Warning as bed bugs invade UK homes and tips to keep them at bay

People are being warned about bed bugs as the spring and summer months typically see the creepy crawlies flock to UK homes.

With the cost of living on the rise, some people may be considering buying second-hand furniture to save money. However, experts at MatressNextDay are now urging people to thoroughly check such items before purchasing.

As the bugs hide in tiny crevices, moving between homes by traveling on furniture or clothing is easy for them. While their bites are usually fairly harmless, an infestation is not something you want in your home.

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The NHS says signs of bedbugs include:

  • bites—often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
  • spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
  • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

It is important to deal with a bed bug as soon as you spot one, as females can lay as many as 500 eggs in a two-month period. These eggs hatch in about a week.

Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that have flat bodies, and are a similar size and color to an apple seed. You can also distinguish a bed bug based on any bites you’ve received.

Bed bugs typically bite areas of the body that are exposed whilst sleeping, like the head, arms, and legs. The bites tend to be in clusters and appear as red raised bumps with a dark spot in the middle.

Here are some tips from MattressNextDay to prevent bed bugs in your home.

Avoid buying second-hand upholstered furniture

Once a bed bug is inside upholstered furniture, it’s impossible to detect them. Plus, if the person selling the upholstered item cleaned or vacuumed it without realizing that bed bugs were present, then the superficial signs that there are bed bugs present, will be absent, too.

Unfortunately, using strong chemicals to eradicate the bed bugs will only leave them dead inside, and a lingering chemical residue that you won’t be able to wash out.

Stick to buying second-hand wooden furniture with little-to-no crevices for them to hide

Due to being so small, bed bugs can hide in everything from the pleats of a lampshade to the inside of a clock. However, there are second-hand items worth purchasing that are less of a risk, such as hard, cleanable surfaces with few, or little to any, crevices.

Hard surfaces such as solid wood and plastic are best, too. For example, bookshelves, nightstands, tables, and dresses. However, make sure to properly inspect each item before buying. To do this, shine a flashlight into narrow openings and inspect them with a magnifying glass.

Wash your bedding at least once a week

Bed bugs are attracted to dirty items so make sure you wash your bedding at least once a week to avoid the build-up of bacteria that might attract the critters. Washing at 60C is the best temperature to kill any bacteria, however, keep in mind that you will need a strong detergent to keep your sheets soft.

Vacuum bed bug hotspots at least once a week

Similarly, you should also vacuum at least once a week to remove any potential bed bugs from traveling further. Makes sure to vacuum all bed bug hotspots, such as skirting boards, under sofa cushions and under the bed.

Keep your home clutter-free so they have fewer places to hide

By reducing clutter in your homes, you’re making sure the bed bugs have lesser places to hide. The more objects you own, the more places the bed bugs have to cling to and remain undetected. The clutter also increases the difficulty of eliminating the bugs once they’ve been found.

Never use cardboard to store your belongings

Bed bugs are also known to hide in cardboard so if you’re buying a couple of items from someone and they give you them in a cardboard box, remove the items from the cardboard box before bringing them home. Similarly, you should try to unpack your boxes as soon as possible after moving house. Finally, if you have cardboard boxes in storage, switch them to a plastic container, instead.

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