Preparing For Treatment

Most pest control companies will require you to do some prep work before they come for treatment. You should read over the instructions carefully so that nothing will prevent them from carrying out their work when they arrive on the scheduled day. Preparation usually involves lots of bagging. Some ask you to empty every drawer in every piece of bedroom furniture and bag them. They may ask you to do the same with all clothes hanging in closets. Removing the sheets and linens from the bed could also be required. Sometimes, they even want you to move furniture and take the mattress out and lean it up against a wall.

All of that prep work can be extremely overwhelming to think about, especially for those who may be limited by their health or age. And the sad thing is, I don't understand the thinking behind most of it. Why would you want people who know nothing about bed bugs moving their stuff around their home spreading the bugs all over from where they naturally were hiding out. Even if they are in a dresser or the closet, they are going to have to come to your bed to feed and when they do, they will hit the pesticide and die. There are several companies around the country who are adopting a "No Prep" approach. They don't want you to disturb the environment at all so they can use their expertise to understand exactly where the bugs are and how to best treat them. The reasoning is well explained in this video by entomologist Jeff White. He compares it to a crime scene. The less it is disturbed, the better he can do his detective work. He mentions that in one study, 95% of all units in a large apartment were successfully erradicated without any preparation needed by the residents. I hope that others will see the wisdom of this approach eventually and it becomes the new standard.

But when it comes down to it, oftentimes, you don't have a choice. Either you are renting and the landlord has a company that they are contracted with or there is a limited selection of companies in your area and you have to go with who is available and within your price range. So be as cooperative as you can with the preparation that they give you.

pile of papers

Cut the Clutter

Usually their priority is having easy access to the bed and other high risk furniture. Make sure you don't have a bunch of clutter blocking their way. Anything that's washable that is on the floor or the bed should be carefully double bagged and brought to wash and dry. Store the treated items in a clear plastic bag for the next several weeks during treatments (Tips for Drying). Any papers and trash should be bagged and tossed out. You might have to move the bed or other furniture a few inches away from the walls so they can spray behind them. If you are physically limited, some may be flexible with you after explaining your situation and not require all of the drawers or closets to be emptied if they are not next to the bed. Hopefully you can get a friend or family member to help out. It's a lot of work so take your time and spread it over a couple of days if possible.

Most importantly, be careful when handling items. Treat anything in a high risk area as if it has bugs on it because it may. If you vacuum, empty the bag or the canister immediately after you're done, seal it up and take it outside.

If you have a pet, make sure you have plans to keep it out of the way during treatment. If you can't keep it outside of the home, ask if you can keep it in a bathroom or closet away from the rooms being treated. You should be able to come inside after a couple of hours. Expect the furniture to feel a little damp.

Should You Encase Your Mattress?

This is another point where some may disagree with me. Mattress encasements are great for taking away hiding places for bugs and make inspection much easier. However, I believe that if you already have an active infestation, you should leave things alone as much as you can during treatment. Wrestling with a bug infested mattress is a great way to spread bugs and eggs around the room. Let them spray the chemicals directly on that mattress and boxspring where the bugs are and let them die. When things calm down months later and this nightmare is behind you, absolutely encase your mattress to be better prepared for next time. Some will say that if you can trap the bugs inside the encasement, you can be done with them even faster. I don't know about you but I don't like the idea of sleeping for months on top of entombed bed bugs desperate to get to me. I don't want to be worried that whole time about accidentally puncturing the encasement and letting them out and having to start all over again. No thanks. Kill them first. Then encase.

The Tools for Fighting Bed Bugs

We have several tools available to us in our arsenal with which we can beat the bugs. This list will describe each one and explain how they are used.

See the List