you vacuum your beds for bed bugs is entirely up to you.
It makes sense that if you believe you have a bedbug infestation, that you vacuum your beds on a daily basis.
However, it should also be noted that vacuuming alone will not eliminate all of the bedbugs that’s infesting your home.
This also a certain technique and tips that you should be aware of to make vacuuming more effective at eliminating bed bugs.
How effective is vacuuming?
Although vacuuming is a method of control, a vacuum alone is not enough to eliminate bed bugs unless it is a new infestation and very limited.
Vacuuming is more of a supplementary treatment that should be used in conjunction with other effective methods to completely eliminate your home of bed bugs.
Some of the advantages of vacuuming are:
- Getting rid of bugs that are resistant to insecticides
- Eliminating large clusters of bed bugs
- Controlling bugs and materials where it is not safe to use insecticides or chemicals
- Reducing the use of insecticides in badly infested spaces that may require repeated treatment
- Providing an alternative method of treatment in badly cluttered areas
- Vacuuming removes dead bugs, shed skin and other types of debris to improve or enhance the performance of the insecticides or bed bug treatments.
Above all, it is important to remember that timing is imperative here. Vacuuming is both successful before the bed bugs are disturbed pr while they are still clumped together.
Bed bugs are harder to eliminate when they cling to fabric and bare wood.
So ultimately, the best time to tackle and eliminate bed bugs is when they are still eggs since they are coated with the transparent, cement-like material that attaches to most surfaces.
Tips to effectively vacuum bed bugs
In order to find out where these bed bugs are lurking, you need to do a comprehensive investigation around the house to find the most conducive spaces for bed bugs.
Once you have found them, start working with your vacuum and ensure that you use the strongest possible suction. This will help to remove the bugs that are hiding in cracks, tears, rips and other crevices.
You also need to proceed carefully or rather slowly in order to make sure you are doing a good job.
Do not be tempted to vacuum forcefully, since you’re more likely to scatter the bugs all over the room as opposed to sucking them into the vacuum cleaner.
So the key is controlled vacuuming that will allow you to pull up the bugs from surfaces and prevent them from escaping.
Can bed bugs survive inside the vacuum?
While it is recommended to use a vacuum cleaner to remove bed bugs, you need to ensure that you clean the filter or else the bugs will stay inside the vacuum.
Simply vacuuming bed bugs will not kill them. They can survive inside the vacuum for more than six months without their food source.
They also do not require water to live; however, they will not choose to live inside the vacuum cleaner and instead will try crawling out to look for their food source.
That said, you need to take extra precaution when it comes to using rented equipment such as dry, steam and carpet cleaners as bed bugs can survive and lurk inside these pieces of equipment.
Best type of vacuum for bed bugs
One of the best options for eliminating bed bugs from your fabrics and other surfaces is a bagless vacuum cleaner as compared to ones that come with a vacuum bag.
This is because you can empty it out easily and they often come with a simple folding door or sliding mechanism to push on the dirt.
Alternatively, if you already have a vacuum cleaner with a bag and don’t plan on investing in another vacuum, then you need to dispose of the bag every single time you vacuum for bed bugs.
This will prevent bugs from scattering; however, this may not be effective and can often be a complete waste of money.
After vacuuming for bed bugs, it’s essential that you empty the vacuum cleaner outside each and every time. This will prevent bugs from crawling out through the vacuum hose.
This is applicable irrespective of whether you are using a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner.
Vacuum cleaners that contain a HEPA filter are highly recommended since they have incredible suction and tend to keep the bed bugs trapped inside until you empty them out.
What kind of attachment is most useful for vacuuming bed bugs?
The best type of vacuum to eliminate bed bugs is a HEPA filter system which keeps the allergens produced by bed bugs from becoming airborne as you are vacuuming.
Additionally, a crevice tool is also very effective in removing bed bugs. Use it for most sites including cracks, crevices, corners and edge seams.
Using the strongest suction possible and placing the crevice tool at a 45° angle directly on the surface and pushing it forward so that bed bugs and their eggs are crushed and sucked into the vacuum instead of being pushed to the side.
A stiff brush attachment can also be useful in creating friction and penetration to dislodge bed bugs and their eggs.
However, the disadvantage of a brush attachment is that the brush may hold bugs or fling bugs outward into different directions.
A powered carpet beater is the recommended attachment for rugs and when practical can be used on upholstered furniture too.
Supplementing methods of removing bed bugs
Getting rid of bedbugs starts with firstly flushing them out of their hiding places and then killing them.
It is imperative that you clean all bedding, curtains, linen and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest setting to kill any remaining eggs.
The items that cannot be washed should be placed in the dryer on high for approximately 30 minutes.
A stiff brush can be used to scrub mattress seams, remove bed bugs and their eggs before you vacuum.
Thereafter you should vacuum your bed and the surrounding areas and immediately take the vacuum cleaner outside and empty the filter or throw away the bag.
Once you do this, encase the mattress and box spring in a tightly woven and zippered cover to keep the bugs from entering or escaping.
They may live up to one year without feeding so keep your mattress covered for at least a year to make sure the bugs are dead.
Next, you need to make sure that you repair any cracks and crevices that are exposed and create a conducive environment for bed bugs to harbour. Get rid of clutter around your bed as well.
While the steps mentioned above will help in controlling the bed bug infestation, to truly kill these bugs, you will need to use a chemical treatment.
However, the thought of treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides is scary to lots of people as they believe it to be harmful.
While some insecticides are dangerous to humans and should not be used inside the home and on furniture, there are selected products that are safe to use inside the home and on beds.
So all you need to do is look for chemical bed bug treatments or insecticides that specifically state on the package that it is safe to use on beddings and mattresses.
Eliminating bed bugs from your home may not be quick or straightforward; however, if you are armed with the right information, you will eventually remove the infestation from your home and keep it from recurring.