The thought of bed bugs sharing your house or apartment is one that no one should have to deal with. The process of kicking them out can be a hassle. You may be wondering if there is anything you can do to protect against them or to quarantine the infested items. Is a garbage bag enough?
But can bed bugs bite through plastic? Bed bugs cannot bite through plastic. Bed bugs don’t have teeth and cannot chew their way through plastic. But, they can get through very small holes as small as a needle prick.
One of the ways suggested for getting rid of infested items is sealing the item in a plastic bag and removing it from your home.
Although bed bugs cannot bite through most plastics, that does not mean that sealing them up in a plastic bag is going to be 100% effective. Continue reading to find out how to use plastic to get rid of bed bugs.
Bed Bugs and Plastic Bags
Bed bugs love mattresses because they provide easy access to a host (you), but that is not the only place in your home where they will create a home of their own. They can live in clothes, furniture, carpets, and stuffed animals.
If you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation and you have young children, then you’re probably in an ugly situation. What do you do with that beloved stuffed animal that is half falling apart that might be infested with bed bugs or harboring bed bug eggs?
Some would recommend sealing the beloved item in a plastic bag and putting in a hot car for a couple of days to kill the bed bugs. Bed bugs die at temperatures of 119 degrees, and the eggs will be killed when temperatures reach 125 degrees.
This is not a great idea for a number of reasons.
- Bed bugs are small. In fact, they can be as tiny as a grain of rice. Making sure that you seal up that bag tightly enough and that there is no minuscule hole in it is not easy. If one gets out, you now have a bed bug infestation in your car.
- Beg bugs can live without food for a long time. If the temperature does not get high enough in your car or if you skip the car altogether, simply being contained in the plastic bag without a meal is not enough to kill the bed bugs. Bed bugs can live for 2-3 months in temperate climates and up to a year in colder climates, according to Scientific American.
That being said, the best way to kill bed bugs is with heat. If it will not hurt the item, toss it in the dryer on high for at least 20 minutes to ensure the item is bed bug-free.
Bed Bug Mattress Covers: Do They Work?
No one wants to have to replace their mattress unexpectedly. Especially if your household has several mattresses in it, replacing them can get expensive fast.
Not all mattress covers sold as being “bed bug proof” are effective at preventing or removing bed bugs, but there are some effective options out there. Check out Bed Bug Basics: How To Sleep Good Tonight to learn what you can do today so you sleep good tonight.
When looking for a mattress cover to prevent a bed bug infestation or to eliminate an existing infestation, make sure your cover…
- Is a full encasement.
- Has a quality zipper or sealing method so no bed bug can slip through the cracks
- Is certified or lab tested
- Does not contain any harmful chemicals or pesticides
If you purchase a mattress cover that does not meet these requirements, it probably won’t work and may even be harmful to you and your family.
How to Get Rid of an Infested Mattress
Some people don’t like the idea of sleeping on a mattress that was previously infested with bed bugs, or that may have the remains of dead bugs hiding out in it.
To get rid of your bed bug-infested mattress, you should seal it in a mattress encasement before moving it through your house. You don’t need to spread the bugs throughout your whole house.
Once outside, it is best to leave the encasement on the mattress while transporting it to the dump or when leaving it for your sanitation to pick up. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on clothes, and you don’t need infesting your sanitation worker with bed bugs on your conscience.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs From Your Home
This section will cover several popular ways to get rid of bed bugs, but for a complete guide check out our Guide on Getting Rid of Bed Bugs, which will teach you how to identify bed bugs. Check out How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs Permanently to learn how to get rid of them, and keep them away!
The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to work with a pest control company who can assess the extent of your infestation and make sure they get every last one of those bugs out of your home.
Bed bugs reproduce quickly. One bed bug will lay between 1 and 12 eggs per day and an astonishing 200 to 500 eggs in her lifetime. A handful of survivors can mean rapid reinfestation.
Other methods you can try include:
- Washing and drying all of your clothes, bedding, curtains, and linens
- Vacuuming all of your carpets
- Steam cleaning carpets and furniture
- Sprinkling diatomaceous earth
How to Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation
There are several measures you can take to prevent a bed bug infestation or at least to make it more easy to catch an infestation before it gets out of hand.
Many people find they have a bed bug problem at home after traveling. This is because bed bugs find their way into hotels and then hitch a ride home on your clothes or in your luggage.
Consider doing the following while traveling or upon returning home:
- Inspect your hotel room for signs of bed bugs
- Before leaving your hotel room, inspect your luggage and clothes for signs of bed bugs
- Upon returning home, immediately launder all of your clothes in a washer and dryer
- If you suspect bed bugs, you may want to consider getting rid of your luggage or sealing it in a plastic bag and keeping it out of your home.
If you enjoy a good second-hand purchase, then you may want to train yourself to look for bed bugs in every crack and crevice of furniture. One of the most common ways to end up with a bed bug infestation is through bringing infested second-hand furniture into your home.
Inspecting for bed bugs:
- Use a magnifying glass
- Check crevices using a credit card
- Lay the furniture on a white sheet so you can see any bugs that may fall off
- Do not bring any furniture into your home unless you’ve inspected it first.
Recommendations for Your Home
To some extent, there isn’t anything you can do to protect your home from a bed bug infestation 100%, but you can take some measures that will help.
- Reduce clutter: Bed bugs like to hide, and clutter provides ample opportunity for them to hide. Reduce the amount of clutter in your home so that bed bugs will have no place to hide.
- Use a mattress encasement: Although bed bugs will make themselves at home anywhere within your house, they prefer the bed best of all. By keeping your mattress protected, you will be protecting your investment, and you will be helping to prevent an infestation.
- Essential oils: There are certain essential oils that bed bugs detest. Consider spraying dilutions of the following around your home regularly: peppermint, lavender, tea tree, or clove.
- Fix cracks and crevices: Bed bugs will also hide in the many cracks and crevices around your home. Caulk the cracks or crevices around baseboards as the bed bugs have easy access through them due to their small bodies. This has the added benefit of helping prevent other insects like ants and spiders from entering your home.
- Quarterly pest control services: Consider signing up for quarterly pest control services. This will not only provide the best protection against bed bug infestation, but it will also help prevent problems with all other pests.
Plastic may help in the fight against bed bugs since they can know bite through it, but your best bet for getting rid of and preventing bed bugs is to hire the aid of a pest control professional.
Want More Information?
If you are struggling with Bed Bugs, we have several helpful guides for you to check out: