One of the world’s tiniest, but most dreaded pests, the bed bug is one nemesis you don’t want to face in your home.
Commonly encountered when traveling, bed bugs are often the souvenir you didn’t mean to bring home – and that you can’t seem to get rid of.
I once experienced bed bugs when visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I can personally attest to their peskiness and persistence.
But sometimes, despite all your best efforts, they are avoidable, and it’s important to know how to handle them when you find them around your home.
There are a number of home remedies that are often touted when it comes to killing bed bugs, but are they really effective?
Although you may have heard that tea tree oil can work well in killing and stopping the spread of bed bugs, its impact is likely to be minimal, especially if you have a significant infestation.
Pest control bombs or foggers are also unlikely to do much good.
So what treatment methods will work on bed bugs, and what can you do if you get bed bugs in your carpet?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the more effective ways to get bed bugs out of carpet to help you vanquish this tiny, biting foe once and for all.
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Can bed bugs survive in carpet?
Although bed bugs have a reputation for living in mattresses – after all, they’re not called “bed” bugs for no reason – the truth is, they can inhabit far more places than just your bed.
If you have accidentally introduced bed bugs into your home, it’s possible they could reside anywhere in your house, but they are especially fond of places that give them the best access to their food source: your blood.
This does mean they are quite likely to be found in your mattress and embedded in the grains of your bed frame. They thrive in places where they can delve deep and burrow, such as the folds of a mattress, beneath the leg of a bed frame, or in the drawer of a night stand.
But they can also be found in other areas around your home just as easily. If you have been unaware you have had bed bugs, then it’s quite possible that you would have spread them throughout the home either through your own clothing or through toys, purses, briefcases, or other items that you have carried around the home, placing on your carpet or furniture.
Bed bugs may be found embedded into your couch or furniture cushions. They could live on the cushions of your dining room chairs. They may even be found in your home office chair.
And, yes, unfortunately, bed bugs can live in carpet. If you have bed bugs elsewhere in your home, it’s likely you’ll find them in your carpet, too.
But just because bed bugs can live in carpet, this doesn’t mean they prefer it.
In fact, bed bugs may actually try to travel through your carpet and find other places to spend the majority of their time. They will likely burrow beneath the feet of a sofa or a coffee table – someplace that allows them to squeeze deeply beneath something and hide, but also a place that allows them frequent access to you, as you hang out watching TV or working in your home office.
They are unlikely to access you directly from the carpet itself.
Bed bugs generally find that the fibers of your carpet are not going to be deep enough for them to burrow thoroughly, providing them with a comfortable living space. But they do find carpet fibers a very desirable place to lay their eggs.
If you were to search your carpet for bed bugs, you might not see any. But the near microscopic, clear eggs of bed bugs may remain undetectable.
But bed bugs anywhere in the home is a problem and one that requires immediate attention.
The important thing to remember, if you find bed bugs in your carpet, or if you suspect that you have them, you’re almost certain to have them elsewhere in your home – including the bedroom.
As a result, you’re going to want to focus on treating more than just your carpet to ensure you’ve vanquished the little pests once and for all.
But in this article, we’ll focus specifically on how to address a bed bug infestation in carpet.
Check your carpet for bed bugs
Before you go to the effort of treating your carpet for bed bugs, it’s important to inspect your carpet thoroughly for any signs they may be hanging out there.
As you check for bed bugs, be sure to be on the lookout not just for the bugs themselves, but also for their exoskeletons, or shed skin, as this is a sign that they’ve been there, and they probably still are.
You may also notice small black spots, which can be feces left by bed bugs.
Just as you would check the folds of your mattress to identify a bed bug issue in your bed, you’re going to want to start with the edges of your room to inspect your carpet.
Start by checking the floorboards. Bed bugs like to reside in folds, cracks, and edges, and it’s often possible to find a small space between your carpet and your wall where bed bugs may congregate if they are, in fact, in your carpet.
Another space to check is beneath your furniture, especially wooden pieces or components of furniture, such as the foot of a sofa or the leg of a coffee table. It’s possible that bed bugs may be found hiding under there, as this provides them an opportunity to burrow, while also remaining within the range of their human snacks.
If you don’t find any bed bugs through either of those options, but you’re still concerned that you may have bed bugs in your carpet, you can try a few more steps.
One option will be to detach and lift up a small section of your carpet. You’ll probably want to try a space on the corner or an edge of the room, as this is a more likely location where you will find bed bugs.
How to get bed bugs out of carpet
If you suspect that you have bed bugs in your carpet, even if you have been unable to locate them definitively, it may be a wise idea to go ahead and treat your carpet for bed bugs anyway, if you have, indeed, found bed bugs, or evidence of them, elsewhere in your home.
Although it’s always an option to call in a professional pest control service, there are some DIY options available if you feel up to the task.
Start with vacuuming
One of the best ways to begin addressing your bed bug infestation is to vacuum your carpet thoroughly. This process can be effective at collecting the bed bugs itself, but it’s also a good way to suck up their eggs, exoskeletons, and feces, which can pose a risk to your health.
For this step, you will want to ensure you have a vacuum cleaner that uses a bag, rather than a bagless vacuum.
You will also want to ensure you use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
Before vacuuming, it’s important to clear the room as much as possible.
If you have clothing or toys or handbags on the floor, start by picking them up and placing them into an airtight storage bin. Cutting off oxygen can help to prevent bed bugs from escaping and, eventually, it will kill them.
Leave those items in the sealed containers for up to a week.
Carefully place any blankets, sheets, or comforters into an airtight container or airtight plastic bag and remove them from your home, placing them outside or in a concrete garage for now. Make sure all bags and containers are airtight and sealed shut.
Then, you will want to remove as much of the furniture as possible from the room. Remember that bed bugs will likely be hanging out in your furniture, so you will want to make sure to thoroughly inspect and clean the furniture before removing it.
As you move the furniture, be sure not to press it up against your body, clothing, or hair, as the bed bugs can transfer and you will just re-deposit them throughout your house.
Another trip you may wish to try is to apply double-sided tape to the ends of your furniture, such as on the bottom of a table leg.
If you do have bed bugs on the furniture, or if they remain in the carpet after treatment and attempt to get back on the furniture, this should succeed in trapping them. Bed bugs will not be able to escape from the double-sided tape.
After you have moved as many items as possible from the room, it’s time to vacuum. This needs to be a thorough vacuuming session, not a quick once-over. Hold your vacuum cleaner for 15-30 seconds over each spot as you move it across your carpet.
As time-consuming as this is, it is much more effective than just brushing the vacuum over your carpet.
Once you have completed a thorough vacuuming, take the entire vacuum cleaner outside and empty the bag, disposing of it in an airtight or even double plastic garbage bag that will be stored outside.
Never take this bag and put it in your car to transport it elsewhere for disposal. This can risk transferring bed bugs into your car.
Before bringing your vacuum cleaner back into your home, run over it closely with a flashlight for inspection for any bed bugs that may be on the plastic itself. You can use double-sided tape to remove any bugs you find.
Conduct a thorough steam cleaning
Although vacuuming can be effective at removing some bed bugs, as well as their exoskeletons and eggs, it’s not likely going to get all of them, and it most certainly will not kill them.
Vacuuming can help you to collect and remove bed bugs from your home, but it does not kill them. In fact, if you do not empty your vacuum cleaner properly, they will remain living inside, eventually escaping and returning to find you in your home.
As a result, you’re probably going to want to conduct steam cleaning. Heat is the most effective way to kill bed bugs, but it must be very hot – upwards of 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a result, you will either need to hire a pest control professional or purchase a steam cleaner for yourself.
It’s possible to rent a steam cleaner, but because steam cleaners are often rented by people who have issues with bed bugs, it’s possible that the product may carry, and therefore transfer, bed bugs into your home.
If you’re looking to purchase a steam cleaner, a good option for you may be the Dupray ONE Steam Cleaner. This steamer reaches heats over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is sufficient for tackling bed bugs.
Follow instructions on the product to ensure proper use.
After your carpet has been steamed, but before you move your belongings back into the home, it’s important to vacuum again, using the same process described above.
Just as you will want to vacuum again, it’s a good idea to steam again, too. If you have all your furniture removed from the room, you will want to conduct this procedure once more before you move your items back into the room.
It’s also a good idea to steam the carpet again several times over the next few months to ensure you have, indeed, taken care of all of the bed bugs and to ensure you catch any additional insects that may have been re-deposited onto the carpet as you moved your furniture, clothing, and bedding back into the room.
Additionally, if there were any remaining bed bug eggs in your carpet that have since hatched, it’s important to take care of them.
Following every steaming session, you will want to vacuum your carpeting once it has had a chance to dry.
This is a natural solution to help kill any remaining bed bugs, following the treatments discussed above.
This product contains silica, which helps to destroy a bed bug’s exoskeleton, while also causing them to become dehydrated and eventually die.
However, it’s important to note that although this process will eventually kill bed bugs, it does not have an immediate effect and it may take the bed bugs up to a few months before they actually die.
This is not an effective method to destroy bed bug eggs. It will only kill adult bed bugs. For eggs, you will need to use vacuuming and steaming as a more effective solution.
Be sure to use only food-grade diatomaceous earth, as any other type is not safe for use around food or pets.
One good option for you may be DiatomaceousEarth DE10, 100% Organic Food Grade Diamateous Earth Powder.
Spread the product thoroughly across your entire carpet and vacuum afterward. Repeat the process several times.
After you complete this application, empty your vacuum securely as discussed above.
Apply double-sided tape
Another option you can take to shore up your chances of vanquishing those bed bugs from your carpet once and for all is to use double-sided tape throughout your home, applying to the edges of your carpet, floorboards, ends of furniture, and other areas where you may identify corners throughout your home.
The bed bugs will become trapped on the double-sided tape, unable to escape.
How to keep bed bugs from spreading to carpet
If you have confirmed you do have bed bugs, or if you suspect that you have them, it’s important to take steps to avoid spreading the bed bugs around your home.
Avoid placing items like handbags, backpacks, or laptop bags on any of your furniture or bedding.
Avoid placing your bedding or clothing on the floor.
Address the problem in the affected area as quickly and effectively as possible to avoid spreading.
These steps, while not intended to be exhaustive, will go a long way toward helping you to halt the spread of bed bugs in your home and may prevent their transfer to your carpet.